Carlos Boozer's return still unclear

11/30/2010 - NBA Carlos Boozer Chicago Bulls + more

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer says his right pinkie is a little sore after practicing with the team for the first time on Monday, and he hopes to make his debut by this weekend.

"It's great to be back on the court," Boozer said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "My hand definitely has come a long way so it's really good. It's a little sore today, but I expected it to be that way. I'm going to get treatment right now and then go through another practice."

Boozer, who signed a five-year deal this summer that could be worth as much as $80 million, has not played this season after tripping over a bag in his home and breaking his right pinkie.

The Bulls, who return home after a two-week road trip out west in which they finished 4-3, will play the Orlando Magic on Wednesday at the United Center. Boozer, who will wear a padded glove for the first week or two back on the court, said the decision to return is his, but wouldn't commit to playing on Wednesday.

"It may or may not be [Wednesday]," Boozer said. "I'm expecting hopefully this week, maybe this weekend but we'll see. I don't want to say I'm playing [Wednesday] and then not be able to play."

The Bulls play host to the Boston Celtics on Friday and the Houston Rockets on Saturday. With the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers coming up next week, the Bulls will face several big tests in Boozer's first games back.

"It's exciting to have this caliber of games this early in the season," Boozer said. "You get a chance to see how good you are or where you need to go or how good you can become or the potential for this team. When you play against teams that are playoff teams -- some of these teams are championship-level teams -- you get a chance to see where you are, a true test of where you are whether it's in November or whether it's in February.

"Whenever it is it's important for your team because if you want to be a championship team with those aspirations you've got to be able to beat championship-caliber teams. It's an exciting week for us."

Boozer, who traveled with the Bulls on the circus trip, said he came away impressed with new coach Tom Thibodeau.

"I think he's been a great manager of the game," Boozer said. "I think he's been able to manage some games and get us wins when a lot of people didn't think we were going to be able to win that night. He believes in our system, he believes in our players. He's very focused.

"He's as prepared of a coach as I've ever been around. He knows every team in and out. He gets here at like 6 in the morning and watches tape until 9 at night. That's how dedicated he is to our game and to us being successful. I'm looking forward to playing for him."

Boozer has been on the bench for almost every game this season getting an up close look at Joakim Noah, who is second in the NBA with 13.2 rebounds while averaging 15.6 points a game. Boozer said Noah is unlike any center he has played with, and he looks forward to playing alongside him.

"I told Jo the other day, I didn't realize how talented he was until I started watching him play when I got here," Boozer said. "He's been playing like a monster, a beast in the paint for us, blocking shots, rebounding, scoring, coming up with big plays down the stretch. He's really good and could be incredibly better which is a scary thing when you think of what he's been able to do so far."