Dwyane Wade injury update: Bulls guard (elbow) may return before playoffs

The 35-year-old likely won't find a better deal if he goes into free agency.

Dwyane Wade could be back on the court sooner than expected.

The Bulls star, who was ruled out for the regular season with a fractured right elbow, might be able to make an early return before playoffs begin, ESPN.com reported.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Wade will not play in Thursday's game against the 76ers, but Wade could return as Saturday's game against the Nets.

"He went through part of the contact in practice today and he looked good," Hoiberg said. "Guys were out there — a good, spirited workout. Dwyane was able to participate in a lot of the contact drills. The big thing for him right now is getting his conditioning and wind and timing back, but it was great to see him out there and part of our scrimmage."

Hoiberg said there will be a time limit for Wade's tenure on the court and that he needs to focus on conditioning.

"I think a big thing will be how he responds tomorrow with the increased workload," Hoiberg said. "Get another good conditioning workout tomorrow and then we'll go from there. We'll have another practice in New York on Friday and then see how he's doing."

Bulls teammate Jimmy Butler also said Wade looked good at practice Wednesday, and indicated he's antsy to have Wade playing again.

"He says that he feels good," Butler said. "Which he's supposed to say because he wants to come back and play. I don't want him to hurry back and re-injure it or make it worse, but I want him out there on the floor, so it's kind of a 'I want you back, but I don't want you to jeopardize anything.'

MORE: Bulls' Dwyane Wade out for season with broken elbow

"But he was out there today. ... It's easier when he's out there. It's easy whenever he's out there. He makes my job a lot easier, along with everybody else's. It's just good to have him, his presence out there. That's bigger than what he does on the floor. Just having him out there with us."

The Bulls enterredWednesdayasthe seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, but are only half a game ahead of the Heat, which sits in ninth place. Having Wade back on the court could make a big difference in playoff positioning.

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