Bulls

Ask Aggrey: Was Rose's injury inevitable?

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Ask Aggrey: Was Rose's injury inevitable?

It was all good just a week ago. Maybe not all good, but last Monday, I was confident enough to attempt to talk Bulls fans off the ledge after Derrick suffered his devastating, season-ending knee injury.

But now, after Jo's severely sprained ankle and the Bulls facing a 3-1 deficit against the Sixers, things look pretty grim. All of a sudden, it seems like nothing can go right for the Bulls, on or off the court. On the brink of being eliminated from the postseason heading into Tuesday's Game 5, it's do or die for the Bulls and as remarkable as the regular season was -- don't forget, even in the shortened, injury-plagued season, they again finished with the league's best record -- it almost seems all for naught now, as the expected rematch with Miami in the conference finals seems unlikely occur and even if it did, without Derrick, even if Jo was back on the court by then, that would appear to be too tall of a task with all of the ailments this M.A.S.H. unit of a team has been through.

Regardless, what fans need to remember is that the core of the team is still relatively young and the championship window, if postponed, remains open for the future, no matter what happens Tuesday at the UC. On to this week's mailbag:

Do you think Rose's injury was almost inevitable? He went up without much contact, and apparently in the push off it just happened. Does that likely mean it was probably going to happen soon anyway that the ligament was somehow compromised, too tight, too weak, etc? i.e. if he were not in the game, then maybe it would have happened in the next game or soon afterward anyway? -- Ron S.

Ron, I definitely wouldn't say it was "inevitable," as first-time ACL injuries are unpredictable. I might buy the fact that Derrick was more susceptible to injuries because of what he's dealt with all season and going back to his explosive style of play without proper recovery time -- though it's unlikely that anyone would have been able to keep him off the court or "shut him down" for the playoffs -- but I believe it was truly a freak accident. It's also possible that he could have built upon what was a stellar game until that point and had a dominant postseason. We'll never know.

I believe Steve Nash would be a nice fit in a Bulls jersey next season, what do you think? -- Robert U.

Robert, I think Nash would be a good fit virtually anywhere, but I don't see him landing in Chicago for a variety of reasons. One, while some have suggested he could play a backup role, after playing at a high level and nearly leading an overachieving Phoenix team to the playoffs, I don't think he'd be willing to go to the bench, even if he would be able to start until Derrick returns. Also, while his playmaking in Derrick's absence and outside shooting fill needs for the Bulls, his up-tempo style and inferior defense don't necessarily mesh with the team's current personnel and style of play. Furthermore, if Nash does leave Phoenix, he's likely to sign with a contender and a Bulls team without Derrick, not to mention Luol Deng, probably isn't an upper-echelon squad entering next season. Lastly, while Nash might not be a max free agent, the Bulls are unlikely to have the financial flexibility to add a player who commands that type of salary and if they were willing to spend, Nash is unlikely to be a priority. Remember: Derrick will be back eventually.

Looking towards the draft, who do you think would be a good fit for the Bulls? -- Kyle R.
Kyle, by virtue of their regular-season record, the Bulls will again pick at the bottom of the first round and if somehow, athletic Mississippi State big man Arnett Moultrie, Syracuse scorer Dion Waiters or Washington shooter Terrence Ross fell in their lap, any of those players -- Moultrie gives them another frontcourt athlete with length, Waiters can play either guard spot and be a scoring sixth man and Ross has nice size and bounce on the wing to go with his shooting range -- would be ideal, but it's unlikely to happen. More realistically, I think Ross' Washington teammate, Tony Wroten, might not be a bad fit with his size, playmaking ability and defensive prowess -- he could potentially play with Derrick in an explosive backcourt on occasion, but would most likely be a backup -- but if he slips that far, it's probably because of concerns about his character and shaky jumper.

Kentucky's Marquis Teague is also intriguing, but his floor generalship still needs work, despite winning a national title, while Iona's Scott Machado was one of the nation's most underrated point guards, but his size and lack of competition raise questions. Shooters like Vanderbilt's John Jenkins, Ohio State's William Buford, Georgetown's Hollis Thompson and the Kentucky duo of Doron Lamb and Darius Miller could also make sense. Skilled big man Kevin Jones of West Virginia might deserve a look, as could Tennessee Tech scoring wing Kevin Murphy, versatile Memphis swingman Will Barton and a trio of somewhat raw big men in Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn, Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli and Syracuse's Fab Melo. The Bulls have the luxury of not needing a rookie to come in and be a star right away, but management could have a different approach with Derrick and potentially Lu missing significant time at the beginning of next season. Right now, the biggest potential needs are a shooter, a shot-creating playmaker, size if Omer leaves via free agency (as many expect) and depending on the thought process about Ronnie and Kyle, another swingman.
Is it reasonable to think Derrick as a 2 guard makes the most sense upon his return to the Bulls next season? -- Kristoffer K.

Kristoffer, I don't think so. While Derrick's mobility might not be the same initially, he still needs the ball in his hands to be most successful and contrary to popular belief, he is a point guard. I can see why some people might think, because of his scoring ability and size, he could slide over to the two, as he'd be defending less mobile players, but even if he doesn't have his full explosiveness immediately upon returning to the court, there's a good chance that he's still quicker than most players in the league. All that said, he is a point guard and that's the position he should play when he returns, unless the Bulls either acquire or develop an All-Star caliber player at the position or Rip isn't with the team anymore, since that's their starting shooting guard.
Keep the questions -- whether theyre about the Bulls, the rest of the NBA, other levels of basketball or life in general -- coming. Youll get a much better explanation, though not as instant, than you would via Twitter with only 140 characters. You can submit a question by commenting on this article below or by clicking here.

Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?

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USA TODAY

Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?

New York Times veteran NBA writer Marc Stein tweeted late Friday that multiple teams were interested in fourth-year swingman Rodney Hood.

We know that the Jazz are one of the rumored teams interested in embattled forward Niko Mirotic and while it wouldn’t seem to make sense on the surface, Rodney Hood could be a good fit for the Bulls.

Hood will be a restricted free agent this summer and the Bulls would retain the rights to match any offer if they felt like the former Duke Blue Devil was the right piece to join the new core of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn.

There is one complication in a potential Mirotic for Hood deal; the salaries don’t quite match. Utah would need to send another player like Alec Burks to Chicago in the deal. The Bulls would have to be OK taking on Burks’ $11.5 million salary for the 2018-19 season and his cap hit in free agency. Good news though, the free agent class this summer is very thin at small forward, the main position the Bulls have a need for.

Another road block, the Bulls are set to max out LaVine this July, and they may be wary on tying up a good part of their cap space for the next four years on two players.

Acquiring Hood hurts the ‘tank’ but you’d have a three-month audition of a 25-year old shooter that on paper would seem to work with the current rotation. If the Bulls felt like Hood wasn’t a good fit, let him walk in free agency. They would then keep their cap space intact for the 2019 super free agent class.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.