Bulls

Derrick Rose attends Bulls shootaround; status to be determined

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Derrick Rose attends Bulls shootaround; status to be determined

The Bulls had a surprise visitor of sorts at their morning shootaround as they prepared for their fourth preseason game Tuesday morning.

As in their starting point guard, Derrick Rose, still recovering from orbital bone surgery after an injury he suffered on the first day of training camp. It’s the first time he’s been back to the Advocate Center since that day he was inadvertently nailed with an elbow by a teammate on Sept. 30.

“Derrick’s in the building,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It was great to see him. We’ll get with him and watch some individual film after practice. He still isn’t able to do anything as far as court work. Hopefully, he’ll get clearance in the next couple days to at least get a sweat going and getting a little bit of running.”

Hoiberg hopes Rose will be on the bench tonight for the game, but isn’t sure whether he will.

“That's yet to be determined,” Hoiberg said. “We'll see how he's feeling. But it'll be good for him. I think it'll be good to get him back out there. If he's not the bench, he'll at least be in the building.”

[RELATED: Until Butler and Rose succeed together, speculation will always loom]

Said forward Doug McDermott: “Since the first day of practice, I haven’t seen him at all. It’s good to see him back in the facility. He looks great and we’re looking forward to getting him back.”

Rose underwent surgery Oct. 1, and while the initial prognosis stated Rose should be available for opening night on Oct. 27, nobody will know how quickly his eye will heal. He has another checkup on Thursday and is suffering from blurred vision, a common side effect after a procedure of that nature.

Hoiberg isn’t sure if Rose will wear a mask when he returns, a commonly used protective measure for players in such instances, but it’s a good bet to say he will, at least early on.

“If he likes it, he may want to keep it on for protection,” Hoiberg said. “But as long as that bone is healed, I’m sure that will be a decision the doctors and trainers make.”

The longer Rose is away from the team, the harder it’ll be for him to pick up the increased nuances of Hoiberg’s offensive system. The staff has visited Rose with game film in tow when he wasn’t able to have his eye exposed to sunlight to keep him abreast, but there’s nothing like actual game action to be able to read and react to given situations.

“It will help to get him out here running. Different guys learn different ways,” Hoiberg said. “I think it’s very important once we get him back to show him and be able to run it first-hand to get the timing right. But he’s able to pick it up quick. It’s a lot of the same things we were doing, just adding on different wrinkles and different options. From Derrick’s standpoint, the biggest thing is just getting out of the house. He was getting such cabin fever. The opportunity for him to get back in here is very important.”

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

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AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft Tracker: Michigan State's Miles Bridges

NBA general managers were fully expecting to see Miles Bridges declare for the 2017 draft after a solid, but unspectacular freshman season at Michigan State. Bridges arrived in East Lansing as one of the nation’s top prospects, and his impressive leaping ability led to a number of highlight reel plays for Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

Problem is, Bridges didn’t show much versatility to his offensive game because of an inconsistent outside shot and inability to create shots off the dribble. Bridges probably would have been a late lottery pick last year on athletic talent alone, but to his credit, he decided to go back to Michigan State for his sophomore season and work on some of his weaknesses.

Unfortunately for Bridges, he really hasn’t shown much improvement year to year. Yes, he’s leading the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 89%, but his other numbers are basically flat from season to season. Bridges averaged 16.9 points a year ago, 17.1 this season. He shot .486 from the field in 2016-17, .477 this year. Even with all the work he put in on his 3 point shooting, his percentage has dropped slightly this season, from .389 to .376. Rebounding is also down slightly, from 8.3 to 6.8. 

Bottom line, Bridges is once again projected as a late lottery pick.

How does he fit for the Bulls? It’s no secret small forward and center are the two positions of need heading into the 2018 draft, and the 6-7 Bridges would give the Bulls another athletic frontcourt player who fits the pace and space game Fred Hoiberg prefers. Bridges could be a real weapon running the floor with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine for alley-oop dunks, and he should continue to improve as a 3 point shooter.

The Bulls are hoping to land a top 5 pick to add one of the elite players in this draft, and unless the Pelicans drop into the late lottery, Bridges will probably be gone by the time that selection comes up. He’s probably a bit of a reach in the 6 to 10 range, but if positional need and athletic potential are the most important factors for the Bulls, Miles Bridges could be the choice if they don’t improve their position in the current lottery watch standings.

Personally, I would prefer either Kentucky’s Kevin Knox or Villanova’s Mikal Bridges (no relation) over Miles Bridges as a small forward prospect, but all 3 players offer different skill sets that could be helpful to a young, developing team like the Bulls.

The dream scenario would be drafting a young center like Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. or Mo Bamba with a top 5 pick, then coming back to add one of those 3 small forward prospects with the 1st rounder they acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade with New Orleans. We’ll all have to wait until the lottery is held on May 15th to see if the Bulls are in position to add two more foundation pieces to their rebuilding project.