Derrick Rose will play in the Bulls’ final west-coast game for this early swing, where a win against the Portland Trail Blazers will make it a successful early-season voyage.
“Derrick’s gonna go tonight,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He felt good after the last couple days of practice.”
[MORE BULLS: Noah struggling to find his fit in Hoiberg's offense]
Other than general soreness and fatigue after a couple days of practice, Rose’s left ankle seems to have recovered on track and he’s only missed two games in the past week.
He doesn’t appear to have any minute restrictions but his play and his wind will be monitored by the coaching staff. The Bulls will be without backup point guard Aaron Brooks (hamstring) so if Rose is feeling good, he could play heavy minutes against the high-scoring tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who combine for over 45 points per game.
[SHOP: Buy a Derrick Rose jersey]
The only fly in this ointment could be that Portland is the place where he injured his meniscus two years ago, almost two years to the day. It cost him the 2013-14 season after playing just 10 games, and although it would be understandable for the Moda Center to bring about a few bad memories, Rose isn’t letting on to such fears.
“Nah, can’t think about that,” Rose said. “The past is the past. It could’ve happened anywhere, just happened here. I haven’t thought about it until you said it. But I kinda leave that in the past.”
Kendall Gill can add another bullet point to his resume.
NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls analyst was announced as a member of the University of Illinois' Athletics Hall of Fame for the Class of 2018. Gill enters in the same class as his coach at Illinois, Lou Henson, and former Bulls broadcaster Johnny "Red" Kerr.
Gill was a part of Illinois' 1989 Final Four team and earned consensus Second-Team All-America honors the following year as a senior when he led the Big Ten in scoring (20 points per game). He is third in program history in steals with 218.
He went on to have a 15-year NBA career, which included a stint with the Bulls.
Last year was the inaugural class for Illinois' hall of fame.
The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.
1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.
2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…
3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling.