Bulls

Five reasons the Bulls were right to trade Derrick Rose

Five reasons the Bulls were right to trade Derrick Rose

Everyone's got an opinion on whether the Bulls were right in trading away point guard Derrick Rose.

What's not up for debate is that the deal has benefits for the Bulls. Here are five reasons the Bulls got it right in dealing the former MVP when they did:

1. Rose's stock is in constant flux, and it's high right now

Bulls fans know all too well that Rose is one awkward landing or misstep away from serious injury. Last season he played in 66 games, five more than he played the previous three seasons combined. While not a clean bill of health - Rose will likely never have that again - he's currently as healthy as he's been since before he tore his ACL in the 2012 playoffs. Yes, the Bulls could have gone into the season with Rose and bet on his contract-year status pushing him to play even better than he did a year ago, boosting his trade value. But what if Rose were to re-injure his knee in early November, crushing his trade value as February's trade deadline came and went? Then the Bulls lose him for nothing at season's end. It was a gamble the Bulls rightfully didn't take.

2. The Bulls found their answer to Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah leaving

It's easy to look at Rose's expiring deal and wonder why the Bulls are giving up a talent like him AND taking on more salary. But with Gasol and Noah essentially out of the team's plans, the Bulls were going to need to sign a center this offseason or plug in the No. 14 pick in the middle, always a risky proposition. Instead they get center Robin Lopez, someone who has played in 82 games three of the last four years, provides solid rim protection and can go for a double-double each night. He's signed through 2019 at an average of $13.5 million. That may seem steep, but with the salary cap increasing each of the next two years that'll be the going rate for a starting center. Lopez is a safe bet on a team-friendly deal.

3. If it really was between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, this was a no-brainer

Reports surfaced Tuesday night that the Celtics were unable to reach a deal with the Bulls for Jimmy Butler. And for that Bulls fans should breathe a sigh of relief. It's the right move for the Bulls to stick with a 26-year-old, two-time All-Star about to enter his prime. Yes, the return for Butler would have been far greater than what the Bulls received for Rose. But regardless of the kind of leader Butler is or whether he gets along well with head coach Fred Hoiberg, it's unwise for any team to ship out that kind of talent. There's no way the Bulls could have received equal value in any deal, including one with the Celtics that included the No. 3 pick. Butler is locked in to a relatively cheap deal (given the contracts about to be handed out this offseason) and isn't fading anytime soon. If the Bulls had to choose between Rose and Butler, even with the potential return in a Butler deal, this was a no-brainer.

4. The Bulls get the guy they wanted last year in Jerian Grant

The Bulls reportedly were high on Grant before last season's draft, only to see him selected three picks before they their No. 22 slot. Instead, the Bulls were gifted Bobby Portis, who appears to have a bright future in the Windy City. And following Wednesday's trade, the Bulls now get a 23-year-old point guard with the ability to play off the ball. The Bulls are getting younger and more versatile at a position of need, with Aaron Brooks and E'Twaun Moore both free agents. Whatever Jose Calderon is able to provide will be an added bonus after Lopez's and Grant's contributions.

5. They now have more options in Thursday's draft

With Lopez and Grant in tow, the Bulls can approach the draft in a variety of ways. It's not imperative they find a center, or at least one who can play right away. If they want to focus their attention on more of a pure point guard they're able to do so, knowing Grant has the ability to play off the ball. Should they opt for a shooting guard or a wing they can feel good knowing they've got Grant and Calderon as a 1-2 combination at the point. Gar Forman said the Bulls feel as though they added another first-round pick with Grant, so they may be able to roll the dice on a high-upside prospect at No. 14.

Jimmy Butler leaves game unable to put any pressure on right leg after apparent non-contact injury

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ESPN

Jimmy Butler leaves game unable to put any pressure on right leg after apparent non-contact injury

The NBA may have lost another top superstar due to injury.

On Friday, Jimmy Butler appeared to have suffered a non-contact injury to his right knee. He left the game against the Houston Rockets unable to put any pressure on his right leg and needed assistance getting back to the locker room. 

Here's a video of the incident:

Coach Tom Thibodeau said that Butler will have an MRI when the team returns to Minnesota on Saturday.

Butler drew a lot of headlines last weekend after not playing in the NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

Entering Friday, Butler led the league with 37.3 minutes played per game.

The Bulls also take on the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday night.

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.