Bulls

Kidd provides positive outlook on Rose

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Kidd provides positive outlook on Rose

Being that it's Christmas Eve, most people are in a festive mood these days. Even Bulls fans, who started this season in gloom-and-doom mode, due to the absence of Derrick Rose and the team's shaky start, are now more optimistic with the new-look roster finding its stride and notching some impressive wins as of late.
When it comes to Rose's recovery, it seems like there's a new story about his progress every other day. But as secretive as the organization can be, the truth is that nobody but Rose and the medical staff truly can make any ballpark guess as to when he could return.
While it's encouraging that he's doing increasingly more drill work and starting to participate in walk-through sessions, in the grand scheme of things that doesn't mean much. Only he knows how his body feels and only trained medical professionals can accurately gauge his readiness to play again, no matter what Adrian Peterson's potential record-breaking NFL season or anything Ricky Rubio does makes us believe.
But if there's anything to be gleaned from the experiences of other, perhaps a better person than most to ask is future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. Now playing off the ball for the Knicks, Kidd is one of the greatest playmakers in NBA history and, for those who didn't see him when he was young -- I'm talking about when he was a high school All-American, in college at Cal or during his early days as a pro in Dallas, even before making back-to-back Finals appearances with the Nets, let alone winning the 2011 title in his second stint with the Mavericks -- aside from being a great passer, Kidd was an explosive player with the ability to finish above the rim.
Maybe he wasn't an elite athlete like Rose, but his size and speed, coupled with his legendary court vision, gave him a dimension that opponents found extremely difficult to deal with. Like Rose, Kidd was destined for greatness very early in his career -- and reached his potential as one of the game's greatest point guards -- but they also share similarities in that neither was a great shooter early on (Kidd, now a solid long-distance threat, was often jokingly referred to as "Ason," because he had no "J") and both had serious knee injuries as young players, with Kidd having to have microfracture surgery, then regarded as a potentially career-ending procedure.
Prior to the Bulls' wild win over the Knicks in New York, I briefly caught up with Kidd as he finished his pregame shooting -- he doesn't talk in the locker room before games and given the circumstances of Friday evening, I didn't catch him in time afterwards -- and we discussed Rose's recovery."It's a lot of hard work, especially when you're talking about your knee. You've just got to be patient, but you've got to do all the little things to maintain that strength and I know Derrick is going to do that. From what I'm hearing, he's worked extremely hard. It takes time," Kidd told me. "Sometimes things happen for a reason and maybe now, he'll pay a little more attention to that jump shot. If he gets that, then he's pretty much unguardable because of his athletic ability and his knowledge of the game, so I think it's a good thing."My Christmas gift to you: Kidd's optimism about Derrick.
I hope everybody enjoys the holiday season, hopefully with their loved ones--I have a rare day off tomorrow and won't be at Omer Asik's return to Chicago, though I'll be back in action Wednesday at Indiana.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Bulls' Tuesday night tilt against the Cavaliers on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. LeBron James will be on your television

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is must-see TV. Now in his 15th NBA season, James has shown no signs of slowing down. Despite playing just one preseason game (against the Bulls), James has shown anything but rust in three games, averaging 25.0 points on 60 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in nearly 37 minutes. He's a threat every night to do something you've never seen on a basketball court, His Airness included. Justin Holiday and Paul Zipser will have their hands full against the game's best player.

2. Lauri Markkanen, Week 2

Small sample size alert! But through the season's first week Markkanen and Ben Simmons are the only rookies averaging a double-double (Dallas' Dennis Smith has played just one game, averaging 16 points and 10 assists). While the Bulls have struggled through two games, Markkanen's net rating is third best on the team and he leads the Bulls bigs in rebounds per game and rebound percentage. Markkanen has shown some versatility offensively, and his 7 free-throw attempts have been a nice surprise as well.

3. Don't forget: The Bulls swept the Cavaliers last year

OK, so expecting a victory Tuesday night in Cleveland isn't smart. The Bulls will be underdogs just like they were in each of the four games last season, all of which were Bulls winners. It was the first time in 52 division series that LeBron James had been swept, which is pretty remarkable considering the Bulls were the No. 8 seed and the Cavs coasted to a third straight NBA Finals. We're not over here predicting a win. But just remember: the Bulls have fared well against James in the regular season.

Zach LaVine not sweating contract extension, anxious to get back in uniform

Zach LaVine not sweating contract extension, anxious to get back in uniform

The Zach LaVine timeline for a Bulls debut remains the same, although he’s ahead of schedule in every metric of his return from ACL surgery this past February.

It doesn’t mean he isn’t angling for more work and pushing his limits to learn the offense he’ll be featured in, along with taking contact “here and there,” in his words. He’s supposed to wait nine months from the day of his February 14 surgery before taking contact, which would put him at a November 14 practice before the Bulls go to Oklahoma City.

“I should be doing contact really soon. It all depends on them,” LaVine said in his first public words since media day several weeks ago. “I’m pushing them as hard as I can, but at the end of the day we still gotta be careful. I feel great. I’m doing everything I was doing before. I’m pretty sure I can do contact, but we’ve got to stick to that schedule. But every day I’m just getting back, trying to as close to 100 percent as I can before I come back.”

LaVine was at Air Canada Centre getting a workout in before the Bulls opener against the Raptors and has gotten in heavy workouts on the off days with the assistant coaches in the meantime.

Sticking to the schedule will be on both LaVine and the Bulls, although both sides could be tempted to cut corners a bit. It would be human nature for the Bulls to show the NBA world their centerpiece from the Jimmy Butler trade on draft night, as well as LaVine to want to be the frontline player he feels he deserves to be.

“Yeah, it’s definitely hard. I don’t like missing games,” LaVine said. “Before the injury I didn’t really miss any games. I think I missed one or two in my career, so it really sucks just sitting there, not being able to help. I try to help as much as I can from the sideline. You know, give a little advice here and there, but yeah it hurts.”

He’s also in line for a big-time extension, having passed the deadline for extensions for players in his 2014 draft class. He’ll have to wait until the summer, especially since it didn’t make sense for him to extend unless it was a max deal.

“Obviously, I want to be here for a long time,” LaVine said. “And I feel the deal is going to get done, either then or next summer. I don’t have any fear in that. I think I know I’ll be in black and red for a little bit longer. I’m very happy and looking forward to that day as well. The main concern is just getting back on the court, get my legs ready and try to help the team as much as possible until then.”

LaVine was averaging a career-high 18.9 points as a third option behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, but will be featured in Fred Hoiberg’s offense as a first and maybe even second option, too—especially seeing how anemic the Bulls offense has looked in the first two games.

“With the team that we have and the system that (Fred Hoiberg) put in, we’re going to get up a lot of threes,” LaVine said. “When we’re on we’re going to blow some teams out with those threes. When we’re off, as the last couple games have shown, it’s going to be a struggle to score sometimes, but I think that’s where I can come in and help, and I can’t wait to get out there and start playing.”

Never lacking for confidence, LaVine hasn’t been deterred by the losing or even the unfortunate Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic incident from last week.

“We’re building something here. People understand we’re going through a little bit of that process,” LaVine said. “But we’re going to play and win. When I’m on the court, I’m trying to win. Wins and losses do happen. We can always take positives from both of those. That’s how you grow.”

As for Mirotic, LaVine hasn’t spoken to him but has sent texts—as it seems many of the Bulls have reached out to their teammate over the last several days.

“It was unfortunate. That’s what happens when two players are battling I guess,” LaVine said. “I don’t think either of them were in the wrong. It was just something that happened, an altercation. Men are men sometimes. We never should have that happen. But I think we’ve moved past it. Bobby’s in a good spot. We’ve all tried to contact Niko. I think we’ll all be able to move forward.”