Bulls

Rose, Noah expected to return vs. Nets

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Rose, Noah expected to return vs. Nets

Nothings a guarantee until it happens, but out of the five Bulls currently injured at least the ones who have disclosed their statuses; dont push the panic button, but in this hectic NBA season more than any other, the majority of every teams roster features several wounded warriors it appears three of them will be in action Monday night.

Derricks gametime, Johns gametime, Taj is out and Luol, most likely out. Joakim, I think, will go. Hell be gametime, though, too. Hes got to warm up, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after the teams morning shootaround at the Berto Center.

To review: All-Star point guard Derrick Rose will likely return after missing four consecutive games because of turf toe in his left foot, starting center Joakim Noah should be in the lineup after sitting out Saturday due to a sprained left ankle suffered in Fridays victory at Cleveland and reserve John Lucas III will probably be available after missing the win against the Bobcats because of a strained left groin, also suffered against the Cavaliers. However, small forward Luol Deng, as he told CSNChicago.com late Sunday night via text message, is unlikely to play because of a sprained left wrist suffered in Saturdays win over Charlotte and backup power forward Taj Gibson, the only player whos status Thibodeau could confirm in certainty, wont play Monday, when the Bulls play host to New Jersey.

If that sounds overwhelming, dont tell that to Thibodeau

Actually, its not that difficult because of the depth of the team. our second unit plays a lot, so if theres an injury, the next guy steps up. Well go from there. We have 14 guys on the roster that can all play, he said. I expect them to play well. Theres a reason why theyre here. We feel that theyre all talented, very talented. We all feel that they have the right attitude and approach, so we know that when the opportunity comes, theyre going to be ready to play. So, when they do get that opportunity, I expect them to play well. I see what they do every day in practice.

Well, it doesnt change anything defensively. Then, you base it upon whos available and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You play to their strengths, but the core of the team is basically the same all the time, Thibodeau, who was asked a softball question about the team having four home games in a row with a day off in between, unlike the Bulls road-heavy schedule thus far this season before the squad embarks on a nine-game road trip, but didnt take the bait. It is the way it is. Thats what were faced with. I like every week.

Rose was more optimistic about the homestand saying, It feels good, just to be back home for a couple of days, sleeping in my bed for a couple of days, instead of just sleeping there one night and leaving the next night, so were happy to be here and hopefully well get some wins while were here.

The 23-year-old reigning league MVP looked healthy, especially compared to the gimpy version last seen on a court trying, unsuccessfully, to play in Memphis a week ago, as he got extra shots up at the conclusion of shootaround.

Its a little sore, but tonight, its a game-time decision. I practiced today. It felt decent, so hopefully Ill be playing tonight, he said. I ran on it today. I practiced. I did a whole walk-through. It really didnt bother me like that. They put things on my feet to make my feet more comfortable, so I really shouldnt have a problem.

Added Thibodeau: He did everything today. Each day, hes been feeling a lot better. All the swelling is out. Of course, hes got to warm up tonight to see if hes good, but hes coming along well.

Still, Rose couched his previous statement, also knowing that pregame warm-ups will determine whether he plays against the Nets.

I dont know yet. Thats why I said decent. Im not 100-percent sure if Im going to play or not. Ive got to see how it goes tonight, get treatment after this. Ive been getting treatment every day and lifting every day, Rose said. Its been very boring.

I definitely hate being injured, but I definitely have to take my time, he continued. Very frustrating. Hard, just sitting out. I know were winning. I cant complain about anything, but its kind of boring not playing, so hopefully Ill be playing tonight.

Rose acknowledged that his toe injury will likely linger throughout the remainder of the season, but is committed to gutting it out, though he knows his teammates are capable of picking up his slack if hes out of the lineup.

I know that its never going to be right this year, but its just something Ive just got to play through, he said. Its my decision. If I choose to go out there and play, its up to me.

Its been hard, man, especially knowing that I want to be out there playing. Were winning thats a good thing but just missing the action, its kind of tough, Rose continued. Its a blessing, man. It shows that we really put in the work. When guys are out, other guys are coming in, playing just as well as the people thats starting, so it shows a lot about the coaching staff, that theyre doing their job, and the players are coming in and doing theirs.

Thibodeau, who said Deng was at the doctor and didnt participate in shootaround, was undecided about which player would potentially replace the small forward in the starting lineup if he cant play Monday.

Undecided on that. Game-time decision, he said. Hes a complete player, brings a lot to the team. The versatility of our roster, we feel good. We feel like we have more than enough to win with. Were, of course, disappointed that hes injured, for him, because he puts so much work into it, but yet, we still know that the guys that are filling in are more than capable.

Chimed in Rose, who has lobbied for Deng to make his debut All-Star Game appearance this season: It will change a lot, especially how Lus been playing this year. Hes been great for us. Rebounding the ball, scoring the ball, just being consistent for us this year. It will definitely hurt us, but weve still got to go out there and play these games.

I think you see everything that he does. You can tell that he works on his game. I remember, just coming into the league, Lu wasnt a three-point shooter. Now, hes knocking down threes. Hes always been a rebounder and a scorer off one dribble, he added. He has a lot of things to his game. The post game, you can definitely tell that hes been working on that, so theres a lot of things that hes been doing to his game, to help his game for our team.

As for fellow starter Noah, Rose said, He looked good. He did the whole walk-through, so I know hes going to give us his all tonight.

Lucas told CSNChicago.com that whether he plays or not will be a game-time decision.

With all of the injury updates, its easy to forget that theres actual basketball to be played tonight, with the lowly Nets in town. However, Rose, who will be matched up with fellow All-Star point guard Deron Williams, isnt taking anything for granted.

Theyre a team, where if you give them confidence, they can definitely win the game, so were just going to have to go out there, play hard, just try to take their confidence very early and try to get a win, said Rose, who supplanted Williams as the top point guard, in the opinion of league general managers in an annual survey. Against every point guard now in this league, youve got to go out there and be prepared to play, and I know its going to be fun. Its definitely going to be fun.

Dunking Markkanen, dead-legged LaVine, no Dunn and tanking the right way

Dunking Markkanen, dead-legged LaVine, no Dunn and tanking the right way

ATLANTA — Here are the observations from the Bulls’ 113-97 win over the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena Saturday afternoon.

Not a shooter, but a scorer: The Atlanta Hawks’ gameplan was clear on Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen: Do anything but let him shoot.

They succeeded at that objective but in the words of Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, they “won the battle but lost the war” as Markkanen missed all four of his 3-pointers and didn’t hit a jump shot.

But he scored 19 including six dunks—after coming in with 28 dunks in the first 42 games. The Hawks kept putting smaller players on him after switching pick and rolls and the Bulls smartly and patiently went to Markkanen inside after ball movement.

Shooting over 6-foot-10 guys who aren’t as agile is certainly satisfying for the rookie but as Markkanen said, “dunking is fun.”

“Trying to be a complete player,” Markkanen said. “If that was their game plan, I don’t know. I can do much more than shoot. I missed how many three’s today? But that wasn’t going for me tonight so I went to something else.”

Clearly while Markkanen’s game is growing the easiest thing for opposing teams to do is to see how he’ll perform against smaller players, but as the season has gone on he’s shown more comfort with his back to the basket and being two passes away, ready to step into the lane when defenses collapse.

“I know I can’t just shoot threes, I gotta get to the rim,” Markkanen said. “Eventually it’ll open more space for 3-pointers and stuff like that. Trying to mix it up.”

Dead legs or settling in for Zach LaVine: It was tailor made for Zach LaVine to get his second slam of the season, getting the ball on a breakaway with only Taurean Prince trailing him.

Whether LaVine heard footsteps or knew he didn’t have the full lift to get there, Prince caught up with him to foul from behind as LaVine tripped before liftoff, missing a layup.

It was indicative of his early showing, as the adrenaline from the first two games has worn off and LaVine is having to get used to his body’s limitations in the moment—especially as his minute restriction was raised to 24 minutes for the next three games before he’ll be re-evaluated again.

He was 0-for-4 in the first half before catching a bit of a rhythm in the second half, finishing two-for-nine with eight points in 18 minutes, adding nine rebounds. His explosion isn’t there yet, going to the rim. And his legs on his jumper feels a little flat, too.

“I don’t have all of it (legs),” LaVine said. “A couple possessions down the floor, I get tired. Get fouled and have to walk it off. I have to get the game legs back and I can’t practice it, it comes with playing.”

In two months, one would think he’ll finish that with little issues but he admitted fatigue caught up with him more than anything.

“My first two (games) I was extremely excited, energized,” LaVine said. “I just feel like it’s something I gotta get used to playing NBA games again. I feel it a little bit.”

Especially in watching Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas go through a similar up-and-down period with his return, nobody should’ve expected LaVine’s performances to just keep rising and rising without dropoff.

This is part of the rehab, and the Bulls feel as if they’re prepared for it. Their reasoning for only marginally increasing LaVine’s workload from 20 to 24 minutes is simple: They want him to have off-days to continue strengthening his surgically-repaired knee, not just having him take the practice days as recovery from playing heavy minutes.

“You can’t anticipate any of it,” LaVine said. “I felt good the first two, I feel good now. No injury, no knick-knacks or anything. Just energy-wise and your legs, making sure you’re getting up and down the floor, making sure you’re getting elevation on your jumper and in the lane, I gotta get better at it.”

As self-aware as anyone considering what he’s been through over the past year, he offered an assurance to any who may be concerned.

“I gotta play through it, find ways around it,” LaVine said. “Regardless I’m not scared or anything. I feel fine.”

Dunn out vs. New Orleans: Kris Dunn will be out against the New Orleans Pelicans and it appears more likely he’ll miss Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia as well as he recovers from the concussion he suffered in a scary fall against Golden State earlier this week.

“He has no change in his symptoms,” Hoiberg said. “We’ll know more tomorrow but his symptoms haven’t changed.”

Initially the Bulls didn’t believe Dunn had a concussion but the symptoms emerged early the next morning.

“From what I understand with concussion symptoms, they can take up to 24 hours to develop. It sounds like the initial tests, he passed,” Hoiberg said. “Then he woke up the morning, had a headache, had some dizziness, was re-checked and that’s when they put him in concussion protocol. There’s been very little change since. He’s still having trouble with sleeping. The biggest thing is making sure he’s getting rest and he stays hydrated.”

The tank: One team successfully executed how to tank, and that was the Atlanta Hawks. Yes, the Bulls forced them into missing 37 of 48 3-point attempts, and the Bulls jumped on them early and never allowed the Hawks to take a lead, much less get too close.

“We opened with a double-digit lead right out the gate,” Hoiberg said. “Overall, really complete performance for our guys.”

“We knew we had to come out the gate with great effort.”

Robin Lopez continued his impressive play with 20 points and Justin Holiday hit a few shots late to score 13, while Bobby Portis scored 14 in 18 minutes.

But pretty, it was not.

The Bulls haven’t completely abandoned their plans for the season, as they’ll field calls for Holiday, Lopez and of course, have Nikola Mirotic’s exit being first on their docket.

But while this team is relatively whole, this is a game they should win handily.

And they did.

Yet and still, though, this applies to the 13-32 Hawks:

Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?

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.