Bulls

Rose out, Butler in against Sixers, describes his 'process'

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Rose out, Butler in against Sixers, describes his 'process'

PHILADELPHIA — The Bulls could have a skeleton crew for tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, as Jimmy Butler didn’t go through shootaround, Pau Gasol didn’t make the trip and Derrick Rose is a out with tendonitis in his left knee.

Rose went through shootaround after tweaking his left knee in Tuesday’s loss in Milwaukee, but said he doesn’t feel 100 percent when pushing off his left leg.

When asked if he was playing after going through a warm-up 90 minutes before gametime, Rose said, “not tonight.”

Butler will play, but his right ankle sprain is something that should be monitored after he sprained it late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss to the Bucks.

The Bulls will play Dallas at home for the final game in their four-in-five stretch back at the United Center on Friday.

“It felt better, but we’ll see how it is before I get back over here,” Rose said in the morning shootaround. “Still didn’t have the explosiveness that I would want, but it’s getting better every day, so that’s the good thing about it. (Tuesday) was the only day that it felt that way, so not worried about it.’’

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Rose said he didn’t feel any added pressure to play with Butler’s status still in the air as of the late morning. After all, it’s the 76ers they’re going against and even a less-than-full squad should be enough to take care of business.

“I believe in my teammates if I’m not ready to play or if I’m not able to go I’m just not going to go,” Rose said. “I wanted to play as many games as I want to, as I can. It’s frustrating of course when you miss games, but can’t get mad at that. It’s the reality. I just got to deal with it and just keep getting recovery, getting the treatment like I’ve been doing.”

Rose missed three games recently with a hamstring injury and has played in 32 of the 38 games so far this season. If that trend holds up, he’s on track to play 69 games (84 percent), the most he’s played since his MVP season in 2011.

In the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, which culminated in Rose tearing his ACL in Game 1 of the first-round series against the 76ers, Rose played in 39 of the 66 games (59 percent).

He missed all of the next season and 10 games in the 2013-14 season before last year, when he underwent meniscus surgery after the All-Star break before returning right before the playoffs.

He commonly refers to an injury as “the process,” as in with the way his body has gone through so much over the last four years, getting through the season will be viewed as a success.

Then next year, once he knows he can complete a season, he believes he’ll ramp it up another gear from an individual standpoint.

“That’s all a part of the process,” Rose said. “Coming into the season, I was just trying to play as many games as possible. Next year, that’s when I throw in my individual goals and all that, but it’s all about getting a solid season under my belt, playing hard in the playoffs whenever we get there, but along the way just being smart and really taking care of my body, and pushing my teammates to be better.”

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.