Bulls

Rose takes contact, isn't held back in practice

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Rose takes contact, isn't held back in practice

With an eye toward returning in Thursdays home game against the Celtics, Derrick Rose has ramped up the rehabilitation process for his strained right groin. The All-Star point guard was a full participant in Wednesday afternoons practice at the Berto Center, taking contact for the first time since the injury, which occurred 11 games prior.

I really dont know. I felt good, but me playing tomorrow, I dont know. Im able to run a little bit more, but not at my top speed, said Rose after practice. I really cant explain, unless youve had the injury.

I definitely feel better. Im running, able to move a little bit more, so Im getting healthy, he continued. Ive taken three weeks off or two weeks off, however many Ive taken off my conditioning is definitely a worry, but in basketball, you should be able to fight through it.

Its my first time ever having this injury. Usually people, after they have it, they usually dont have it anymore, but my biggest thing is coming back too quick and re-injuring it again.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Rose has been increasingly active in past days and while he looked good shooting the ball in a voluntary workout session Tuesday, but while he looked OK in Wednesdays practice, he was tentative and not in playing shape, things that should be expected after such a long absence. Still, just having Rose back in practice was a positive for the Bulls, coming off their first two-game losing streak of the season.

It was a good day at practice. Everyone went, so thats good, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who noted that Rose went through everything Wednesday. It was good because coming off a day off, we had the opportunity to do a lot of stuff.

You know, Im an optimist. I always believe it could happen. Thats the way I think. I get around you guys, then I think it wont happen, continued a sarcastic Thibodeau quipped when asked about Roses status for Thursdays game. Well see how he feels tomorrow. His speed and quickness looked very good, so I thought it was very encouraging.

Rip Hamilton, Roses backcourt partner who just returned from a long absence due to injury himself, was similarly optimistic about how Rose appeared Wednesday.

On Derricks bad days, hes still a 10 in terms of explosiveness, on a scale of 1-10. He possesses all the attributes, so when hes 100 percent, hes way over 10. Him not full speed is still faster than probably 98 percent of the league, he said. The first time in a long time to have everybody practicing in a long time. Its a good thing that we were all on the floor at the same time.

With this season, its hard to do a whole lot of scrimmaging. It was the same thing for me when I came back. I didnt get an opportunity to scrimmage, so the first five-on-five was in a game, so we just try to stay conditioned, take little bumps during practice.

Hamilton believes the Bulls will be much improved with their full cast on hand after Rose returns to the lineup.

I definitely think so. Guys have done a great job stepping in and doing what theyve been doing Ronnie, Kyle, C.J., John those guys have been excellent the whole season. I think when we come back, everybody gets their rhythm, everybody gets back into their comfort zone, what theyre used to doing, well be great, the veteran explained. He does so many great things on the floor that can get me so many wide-open baskets. I think in the past and pretty much my whole career, just working so hard, my team looked at me to lead the team in scoring every game and now Im in a situation where I can just get to spots. Derricks going to create, Derricks going to make plays to make my job a lot easier, so I can get a lot of easy wide-open shots.

Thibodeau tacitly admitted that the dual absences of Rose and Hamilton have put additional pressure on Bulls reserves, such as C.J. Watson, who has endured both significant and nagging injuries throughout the season himself.

One of C.J.s strengths is the way he shoots the ball. Hes played through some nicks, hes banged up a little bit, but hes got a lot of mental toughness and hes done a great job going in for Derrick or when Derricks been out. Overall, C.J.s had a terrific year for us, he said. I think this time of the year, you have to strike that balance of the rest and playing. We also want him to be in rhythm down the road, so I think just step by step. The way the schedule is this month, if we need to sit him out of some practices, well probably do thatgive him an opportunity to rest therebut hes done a good job overall for us. Hes had a great year.

Meanwhile, Thibodeau praised Roses positive outlook during a trying time.

Hes been patient. Hes done a great job with his rehab. Each day, hes done more and more. Hes feeling better and better, and so, well see how he feels tomorrow. He did quite a bit yesterday and he did more today, so its very encouraging, but well see where he is tomorrow, he said. Hes approached it great. His attitude has been great. Fred Tedeschi, our trainer, and Bulls assistant trainer Jeff Tanaka have done a great job with him. Our medical staff, theyve taken him through it step by step. Hes been diligent with the rehab, twice a day. I think he knows what he is. Hell be fine.

Robin Lopez taking demotion in stride, wants to return to Chicago

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USA TODAY

Robin Lopez taking demotion in stride, wants to return to Chicago

Only an errant punch that missed the face of Serge Ibaka prevented Robin Lopez from suiting up for the Bulls since arriving in the summer of 2016, but his availability streak will come to an abrupt end as the Bulls are sitting and Justin Holiday for the foreseeable future.

Lopez didn’t dress for the Bulls’ game against the 76ers, as he and Holiday were replaced by Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba. Although he was jovial, cracking a few jokes when meeting with the media in pregame, it was clear he was disappointed.

“It was rough for me. I get it. I understand it,” Lopez said. “I always want to be out there playing on the court. That’s what I enjoy, especially playing with these guys. But I’m excited to watch these guys give it a go from the bench.”

With the Bulls being eighth in the lottery standings, Lopez understands the long-term objectives of the organization and said the conversation with the front office went as expected.

“I think pretty much what everybody else has heard,” Lopez said. “I was pulled aside. They told me they wanted to evaluate a few other guys, a few of the young guys. So I get it.”

Starting 138 of 139 games makes his streak ending a bit tougher to stomach, especially considering he didn’t find out about his certain inactivity until right before leaving for the United Center.

“I suppose that’s a little selfish of me, but a little bit,” said Lopez of sadness concerning the streak. “I looked in my closet today and thought I would have a glut of jackets. And I only found two. I didn’t realize this was an issue until about 5 minutes before I had to leave. So I got kind of a ragtag outfit for tonight but hopefully I’ll be better prepared in the games to come.”

Not only will he be armed with better wardrobe but he’ll be bringing a positive disposition to the sidelines that made him loved amongst his teammates.

“All my teammates, whether they’ve been playing with me or sitting on the bench and not dressing, they’ve all supported me,” Lopez said. “I don’t think I’d be too good a person if I didn’t do at least the bare minimum of the same.”

Lopez represented stability and veteran leadership in a tumultuous season, a solid performer when losing was the early norm and upheaval has been constant. It was a reason the Bulls hoped he would garner some interest in the trade market but after hitting for a draft pick in the Nikola Mirotic deal, they had no such luck with Lopez.

Naturally, he was asked about the prospect of being traded over sitting as a healthy scratch.

“That’s hard for me to talk about because I don’t know what situation I could have potentially been in once I had been traded,” Lopez said. “Yeah, it’s … I want to be playing obviously, but we’ve got a great group of guys right here.”

Considering how uncertain things will be for the future, it isn’t a guarantee Lopez won’t be around for the 2018-19 season.

“Yeah. It seems like they still like me. How could they not?,” he joked.

He’s due $14.3 million next season, the last of a four-year deal he signed with the Knicks in 2015. Averaging 12.3 points and shooting 53 percent from the field, he’s productive and valuable on the floor. He’s easy to dismiss with the hoopla surrounding the youth on the roster and the way things clicked when Mirotic stepped on the floor, but seven footers like Lopez aren’t easy to find—even as the game changes.

“I’m a team player. I like to think my play is tied to how the team plays,” Lopez said. “I think we had some really great stretches. The young guys really developed and found a rhythm once we all got healthy. I think we played pretty well.”

With 25 games remaining, he’s unsure of how long his inactivity will last but it’s hard to see him missing the remainder of the season. It would be a bad look for the Bulls and the league to have a healthy player miss two whole months, and Lopez claims no knowledge about that ugly “T” word.

“I’m not familiar with military artillery,” he said.

At least he’s keeping his sense of humor.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls complete 'the process'?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls complete 'the process'?

On today’s edition of STL Podcast, Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Schanowski, Nick Friedell and Vincent Goodwill to talk all things Bulls. Will the Bulls complete “The Process” as well as the visiting 76ers have so far? Our panel discusses the tank watch, recaps the epic Women’s Hockey Gold Medal game and much, much more.