Stiff neck sidelines Rose; Boozer regaining touch


Stiff neck sidelines Rose; Boozer regaining touch

Friday, Nov. 27, 2010
Updated 6:35 p.m.

By Aggrey SamCSNChicago.com

DENVER -- Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is out for Friday's game against the Nuggets after experiencing neck spasms since Wednesday's dramatic double-overtime win in Phoenix.

Rose, who got treatment for his neck before the tilt in Denver, briefly spoke to reporters in the Pepsi Center visiting locker room prior to the game.

"I don't know where it came from. Probably sleeping, changing beds in hotels during the team's current seven-game road trip. I don't know what it is," said Rose, who continued to struggle turning his neck to address reporters. "It's too early right now to know if I'll play Saturday against Sacramento. I would hate to miss two games, but I talked to Bulls general manager Gar Forman, I talked to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. They said that if it's not feeling right, it's not a problem for him to miss the game."

"I was under the impression that it was a stiff neck. We were hopeful that he would be better today and he wasn't," said Thibodeau. "We wanted to see how he would be right before the game and it's a little bit better, but not good enough where he can play."

"It's day-to-day. Hopefully it'll be better tomorrow."

"For me to have this injury, it's hard. Knowing that we were getting into a little groove, coming off a big win like that, then coming here and having to sit out, it's tough," added Rose, who said he experienced neck problems during high school, but usually after being fouled hard or taking a charge. "But I guess I've just got to suck it up. It's all about trust and having confidence in your team. I've got trust and I have confidence in my teammates."

Although backup point guard C.J. Watson will start in Rose's place, one of those teammates is John Lucas III, a familiar face. The free agent point guard -- who was with the Bulls in training camp before being waived toward the end of the preseason -- was signed by the Bulls today and flew from his home in Houston to Denver just in time for the game (he arrived at 3:45 for the 7:00 tip-off, taking a cab from the airport directly to the arena).

"I didn't know what I was going to do, if I was going to go overseas or come back," said Lucas, who averaged 2.2 points and 0.8 assists in five preseason contests. "If I was going to go overseas, I was going to go to China where he played last season for the Yao Ming-owned Shanghai Sharks. The season doesn't start until later on in December, so I was just down there in Houston working out with my dad former NBA player and coach John Lucas and a couple other players who were still waiting to go overseas or trying to get into the D-League. I really didn't give myself a deadline to make a decision. I just wanted to enjoy the holidays with my family because last year being overseas, I missed every holiday. I kind of took the time to relax, follow my little brother University of Texas point guard Jai Lucas because it's his senior year, so I got to make all of his games, and just work out. Just stay fit, stay ready because you never know when the call would come, like today. I was literally at Wing Stop eating and I got the phone call. I had to rush to the house, pack bags and head to the airport.

"We just got done working out. We got done with our second workout for the day -- I'm excited. I'm glad to be back. Great group of guys, coaching staff," continued Lucas, who spent parts of two NBA seasons with the Houston Rockets. "When my mom was driving me to the highway, I was going over the playbook, so I could remember all the actions, so if I do get a chance to get in today, I'm not confused about anything -- I'm here, I'm going to give it everything I've got like always and prepare myself for each and every game."

Thibodeau was glad to get insurance in Rose's absence.

"I thought he played well in training camp. He's got experience in the league. Wherever he's been, he's dominated the level of play below the NBA," said Thibodeau, who was an assistant coach under the elder Lucas in Philadelphia. "Obviously with Derrick being out, we wanted another player for insurance at that position and we can also play Ronnie Brewer there -- Lucas knows the system, he knows how to run the team and he can shoot.

"We have more than enough to win with. C.J.'s going to start. He'll play more minutes; he'll play starter's minutes. The bench will get more minutes. When they've gotten more minutes, they've played well."

In other injury pregame news, Bulls power forward Taj Gibson will play Friday after missing Wednesday's win with a sore right ankle. Denver's starting point guard, Chauncey Billups, is out.

Boozer making progress

Currently sidelined Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer continues to make progress, appearing to be regaining his touch in a pregame workout Friday at the Pepsi Center.

"It felt good. Got a chance to work out again. Worked out yesterday, worked out today. Feels good. It's a little sore. Still not strong enough," said Boozer, who told reporters he "100 percent" expects to practice Monday in Chicago.

As for when he'll play in a game, Boozer was a bit more coy.

"I do have a target date, but I'm going to keep that to myself. I've got to have a little bit of mystery. I can't tell you all everything," quipped Boozer. "When it doesn't hurt anymore. When I go out there, work out, shoot, do all my drills, play five-on-five with the guys, let it get hit in practice and it doesn't hurt. To be truthful, I'll probably end up playing through that pain for the first couple weeks because I'm anxious to get back out there. Not where it would detriment my hand -- because it hasn't moved in five weeks. Now that it's moving again and I'm shooting and I'm working it, there's going to be a little something pain there for a little bit, until it gets stronger. Just sitting in a cast for five weeks."

"It's hard right now because we're really not practicing, but it was encouraging to see him do all the things that he did today. Of course, tomorrow there won't be anything and when we get back, I expect him to practice," confirmed Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. "He actually looked good in the shootaround today. He was making shots. He's been shooting, but he was actually making some today. He hasn't gone through contact yet. Shootaround this morning was basically shooting, running through offense and going over the schemes, and he was fine, but it was the first practice he really went through."

Boozer was just happy to be out on the court with his teammates.

"I bet Tom did say that," laughed Boozer. "It just feels good to get back out there. I've been shooting little bunny shots around the rim -- I'll be back out there soon."

"It's soreness and pain just from moving the wrist. I was talking to 'Lu' Bulls teammate Luol Deng about it because he went through it a few years back, and he just told me it takes time to get stronger. There isn't anything like playing shape. I think I've done as good of a job without contact and playing, but playing with these guys in practice and playing in games will get me back where I was at."

Boozer also discussed his adjustment to his two-fingered protective glove apparatus.

"It's OK. It's not my favorite. I'd rather wear nothing, but I might have to wear something for the first couple days. I don't know if I'm going to wear it too much. I'd rather just play without it, to be honest. We'll see."

"We've got some good doctors in Chicago."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history


Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history

We're trying to figure out the best season in Bulls franchise history, and we want your help in deciding.

Because the Bulls tout the greatest player in basketball history, who could have made up this list by himself, we're giving Michael Jordan his own side of the bracket. But the other side of the bracket is also filled with some pretty memorable and remarkable campaigns.

So read up on each matchup and then have your voice heard by voting on our Twitter page here. Check out the entire bracket in the graphic above.

The Jordan Region

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96) vs. No. 8 Michael Jordan (1990-91)

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96): Jordan was on a mission in his first full season back from retirement. He led the Bulls to a then-record 72 wins with a regular-season MVP award, All-Star MVP and romp through the NBA playoffs, where the Bulls went 15-3 en route to their fourth NBA title. Jordan won his eighth straight scoring title at 30.4 points a game, with nine games where he put up 40 or more. He saved his best for Detroit, scoring 53 with 11 rebounds and six steals in early March. To prove Jordan was getting better as he aged, he shot a career-high 43 percent from 3-point range at age 33.

No. 2 Michael Jordan (1990-91): 1990-91: Jordan's second MVP came with his first NBA title, as he was at the peak of his powers physically combined with the ultimate team success, with the Bulls finally getting past Detroit before defeating the Lakers in the Finals. He shot a career-high 54 percent from the field while averaging 31.5 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists as he began to fully embrace the triangle offense in Phil Jackson's second season. Jordan had 57 games where he shot better than 50 percent from the field, and was among the league leaders in steals at 2.7 per game while earning his fourth straight All-Defensive First Team honor.

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11) vs. No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94)

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11): Where to begin? The youngest MVP in league history took the league by storm, averaging 25.0 points and 7.7 assists while leading the Bulls to a league-best 62 wins. Rose had been named an All-Star the previous season but took his game to new heights in Year 3, appearing in 81 games, making 128 3-pointers (after making a combined 32 his first two seasons) while helping the Bulls rank first in defensive efficiency under first year head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose and the Bulls lost in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, with Rose shooting a paltry 35 percent on 24 attempts per game. But his historic season will always go down as one of the franchise’s best, and the only non-Jordan MVP.

No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94): Yeah, well what would Scottie be without MJ? We found out that answer in 1993-94, when Pippen took the reins of the franchise as Jordan rode the Birmingham bus as a minor-league baseball player. Pippen responded with a sensational season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He averaged 2.9 steals, shot 49 percent from the field and became a 3-point threat for the first time in his career. He was named First Team All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive First Team, and finished third to Hakeem and The Admiral in MVP voting. He averaged 22.8/8.3/4.6 in the postseason but ultimately proved it was easier to win in the spring with MJ by his side. Still, this individual season was one of the franchise’s best, if not the best. Hardware isn’t everything.

NBA Draft Tracker: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander


NBA Draft Tracker: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

For most of the college basketball season, John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats ranked among the nation’s biggest underachievers. Calipari had perfected the one-and-done route in Lexington, recruiting classes full of McDonald’s All-Americans every year, making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and then sending those talented freshmen off to the NBA. Matter of fact, Coach Cal’s ability to get players ready to play professionally is the foundation of his recruiting success.

However, this season the tried and true formula ran into a bit of a speed bump. Injuries and inconsistency led to double digit losses for the Wildcats during the regular season, and an uncertain tournament outlook. That’s when freshman point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander emerged as the leader of this young team, and sparked Kentucky to a Southeastern Conference tournament championship.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been even better in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 19 points with 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the Wildcats’ opening round win over Davidson, then coming back with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in a victory over Buffalo.

At 6-6, Gilgeous-Alexander has the ability to shoot and pass over smaller defenders, while also possessing the quickness that is so crucial at the point guard position. Yes, he is very thin at 180 pounds, but has the frame to put on weight once he’s introduced to an NBA strength training program.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been Kentucky’s most efficient player throughout the season, shooting 49% from the field and nearly 42% from the 3 point line. He has the quickness and ball-handling ability to break down defenses and get in the paint for easy scores or assists. As the season progressed, Gilgeous-Alexander took on the role of go-to scorer late in games, sparking Kentucky’s runs in the S.E.C. AND NCAA tournaments.

So, by now I’m sure you’re asking, where does he fit with the Bulls? 3 weeks ago I was hoping Gilgeous-Alexander might be available in the 16-22 range where the Bulls might be able to get him with the Pelicans’ 1st round pick acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade. Unfortunately, his outstanding post-season play has him rocketing into the late lottery in the most recent mock drafts, and he could move up even higher if Kentucky advances to the Final 4.

The Bulls are happy with Kris Dunn as their starting point guard, and both Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne are under contract for next season. But if somehow the Pelicans fall out of the playoff field in the West (which seems very unlikely right now), adding an athletic combo guard like Gilgeous-Alexander would be an outstanding pick at 13 or 14.

So, when you’re watching Kentucky play in the NCAA Tournament, keep an eye on the tall, skinny guard wearing #22 and try to project just how good he might be on the professional level.