Bulls

Unfair matchup? Rose faces his fans in pick-up game

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Unfair matchup? Rose faces his fans in pick-up game

After promoting his new shoe at the adidas store on Michigan Ave. and greeting several hundred adoring fans outside the State St. Footlocker, Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose took to the court--playing in the aforementioned sneaker, of course.

With the start of the NBA season still in doubt, Rose had to find a way to stay busy and took part in pickup games with some of his biggest fans.

Rapper Common, a former Bulls ballboy himself, participated in three-on-three games with kids from throughout the region at the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club on the West Side--around the corner from the United Center, where Rose would normally be playing this time of year--exuded tremendous pride in being able to take the court with his fellow South Side product.

"It's a good feeling because this dude, he's special, man. He's real special and the way he carries himself is ultimate. He's very special and just to be able to see somebody that comes from the South Side, of humble beginnings, that represents Chicago well, that represents just manhood well and is a killer on the court, but a good spirit, that's what we're about," said Common. "That's what Chicago is about and I think Derrick Rose represents Chicago and his family and himself in the best way possible."

Added Rose's brother, Reggie, on his younger sibling's maturation: "The way he's grown, grown not only into a man, but he's understanding a lot now. Even with his financial stuff, he used to call me and say, 'Hey, Reggie, how much money is going to be here?' I'd say, 'Well, Derrick, if you go online, your portfolio is right there.' So, now he's stepping up and trying to be more of a man and a professional."

Even dealing with the media, the once-reticent 23-year-old has somewhat shed his shell to display more of himself as a well-rounded person, instead of just a highlight machine with little to say, except regarding the game itself.

"It was more him being comfortable with himself and also him learning how to gain relationships with reporters," said Reggie Rose. "He might see a guy he's comfortable with, but I think now, when you say, 'Hey, Derrick, what's up' and all that, he knows, so he gets more comfortable with you and he's more open."

While fans shouldn't anticipate Rose sitting in on current NBA labor negotiations, the perception that the shy kid with the loud game won't speak up isn't quite so accurate these days.

"I've been so busy, where I haven't had time to go into the news or anything like that, but my agents, Arn Tellem and B.J. Armstrong have been doing a great job with keeping me up with the updates and I'm supposed to be talking to 'D-Fish' in a couple days or Paul Pierce," said Rose.

"The biggest thing is you just want to get back out there and play. The lockout going to hurt us, but I think it's going to hurt basketball, period."

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.