Bears

Rose likely out for Bulls vs. Orlando

698534.png

Rose likely out for Bulls vs. Orlando

ORLANDO -- Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would only confirm that of his players, shooting guard Rip Hamilton would miss Monday evenings game against the Magic. Derrick Rose, however, hinted that the teams entire starting backcourt would be out.

"Im feeling good. My groin is getting better. Just trying to stay positive, keep a clean head mentally. Im thinking God does everything for a reason. Otherwise, Im feeling good. My health is OK. Im not sick or anything. Its just my groin, Rose said prior to the teams morning shootaround at the Amway Center, in a bit of an understatement. I havent been able to run like that. I havent ran in a couple of days. Just making sure that my leg is OK and making sure that the pain goes away very quickly.

To recap: Rose suffered a strained right groin in last Mondays home victory against the Knicks, after which he criticized the game officiating, resulting in a 25,000 fine from the NBA. Since then, Rose has mostly been seen, but not heard, while the Bulls have been taking a cautious approach to his recovery.

Well see, Thibodeau said, giving his customary answer when asked about Roses status. Before Roses return, Thibodeau would need to see improvement. Hes moving along, but we just have to be patient. I want to make sure hes completely healthy before we bring him back.

Could be a few days, who knows? Each day you just want him to make progress, continued the coach, who officially termed Roses status as day-to-day. When hes healthy, hes healthy. Were not going to rush him back and we want him to be completely healthy. I think thats important.

Added Rose, who has lifted weights, but hasnt run or shot the ball during his current three-game absence: I really dont know. They havent gave me a time. They say with an injury like this, you really dont know how long its going to take. I thought I was going to be back soon, but missing big games that I would hate to miss, like the one tonight. But Ive got to worry about my health.

You dont want this to linger, where I cant move right now. Every day, its definitely getting better, continued the reigning league MVP, who admitted his groin remained tight as of Monday morning. Its definitely been frustrating. This is the most Ive been injured, ever, in my life. The biggest thing is just staying strong mentally missing these games. Were playing good right now. Definitely hurting me, but keeping a positive attitude.

As Rose has been keeping a low profile since the Knicks game, he took the time to explain how his injury occurred.

In the New York game, when I went to the hole, I took off kind of wrong and Knicks guard Jeremy Lin beat my shot. I thought I was going to take off, but I couldnt get up that high. I just felt a pull and I thought that it was a charley horse or something, explained Rose, who has missed 14 games this season with a variety of ailments. Whenever I went down, I was trying to stretch out, but it was pain there. Usually when you have a charley horse, its just tight. I felt a little bit of pain, but I wanted to play through it. Ended up playing through it and I think I made it worse.

It had to be adrenaline. After the game, I remember walking back into the locker room. I told the trainers immediately that I wasnt feeling right, that my leg was really messed up. They looked at it and saw what it was, and I had to go get treatment and everything the next day, he continued. It was a strain, not a tear. Thank God for that.

Rose also discussed his fine, handed down by the league office last week. The 23-year-old accepted his fate, but stands by his reasoning, though he feels his choir-boy image may have contributed to the punishment being levied.

They were facts. I thought they were facts, but losing 25K definitely hurts. I dont care who you are, it hurts. I was just frustrated at the time and I couldnt hold myself back from saying what I said, he said. Im talking to the officials a little bit more. Its not going to stop the way that I play. Im going to continue to attack, play hard and hopefully I get the calls.

They still look at me as a little kid or -- I dont know how you would say it -- but a demigod or something? I cant say anything, so for me to say something, I had to be thinking it. Its been four years. I was just frustrated at the time. They said theyll look at it and just try to move on from there.

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 Bears position grades: Defensive Line

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Medium

Decisions to be made on: Mitch Unrein (free agent), John Jenkins (free agent)

Possible free agent targets: Jared Crick, Frostee Rucker, Dominique Easley

This unit was consistently the Bears’ best in 2017, with Akiem Hicks playing at a Pro Bowl level (don’t let his exclusion from the game fool you on that) and Eddie Goldman putting together a rock-solid, healthy year. 

Hicks signed a four-year contract extension just before the season began and rewarded the Bears with a dominant year, racking up 8 ½ sacks and 15 tackles for a loss. Goldman played in and started 15 games and was a key reason why the Bears limited opposing rushers to four yards per carry, tied for the 10th-best average in the league. 

But while the Bears’ defensive line was certainly good, it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. These words from Vic Fangio ring true for Hicks and Goldman:

“I think they all have a lot more to give to us than we’ve seen,” Fangio said. “And it’s our job to get them to improve and become even better players. That will be more important to us than anybody we can acquire between now and whenever our first game is. So, and I know it’s always sexy to talk between now and the first game, you know, who are you going to draft, who’s in free agency, etc., but we’ve got to get our so-called good players playing even better. And that will be critical.”

Hicks will enter Year 3 in Fangio’s scheme, while 2018 will be Goldman’s fourth. It’ll also be a critical year for Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris, who’ve flashed potential at times but haven’t been able to turn that into consistent success on the field. 

And that’s where we begin to look ahead to free agency and the draft. Is the Bears’ evaluation of Bullard -- their 2016 third-round pick -- positive enough to hand him a bigger role in 2018? That’s question No. 1 to answer, with No. 2 then being if the team should try to re-sign Mitch Unrein. 

It may be a bit risky to move forward with Bullard, given how popular Unrein was among the Bears’ defensive coaching staff. 

“He’s one of the glue guys on the defense and the team,” Fangio said last November. “Every team needs a few of those guys who are going to do everything right, full speed, hard and tough all the time, and that’s Mitch.”

Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers offered this up about Unrein back in October: “He allows those guys to play fast,” with “those guys” being Hicks and Goldman. 

Statistically, the 30-year-old Unrein doesn’t  jump off the page, but he did record a career high 2 ½ sacks in 2017. Perhaps there would be some benefits to continuity in the Bears’ base 3-4 defensive line.

Worth noting too is this position isn’t a huge need, given Unrein usually played between 40 and 55 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps on a per-game basis last year. Keeping Unrein for a relatively low cap hit would make some sense, as opposed to testing free agency to replace him.

Jared Crick is coming off back surgery and an ineffective 2016; Dominique Easley is coming off his third torn ACL this decade; Frostee Rucker is in his mid-30’s. The Bears could look to pick a 3-4 defensive end in April, but that would be a pretty quick re-draft of the position and would be an indication they don’t think much of Bullard. This seems like a position where keeping the status quo is likely, save maybe for replacing John Jenkins with a different backup behind Goldman. 
 

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

anthony_davis.jpg
AP

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”