Blackhawks

Ask Aggrey: Was Rose's injury inevitable?

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Ask Aggrey: Was Rose's injury inevitable?

It was all good just a week ago. Maybe not all good, but last Monday, I was confident enough to attempt to talk Bulls fans off the ledge after Derrick suffered his devastating, season-ending knee injury.

But now, after Jo's severely sprained ankle and the Bulls facing a 3-1 deficit against the Sixers, things look pretty grim. All of a sudden, it seems like nothing can go right for the Bulls, on or off the court. On the brink of being eliminated from the postseason heading into Tuesday's Game 5, it's do or die for the Bulls and as remarkable as the regular season was -- don't forget, even in the shortened, injury-plagued season, they again finished with the league's best record -- it almost seems all for naught now, as the expected rematch with Miami in the conference finals seems unlikely occur and even if it did, without Derrick, even if Jo was back on the court by then, that would appear to be too tall of a task with all of the ailments this M.A.S.H. unit of a team has been through.

Regardless, what fans need to remember is that the core of the team is still relatively young and the championship window, if postponed, remains open for the future, no matter what happens Tuesday at the UC. On to this week's mailbag:

Do you think Rose's injury was almost inevitable? He went up without much contact, and apparently in the push off it just happened. Does that likely mean it was probably going to happen soon anyway that the ligament was somehow compromised, too tight, too weak, etc? i.e. if he were not in the game, then maybe it would have happened in the next game or soon afterward anyway? -- Ron S.

Ron, I definitely wouldn't say it was "inevitable," as first-time ACL injuries are unpredictable. I might buy the fact that Derrick was more susceptible to injuries because of what he's dealt with all season and going back to his explosive style of play without proper recovery time -- though it's unlikely that anyone would have been able to keep him off the court or "shut him down" for the playoffs -- but I believe it was truly a freak accident. It's also possible that he could have built upon what was a stellar game until that point and had a dominant postseason. We'll never know.

I believe Steve Nash would be a nice fit in a Bulls jersey next season, what do you think? -- Robert U.

Robert, I think Nash would be a good fit virtually anywhere, but I don't see him landing in Chicago for a variety of reasons. One, while some have suggested he could play a backup role, after playing at a high level and nearly leading an overachieving Phoenix team to the playoffs, I don't think he'd be willing to go to the bench, even if he would be able to start until Derrick returns. Also, while his playmaking in Derrick's absence and outside shooting fill needs for the Bulls, his up-tempo style and inferior defense don't necessarily mesh with the team's current personnel and style of play. Furthermore, if Nash does leave Phoenix, he's likely to sign with a contender and a Bulls team without Derrick, not to mention Luol Deng, probably isn't an upper-echelon squad entering next season. Lastly, while Nash might not be a max free agent, the Bulls are unlikely to have the financial flexibility to add a player who commands that type of salary and if they were willing to spend, Nash is unlikely to be a priority. Remember: Derrick will be back eventually.

Looking towards the draft, who do you think would be a good fit for the Bulls? -- Kyle R.
Kyle, by virtue of their regular-season record, the Bulls will again pick at the bottom of the first round and if somehow, athletic Mississippi State big man Arnett Moultrie, Syracuse scorer Dion Waiters or Washington shooter Terrence Ross fell in their lap, any of those players -- Moultrie gives them another frontcourt athlete with length, Waiters can play either guard spot and be a scoring sixth man and Ross has nice size and bounce on the wing to go with his shooting range -- would be ideal, but it's unlikely to happen. More realistically, I think Ross' Washington teammate, Tony Wroten, might not be a bad fit with his size, playmaking ability and defensive prowess -- he could potentially play with Derrick in an explosive backcourt on occasion, but would most likely be a backup -- but if he slips that far, it's probably because of concerns about his character and shaky jumper.

Kentucky's Marquis Teague is also intriguing, but his floor generalship still needs work, despite winning a national title, while Iona's Scott Machado was one of the nation's most underrated point guards, but his size and lack of competition raise questions. Shooters like Vanderbilt's John Jenkins, Ohio State's William Buford, Georgetown's Hollis Thompson and the Kentucky duo of Doron Lamb and Darius Miller could also make sense. Skilled big man Kevin Jones of West Virginia might deserve a look, as could Tennessee Tech scoring wing Kevin Murphy, versatile Memphis swingman Will Barton and a trio of somewhat raw big men in Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn, Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli and Syracuse's Fab Melo. The Bulls have the luxury of not needing a rookie to come in and be a star right away, but management could have a different approach with Derrick and potentially Lu missing significant time at the beginning of next season. Right now, the biggest potential needs are a shooter, a shot-creating playmaker, size if Omer leaves via free agency (as many expect) and depending on the thought process about Ronnie and Kyle, another swingman.
Is it reasonable to think Derrick as a 2 guard makes the most sense upon his return to the Bulls next season? -- Kristoffer K.

Kristoffer, I don't think so. While Derrick's mobility might not be the same initially, he still needs the ball in his hands to be most successful and contrary to popular belief, he is a point guard. I can see why some people might think, because of his scoring ability and size, he could slide over to the two, as he'd be defending less mobile players, but even if he doesn't have his full explosiveness immediately upon returning to the court, there's a good chance that he's still quicker than most players in the league. All that said, he is a point guard and that's the position he should play when he returns, unless the Bulls either acquire or develop an All-Star caliber player at the position or Rip isn't with the team anymore, since that's their starting shooting guard.
Keep the questions -- whether theyre about the Bulls, the rest of the NBA, other levels of basketball or life in general -- coming. Youll get a much better explanation, though not as instant, than you would via Twitter with only 140 characters. You can submit a question by commenting on this article below or by clicking here.

Podcast: Blackhawks take 2-1 series lead with amazing 4-3 win over the Oilers

Podcast: Blackhawks take 2-1 series lead with amazing 4-3 win over the Oilers

Host Pat Boyle is joined by 2013 Stanley Cup champion and Blackhawks analyst Jamal Mayers as they discuss the Hawks' 4-3 win over the Oilers in a game that went down to the final 1:16. They discuss Toews' game-winning goal, the commanding lead the Hawks took in the series, and will the Blackhawks be able to close the Oilers out in game 4?

(1:15) - Biggest takeaway from the Hawks' win

(8:09) - Hawks special teams breakdown

(10:20) - Hawks' power play

(15:20) - How will the Oilers respond to being one game away from elimination?

(22:00) - Will the Hawks be able to close out the Oilers in game 4?

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

Cubs' Tommy Hottovy: 'Scary part' of COVID-19 is how fast deadly virus spreads

Cubs' Tommy Hottovy: 'Scary part' of COVID-19 is how fast deadly virus spreads

Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy is home in Kansas City for a couple rare days during the baseball season. His mom wants to meet him for lunch, and his sister, a grade-school teacher in town, just had a baby that he hasn’t had a chance to see yet.

“How much would I love to go get to see her and my new nephew?” Hottovy said. “Can’t do it. Just can’t.”

Not this time. Not with what’s at stake. Not when possible threats to health and professional purpose lurk in every unfamiliar hallway, byway and unmasked face while the Cubs navigate their first multi-city road trip of the season.

Don’t believe the risk of spread and large-scale COVID-19 team outbreaks are that sensitive, extreme and potentially swift? Just ask the Marlins and Cardinals, whose outbreaks in the first week of play put their seasons on hold and threatened the status of the league’s season.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

“I’m not leaving the hotel. I told my family and friends and everybody [in Kansas City],” Hottovy said. “We all signed up for this, to make sure that for this to work we all have to make those kinds of sacrifices. I love my family to death and would love to get to see them, but right now this is our home.”

The Cubs second trip, which started with a 6-1 victory Wednesday in Kansas City and continues to St. Louis before finishing in Cleveland next week, coincides with stepped-up COVID-19 protocols from Major League Baseball following the Marlins and Cardinals outbreaks.

The Cubs already had protocols in place that exceeded MLB’s original mandates and that are in compliance with the new mandates. And a month into the league’s restart they remained the only team without a player having tested positive for the virus.

RELATED: Cubs better prepared than MLB to finish COVID-19 season — which is the problem

In fact, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant decided on his own to start wearing a protective mask on the bases when the Cubs played last week in Cincinnati, where three Reds players were sidelined either by positive tests or self-reported symptoms as that series opened. And first baseman Anthony Rizzo told ESPN 1000 on Tuesday that he plans to keep a mask in his pocket while in the field in St. Louis and will consider wearing it when somebody reaches base.

“No matter what measures you put in place, when you’re trying to pull off a season that requires travel in the middle of a global pandemic, it ultimately does come down to personal responsibility,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said. “And everyone is at the mercy of the least responsible person because of the nature of the spread of this disease.”

Nobody knows that more than Hottovy and many of the Cubs who watched their pitching coach deteriorate in real time during daily Zoom sessions in May and June until the worst symptoms of his frightening monthlong bout with the virus forced him to hand off his job duties.

Whether Hottovy’s experience led directly to the Cubs’ more extreme safety policies or the individual players’ apparent hyper diligence, MLB’s recent coronavirus outbreaks and other cases at least raise questions about whether some teams and players — or even the league — respect the potential severity of a virus that has killed more than 158,000 Americans in five months.

“I don’t think people underestimate that aspect of it; I think they underestimated how easy it was to spread,” Hottovy said of the outbreaks — including a Cardinals outbreak that reportedly was traced to one asymptomatic, outside individual familiar with the team.

Hottovy called the highly contagious nature of the virus “the scary part of this,” both in terms of the potential to quickly render an organization unable to field a team as well as the subsequent, inherent risk that poses to family members and others who might, in turn, be among those who then become severely impacted by the virus.

And the hardest part, he said, is not letting down your guard within the team bubble when it’s easy to trust that when it’s only teammates in the room that it’s OK to disregard masks, distancing and other safety measures.

“That’s when it gets dangerous,” said Hottovy, whose team talks often about assuming everyone — including each other — has the virus.

So just like in Cincinnati, neither he nor anyone else in the Cubs’ traveling party plans to go anywhere but to and from hotels and ballparks during their trip.

“Listen, you don’t have to search too far for a reason to take it serious,” Cubs second baseman Jason Kipnis said.

“I have three of my close friends who got it, that are over it. But the symptoms are as real as it gets from the sounds of it. And I think you have guys who are risking stuff coming and playing this season, whether it’s Craig [Kimbrel] and his daughter [heart condition] or Anthony [Rizzo] and Jon [Lester] with their [cancer] history.

“You’re paying respect to them and doing your teammate justice by not being the one to kind of go out,” Kipnis added. “It’s one of those years where, hey, you’ve got to buckle down and stay the course. I think everybody’s going through it, so you don’t want to be the one that kind of screws this one up.

The Cubs’ 10-2 start to a 60-game season seems to further incentivize that discipline — some players in recent days even suggesting the discipline in following the protocols has carried into the professionalism on the field.

It’s impossible to know if any of it will be enough for the Cubs to keep their moving bubble secure, much less whether the two outbreaks that MLB seems to have withstood will provide the significant enough wakeup call that MLB and team officials have suggested.

“The vast, vast majority of everyone involved in this enterprise, the players and staff, are doing a solid job so far in making a lot of sacrifices,” Epstein said. “And we just have to get everybody on board. And hopefully these two outbreaks are enough to get everyone to the point where we have essentially perfect execution going forward, because that’s largely what it will take.”

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