Bulls

With back pain continuing, Rose will see a specialist

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With back pain continuing, Rose will see a specialist

BOSTON When it first occurred, Derrick Roses lower back spasms were a mild concern, but not something viewed as a long-term situation. Now, its a serious issue.

Its been going on for a couple of games. It started first time I remember it happening was in high school but college, I didnt have it. First couple of years, I didnt have it. Just all of a sudden, it just happened now and hopefully tomorrow, meet with some people and try to figure something out, a downcast Rose said before Sundays contest against the Celtics, which he sat out of. It was the whole trip, but I just played through it. The more I played through it, it tended to get worse after every game. At the time, I was really worried about it, but just tried to stay positive and hopefully Ill be all right.

I dont know the diagnosis. I dont know what to call it, but I just know my back is not right, continued the Eastern Conference All-Star starter, who was seen being stretched out on the sideline during the second game of the Bulls nine-game road trip, in Washington. I dont remember when it started. It just came from out of nowhere, man. Thats the scary thing about it.

Throughout this whole trip, its been bothering me. If you see me during the game or whenever Im out of the game, Im always getting stretched and Im usually not getting stretched at all, unless its before the game. It was getting tight then, but I was able to play through it and it was getting worse the longer I was playing.

Rose will see a specialist Monday when the Bulls return to Chicago, but wouldnt speculate on whether hed play in the teams next game, Tuesday against Sacramento at the United Center.

Probably go see some people tomorrow, have them look at it. But I dont know yet, he said. I cant say Im going to be out. If I feel good tomorrow, Im definitely going to play then, but I dont know yet.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who started C.J. Watson in Roses place, indicated that the organization would be cautious with Rose.

Its not cleared up as much as we would like right now. He still has a little bit of stiffness, so we decided its better to sit him out of this one, he said. Once we get back home, well have a chance to go see a specialist and well go from there.

Well, youre always concerned. Its something that hes had before. He had it when he was in high school, so were hopeful it gets cleared up shortly, but we want to make sure.

Backs are tricky, so thats why hes going to see a specialist tomorrow, he added. Well, theyre always looking at players. We feel real good about C.J. and John Lucas has played extremely well for us, so were confident in him and of course, we have Ronnie, who can go to the point as well. If we act, fine. If not, were good with what we have.

Rose said the injury has been increasingly painful since his last game, Wednesday in New Orleans.

I definitely felt it those games and I thought it was something that would easily go away, but its just been lingering on, he said. Its killing me right now, not being able to play or when I do play, my minutes are definitely down. Not being healthy, its getting to me, especially this game. Just got to stay positive and hope for the best.

I really couldnt move out there, but we won the game against the Hornets. Thats all that matters to me. If Im out there, just try to do anything to make us win, Rose added. I could barely walk. Hopefully I get treatment and it goes away or calms down. Then, Ill be able to play. But if not, take my time.

Rose also detailed the decision-making process as to whether he plays.

Usually, before the game. It goes back and forth, but its really my decision. If I feel good nobody can tell me how I feel but myself so I feel good, Im going to try to go. But during the game, if its hurting or were up, weve got a big lead or something, I can definitely sit out. Now, its just hurting a little bit more, said the reigning league MVP, who has played through injuries in the past. Not being able to move, its a whole other thing.

Its usually up to me if I want to play. If I feel good the morning I wake up or after I get done shooting, or warming up, Ill be able to play, but if not, Ill definitely let them know, but if not, Ill be able to sit down, continued Rose, who has been receiving constant treatment. Its just not going down yet. Ive got to be able to move, get up without hurting, be myself.

Right when I feel theres no pain there anymore, thats when Ill be ready.

Rose wouldnt speculate if he would participate in the Feb. 26 All-Star Game in Orlando.

Thats too far to really think about that. I havent thought about it. It could be tomorrow, where I wake up and it feels good. I remember in high school, I didnt get any treatment or anything. I just knew that I took a couple days off and I was able to play downstate and I didnt feel it. Hopefully its the same thing, said Rose.

While Rose was crestfallen about missing the final game of the Bulls long road swing, he was confident that his teammates could make up for his absence.

I think everybody is definitely important on this team. We have people on this team that dont think that theyre bigger than this team or bigger than this organization. The thing is, we have a deep team. If one of us goes out, the other guy comes in and does the job and thats what makes us a special team, I think. I know that if Im not playing, I dont have to worry about anything because we have C.J. and J. Luke that come in and play a good game, and they play under pressure well. Im not worried about it. I know that the team is not. I know that we should be prepared tonight and I know that when someones down, someone comes up and plays big, he explained. Thats whats really killing me right now, knowing that Im missing this many games. Its killing me not to be out there, but as long as were winning games, Im happy.

The injury doesnt bother me because Im so young, but its my first time missing this many games, period in life, period. It hurts, not being to be out there with my team. I was a guy that was always on the court or if I was injured, miss a game or two and then Id be back, but to miss this many games and knowing that were playing great dont get me wrong, Im loving that were winningbut to not be out there, it hurts, he continued. I think I conditioned myself well, prepared myself well for this season. I wouldnt say its too much the season. I think its just something that just happened. I didnt have any big falls on my back or anything. Its just something that I woke up and my back was tight. Just cant really get rid of it right now.

Wendell Carter Jr. is now 6 feet, 9 inches---and other Bulls' height adjustments

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USA Today

Wendell Carter Jr. is now 6 feet, 9 inches---and other Bulls' height adjustments

With player heights long a topic of question and debate, the NBA informed teams that all players must be measured by a team physician this training camp.

It’s all part of the league’s push towards transparency, which includes detailed reports on officiating and other initiatives.

So who grew and who shrank among the Bulls?

Wendell Carter Jr. dropped from 6 feet, 10 inches to 6-foot-9, which will do nothing to change the narrative that he's an undersized big man. Kris Dunn moved from 6-4 to 6-3. Daniel Gafford isn’t 6-11, as first advertised when drafted, but 6-10. And Denzel Valentine is no longer 6-6 but 6-4.

The Bulls even pushed down Coby White’s flamboyant hairstyle and discovered he’s 6-4, not 6-5.

As for those who grew, well, Zach LaVine’s All-Star candidacy now features him as a 6-6 guard, not 6-5. New big man Luke Kornet is really big; he’s 7-2, not 7-1. And Shaq Harrison somehow grew from 6-4 to 6-7.

That’s the official Bulls’ roster. 

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Insider K.C. Johnson calls Bulls the 'sexy pick' to make the postseason but tempers expectations

Insider K.C. Johnson calls Bulls the 'sexy pick' to make the postseason but tempers expectations

On the 2019 NBA Preview Show, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down what it would truly take for the Bulls to make the jump into playoff contention following a particularly tough 22-win season. 

Johnson, like most of the national NBA landscape, is optimistic about the prospects of the 2019-20 Bulls. He stated that it is "widely accepted that they had a pretty strong offseason," but cautioned us against simply penciling in the Bulls for a playoff spot this season. 

Despite the additions of savvy veterans like Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young, the Bulls still enter the 2019-20 NBA regular season as the second-youngest team in the NBA, as good of a reason as any to temper expectations.

That being said, the Bulls, from a simple talent standpoint, are much better than last year's squad that featured a ton of injuries and many Windy City Bulls/NBA G League call-ups. 

With a new coaching staff around head coach Jim Boylen and a new offensive philosophy, things will be very different in Chicago this season.

But as Johnson stated in Tuesday's 2019 NBA Preview Show, for the Bulls to achieve their ultimate goal of reaching the postseason, "basically, all of those [free agent] additions need to hit.

"You need to see Tomas Satoransky prove that he can be a full-time starter at that point guard position, you need to see Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen take a step towards stardom, you need to see Otto Porter Jr. stay healthy enough to contribute at that small forward position and you need to see Wendell Carter Jr. hit the two-way potential that the organization believes he has... and Coby White... needs to bring you something off the bench."

If that sounds like a lot, that's because it is and it appropriately represents the amount of work needed to make the leap from 22-wins to a playoff spot. 

What the Bulls have working on their side as of now is that everything we have seen and heard from the team throughout preseason has indicated that there is good shot that every one of the things K.C. Johnson named happens. 

Carter was limited to just 44 games due to injury last season and while he has looked rusty in the preseason, he has also had some explosive finishes and shown his trademark appetite for help defense and blocked shots. Carter blocked 2.0 shots per game over two preseason games but was abysmal in terms of his offensive efficiency (26.7% from the field), something to keep an eye on throughout the first week of regular-season games. 

Boylen recently made comments about managing Porter's workload, so clearly keeping Porter healthy amid the backdrop of the Bulls questionable wing depth is already something the organization has discussed and seems to have a concrete plan for. 

Satoransky has shown that he can comfortably handle the starting duties at the one as Johnson suggested, averaging 7.5 points, 4.8 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game while being lights-out from 3-point range (80% on 1.2 attempts per game). And while Sato represents the steady hand, Coby White represents the true "boom-or-bust" option in the backcourt, capable of going off for 25+ points or fading into the background while playing more of an off-ball role. 

The factor that Johnson mentioned that will have the greatest impact on the 2019-20 Bulls season is if Markkanen and LaVine can take a step towards superstardom.

LaVine looks clearly poised to do so, finishing the preseason third in the league in scoring at 23.2 points per game on 59.3/56.0/ 83.3 shooting splits. Markkanen, on the other hand, struggled to find his shot and despite being one of the top-three scoring options on the team, struggled to get his scoring average just over 11.0 points per game (11.2). 

It is only preseason action, so all results are to be taken with a grain of salt. But as we gear up for the start of the Bulls games that count on Wednesday, it is clear that the national outlook on the Bulls is much rosier than it has been in the past.

Johnson stated that the Bulls are indeed shaping up as a "sexy pick" to make the playoffs and that alone is a monumental step in the right direction as the franchise looks to put last season's disappointment further in the rearview mirror. 

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