Bulls

Bulls: Derrick Rose proclaims his innocence in strongest statements to date

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Bulls: Derrick Rose proclaims his innocence in strongest statements to date

Derrick Rose didn’t hide from the allegations of sexual assault that have been levied on him in a civil suit from a former acquaintance, and the Bulls franchise offered him full support as the 2015-16 season kicks off.

Rose was going to be center stage no matter the circumstance, but given the nature of what’s been alleged, it put more of a spotlight on the guard who’ll turn 27 in less than a week.

“I think you all saw everything that was put out,” said Rose, referring to the report put out by TMZ on Aug. 26 concerning the sexual assault suit. “I will be proven innocent, but at the same time it hasn’t affected anything. It’s not true.”

Rose issued two strong statements in the day after the lawsuit but faced the media for the first time since on Media Day, which took place at the Advocate Center Monday afternoon. While he wouldn’t address specifics—and no one would expect him to given the upcoming litigation—Rose made it appear as if it were someone looking to take a shot at him because of his name and fame.

[MORE: Jimmy Butler doesn't believe the Bulls are his team now]

“I take it as motivation. I feel like the devil is just working,” Rose said. “I feel like I’m on the right track as far as where I want to be at in my life, and the direction I want to go. And I feel like that when you’re that focused people just try and take you down, so I’m very confident that I will be proven innocent.’’ 

Bulls general manager Gar Forman mentioned Rose’s ongoing situation, and neither anticipated he’ll miss any time due to it. But until it goes through the legal process, a lot of it is merely conjecture.

“In regard to Derrick's situation, we understand that there's a process he'll need to go through. But Derrick's part of our family. He's got our full support,” Forman said. “I know he's got the full support of all his teammates, too. Like I talked about earlier, he's in a really good place physically and mentally. I think his focus, just like his teammates' focus, is on getting started tomorrow and getting preseason camp started and just having a really good, productive season.”

It’s clear Rose feels a level of regret from even being in the situation, regardless of the motives. Because of a similar allegation surrounding Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, there’s a heightened sense of awareness concerning how athletes handle themselves behind closed doors.

[RELATED - NBA preseason primer: Top Bulls storylines]

And it should be noted Rose's situation is a civil suit while Kane's is being treated as a potential crime.

“I mean you have to be very careful. I think anybody in my position, my case I think it scared everybody in the league probably,” Rose said. “If not, I hope it got everybody’s attention. The only thing you can do now is just learn from it. A person in your life, you got them in your life for a few good reasons, more than one, so I think that everybody in the league should just learn from my mistakes.”

But when asked if he should change how he conducts himself or who he places himself around, Rose got on the defensive, issuing another strong statement concerning the matter.

“I wouldn’t say that. The story was false,” Rose said. “I don’t think I have to alter anything. I live my life the way I live my life. I live in the moment, and I enjoy life. I can’t let that one incident that’s not true affect the way that I live, and I’m not going to let it. I love my life, actually, so I can’t complain about anything. I just got to take this, use it as fuel, and the season is around the corner.”

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 6-9, 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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