Bulls

Bulls: Derrick Rose will start against LeBron, Cavs

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Bulls: Derrick Rose will start against LeBron, Cavs

The stage of set for the Bulls’ season opener, and after PA announcer Tommy Edwards introduces the first four Bulls players, Derrick Rose will come out in uniform and not a suit.

The encouraging 10-minute stint against the Dallas Mavericks was good enough for Fred Hoiberg to say Rose will be starting against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a nationally-televised contest to officially open the NBA season, but both are cautioning against taking any long-term views for him or the team based on one night.

“It’s a long year,” Hoiberg said. “That’s where in regards to Derrick, you have to be a little careful. It is a long season. It’s a marathon. You have to prepare your guys as best you can and try to keep them healthy. It’s great to get him back.”

He won’t be on any minute restrictions, per se, but he hasn’t played any organized basketball in quite a while, so it wouldn’t be surprised to see him get pulled after an early adrenaline rush.

[MORE: Rose calls reported rift with Jimmy Butler 'so false']

Rose is still recovering from his fractured orbital bone he suffered on the first day of training camp, but the left eye is considerably better than it has been in recent weeks, erasing the doubt many had about his availability for the season opener.

“When I play, I just play with one eye,” said Rose, who admits he still has double vision but will play with a mask for however long he deems necessary. “Close the other eye until my vision is back clearer. I just close one eye and go out there and play. It worked out for me.”

It worked out for him Friday in Lincoln Nebraska, where he provided 10 minutes of scintillating play, albeit in a preseason capacity. He was on the run, driving to the basket as opposed to settling for jumpshots, which he only did once.

Being a little lighter at 203 pounds as opposed to 212, he feels his body is able to get there quicker and avoid direct contact that wears on the body over time.

“Same weight I was when I won MVP (2010-11),” Rose said. “So feel a lit bit more lighter, and who knows? The way I was able to drive the ball [Friday], it felt good driving, and like I said, it boosted my confidence a little bit.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

When he was told Hoiberg announced to the media he was starting, he smiled like a kid who’d never been amongst the first five. As he stated before about the injury, “at least it’s not my legs”, referring to three knee surgeries he’s had since the 2012 playoffs.

“I’m very excited, very excited as far as what I just went through with surgery, and just how much I miss the game,” Rose said. “My appreciation for the game just grew. My faith grew, as far as all this is out of my hands. I can’t control this. I just got to go along and take the good with the bad.”

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.