Bulls: Derrick Rose's new reality: Playing sight unseen


Bulls: Derrick Rose's new reality: Playing sight unseen

When Derrick Rose closes his eyes every night, his thoughts likely revolve around the same premise, the same hopes for when his body rises the next morning.

That after the initial grogginess shakes itself off illustrated by the blurred vision all humans have temporarily, Rose believes this will be the day where the side effects from the broken orbital bone fracture he suffered on day one of training camp will finally dissipate.

That Rose won’t be seeing double anymore and he can finally begin another restart of the same journey he’s been on in this odyssey in his hometown. Until then, adjusting to his new reality, the one slightly obscured but not fully protected from by his clear mask.

Never one to offer excuses or even acknowledge limitations, Rose is finally bowing down to a new-found reality that has an unknown ending, not dissimilar to dealing with knee surgeries that has cruelly sapped him of some explosiveness.

Considering the next jumper he makes this year will be the first, he’s gone full facilitator mode, especially after the potential game-winning jumper in regulation against Detroit went wide left—all the way left.

“It’s no point in shooting when you can’t see,” said Rose of his 35.2 shooting percentage, a clear result of the double vision he’s suffering from.

[MORE: Crisis averted as Bulls pull away late against Magic]

Averaging 5.5 assists per game isn’t going to put anyone in the mind of Steve Nash or John Stockton, but he’s creating opportunities for his teammates they have yet to fully capitalize on.

During one stretch, he set up teammates for four straight open, quality looks at shots up close or beyond the 3-point arc. Only one of them was converted during his season-high eight-assist performance that could’ve been 12, easily.

Rose’s history in dealing with adversity has robbed him of getting any type of praise he likely deserves from even playing at half-sight, the “hero” narratives that are often thrown about so liberally.

But basketball’s Stevie Wonder is playing in part because he wants to get acclimated to Fred Hoiberg’s system, one that gets him the type of shots a man with two good knees and at worst, two good eyes would feast on.

One of the best finishers at the rim, no longer resorting to taking a third of his shots from 20 feet or more, missing shots that backup Aaron Brooks is making with much more efficiency sounds like an aberration.

“I love them. I love them. I love them,” Rose said. “It’s like he’s forcing me to the way I naturally play, where I’m running downhill, I’m getting to the paint. I’m able to push the ball, a one-man fast break if I want to.”

Rose is literally playing basketball off muscle memory, while one can say he’s shooting sight unseen.

“Set shots are one thing but when you’re moving, it’s kind of hard,” Rose said. “I’m gonna figure out my floaters but I’m happy to be back moving, happy to be back with my teammates.”

[NBC SHOP: Get your Derrick Rose jersey right here!]

So when he sees Nikola Mirotic hesitating on open 3-point attempts, someone not appreciating two good eyes and the skill to shoot with accuracy, he gets a little annoyed—the same annoyance those may have had with him not driving to the basket and settling for long jumpers.

“I’m on Niko pump faking. There’s no reason for you to pump fake when you’re one of the best shooters at your position,” Rose said. “With the green light that he has. The more we play, the more we get used to taking those shots, everybody will get used to playing this way.”

The scintillating drives to the rim, the ones that came more due to guile than blinding speed since his most recent meniscus surgery, have been put on hold. Why? Because he can’t see the help defense unless it’s directly in front of him.

“At all. It’s reading the play,” Rose said. “Every single play I’m trying to read it off the strength of not being able to see. So how they’re playing me when I drive to the hole, I look at the film after I get done playing off the strength of one eye.”

Every time he goes through the film, he notices an extra defender who wasn’t there in real time. It’s a bit alarming but more than anything, he takes it as a point of encouragement.

“I want to get to the next gear, where it’s kinda like FIBA Basketball where I’m always pushing and got my guys run with me,” Rose said. “I’m trying to get in shape.”

And as his shot attempts decreases, he attempts to shed some light on his reality, whether we believe it or not.

“I want to play this way," he said. "This league forced me to become a scorer.”

Brotherly love: Justin and Jrue Holiday will walk NBA prospect Aaron cross stage at draft


Brotherly love: Justin and Jrue Holiday will walk NBA prospect Aaron cross stage at draft

Here's a cool story to get your week started off right.

Per Yahoo's Shams Charania, the NBA for the first time will have its green room invitees walk across the stage with two family members prior to the draft.

For UCLA guard Aaron Holiday, his brothers will accompany him.

Aaron, a 6-foot-1 guard, is projected to go off the board sometime late in the first round. It's pretty neat that his brothers will be in attendance, both Justin of the Bulls and Jrue of the Pelicans.

And there's a chance Aaron gets to play with Justin. The Bulls hold the 22nd pick in the first round (ironically from Jrue and the Pelicans) and Scott Phillips has Aaron as one of the five players the Bulls should look at with the 22nd pick.

Writes Phillips:

Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA: This potential pick would already have ties to the Bulls as Aaron's older brother, Justin, is currently on the roster. After three stellar seasons with the Bruins, Aaron is now hoping to become the third Holiday brother in the NBA (brother Jrue is with the Pelicans).

Smaller than his older brothers at 6-foot-1, Aaron makes up for his smaller size at the point with an absurd 6-foot-7.5 wingspan that enables him to play bigger on the defensive end. A talented perimeter shooter who never shot below 41 percent from 3-point range during his three years in Westwood, Holiday has shown that he can run a team on the ball or play as a shooter off of the ball. It should also be pointed out that Holiday was a selfless teammates at UCLA. Opting to come off the bench his sophomore season so Lonzo Ball could start, Holiday was great as both a starter and a sixth man during his college career.

The Bulls aren't trading for Kawhi Leonard, but what would a potential deal look like?


The Bulls aren't trading for Kawhi Leonard, but what would a potential deal look like?

The Bulls aren't trading for Kawhi Leonard.

Let's get that out of the way before continuing on.

At this stage in their rebuild the Bulls are interested in acquiring pieces - they dealt a Kawhi-like Jimmy Butler 12 months ago for three core parts - and have two picks in next week's NBA Draft.

The Spurs will have myriad options on where to send Leonard, the two-time All-Star and 2014 Finals MVP, and offers will pour in from everywhere. Leonard could also dictate where he plays next season, as he has one year remaining on his deal and will be a free agent after the 2019 season. Certainly a team giving up the assets required to get Leonard would want to know their All-Pro intends on staying.

So that's why. Whichever team deals for Leonard (assuming he is dealt) will be able to put together a more enticing package than the Bulls could (think Boston, the Lakers, Philadelphia). Leonard also reportedly prefers to play in Los Angeles or New York. No mention of Chicago.

But! It's Friday afternoon and we can only churn out so much draft content before our own heads begin spinning. So we figured we would put together the best deal the Bulls could offer for Leonard.

First off, the Bulls would need a gaurantee from Leonard that he intended to re-sign. Like Butler, Leonard wouldn't be able for the supermax extension if he leaves the Spurs. Instead, Leonard could sign a five-year, $188 million max deal with the Bulls, averaging $37.6 million per year.

The Bulls would get a 26-year-old All-Pro just about to enter the prime of his career. Make no mistake about it: Kawhi Leonard is a superstar. It's easy to forget because he played in just nine games last year, but Leonard is just a year removed from a season in which he averaged 25.5 points on 48 percent shooting, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 33.4 minutes. Oh, and he's won two Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2015 and 2016.

The Bulls would have Leonard through his age 31 season and would give the Bulls a souped-up version of Jimmy Butler, and perhaps one that could get them closer to contention in an Eastern Conference that may be without LeBron James.

The price would be steep. All-Rookie Lauri Markkanen would be the centerpiece of any deal. The Spurs have utilized versatile, small-ball lineups well in the past and adding Markkanen would be like a cheat code for Gregg Popovich. He'd slot in well next to LaMarcus Aldridge, who played 62 percent of his minutes at center last year, according to Basketball Reference. That was the most minutes he had played at center since his rookie season.

The Bulls would also have to include the 7th and 22nd picks in next week's draft, which only makes the deal more unlikely (from 0.01 percent to 0.005 percent). San Antonio could pursue a wing like Mikal Bridges or Kevin Knox and add him to a core that would include Dejounte Murray, Markkanen and Aldridge. The Spurs also have the 18th pick, so they could conceivably have five core players (Markkanen, Murray, 7, 18, 22) 21 years or younger to complement the 32-year-old Aldridge, who bounced back in a big way last season (ironically without Leonard).

Adding Justin Holiday's $4.615 million salary to the deal makes the money work and gives the Spurs another perimeter shooter.

What would the Bulls look like? Well, needless to say they would have found their wing.

Building around Leonard would include Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Bobby Portis. With Markkanen gone, Portis would be in line for a significant contract extension and a much larger role in the offense; his per-36 numbers were on par with Kevin Love's and Joel Embiid's a year ago.

PG: Kris Dunn
SG: Zach LaVine
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Bobby Portis
C: Robin Lopez

Alas, this deal is not happening. We can only hope to have angered some of you at this hypothetical, fun mock trade.