Bulls: Hoiberg 'hopeful' Derrick Rose plays on two-game Florida trip


Bulls: Hoiberg 'hopeful' Derrick Rose plays on two-game Florida trip

Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg is “hopeful” Derrick Rose will be available to play on the Bulls’ back-to-back road trip against Miami and Orlando starting tomorrow, saying Rose will be a gametime decision for Tuesday’s game against the Heat.

Whatever happens, it comes at a critical time for the Bulls as they are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the Detroit Pistons—coinciding with Rose’s longest absence of the season, three consecutive games.

“He’s feeling better,” Hoiberg said. “When I worked him out the day before the Washington game he was in a lot of pain. Yesterday he worked out again, he had less pain.

“This morning, he got a good warmup in, got a good workout in before practice, participated in most of it, and that’s a good sign that he hasn’t had a setback after good hard workouts. He made it through part of the scrimmages today. Hopefully he’ll be available tomorrow, if not Orlando.”

With it being his right hamstring, the Bulls are being as cautious as Rose is, and Hoiberg tried to quell any doubts about Rose’s injury by saying he could see his point guard favoring his leg and limping during workouts.

“It’s diagnosed as a tendinitis injury,” Hoiberg said. “A lot of it is how he explodes off it. It’s the knee he’s had repaired a couple times. Hopefully when we get him back we get him back for the rest of the year.”

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Rose has played 48 of the 58 games so far this season, and the Bulls need him and Jimmy Butler back to have a better chance at securing a playoff berth—not to mention being in a decent situation to actually win a first-round series.

Butler is staying back to get additional work in with his recovering left knee strain, and Hoiberg wouldn’t close the possibility of Butler being back Saturday against Houston.

Butler has missed the last nine games since injuring the knee in the second quarter of the Bulls’ Feb. 5 game against the Denver Nuggets.

“Potentially. We’ll see how it goes. He’d only have one practice with that (scenario),” Hoiberg said. “But to get some 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 workouts he’ll have a pretty good idea about how he’s feeling.”

Considering how Miami is jockeying for playoff positioning and the Orlando Magic is on the outside looking in but close enough to disrupt things, the Bulls could be .500 by Saturday against the dysfunctional but talented Rockets.

“His big thing is getting comfortable and confident he can explode off that left leg, which is his jumping leg,” said Hoiberg of Butler. “If he feels great in practice, I wouldn’t rule Saturday out.”

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?


Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

John Calipari's 2017 recruiting class featured five McDonald's All-Americans and Hamidou Diallo, a former five-star recruit who nearly jumped to the NBA the previous year. It also included a lanky 6-foot-6 point guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And for the first part of the 2017-18 season, the Toronto native who played his final two high school years in Tennessee, appeared to be a nice fit off the bench for Calipari.

But something flipped. Gilgeous-Alexander was inserted into the starting lineup for good on January 9 and never looked back. He played his best basketball beginning in late February to the end of the season, a span of 10 games against eight NCAA Tournament opponents. In those games Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep and 84 percent from the free throw line, and added 1.4 steals in nearly 38 minutes per game for good measure. He was one of the best players in the country, and on a team with five McDonald's All-Americans, he was Calipari's best freshman.

"I knew with how hard I worked that anything was possible," SGA said at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "It was just a matter of time before it started clicking and I started to get it rolling."

That stretch included a 17-point, 10-assist double-double against Ole Miss, a 29-point showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, and 27 more points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Buffalo. Even in his worst game of the stretch, a 15-point effort against Kansas State in the Tournament, he made up for 2 of 10 shooting by getting to the free throw line 12, converting 11 of them.

It made his decision to make the jump to the NBA an easy one - that, and another loaded Calipari recruiting class incoming. He stands taller than just about any other point guard in the class and might have as good a jump shot as any. He's adept at getting to the rim, averaging 4.7 free throw attempts per game (that number jumped to 5.6 after he became a starter, and 7.5 in those final 10 games of the season. He isn't the quickest guard in the class, but he uses his feet well, is able to find open shooters due to his height and improved on making mistakes on drive-and-kicks as the season went on.

"I think I translate really well to the next level with there being so much more space on the floor and the open court stretched out," he said. "It only benefits me and my ability to get in the lane and make plays."

There's something to be said for him being the next in line of the Calipari point guards. The ever-growing list includes players like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray and DeAaron Fox. It's the NBA's version of Penn State linebackers or Alabama defensive linemen. The success rate is nearly 100 percent when it comes to Calipari's freshmen point guards; even Brandon Knight averaged 18.1 points over a three-year span in the NBA.

"That’s why guys go to Kentucky," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "It prepares them for the next level. Coach (Calipari) does a really good job, especially with point guards, getting them ready for that next level in a short amount of time."

Gilgeous-Alexander didn't test or play in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, but he still came out of Chicago a winner. He measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a ridiculous 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan, a full three inches longer than any other point guard at the Combine. He also added, rather uniquely, that he watches of film Kawhi Leonard playing defense. Most players don't mention watching film on different-position players; most players aren't 6-foot-6 point guards.

"(It's) obviously a more versatile league and playing small ball. And with me being able to guard multiple positions, a lot of teams are switching things like the pick and roll off ball screens, so me being able to switch and guard multiple positions can help an organization."

Gilgeous-Alexander's arrow is pointing way up. He appears to be teetering near Lottery pick status, though that could go one way or the other in private team workouts, especially if he's pitted against fellow top point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton. But if his rise at Kentucky is any indication, he'll only continue to improve his game, his stock and eventually his draft position.