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Bulls: Masked Derrick Rose returns to practice, optimistic about opener

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Bulls: Masked Derrick Rose returns to practice, optimistic about opener

Perhaps the Elusive One, the Reclusive One should now be called the Optimistic One.

Or the Masked One.

Derrick Rose walked over confidently to the assembled media after shooting around with his newly-fitted mask at the Advocate Center and delivered his first comments since his orbital bone surgery two weeks ago, while not ruling out a debut on opening night Oct. 27.

“No pain,” Rose said. “I haven't had no pain since the first couple days after the surgery. After that, it's just getting it open, waiting for my eye to get right in the center, because it's a little bit higher than the other eye right now.”

[MORE BULLS: Until Butler and Rose succeed together, speculation will always loom]

He spoke so positively about where is now, it appears he’s made enough progress to at least be optimistic about having his name called when the Bulls take the floor against the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center.

“It’s whenever I can go play. I want to play. I’m anxious to play. I’m getting jittery just watching them play and the freedom we have playing,” he said. “If I’m willing to go and I know there’s nothing in my way, I’ll play.”

Despite the left eye looking like he’d been in a bout with Sugar Ray Leonard or Thomas Hearns for a few rounds, barely staying open at times, he seemed to be comfortable with the temporary reality of having accepted his left eye has gone through this type of trauma.

The dark moments, both literally and figuratively, directly after his procedure were the worst ones, but he quickly quipped with a level of humor, “I’m happy it’s not my knees.”

Referring to the knees that have often failed him and played a part in the derision he’s endured subsequently, he described the darkest—and worst moments of the last two weeks.

“Getting out of surgery. Throbbing, it felt like a blowtorch on your face,” Rose said. “Just having to stay in the house for two weeks. Felt like I was in jail or something, but just happy to be out, happy to be with my teammates, and happy to be back on the same mission previous to this [injury].”

[MORE BULLS: Hoiberg unhappy with defense, slippage shows in loss to Pistons]

Rose has spent plenty of time watching this team with his one good eye, and sees an open floor with plenty of opportunity to involve his teammates to the tune of at least seven assists per game, numbers he reached in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, his best as a professional.

“I’m cool with that. Whatever makes the game easy,” Rose said. “Even when I came back and practiced before training camp, I wasn’t being aggressive. I was just trying to get the feel for the offense and just get used to pushing the ball the way he wants us to push it.”

And if need be, he could play with the left eye not at maximum efficiency because a Rose with one eye is better than many with two. He hasn't yet been cleared for contact, taking things a step at a time while keeping an eye to the near future.

“I think I can. I can’t open my other eye,” Rose said. “That’s when I get double vision. But with one eye open, I think I could play pretty good.”

When asked if he ever wondered “why me?”, Rose said the temporary feeling didn’t last long, a sentiment many in the Chicago basketball community could wish they shared.

“Not at all. I will say the first day it's like that,” Rose said. “But after that, I just know there's a bigger plan. I'm doing all I can do on and off the court to try to be the best person I am and be the best athlete I can become. That's the only thing I can do. All the other things, like the injuries and all that; I'm just happy that it's not my knees. My eyes, anything else, I can deal with it. As long as it's not my legs, I'm fine.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

The film showed Taj Gibson as the culprit who hit Rose with an inadvertent elbow on the first day of training camp, the day that was supposed to signal the new beginning for the player who had a few too many new beginnings in short time.

“It comes along with it I guess. Just another cool story I can tell my son, for real,” he said.

As the swelling went down, the optimism rose even as the criticism surrounding his Media Day comments began to swell even more, as if the injury was some karmic payback for an awkwardly-placed answer.

“Everybody knows why I'm here,” Rose said. “That's why I picked this profession, just to win games no matter how we win games. It's all about winning. The No. 1 goal is to win the championship. This is my eighth year in the league. I was hoping I would win one before my eighth year, but it's all in God's plans, so just got to follow along with it and keep my goals pretty strict.”

Lakers sign Dwight Howard, ending the Joakim Noah-to-LA-possibility

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USA TODAY

Lakers sign Dwight Howard, ending the Joakim Noah-to-LA-possibility

The Los Angeles Lakers were scrambling for another big man in the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins torn ACL and Bulls fan were sent into a collective panic at the idea of lifelong LeBron James (and Cleveland) agitator Joakim Noah joining forces with him in Hollywood. 

Following a series of workouts with Noah and veteran centers Mo Speights and Dwight Howard, the Lakers have settled on Howard as their replacement for Cousins. 

Howard was a member of the Washington Wizards before they traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a deal to acquire wing shooter CJ Miles earlier this offseason. 

Over the 2018-19 season, Howard averaged 12.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, 0.4 blocks per game and finished with the second-lowest PER (17.4) of his career. Comparatively, Noah played 42 games in 2018-19, averaging 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.7 blocks per game and posted an 18.6 PER. 

The Lakers deal with Howard is non-guaranteed and the Lakers have all the leverage in the deal as ESPN reported, they will be able to cut Howard before the NBA's January 7 deadline without any financial impact on the team. 

The move reunites Howard with the Lakers, with whom he played 76 games for in the 2012-13 season.

Howard was an All-Star during his first Lakers stint, averaging 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds per game but ultimately had an unsuccessful (in terms of championship aspirations) tenure in the purple and gold.

The Howard-to-Lakers deal makes LA's roster full with 15 players in tow, so this officially ends any possibility of Noah teaming up with LeBron. Bulls fans can rejoice, for now. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Our first look at the full NBA 2K20 roster models for the 2019-20 Bulls

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Our first look at the full NBA 2K20 roster models for the 2019-20 Bulls

The release date of NBA 2K20 is near and as the September 6 release date gets closer, Bulls fans are finally getting a look at the full roster in video game form. 

Among the things that stand out in the video from Sports & Gaming Journalist Brian Mazique, the things that stood out the most was the new Zenni patch on the Bulls uniforms, which now has a light blue background to make the patch stand out a bit more. 

We had already seen how 2019 rookies Coby White and Daniel Gafford look but Thursday represented our first look at players like new Bulls Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky and the longest-tenured Bull, Brazilian big man Cristiano Felicio.

Young currently sports a short-haircut after having more an afro in the 2019 season, so only time will tell if 2K will update his look before the season kicks off on October 22. 

Also fully visible in the video are the overall 2K ratings of all players on the team including Satoransky (75), Young (79), Wendell Carter Jr. (78), Otto Porter (80), Lauri Markkanen (83) and Zach LaVine (85).

Based off of what we see in the video, NBA fans can expect to see the Bulls simulate pretty well in NBA 2K20 as the roster's veteran talent will provide some balance as the young core develops, much like what the Bulls front office is hoping for in real life. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.