Bulls

Bulls: Rose misses game with groin injury, defends choice to sit out

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Bulls: Rose misses game with groin injury, defends choice to sit out

Although it came as a bit of a surprise, Derrick Rose’s left groin injury caused him to miss Friday’s game against the Miami Heat at the United Center—and produced the sharpest defense from Rose, as he missed his 11th game of the season.

The Bulls certainly could’ve used an extra ballhandler as they turned it over 18 times but tweaking his groin in the fourth quarter Thursday was serious enough to take a cautious approach and sit out the next night.

“Got sore when the game went on,” Rose said. “Gave them notice yesterday and they were on top of it.”

[MORE: Heat surge in fourth to pull away from ailing Bulls]

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg hopes to have Rose for the upcoming road swing in Toronto and Washington, D.C., seeing as how the number of games dwindle, Rose’s importance to the team is magnified.

He tried to quell any mushrooming controversy by saying the team and Rose made the decision for him to sit out, as opposed to the narrative about Rose running the show and sitting out when he feels like it.

“It’s everybody’s decision. With the way he feels, he has a strain in there,” Hoiberg said. “I don’t know how serious or how long he’ll be out. Looks like a day to day thing right now. Try to keep it moving, keep it loose. The decision from everybody right now was to keep him out.”

Rose took questions from the media by his locker before the game, and defended the decision to sit out, as he’s still on track to play the most games in a season since his MVP campaign in 2010-11

“It’s listening to my body. Nobody knows my body more than me. So I’m listening to it,” Rose said. “It is what it is. It’s not like guys are trying to get injured. We’re trying our hardest to make the playoffs, make a run for it. The way we’re playing, injuries are gonna come.”

The Bulls are fighting with the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards for the last two playoff spots as the sixth-seeded Charlotte Hornets continue to distance themselves from the rest of the pack.

Rose missed three games shortly after the All-Star break but has sandwiched it between his best stretch of play in years. It’s coincided, though, with the Bulls’ slide and other injuries to key players like Jimmy Butler.

“Frustrating? I wouldn’t say It’s frustrating,” Rose said. “I’m controlling all I can control. Trying my hardest to be out there. The reality is stuff like this happens.”

“I have a workout after I finish talking to you all. But I don’t know what the plan is tomorrow.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

The Bulls fell to 2-4 this month with a 118-96 loss to the Heat at the United Center, a game they would’ve liked looked severely outmanned in even had Rose participated.

“We’re giving it our all. When you give it your all, sometimes nagging injuries happen,” he said.

He wouldn’t entertain a question about if it were a game later in the season with playoff implications but seemed optimistic about Monday in Toronto.

“Just keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t answer ‘if’ questions. ‘If’s’ never happen,” Rose said. “That’s the plan. Give it these two days, work hard, lift. Whatever they want me to do. When Monday comes, if I feel good, I’ll play.”

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

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USA TODAY

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

Lauri Markkanen doesn't often feel short.

The Bulls forward is 7-feet tall, which even in the land of NBA giants makes him one of the tallest players on the court at all times. So when Markkanen stands next to Yao Ming, it changes perspective quite a bit.

Markkanen posted a photo with him and the 7-foot-6 Chinese Hall of Famer. Markkanen looks like a child.

Makes you wonder if Markkanen pulled some "What's the weather like up there?" jokes just because he otherwise never can.

 

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

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USA TODAY

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

Former Miami Heat two-way player Derrick Walton Jr. is reported to be nearing a deal with the Bulls. In an interview with The Athletic, it was stated: "Walton, 23, says he knows where he’ll play next season. An agreement is in place, but his agent, Mark Bartelstein, is requiring him to sit on the news until next week. All Walton can put out publicly is this: 'Long story short, I’m good. I’m going to a great situation. All I can say.' "

And while it is not yet known if the potential contract will be a two-way deal or not, Walton would provide an intriguing lottery ticket for the Bulls. 

The team mostly ignored looking for a backup point guard on the market. There is obviously a belief in the organization that Cameron Payne will have some internal growth, making him the best option. And the trade of Jerian Grant for essentially nothing, shows even more that Payne is there guy. Retaining Ryan Arcidiacono is a nice move considering the hustle that he showed last season at both the G League and NBA level, but it still leaves the Bulls thin in terms of established backup PGs behind Kris Dunn. And that is where Walton comes into play. 

Walton was a four-year player at the University of Michigan, where he played in some big-time games and showed immense leadership potential. But in terms of strictly on the court skills, there is one thing that he does extremely well: space the floor. 

In his four years at Michigan, Walton took a total of 581 3-point attempts, and knocked them down at a 40.1 percent rate. His elite shooting is enough to make him a legitimate rotation player for Fred Hoiberg. And while Payne still may develop into a better player, his outside shooting is his calling card despite never being elite at that skill at the NBA level. And in fact, when you compare he and Walton’s stats from college, the G League and the NBA, it becomes apparent who is the better shooter right now.

3-point percentage at NCAA level: Payne- 35.9 percent, Walton- 40.1 percent
3-point percentage at G League level: Payne- 33.8 percent, Walton- 37.7 percent
3-point percentage at NBA level: Payne- 34 percent, Walton- 41.2 percent

Now obviously, there is a “small sample size alert” for the NBA level, as Walton has only taken 17 3-pointers at the NBA level in his limited time with the Miami Heat. But these numbers show that even dating back to their freshman years of college, Walton has been the more efficient shooter from 3-point range.

Cameron Payne has the edge when it comes to playmaking, and this is based off of the fact that Payne has maintained an assist rate above 30 percent through all of his G League stints, while also having a low turnover rate (9.9 percent). Walton didn’t come close to Payne in terms of G League assist rate, and his 17.9 percent turnover rate at the G League level shows that his decision-making has yet to catch up to his shooting. 

Ultimately, Walton is going to be most effective as an off-ball guard who can make quick decisions, and knockdown the 3-point shot at a high level. Though if Summer League was any indication, his passing out of the pick-and-roll is getting better. And while Payne certainly is a good shooter, his game is much more predicated on having the ball in his hands, and playing in the pick-and-roll. With so many players on the Bulls who can create their own shot, Walton could end up being the cleanest fit with this constantly evolving Bulls roster.