Bulls' Rose out vs Suns; availability vs Warriors in question


Bulls' Rose out vs Suns; availability vs Warriors in question

PHOENIX -- Derrick Rose will sit out Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, as his left ankle injury prevented him from going through the morning shootaround and it opens the likelihood he won’t play against Golden State on Friday, either.

“Got back to the hotel did some tests and some balance work, just really sore, still,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg before the game. “We decided to rule him out tonight and we’ll take a look at it again tomorrow.”

But when Hoiberg intimated Rose wouldn’t do much at Thursday’s practice, it’s becoming harder to visualize the matchup between himself and NBA MVP Stephen Curry materializing.

Kirk Hinrich starts in Rose’s stead.

“Still day-to-day,” Hoiberg said. “I doubt he’ll do a lot tomorrow in practice but hopefully we’ll get him moving and cutting, see if that thing feels any better.”

Rose took an awkward step on a drive against Monta Ellis in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 96-95 win over the Indiana Pacers, limping off then going to the locker room.

“I don’t think this is going to be something that holds him out a long time,” Hoiberg said at shootaround. “It seems to be something where he’ll be day-to-day. Hopefully after the game tonight, we’ll re-evaluate it tomorrow and see if he can go at Golden State. If not we’ll have three days to get him some work and get back, but I’ve been really pleased with Derrick.”

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The usual swelling didn’t occur and Rose said it wasn’t an ankle sprain that could be graded (mild, severe, etc). He’s been taking ice treatments along with laser, electric stimulation and acupuncture to speed up the process.

“Nah, just a regular ankle sprain,” Rose said. “Haven’t sprained his ankle in a long time. It’s kind of a weird feeling at first getting an injury like this again. There wasn’t no swelling.”

The injury seems to come at the worst and best time, all at the same time, considering the circumstances. The Bulls aren’t going through an arduous road trip, playing three games in seven days as opposed to a seven-game circus road trip they took this time last year. But they play a murderer’s row of guards each night and Rose’s ability to attack and control tempo will be key, should he play.

“I would love to play in all three of them but really got to pay attention to my body, listen to my body. If I can’t go, I’ll be able to tell tonight,” he said at shootaround.

And Rose is coming off his most complete performance of the season before getting hurt, a 23-point, six-assist showing that easily could’ve been a double-double with assists.

“No doubt about it, he’s very important,” said his backcourt mate, Jimmy Butler. “He had a strong performance, we knew it was coming. It’s all about rhythm and timing for him, that’s for everybody. As long as he stays in shape and gets back to practice, he’ll pick up where he left off, to tell you the truth.”

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Hoiberg believes the time off won’t do much to affect his rhythm, if you are to believe his play against the Pacers was more a sign of progress than a random occurrence.

“He, I thought was playing, besides the Oklahoma City game, as well as he’d played all year,” Hoiberg said. “He put a lot of work in going into that game, with coming in late at night, getting in a lot of extra shots. He hit two threes that game, his stroke looked great. He was king of the guy running the show, making plays, making things happen that entire Indiana game.

“When he went out we obviously struggled. So that was too bad to see when he went out. But he’s getting there, he’s getting that rhythm. He’s got 10 games under his belt now, plus a quarter of a preseason game. You can tell he’s getting in really good shape.”

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

The Bulls ‘rebuild’ seems to be just a one-year experiment after the team signed Chicago native Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40-million dollar deal on Saturday. Although on first look Parker’s contract would seem to restrict what they can do in free agency next summer, the reality is that the 2nd year team option gives the Bulls plenty of flexibility with—or without- Parker next year.  

If the Bulls pick up the option on Parker, they will still be able to sign a max free agent next July if they make the right moves between now and July 1, 2019.

The NBA projects the 2019-20 cap will rise to $109 million, up from $101.9 million for the upcoming season. The league bases a ‘max’ salary on years of service. A 10-year vet like Kevin Durant is eligible for more ($38.2 million) than his teammate Klay Thompson ($32.7 million), an 8-year vet. If the Bulls keep Parker, they’ll enter free agency with approximately $15.4 million next summer—far short of the cap space needed for a player like Durant or Thompson, but that number is misleading. The $15.4 million also includes cap holds (salary slots assigned to a player based on several factors including previous year’s salary). The cap hold is designed to prevent teams from completely circumventing the soft cap model the league uses. The cap holds for Bobby Portis ($7.5 million) and Cameron Payne ($9.8 million) are just theoretical if the Bulls don’t sign either to a contract extension before the October 31, 2018 deadline. 

Let’s say the Bulls are in line to sign a star free agent like Thompson; all they would need to do is rescind any qualifying offer to Payne or Portis, and then renounce them as free agents. This would effectively take the cap holds off the Bulls’ cap sheet and give them approximately $32.7 million in cap space. Coincidently (or perhaps it’s no coincidence), that’s the exact salary a 7-9 year free agent like Thompson would command.

In order to create enough space for Durant and his increased ‘max’ slot, they would need to waive and stretch a player like Cristiano Felicio or incentivize a trade involving a player by attaching another asset in the deal, like a future 1st round pick.

If the Bulls decline the team option on Parker, then they will enter free agency with anywhere between $35 million and $53 million. 

Gar Forman finally comes through on promise


Gar Forman finally comes through on promise

"We felt we needed to start getting younger and more athletic..."

It was 2016 when Bulls general manager Gar Forman made this statement, drawing ire from many Bulls fans for what felt like—at the time—a disingenuous statement. A swap of Derrick Rose for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant making you younger and athletic? No one was buying it.

But fast forward to July, 2018, and it is clear that at the very least, Forman has finally made good on his promise. The signing of Jabari Parker has been met with mostly positivity, as a short-term commitment to a former No. 2 overall pick is something that is difficult to hate. But when you factor in the rest of the pieces currently on the roster, it is OK for Bulls fans to be downright giddy over the future.

Lauri Markkanen is 21 years old, Wendell Carter Jr. is 19, Zach LaVine is 23, Jabari Parker is 23 and Kris Dunn is the elder statesmen of the group at 24 years old. If these five become the starting group moving forward, as expected, it would represent one of the youngest starting groups in the league with an average age of 22. 

And athleticism can be checked off the list as well. We know Markkanen has hopsLaVine showed off the explosiveness he was known for last season and Dunn had some dunks last year that legitimately gave fans a Rose flashback

Markkanen and Carter Jr. have both flashed the ability to switch onto guards for a limited amount of time and guard in space, a huge component of any defense that wants to switch a lot. And it also is the type of athleticism that is much more important at their position.

At this stage, Parker represents the biggest question mark athletically speaking. Despite his young age, the two ACL injuries make you wonder if there is any room for him to improve his agility. But at the least, Parker can drive to the basket and finish over the top with authority, even if his defense doesn't catch up.

So, Bulls fans are starting to become intrigued with this roster.

Fred Hoiberg wants his teams to play an up-tempo game, and last season was the first year during Hoiberg's Bulls tenure where the team actually ranked in the top 10 in pace. So if you have followed the Bulls carefully since Thibodeau's departure, you see a front-office that supports their new head coach, yet wasted a couple years to commit fully to his vision, and to a direction for the franchise.

But the point is Forman finally chose a direction.

The Bulls have a young core, and financial flexibility moving forward. And for all the jokes the "GarPax" regime have endured over the years, they have put the team in a position to have sustained success if they hit on all the young players they have acquired. 

And if they are wrong in their assessment of their young talent? 

The Bulls would be able to let Parker go, now that we know the second year of his contract is a team option. LaVine's offensive skill set will allow him to still have trade value years from now, as his contract won't look nearly as bad over time. 

And if the Bulls flurry of moves make the team significantly worse in a year where many expect them to take a step forward, all it would mean is being equipped with a high lottery pick in what is shaping up to be a top-heavy 2019 NBA Draft.

So Gar Forman wanted the team to get younger and more athletic, and though it took longer than it should've, the front-office made good on their promise. That is something that Bulls fans can believe in.