Bulls

Defining Rose's 'next step' in recovery process

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Defining Rose's 'next step' in recovery process

The definition of "more contact" for Derrick Rose, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau described the "next step" in the former league MVP's ongoing recovery process is controlled games of two-on-two, CSNChicago.com has learned.

Thibodeau acknowledged after Tuesday's practice at the Berto Center that Rose was engaged in contact drills with his teammates, but as is typical for the tight-lipped coach, he wouldn't divulge further details.

CSNChicago.com talked to multiple people who witnessed Rose's participation Tuesday -- in fact, several members of the organization, from his teammates to Bulls management, observed the proceedings -- and they spoke favorably about the All-Star point guard's progress, though all were only cautiously optimistic and none were willing to speak to a timetable for his eventual return to the court this season.

"He's looking good. He's getting back to where he needs to be. He's just working. He'll be all right," one observer told CSNChicago.com. "He's getting there into game shape. He's working on it, just taking his time. He's going to be ready, whenever he's ready to come back.

"That's whether Rose showed flashes of his old form just going to have to wait. He's getting right. I can't really say too much on that," he continued. "He's a basketball player. He's going to compete. Anybody steps on the floor against him, they'd better be ready. He's going to compete."

According to a separate source with knowledge of the situation, the game was a closely-supervised matchup between Rose and reserve big man Taj Gibson against rookie point guard Marquis Teague and backup center Nazr Mohammed.

Not that the Bulls or other NBA teams don't engage in one-on-one or two-on-two games during practices for either enjoyment or development, but this was unique, as Thibodeau made the affair very situational, putting Rose in various pick-and-roll and pin-down scenarios, while stopping play periodically for instructional purposes.

Previously, Rose had only performed one-on-one drills with team staffers -- as was previously reported by the Chicago Sun-Times -- as the two were on the United Center court before recent Bulls games prior to the arrival of fans to the arena, but after many members of the media were present, similar to when the Chicago native did shooting drills with a small audience watching.

Tuesday was truly a next step, as Rose played with an intensity -- he got frustrated when he missed shots and attempted to play tough defense, even blocking a shot -- that showed after his long layoff, his competitive juices were flowing.

"He looked great. Remember how he used to cut through the lane? The way he used to cut through the lane and do the acrobatics," described another person who witnessed Rose's first time playing with teammates since last April 28, albeit in an informal, two-on-two practice setting. "It just looked so smooth. But he's just taking his time. I think he's got to come back when he's ready, but it's still progressing."

"Just looking at his body, it's crazy. Compared to where he used to be, his body, he's just been working real hard and you can tell how his jumping ability is, that burst. Even though he's a minute away, that burst, that back cut, it looks so familiar, but even faster," the individual told CSNChicago.com. "It was real competitive, but at the same time, he's still a while away. But he just needs to get his timing back. But he looks great."

Another source cautioned CSNChicago.com that Rose appeared winded afterward and certainly looked rusty, despite displaying flashes of his unique ability on occasion.

The same person speculated that depending on the team's schedule -- it should be noted that the Bulls don't practice Thursday, have a home game Friday night against Golden State, after which they'll travel to Washington for a game Saturday against the Wizards before returning to Chicago, likely having an off day Sunday due to the back-to-back and hosting Charlotte next Monday -- Rose could remain in this phase until at least next week before potentially moving on to five-on-five action with teammates, though the team rarely scrimmages during the season.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.