Bulls

Derrick Rose on his play against Pacers: 'I played like (bleep)'

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Derrick Rose on his play against Pacers: 'I played like (bleep)'

INDIANAPOLIS — Fred Hoiberg has been pretty tight-lipped about the Bulls’ bad performances to start the season, preferring to use as few words as possible to illustrate his disappointment.

But after Friday’s disappointing loss to the surging Indiana Pacers, Derrick Rose gave a self-assessment that was as critical and biting as any comments he’s made about his play in quite awhile.

“Oh my god. I feel like I played like (bleep) tonight,” Rose said. “I don’t what the case might be, Thanksgiving, I don’t know. But it’s horrible coming in here and losing to them tonight. Their energy level. My energy wasn’t up.”

Rose certainly wasn’t the only culprit as the Bulls’ sluggishness was on display from the opening few possessions, but he was critical in a way he’s usually not known to be after a 10-point, six-rebound and five-assist performance that saw him shoot just 4-of-16 from the field.

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But he seemed quite disgusted with himself after, saying he wouldn’t take Saturday off like the team will to work on his game.

“I can’t put a finger on it right now,” Rose said. “Tonight, it was all about energy. We came out sluggish, I came out sluggish. Missed a bunch of shots. Me, I’m one of the leaders on this team. I have to change that.”

The Bulls were certainly begging for a superstar to save them on this night, especially considering the first game coming off a west-coast swing is the toughest one to get, as it’ll be two whole weeks between games at the United Center.

“It is a tough game coming back from the west coast but we can’t use that as an excuse,” Rose said. “We had a chance to crack that 10-point lead but we didn’t execute the right way.”

Rose couldn’t muster a strong performance with the aforementioned numbers, turning the ball over in the tried-and-true way of jumping in the air without a plan that resulted in turnovers and layups for the fast-breaking Pacers.

“Turnovers and bunnies,” Rose said. “I missed a lot of layups, shots I normally hit, with my left hand, I missed. Give me a day or two, we got practice Sunday and we play Monday.”

He got to the basket a few times but couldn’t convert. Only once did it look physically awkward, an instance where he was caught underneath the rim but couldn’t glide enough to bring his body to the other side for a layup that would’ve been difficult under the best of circumstances.

The other times, he just left it short on the front rim, missed opportunities that clearly gnawed at him. Rose was far more concerned about the defense that couldn’t get the necessary stops when the Pacers began to pull away.

“It’s just making it hard. The way we play (offense), we play free,” Rose said. “So we come down and shoot up a shot, if we go down on defense and son’t stop them, they could easily go up 8-10 points. We shoot a lot of jump shots. If we change that, we just make it hard on them, even the times where we can’t score, our defense has to be consistent. At least our energy level has to be consistent.

“I’m not even worried about the offense, to tell you the truth. If we can’t stop nobody or put stops together, it’s no point in talking about offense. We’re not trying to outscore teams. We’re trying to play defense.”

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His double vision, while annoying for some to hear, is still a factor without a definitive timetable for returning back to normal. And perhaps his sprained left ankle he suffered the last time these two teams tangled didn’t allow him enough lift for said layup attempts.

Hoiberg wouldn’t pin the loss on Rose, especially since not many could look at themselves and say “I had a game tonight.”

“Derrick’s had some really good moments, he’s won some big games for us and we trust him out there,” Hoiberg said.

But trust didn’t play much of a factor in performance, as even if Hoiberg wouldn’t explicitly say how bad the Bulls were, Rose said what was on full display for all to see.

Report: Bulls will sign Summer League standout Antonio Blakeney to two-year deal

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USA TODAY

Report: Bulls will sign Summer League standout Antonio Blakeney to two-year deal

Antonio Blakeney's past 12 months have landed him a permanent spot on the Bulls, according to Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania.

The signing comes as little surprise for a number of reasons, beginning with Blakeney's play.

He was named the G-League Rookie of the Year after averaging 32.0 points per game for the Windy City Bulls last season. He then fared well alonside Wendell Carter Jr. in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 21.0 points on 40 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in five games.

Blakeney, playing on a two-way contract, had a cup of coffee with the Bulls in 2017, averaging 7.9 points on 37 percent shooting in 19 games. He scored a career-high 16 points on two different occasions.

He'll likely take the spot left vacant by wing David Nwaba, a player whose qualifying offer from the Bulls was rescinded in order to free up more cap space to sign Jabari Parker.

Blakeney will battle with Denzel Valentine, Justin Holiday and Chandler Hutchison for minutes on the second unit.

NBA Buzz: Will another Chicago homecoming pay off for Bulls?

NBA Buzz: Will another Chicago homecoming pay off for Bulls?

Bulls' public address announcer Tommy Edwards is already getting his familiar introduction ready for next season. "Froooooom CHICAGO, a 6'8" forward, Jabari Parker!

Not sure if Parker has the resume to be introduced last for Bulls' home games this season, but there will be plenty of fanfare regardless of where he falls among the starting five. After all, Parker was a part of four straight state championship teams at Chicago's Simeon H.S., earning national prep player of the year honors along the way. And, he's been recognized for his tireless charitable work, including an essay in the Player's Tribune proclaiming his desire to be a factor in creating a safer environment in his hometown. 

Parker is articulate and driven to succeed, which will make him a go-to guy for members of the Chicago media during the upcoming season. Question is, can he succeed where so many other Chicago prep stars have failed? You know the names. Derrick Rose, Eddy Curry, Dwyane Wade, Hersey Hawkins, Dave Corzine, Cazzie Russell and even our own Kendall Gill. All Chicago area high school stars looking to replicate that greatness playing for the Bulls. But none of them were part of an NBA championship team in their hometown.

So, what will expectations be like for the 23 year old Parker? The No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft has already come back from two separate ACL tears in his left knee, which effectively removed him from the list of young players projected as future All-Stars. Still, Parker was averaging over 20 points a game for the Bucks before his second ACL injury in February of 2017, and he came back this past season with his trademark explosiveness at the rim still very much intact.

It's obvious playing for his hometown Bulls has always been a goal for Parker, but will the fit on the court be as good as his fit in the Chicago community?

Parker, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn are all at their best with the basketball in their hands, which means the coaching staff will have to be creative in finding ways to feature all three of those players, plus the frontcourt duo of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. 

The best solution will be to push the pace to get early shot clock scoring opportunities. Parker is at his best running the floor for fastbreak lay-ups and dunks, and you can the bet the Bulls’ coaches are excited to see Dunn pushing the ball upcourt with Parker, LaVine and Markkanen running the wings. Fred Hoiberg wants to see his players get into a flow offense coming out of the initial attack in transition and when Carter Jr. is on the floor, the Bulls will have five athletic players, 24 years old or younger to get into secondary actions. 

Defense will be the biggest issue in the upcoming season. Parker and LaVine ranked near the bottom of the league among wing defenders in the analytics breakdowns from last season, and their ability to stay in front of talented shooting guards and small forwards will be a nightly key to the Bulls' success. Carter Jr. showed tremendous potential as a shot-blocker during Summer League games, but he can't be expected to block everything if opposing wings are getting straight line drives to the rim. 

So, where does this new-look Bulls team figure in the East? It's hard to project a win total for a team as young as the Bulls, but it's clear they have enough talent on the roster to see a double-digit increase over last season's 27 victories. 41 wins could be good enough to grab the last playoff spot in the East, so if everything comes together for the Bulls next season, they should be playing meaningful games in March and early April. 

AROUND THE ASSOCIATION
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Did you see LeBron James show up at the Vegas Summer League wearing a $500 pair of Lakers' customized shorts? I guess James wanted to make sure everyone knew he had switched teams this summer, and those shorts are now the hottest items in L.A. sports merchandise shops. 

As for the basketball fit, James has already met with Lakers' coach Luke Walton and seems satisfied with the jumbled roster he'll be leading in the upcoming season. James isn't expected to speak publicly on his latest move until the end of the month, but apparently he's been assured the Lakers will be bringing in another superstar at some point, either in the trade market or 2019 free agency. 

Magic Johnson must be confident he can sign Kawhi Leonard next summer, but after watching Paul George state his desire to join the Lakers, then change his mind and re-sign in Oklahoma City, Lakers' fans will be understandably cautious about projecting him as LeBron's running mate for the 2019-20 season. 
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Maybe that other All-Star caliber player is already on the Lakers' roster. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma are versatile forwards who have the potential to become 20 points per game scorers in the league, while Lonzo Ball could be an elite facilitator at the point guard position. And, the Lakers' other 1st round pick from the 2017 draft, Josh Hart, was just voted Summer League MVP, an honor that went to Ball a year ago. 

Hart is a 6'5" shooting guard who averaged 7.9 points as a rookie, connecting on 47% of his shots from the field and 40% from the 3 point line. He poured in 37 points Monday night to lead the Lakers to an overtime win over Cleveland in the Summer League semi-finals. The former Villanova star will compete with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Lance Stephenson for minutes at the shooting guard position opposite the point guard tandem of Ball and Rajon Rondo.

It's an odd roster put together by Magic and GM Rob Pelinka, but adding James to the mix should almost guarantee 50 wins and a top five seed in the West. 
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Here's a look at the All-NBA Summer League team voted on by media members in Las Vegas.

Wendell Carter Jr.  (BULLS)
Josh Hart                 (Lakers)
Collin Sexton           (Cavs)
Kevin Knox              (Knicks)
Christian Wood       (Bucks)

Top five draft picks Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young were voted to the 2nd team. 

We've already told you about Carter Jr. and Hart, but Sexton impressed all the NBA people on hand in Vegas with his speed in the open court and his ability to get to the rim. There was some discussion in the Bulls' draft room about possibly taking Sexton with the No. 7 overall pick, and he was quickly snapped up by the Cavs after Carter Jr. went to the Bulls.

In the post-Lebron, post-Kyrie era in Cleveland, finding a dynamic point guard to run the show was absolutely crucial for GM Koby Altman and it looks like the Cavs have their man in the ultra-competitive Sexton, who famously almost beat the University of Minnesota by himself when his Alabama team was forced to play three-against-five during a Thanksgiving tournament game last season. 

Cleveland will be looking to shed some of the bad contracts on the roster like Tristan Thompson, George Hill and J.R. Smith, and veterans Kevin Love and Kyle Korver could be on the move as well. Sexton is a quality piece to start the rebuild, but I don't think the Cavs should count on winning the No. 1 overall pick three times in four years like they did the last time LeBron left.
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Finally, don't put too much stock into the Sporting News report listing the Bulls as one of the teams showing interest in free agent center Jahlil Okafor. The former Whitney Young H.S. star worked out for four teams in Las Vegas last week, but the Bulls were not in attendance. Okafor will probably have to sign for the NBA minimum this season to re-establish some value around the league.

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft is in great shape and is trying to prove he's more than just a low-post scorer. Okafor played sparingly in Brooklyn after he was acquired in a mid-season trade with Philadelphia. He's averaged 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds over his three-year NBA career. 

The Bulls are already overloaded at the center position with Carter Jr., Robin Lopez, Cristiano Felicio and Omer Asik.