Bulls

Derrick Rose to miss showdown with champion Warriors, MVP Curry

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Derrick Rose to miss showdown with champion Warriors, MVP Curry

SAN FRANCISCO — The stage was set perfectly but Derrick Rose’s body wouldn’t cooperate, as his sprained left ankle will prevent him from playing tonight against the undefeated NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

It’ll be the second straight game Rose will miss, as he missed the west-coast swing opener against the Phoenix Suns, but now the target is Tuesday against the Portland Trailblazers.

“Big game tonight. Of course I’d love to play in it but I have to deal with the reality,” Rose said. “I was able to move around a lot more than the previous days after I injured it.”

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Rose didn’t practice Thursday so it looked pretty unlikely beforehand he would play in what looked to be a dream matchup against Stephen Curry, but many held out hope that with backup Aaron Brooks out with a hamstring injury that Rose would give it a go, even at half speed.

“It’s perfect, It’s perfect,” said Rose of the stage and opportunity. “It’s very hard, if it wasn’t this injury if it was something else I would’ve played. But this is slowing me a bit and I want to be right.”

He alluded to his history of playing with injury and how it affected not only his play but his body, most notably in the lockout 2011-12 year where nagging injuries could’ve played a part in his torn ACL in Game 1 of the first-round playoffs, the first of debilitating injuries.

“After today, I have a couple days to move around really test it before getting back on the court. I feel like my body’s a little bit different,” Rose said. “If I’m not close to 100 percent, I overthink a lot and overcompensate on a lot of things. It just comes with my body type.”

“What’s previously happened and dealing with the injury, if I was to play it wouldn’t be the game I’d normally play. It would be half of what I could do on the court and playing against them, that’s not what I want to do.”

Playing against Curry meant Rose would be going through a lot of screens and moving in different directions, leaving that ankle susceptible to being damaged worse than his current day-to-day status.

“Cutting and playing defense,” said Rose when asked the biggest thing to worry about physically. “Even on this trip, we’re playing teams that like to attack and get in the open court and I want to be able to defend in transition and play my game on the offensive end.”

He had high praise for Curry, the league’s MVP and leader in scoring, who appears on a mission to validate last year’s title run with another one, as the Warriors completed a 23-point comeback on the road against the rival L.A. Clippers Thursday night. Curry scored 40.

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“He’s been amazing. He’s playing great basketball,” Rose said. “If anything he pushes not only me and the whole league to work on their game. The way he’s been working out, the way he’s focused and how consistent he’s playing, he’s pushing the whole league.”

For the first time, he admitted to a little frustration considering he played his most complete game of the season against the Indiana Pacers, where his injury occurred midway through the fourth quarter where he took an awkward step on the baseline.

“The frustrating thing about it is the last time I played I had a good game and I build off good games,” said Rose, referring to his 23-point, six-assist showing. “For me to not have the opportunity to play because of an ankle injury, it’s a frustrating thing about it. It’s reality. I have to deal with it and I’ll be back soon.”

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

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USA TODAY

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.