Bulls

Hoiberg: Derrick Rose will play vs. Cleveland, but for how long?

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Hoiberg: Derrick Rose will play vs. Cleveland, but for how long?

A turbulent offseason isn’t going to keep Derrick Rose from playing in Tuesday’s NBA opener against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Rose made his preseason debut last Friday against the Mavericks, this time coming back from a fractured left orbital suffered in the first practice of training camp. To rookie coach Fred Hoiberg’s delight, Rose pushed the pace, attacked the basket and showed little hesitancy despite wearing a mask in two separate five-minute stints.

Asked what might be a realistic expectation for Rose on Tuesday night, and Hoiberg was non-committal.

[MORE: Rose's debut in Hoiberg's new offense energizes Bulls]

“I don’t know if he’s going to have a restriction on how many minutes,” Hoiberg said, although conditioning is still a concern. “We play three in four days to start this thing off, so we’ll have to be a little more careful with him just because he hasn’t had a ton of reps out there. I don’t know exactly how many minutes, but it will be good to have him out there.”

The Bulls are very much a work in progress. Integrating Rose back into the system is priority No. 1, but a close second on Hoiberg’s to-do list should be sorting out the frontcourt rotations. It appears he likes the Pau Gasol-Nikola Mirotic pairing for spacing and offensive purposes while playing Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson together off the bench. How much time rookie Bobby Portis seizes from any of the veterans remains to be seen.

Gibson, who played all sorts of roles last season under Tom Thibodeau, said the Bulls are benefitting from the depth.

“I feel comfortable in this offense. I feel like I’m back in college playing freely,” he said Sunday. “I feel like the practices have been harder for me than the games. That’s a good sign. We’ve just really been going at it.”

[RELATED: Derrick Rose on reported rift with Jimmy Butler: It's so false]

The biggest adjustment may be for former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah, who should still see fourth quarter minutes despite his reserve role. Given Sunday’s practice, the team’s emotional leader seems to be adapting quite well.

“He’s been awesome. He’s been our most vocal guy in practices,” Hoiberg said. “He has that group frothing at the mouth today in that second unit, so it was fun.”

The last several weeks have been dedicated to implementing Hoiberg’s offensive schemes, but that won’t prepare the Bulls for what awaits them in LeBron James on Tuesday. For what it’s worth, Hoiberg did say he and his staff watched a lot of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Cleveland in preparation.

“He’s so good, he’s a freight train at getting down the floor with the ball in his hands. He’s a great passer, he can hurt you on the glass,” Hoiberg said. “You just have to try and make him make jumpshots. You have to give up something with him.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Fortunately, the Bulls can rest assured that their superstars will be active as well.

“I think (Rose) is in top form,” Gibson said. “He’s been doing great in practice. I think the mask, I don’t know, I think it’s the mask. We’ve been talking a lot of trash to him, and he’s been responding well. We’ve been really getting into him, throwing so many bodies at him, and we couldn’t stop him today.” 

They hope the same can be said on Tuesday night. 

Jersey from LeBron James' first-ever SI cover sells for over $180K

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USA TODAY

Jersey from LeBron James' first-ever SI cover sells for over $180K

LeBron James is arguably the second-greatest basketball player of all time, with a claim to being the true GOAT depending on who you talk to. But one thing we can all agree on, with James entering his 17th season in the NBA, is that we don't know how much longer we will get to see him grace the NBA hardwood. With the final stages of James' illustrious NBA career in sight, fans have started to buy up all of the LBJ merchandise they can find and as of Sunday night, one of the rarest pieces of James memorabilia is off of the market. 

The St. Vincent-St. Mary's Irish jersey that James wore on his first-ever Sports Illustrated cover went for a whopping $187,500 in a Goldin Auctions event. The SI cover that James wore the jersey on in 2002 featured the title "The Chosen One", detailing how NBA franchises were already lining up for their shot at drafting James despite him just being a high school junior at the time. 

The $187,500 paid for the jersey is (somewhat shockingly) more than the amount paid for Michael Jordan's final Bulls regular season jersey, which sold for $173,240 back in 2015, then the highest price paid for a Jordan collectible ever at any auction

Only time will tell if another piece of James (or Jordan) memorabilia will eclipse the $200k mark but with a decent chunk of James' career still left, one would think that is a strong possibility.

Though Goldin Auctions founder Ken Goldin was off a bit, projecting that the jersey would sell for somewhere in the ballpark of $300k or more, the now-legendary jersey still ended up breaking the record for the highest price paid for a LeBron James jersey. 

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Even with unproven wing depth, Bulls will monitor Otto Porter Jr.'s workload

Even with unproven wing depth, Bulls will monitor Otto Porter Jr.'s workload

As the Bulls played out the string last season, fielding glorified G League lineups, meaningful days still existed.

April 3 was one of them.

Not only did the Bulls scratch out a fun, one-point road victory over the Wizards, executive vice president John Paxson, coach Jim Boylen and general manager Gar Forman met with Otto Porter Jr. and his longtime strength coach from his alma mater of Georgetown.

That meeting mapped out Porter’s offseason plan and began the strong communication that continued Friday when Boylen and Porter met to discuss the organization’s approach for a proper workload for the crucial veteran. Following Sunday’s practice at the Advocate Center, Boylen for the first time publicly disclosed the Bulls’ plan to play Porter in the neighborhood of 30 minutes and approach back-to-back games on a case-by-case basis.

“We will manage him appropriately,” Boylen said. “He will not play over 30 minutes in anything we do to get going here. We’ll manage him on the off days in a real respectful way. Obviously, he’s a big piece. He’s our starting 3, a big wing. And we need him.”

The Bulls have a set of back-to-back games in this first week of the regular season, with their home opener against the defending NBA champion Raptors coming Saturday following a game at the Grizzlies Friday.

“We’ll see how he feels,” Boylen said. “It might be a situation where we manage him the first night in order to play him the second night. Or manage him the first night and the second night he feels maybe a night he doesn’t play. But we have a plan. It’s rough because it’s depending on how he feels.”

Right now, Porter feels good.

“Preseason has been great, making sure my body is healthy, making sure I get my reps in, making sure as a team we’re ready to go,” Porter said following practice. “I’ll hold it down for us until we get Chandler (Hutchison) back. That’s going to be always my job.

“But we got a lot of guards that can play the three too. We got a lot of guys that can play multiple positions. If somebody goes down, the next man always got to step up and replace – not replace but do more – and I feel like everybody is going to do more.”

Hutchison has yet to play with a hamstring injury. Shaq Harrison missed all five preseason games but is available for Wednesday’s opener in Charlotte, N.C.

Boylen said there are many options to keep Porter fresh even with Hutchison injured and Denzel Valentine currently out of the rotation, including Harrison or Tomas Satoransky at backup small forward and three-guard lineups. The Bulls also utilize big lineups with Thad Young at small forward.

“You’ve seen what we’ve done. We’ve had Coby (White), Arch (Ryan Arcidiacono) and (Kris) Dunn out there together. Playing small and fast is good. You can also put ‘Sato’ out there with that group,” Boylen said. “There may be opportunities where we go big depending on the situation of the game. We’ve practiced those lineups and scenarios.”

Porter played a huge role in the Bulls’ brief surge last February after arriving from the Wizards in a trade. He has battled nagging injuries in the past, including knee, shoulder and neck issues. Porter also underwent minor surgery on his left leg that knocked him out of the April 2018 playoffs to address a blood buildup around a contusion.

“Every season, there are ups and downs and teams go through it,” Porter said. “Right now, it’s a matter of depth and we want to start out fresh. You start out fresh, you’re already ahead of the game.”

Porter is encouraged by the Bulls’ offense during the preseason, including an increased emphasis on 3-point attempts.

“Right now, we might not be shooting a high percentage. But in the regular season, that number is definitely going to increase drastically because we’re practicing hard, making our open shots and just getting open looks,” Porter said. “We know what this offense can do for us.”