Bulls

No contact yet, but Rose returns to practice; set to travel

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No contact yet, but Rose returns to practice; set to travel

Ever since he first tore his ACL during Game 1 of the Bulls first-round playoff series last spring, the progress of Derrick Rose has been something of a mystery, as the organization hasnt been exactly forthcoming with updates, and for good reason, being that they would be deluged by requests for information about the superstars rehabilitation efforts.

But CSNChicago.com has learned that over the last two days, minus the contact portions, the former league MVP has been a full participant in the teams practices at the Berto Center.

However, that doesnt mean Rose will return to the court in the near future, as it was always the plan to have him increase his basketball workload in an effort to get familiar with his new teammates, have a comfort level in running the offense and regain a semblance of his timing, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

While there is no set timetable for Rose to resume playing, according to multiple sources, the 24-year-old point guard will be back on the court sometime after the NBA All-Star break.

There are still some hurdles to clear most notably, taking contact in practice, something hed have to do for a significant period of time before getting clearance to play but one of the next steps, traveling with the team on the road, should occur on one of the Bulls upcoming January road trips, according to multiple people with knowledge of Roses recovery, including the player himself, told CSNChicago.com (the All-Star point guard and this writer happened to be leaving the Berto Center simultaneously after the teams shootaround Saturday morning).

Still, before Rose returns to action, he will again take a visit to Southern California, where he has split time doing rehabilitation, in order to have the medical specialists he has consulted with there examine him, according to a source.

That same source told CSNChicago.com that Roses return will be a collective decision made between the players representatives, the organization and its medical staff, as well as Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. But, regardless of medical clearance, Rose will have to be comfortable mentally in order to get the go-ahead to play, making the idea of coming back early moot, as his next game will be exactly when the stars align, so to speak.

While many observers have cited the case of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, in the midst of a career and potentially record-breaking season, as an example of an explosive athlete who returned from ACL rapidly and at the same, if not higher level, it should be noted that there are vast differences in the two athletes body types, nature of their sports and respective recovery processes, as recently detailed by Peterson in Sports Illustrated.

As far as what Rose has been doing in practice, its much of the same as what has been previously walking through dummy offensive sets, shooting drills but according to a person familiar with the proceedings, hes also dunking the basketball occasionally, going full speed when its called for and participating in staples of Bulls practices, such as defensive slides and closeout drills.

Though Rose acknowledged Saturday that he felt blessed to be back on the court and sources say his teammates are equally as pleased to see him increasing his participation, though it has not raised their expectations and while the sight of him at away games in the near future will surely bring more anticipation, that is also part of the recovery process.

Another person with knowledge of the situation told CSNChicago.com that it wont affect the Bulls roster moves, particularly in regard to backup point guard Nate Robinson and his non-guaranteed contract, of which the team must make a decision about by Jan. 10 who is likely to remain with the squad for the rest of the season.

Regardless, its an encouraging sign overall and while patience on the part of fans and media alike should be exercised, for Roses long-term future, which seemed so shaky just months ago, perhaps it may partially allay the fears that the Chicago native wont be able to overcome a significant roadblock in the way of reaching his magnificent potential.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

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USA TODAY

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stock is on the rise; just how high will he climb?

John Calipari's 2017 recruiting class featured five McDonald's All-Americans and Hamidou Diallo, a former five-star recruit who nearly jumped to the NBA the previous year. It also included a lanky 6-foot-6 point guard named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And for the first part of the 2017-18 season, the Toronto native who played his final two high school years in Tennessee, appeared to be a nice fit off the bench for Calipari.

But something flipped. Gilgeous-Alexander was inserted into the starting lineup for good on January 9 and never looked back. He played his best basketball beginning in late February to the end of the season, a span of 10 games against eight NCAA Tournament opponents. In those games Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He shot 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from deep and 84 percent from the free throw line, and added 1.4 steals in nearly 38 minutes per game for good measure. He was one of the best players in the country, and on a team with five McDonald's All-Americans, he was Calipari's best freshman.

"I knew with how hard I worked that anything was possible," SGA said at last week's NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. "It was just a matter of time before it started clicking and I started to get it rolling."

That stretch included a 17-point, 10-assist double-double against Ole Miss, a 29-point showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament, and 27 more points in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Buffalo. Even in his worst game of the stretch, a 15-point effort against Kansas State in the Tournament, he made up for 2 of 10 shooting by getting to the free throw line 12, converting 11 of them.

It made his decision to make the jump to the NBA an easy one - that, and another loaded Calipari recruiting class incoming. He stands taller than just about any other point guard in the class and might have as good a jump shot as any. He's adept at getting to the rim, averaging 4.7 free throw attempts per game (that number jumped to 5.6 after he became a starter, and 7.5 in those final 10 games of the season. He isn't the quickest guard in the class, but he uses his feet well, is able to find open shooters due to his height and improved on making mistakes on drive-and-kicks as the season went on.

"I think I translate really well to the next level with there being so much more space on the floor and the open court stretched out," he said. "It only benefits me and my ability to get in the lane and make plays."

There's something to be said for him being the next in line of the Calipari point guards. The ever-growing list includes players like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray and DeAaron Fox. It's the NBA's version of Penn State linebackers or Alabama defensive linemen. The success rate is nearly 100 percent when it comes to Calipari's freshmen point guards; even Brandon Knight averaged 18.1 points over a three-year span in the NBA.

"That’s why guys go to Kentucky," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "It prepares them for the next level. Coach (Calipari) does a really good job, especially with point guards, getting them ready for that next level in a short amount of time."

Gilgeous-Alexander didn't test or play in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, but he still came out of Chicago a winner. He measured 6-foot-6 in shoes with a ridiculous 6-foot-11 1/2 wingspan, a full three inches longer than any other point guard at the Combine. He also added, rather uniquely, that he watches of film Kawhi Leonard playing defense. Most players don't mention watching film on different-position players; most players aren't 6-foot-6 point guards.

"(It's) obviously a more versatile league and playing small ball. And with me being able to guard multiple positions, a lot of teams are switching things like the pick and roll off ball screens, so me being able to switch and guard multiple positions can help an organization."

Gilgeous-Alexander's arrow is pointing way up. He appears to be teetering near Lottery pick status, though that could go one way or the other in private team workouts, especially if he's pitted against fellow top point guards like Trae Young and Collin Sexton. But if his rise at Kentucky is any indication, he'll only continue to improve his game, his stock and eventually his draft position.