Bulls

Rose getting closer to full-contact in practice

950573.png

Rose getting closer to full-contact in practice

Jimmy Butler will make his second regular-season NBA start Monday night, as Luol Deng will miss his second consecutive game with a strained right hamstring, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said before his team hosted the Lakers at the United Center.
But Dengs status wasnt the only injury news the coach discussed in his pregame availability. Thibodeau updated the progress of sidelined point guard Derrick Rose, indicating that the former league MVP could begin full-contact practices this week.
Rose is very close. That full-contact practices will be the next step, Thibodeau said with a wry smirk on his face. It could happen this week.
He has to go through that for an extended amount of time. Thats not going to be, Okay, one or two days of contact and hes going to be out there. Thats not going to happen. Everyone has to be patient. Hes doing his part. Hes showing great patience. Everyone else has to, he continued. Hes got to continue to focus on the rehab. Our guys have to focus on their improvement and our opponent, and then when hes ready whenever it is when hes ready, thats when he comes back. Not earlier than hes ready, not later. Its when hes ready and our doctors have been on top of it from Day 1, so everyone just has to show patience.
Hes done great.
Perhaps sensing that the focus of the assembled media had shifted to Rose rather than the matchup with the star-studded Lakers, Thibodeau refocused the agenda to how his team has performed without the superstar.
I like our team. You guys, I guess you dont believe me, but I believe we have more than enough. If we do the right things, were capable of beating anyone, anywhere. We have to continue to do that and I still think we have a lot of room for growth, and thats the way I want us to be. We went through half a season last year without Derrick and so, the big thing, as I said, is you begin with the end in mind and for us, we want to be playing great basketball at the end of the season and we want to be as healthy as possible. So, with Derrick, its just being patient, let him handle the rehab, continue to listen to what our doctors have to say and then, we go from there, he explained, before delving into his preparation for the current season.
"The thing is, in terms of planning, we knew what the injury was last year, so we had all summer to map out how we were going to approach this. Sometimes it may be different when an injury occurs during the season and thats not something youre planning on, but we knew we could plan on this, so we mapped out what we thought would give us our best chance to succeed.

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

gar.jpg
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.