Bulls

Rose reaps benefits of humility in contract extension

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Rose reaps benefits of humility in contract extension

Not that Chicagoans had reason to worry that, after spending 22 of his 23 years in the Windy City (minus one season, less than a full 12 months in Memphis for college), but Derrick Rose will remain in his hometown for at least the next five years.

Rose agreed to a five-year, 94-million contract extension with the Bulls, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune, and will announce the move at a Wednesday-morning press conference.

After first playing coy--he queried, "Who said that?" in initial response to reporters asking about the deal--Rose acknowledged his newfound wealth.

"It's something big, but I think I want to talk more about it tomorrow with my family and everybody being there. But it's definitely something big," he said politely before, in his typical nature, going on to answer more questions. "I never was really thinking about it. I don't think about money when it comes to that, me signing contracts or anything. The Bulls are loyal, they're loyal with me, showed they trusted me just by picking me to come here. I just feel blessed and I'm just happy that I'm here.

"I don't think about anything else, no money or anything. I just know if I keep working hard, keep treating people the right way, good things are going to happen to me," he continued. "I think I live a humble life. Of course, I know I'll be able to afford whatever I want, but other than that, there's not too many things that excite me. So, me winning is one of the things and the other is me being able to help my family. Money, that's the last thing that I think about."

Rose later said that he feels "no pressure at all" from the deal, the terms of which were made possible by the "Derrick Rose rule" provision in the new collective bargaining agreement, designed to reward players on their rookie-scale contracts for reaching certain benchmarks, such as being the youngest MVP in league history.

But if any hubris exists within Rose for his accomplishments, it's not evident in his demeanor, as he quietly apologized to the gaggle of reporters surrounding his locker for making them clear a path so he could finish dressing before being interviewed.

Indeed, as Rose said himself, "My mom raised me right."

His teammates graciously acknowledged their young leader's well-earned marker of success.

"I wish the contract was for 10 years," said Carlos Boozer.

Added Luol Deng, who's watched Rose's growth and development firsthand since the reigning league MVP's rookie season: "It's great, man. He deserves it and it's good to see. He put in a lot of work and he's great for this organization, for this team, this city. So, I'm glad that's how it went."

So is the rest of Chicago, if not the rest of the NBA.

Chicago-native Zach Norvell Jr. waived by Lakers

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USA TODAY

Chicago-native Zach Norvell Jr. waived by Lakers

The Bulls have been quite fond of adding players with connections to the city over the years. This list includes names like Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jabari Parker, Eddy Curry, and even our very own Kendall Gill. And while the Bulls may not necessarily be in the market for any additions at the moment, there is least one name the Bulls should be monitoring if they aren't already and that is former Simeon alum Zach Norvell Jr., who was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. 

Coming out of Simeon, Norvell was an ESPN 100 prospect and a McDonald's All-American and committed to Gonzaga, where he starred for two seasons after a redshirt year. Norvell went undrafted but was picked up by a Los Angeles Lakers team that was particularly bereft of 3-point shooting, specifically volume 3-point shooters like Norvell, who shot 6.4 3-point attempts per game in his NCAA career and is currently attempting just under eight 3-point attempts per game in the NBA G League with the South Bay Lakers. 

The (NBA) Lakers don't really require much help at the moment, with their stellar defense and league-leading field goal percentage on offense resulting in them having the league's best record through 24 games despite ranking 25th in the league in 3-point attempts. The Bulls have, as head coach Jim Boylen so infamously stated, trusted 'the math' and thusly are top-10 in the league in 3-point attempts per game (8th in the league with 36.0 3-point attempts per game coming into Wednesday night). Despite their aggressiveness from the perimeter, the Bulls rank 22nd in the league in 3-point percentage (34.7%) and 22nd in assists per game, both areas where Norvell could provide help.

Since Norvell has been waived by the Lakers, he is no longer a two-way contract player (a player who plays in the NBA and G League) for them, but will still be playing with their G League affiliate should they choose to sign him to a G League contract.

The Bulls have the maximum amount of two-way players on the roster already (two in Adam Mokoka and Max Strus) but they could look to make a move to free up room for Norvell on the G League or NBA roster if they are interested. Mokoka specifically has struggled at the G League level (8.5 points per game on 34% from the field and 31% from 3) and may not necessarily need a two-way contract for the Bulls to keep other teams from snagging him, meaning that waiving Mokoka but keeping him on the Windy City Bulls roster while adding a shooter like Norvell could be an interesting value play for Chicago. 

Norvell is averaging 13.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.9 turnovers per game while shooting 35.3% from the field and 34% from 3-point range.

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Bulls look for second win of the season over Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

Bulls look for second win of the season over Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

The Bulls will look to snap a three-game losing streak when they welcome Trae Young and the 6-18 Atlanta Hawks to the United Center tonight. The game tips at 7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago —until then, here's what to watch for:

Hawks’ last five (2-3)

  • Dec. 10 — L at Heat: 135-121 (OT)

  • Dec. 8 — W at Hornets: 122-107

  • Dec. 4 — L vs. Brooklyn: 130-118

  • Dec. 2 — W vs. Warriors: 104-79

  • Nov. 30 — L at Rockets: 158-111

Storyline(s) for each team

For the second time this season, the Bulls and Hawks are set to square off (the first a 113-93 drubbing by the Bulls on Nov. 6), and for the second time this season, the Hawks enter said matchup on the second night of a back-to-back. On Nov. 6, Atlanta laid an egg the night after a hard-fought win over the not-yet-disappointing Spurs in San Antonio. This time, they’re coming off an excruciating overtime defeat in Miami (something the Bulls can relate to). The Hawks’ loss to the Heat may have been even more painful than the Bulls’, if only because of the virality of it:

 

 

Overall, the Hawks have underwhelmed this season, one in which their young and exciting core of Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, DeAndre Hunter, and co. were expected by some to push the franchise closer to contention (hey, the Bulls can relate to that, too!). They enter play 6-18 (3-15 since Nov. 6) and still without Collins, who is 19 games into a 25-game suspension for violating the NBA's Anti-Drug Program. This is a winnable game.

The Bulls are banged up and fast-falling from the Eastern Conference playoff race, but strung together a couple — all things considered — quality performances against two of the league’s best teams in the Raptors and Heat earlier this week. The moral victories won over the course of their recent real-life defeats will resonate a little stronger if they can come out and play a complete game against this Atlanta team tonight. 

Player to watch: Jabari Parker (and Zach LaVine)

Screw it. These are two not-great basketball teams that chuck a ton of 3-pointers, so if the aesthetic of this one doesn't end up all-together pleasing (likely), it’ll at least be fun to watch Parker, a son of the city, go to work. He’s currently in the midst of something of a bounceback campaign — averaging 16.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 13.2 FGA on 50.2% shooting — with an emphasis on the 'bounce':

 

This also has the potential to be a big Zach LaVine game. It feels like you could posit that every night, but this Hawks team truly is a juicy matchup for him — Atlanta enters this game the 29th-rated defense in the league (114.3) and lacks a true lockdown presence on the wing to throw at him. Just two weeks ago, remember, James Harden torched the Hawks for 60 points and eight assists en route to a 158-point team performance. LaVine, shooting 33.3% and averaging only 2.3 fourth-quarter points in the Bulls’ last three games, feels due.

Matchup to watch: Trae Young + Hawks’ secondary playmakers vs. Bulls defense

On Nov. 6, the Bulls put together one of their most impressive defensive performances of the season, holding the Hawks to 6-for-30 3-point shooting and forcing 24 turnovers (the most they’ve forced in a game this season; they lead in the NBA in opponent turnovers per game).

It was a banner night for the Bulls’ blitzing pick-and-roll coverage schemes — in the game, they completely corralled Young, the Hawks highest-usage (33.4%) and most dynamic player, holding him to nine points, three assists, four turnovers and 3-for-12 shooting (0-for-8 from 3-point range). On the season, he averages 28.4 points and 8.4 assists per game on 38.2% 3-point shooting (nine attempts). 

Without his most reliable playmaking screen-and-roll partner in Collins, the Bulls were able to cut the head (Young) off the proverbial snake of the Hawks’ offensive attack the last time these two teams met. Tomas Satoransky (season-high 27 points on Nov. 6) and Kris Dunn's length and activity were key to containing Young off screens, and they'll be huge factors tonight, when the emphasis will again be on forcing the ball out of Young’s hands and into the hands of Atlanta’s secondary playmakers (primarily, their forwards). Those players weren’t able to make the Bulls pay last time, and based on the team’s league-worst 32.1% 3-point shooting percentage, there’s a solid chance they could fail to do so tonight, as well. 

After that aforementioned Nov. 6 game, Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce said, of the Bulls' defensive strategy, that they'll "never let Trae [Young] have an easy game for the rest of his career." That quip, of course, was in reference to Young’s 49-point outing against the Bulls last March. Pierce's theory will be tested again tonight.

Injury/miscellaneous updates

Yesterday, news broke of another Otto Porter Jr. injury setback — he is now set to be evaluated over the course of the next four weeks, the latest in a series of alterations to his original recovery timeline. Needless to say, a return isn’t in sight, for him or Chandler Hutchison, who is still dealing with a bruised shoulder. Even beyond Porter and Hutchison, the Bulls’ injury report is beginning to lengthen, but chalk most of these up to the wear and tear of the regular season:

As of this writing, the Hawks’ most significant absence will be Collins. Other than that, they come into this one mostly healthy.

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