Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose

'Smarter' Rose aims for patience in return

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
Friedell By Nick Friedell

LAS VEGAS -- Derrick Rose's game is going to change as he tries to make his way back from yet another knee injury, but it hasn't altered the Chicago Bulls star's mindset on the court.

The former MVP still believes he is the best player on the floor.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
AP Photo/John LocherDerrick Rose expressed confidence in his game Monday after his first practice with Team USA.
"If you're right there [in front of me], then I'm going to try to dunk," Rose said after Team USA's first practice Monday. "I don't care. My legs are healthy, so I'm not worried about injuring myself or anything. I'm just trying to do anything to win that game at that time."

But even Rose, 25, knows things will be different with this comeback. After playing in only 49 games the past three seasons, and only 10 in the past two seasons, things have changed.

So what are some of the biggest differences between today's Rose and the one from a few years ago?

"Body control," he said. "I'm able to control my body a little bit more, using my speed. Being smart with my speed, instead of just running wild out there. Just being smart. I'm a smarter player, but I'm mad it took me seven years to learn that."

Rose's outward confidence hasn't been shaken, but his game has shifted. Six-foot-3, 190-pound Rose won't try to force contact as much as he has in years past, a smart move, given his injury history.

"I think you will see that next year," he said. "Just trying to [keep] people off my body. I'm using a lot of floaters, using a lot of pull-ups, stuff like that so that I won't get touched as much."

The biggest key in the minds of Rose and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is that Rose is playing with more patience.

"I think when I came back last time I wanted it too bad," Rose said. "I was trying to force the game. And this time around I'm just trying to let the game come to me. Of course, be aggressive, but at the same time have control of the game and be smarter. And being able to run the team at the point guard position."

Rose emerged as a superstar in the 2010-11 season when he became the youngest NBA MVP in history after averaging 25 points and 7.7 assists in leading the Bulls to the best record in the NBA. After missing the entire 2012-13 season after ACL surgery, Rose's comeback lasted just 10 games last season. He showed flashes of his old explosive self in averaging 15.9 points on 35 percent shooting but was still trying to get his game back when he suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee in November 2013.

After practicing with the Bulls late last season, he has continued to rehab the knee, with the Team USA training camp his latest step. Rose is not assured a spot on the team, which also has fellow combo guards John Wall, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry.

Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski came away impressed by Rose after the first day of practice.

"I was ecstatic about watching him today," Krzyzewski said. "He's better than four years ago. Four years ago, he was 21, and he was just on the verge of becoming who he was going to be. But he had a great practice today. You don't practice like this [every day]. He hasn't been in practices like this. Now [we'll] watch what he does for the next few days."


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Thibodeau is happy Rose is coming back into this kind of environment with Team USA because he knows his star isn't going to have as much offensive pressure as he normally would with the Bulls. He said Rose has learned from his first comeback attempt.

"Derrick's very bright," Thibodeau said. "I think he's learned from each situation that he's been in. So that was his first comeback really [last year], and I think he had the opportunity to look back and say, 'OK, this is how I want to approach it this time.' So I think he's grown from it. I think the adversity has made him a lot stronger mentally and he's playing patiently. I think he understands exactly where he is."

When he returns to the Bulls in September for training camp, Rose is excited about the prospect of spending even more time playing off the ball with Kirk Hinrich or new acquisition Aaron Brooks running the point. That can only help take some of the pressure off Rose.

"Catch and shoot," Rose said. "Hell yeah. I've been doing a lot of catch and shooting, running off floppy [sets]. Just trying to make the game simple. Find ways to score, or find ways to affect the game by not scoring. And me playing the 2 sometimes, coming off a floppy, catching the ball getting to the hole, throwing [alley-]oops. Get other people open with just a live dribble. I think this year will be the first time I have played the most in my career with catching the ball and having a live dribble."

As Rose enters his seventh NBA season, he certainly has a lot to prove with a Bulls team, bolstered by offseason acquisitions Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and first-round pick Doug McDermott, that has title aspirations. Rose knows what it has taken to get back on the floor -- again -- and he seems at peace with his evolution as a player.

"I'm a totally different player, but it comes with experience," he said, "Just playing, playing through your mistakes. Just playing in an NBA game, you're going to learn. So I'm happy I have people around me to give me advice, learn from people, and I'm happy I have the IQ to actually learn."

Coach K optimistic about Derrick Rose

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
Derrick Rose made the initial 19-player cut for the U.S national team, as it prepares to practice in Las Vegas this month for August's FIBA World Cup championships in Spain.

Now, Rose has to survive the next seven cuts to make the team.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose won a gold medal with Team USA in the 2010 World Championships.
Rose will compete with point guards Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving to make the 12-man roster. Sharpshooting combo-guard Stephen Curry should be a lock.

Rose, who turns 26 in October, was a young, on-the-rise star when he won a gold medal with the U.S. team in the 2010 World Championships. He followed that by becoming the youngest MVP in league history. But after missing most of the last two seasons with knee problems, coach Mike Krzyzewski is hopeful Rose can return to form.

"Well, we'd like to see him play like the Derrick of old, one of the best players in the world, an MVP in the NBA," Krzyzewski said in a conference call Monday. "What we've heard is he's in great shape. We'll see how he'll do in five-on-five, on the fifth day we'll do intrasquad. Hopefully he's going to be in top shape. Derrick's a great player, a great guy. I know representing his country in Istanbul as one of our starting guards was a great experience for him. Hopefully this will be a launching pad for him to have a great NBA season."

USA basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said the team will probably cut down to 15 when they leave Las Vegas after a camp that runs July 28-Aug. 1. The team will play a warm-up game against Brazil on Aug. 16 at the United Center and then will practice and play two exhibition games in New York from Aug. 17-22. Colangelo said they might not cut the roster down to 12 until then.

Krzyzewski said his new assistant, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, hasn't been lobbying him for Rose. The Bulls would like to see Rose start the season in game shape, after playing only 10 games last season before tearing the medial meniscus in his right knee.

"I talked to Thibs a couple times this weekend, but not about that, more to congratulate him on [the Bulls signing Pau] Gasol," Krzyzewski said. "As a staff, we try to stay close together, not on one player, but the whole team. We're lucky to have Tom with us."

Rose missed the entire 2012-13 season rehabbing a torn ACL, and in past years, Rose has shied away from playing five-on-five during the summer. He changed the routine this summer, scrimmaging at the Berto Center, including last week with the summer league team.

While Rose told a Yahoo! sportswriter he wasn't sure if he'd play for the U.S. team, Thibodeau quickly told reporters Rose was going to the Vegas camp.

Up to Derrick Rose to win back his critics

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
Friedell By Nick Friedell
Perception is reality. It can change in the blink of an eye or change steadily over time.

In the case of Derrick Rose, the change in public perception of the Chicago Bulls star has been drastic.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
AP Photo/M. Spencer GreenDerrick Rose's reluctance to recruit has only added to the negative perception many have of the Bulls star over the past three years.
Almost exactly four years ago, Rose stood inside the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas preparing for the first day of Team USA's training camp as it prepared for the world championships. The 21-year-old was admittedly surprised that LeBron James and Chris Bosh had not signed with the Bulls during that offseason, but he didn't seem to care. He was determined to show the world that he could lead his team to a title.

"I want to be that guy," Rose told at the time. "I want to be the reason why the Bulls are back to what they were 10, 12 years ago or something like that."

Rose took pride in the fact that he was becoming the new face of the organization. He believed in himself and his new teammates. He was confident that the Bulls would come together, and he didn't worry much about whether he should have better recruited James to Chicago. He and James texted a few times, and Rose figured that was enough. He figured his team and his city were enough to sell anyone on joining the Bulls.

"If anyone knows me, especially in my hometown, they know that I don't like being in the public like that or getting all the attention like that," he said. "To me I think it was a no-brainer, [but] he made the decision."

Rose was praised for that us-against-the-world attitude. Four years later, Rose is being crushed by many fans who used to love him. He's being second-guessed in his hometown. Once universally beloved in Chicago, Rose has found himself at the center of much public scorn.

How does the most popular athlete in town lose the benefit of the doubt in his own city? Several factors are in play here, but the biggest is, of course, that he was injured.

A torn ACL in his left knee in the 2012 playoffs went from devastating to frustrating for Bulls fans as Rose elected to sit out the entire 2012-13 season, even though the organization expected to have him back in the second half of the year. Between the ACL injury and a torn meniscus in his right knee that kept him out of all but 10 games last season, Rose, his camp and the Bulls have been plagued by PR missteps. His brother Reggie openly criticized the organization for failing to put better players around Rose.

The organization has kept its most important star mostly cloaked in secrecy throughout the past few years during his rehab phases. What has exacerbated the issues is that Rose has shown the same reluctance and indifference toward recruiting free agents while teammate Joakim Noah has emerged as a salesman, doing his best to persuade Carmelo Anthony to come to Chicago. Instead of receiving a pass from most fans because of the attitude, Rose is being questioned yet again.

Times have changed for Rose and the league. It's one thing to maintain that stance when you're producing at an MVP level, but it's another to keep that feeling when you've played only 49 games in the past three seasons.

To win back the fans' trust, Rose must play and perform at a high level. But it goes deeper than that for Rose and the Bulls.

As it pertains to the recruiting, players want to be wanted. They want to hear what stars in the NBA have to say about their team. Rose hasn't played much in three years, but players still respect his game and what he has already accomplished. He's still a star, and they want to hear from him.

Whether it's a member of his inner-circle or a member of the Bulls organization, somebody has to get through to him that he is best served by playing the PR game, even if it's uncomfortable for him. The more Rose shows publicly that he is willing to be part of these pitches, the more he will start to win back some fans.

Rose can't do anything about the fact that he was injured. It happens to almost all athletes at some point in their career, and Rose has had more bad luck than most. His contract doesn't require him to recruit players, he's just required to perform on the floor. Since he hasn't been able to do that for much of the past three seasons, Rose has to take it upon himself to find other ways to help.

Rose is the same person he was before -- shy, introverted, cautious -- he's just not the same player. Nobody knows if Rose will look like his old self when he hits the floor again this season, and nobody knows if his body will be able to hold him if and when he does. The only way to win back that trust is to play again -- and play at a high level for an extended amount of time. He doesn't want to recruit, but he still badly wants to win. It's up to those closest to Rose to make sure he understands this as he heads into the season.

It's also important to understand that Rose still wants to be the player who delivers a championship to his city.

"It makes me feel a little bit better that they really believe in me and have trust in me about decisions that they make," Rose said on that July day in 2010, in regards to the faith the Bulls organization had placed upon him. "It just means a lot, man. A little guy coming from the South Side of Chicago got his own team. It shows that just hard work and dedication really pays off."

Rose never wanted to leave Chicago. But now a portion of Chicago seems to want to turn its back on him. It's crazy how quickly things can change.

It's up to Rose to make the decisions to turn things in a positive direction once again.

Westbrook confident Rose will bounce back

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook can relate to Derrick Rose's plight, and he's confident the Chicago Bulls star will return to being a superstar in due time after undergoing a second knee surgery in as many years.

"Very confident," Westbrook said before Monday's game against the Bulls. "I've talked to him numerous times. He's a tough guy as you guys know. He does a great job of coming out and competing. It's unfortunate he had to be hurt and be out another year, but he's going to come back the same DRose he was before."

Westbrook tore the lateral meniscus in his knee during last year's playoffs and has been dealing with the injury off and on since then. Rose didn't have the exact same injury, tearing the medial meniscus, but Westbrook understands what his counterpart is going through in rehab.

"Just being confident," Westbrook said of the toughest part of the climb back. "You got to be confident in yourself and your health and knowing that the rehab, all the work you put in, it's paid off."

Thunder star Kevin Durant, who worked out with Westbrook and Rose in Santa Monica, Calif., the past few years under the direction of personal trainer Rob McClanaghan, isn't worried about Rose returning to form.

"I'm very confident he's going to come back," Durant said. "He works extremely hard. The medical staffs that we have in this league, around this country, they are so advanced. He's definitely going to get the right treatment and I'm confident he's going to come back and I'm sure the Bulls organization and the Bulls fans are confident as well."

Rose continues to put in more rehab work, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has repeatedly said that it is unlikely Rose will come back to play this season.

Bulls motivated by rehabbing Rose

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
Friedell By Nick Friedell
RoseDennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports"One day when we get him back, it's going to be wonderful," Taj Gibson said of Derrick Rose.

CHICAGO -- There are times when Taj Gibson has to catch himself. Like many people throughout the Chicago Bulls' organization, the forward looks over toward the bench and wonders what might have been -- what could still be.

Gibson sees Derrick Rose sitting there and thinks about the future. He dreams about the day when Rose will be back on the floor with him. He and his teammates remain hopeful that Rose will return at some point in the future and be the same player he was before his first knee injury, in April 2012. It's something they can't help but think about as the Bulls continue to rack up victories without their leader.

[+] EnlargeBulls/Mavericks
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports"I think it's great for us, it gives us confidence," Joakim Noah said of having Derrick Rose around. "I know it's good for him to be around this kind of environment, just his teammates."
"Me and Joakim talk about it all the time," Gibson said. "[Noah] says, 'He's working hard, man.' He's like, 'That kid's over there working hard, man. He's trying to get back as soon as possible. Just keep playing, man.' One day when we get him back, it's going to be wonderful. We've just got to keep building, keep your eyes on the prize and just keep getting better each and every day. Because he's getting better, and when he comes back we can just keep rolling and just keep building."

Unlike last season, Rose's potential return isn't hovering over the Bulls' collective head. While Rose still can't bring himself to say he's done for the year, coach Tom Thibodeau has been pretty clear that Rose won't play this season and still isn't close to practicing. The Bulls know that this is the team with which they'll move forward. They know that Rose has once again been relegated to the role of cheerleader. But just having the former MVP around is motivating the rest of the group.

"Of course," Noah said ahead of Sunday's visit from the New York Knicks. "I think Derrick's a worker. He works hard every day. When you see your top player giving everything he has every day, it makes you want to do the same."

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Thibs hopes Rose will play for Team USA

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CLEVELAND -- Tom Thibodeau is hopeful Derrick Rose will be able to participate for Team USA as it gets set for the World Cup of Basketball this summer in Spain.

The Chicago Bulls head coach and Team USA assistant wants Rose to have the experience of playing with the world's best again. Rose was on the list of 28 names in Team USA's pool to pick from.

"I'm hopeful that he will participate and he'll be selected," Thibodeau said after the Bulls' win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. "But a lot depends on where his health is. But I thought it was a great experience for him in the past. I know how much he enjoyed it. I know how USA Basketball feels about him. I think it's a great honor and a privilege, and hopefully it will work out."

Rose tore the medial meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 22 and was ruled out by the Bulls for the remainder of the season after having surgery to repair the injury on Nov. 25. He has only played in 50 games during the past three seasons. But Rose and Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski were hoping that he would be able to play this summer.

"For sure I would love to play on the team," Rose said when asked about it in October. "It would be an honor. But at the same time, it would take me trying out for the team and Coach K and his coaching staff, along with Thibs, with picking the players and allowing me to play for him.

"So if I have the opportunity to play for him, I will, but it's just going to take me trying out for the team."

Krzyzewski said in October that he texts with Rose to keep track of how he's doing and was excited about the Chicago product being able to represent Team USA on the world stage.

"Oh yeah," Krzyzewski told in October. "There's a process that [USA Basketball chairman] Jerry Colangelo will orchestrate all that. But it's not just 2016; we have to play in Spain next summer. It used to be the world championships and now it will be called the World Cup. And Derrick was our starting point guard when we won the world championships in Istanbul in 2010 and did a really good job. He was only 21 years old at that time and probably would have been on our Olympic team in London."

Rose has been traveling with the Bulls over the past week and is slowly starting to do more work on the floor. While Thibodeau stressed that the former league MVP still has a lot of work to do, he seems encouraged by Rose's progress.

"He's shooting now," Thibodeau said. "He's coming along fine. His spirit's strong. He had two workouts today, but he still has a long way to go. It's important for him to go step by step, be patient, and just regain his health."

Korver recalls time with Bulls fondly

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
Friedell By Nick Friedell
[+] EnlargeKyle Korver
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Hawks' Kyle Korver enjoyed his two years with the Bulls and coach Tom Thibodeau.
CHICAGO -- No matter how far Kyle Korver gets away from Chicago, a piece of his heart still remains with the Bulls. That's because Korver, and his former teammates, know that what they experienced under Tom Thibodeau doesn't happen much in the NBA.

Korver's first two seasons with the Bulls also coincided with Thibodeau's first two seasons in Chicago. The Bulls led the league in regular-season wins and left an indelible mark on the popular Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter.

"I have so much respect for the core of the Chicago Bulls the last few years," Korver said after the Bulls beat the Hawks on Saturday night. "Just the way they approach practice, the way they approach games, the way they approach details, the way they play every day. When you've been a part of that, like the blood, sweat and tears, for a couple years, it kind of carves a spot in your heart a little bit. Obviously, Chicago is an incredible city to play basketball in. The Bulls uniform, there's so much history to it. So I really appreciated my two years here. I'm glad to be a Hawk, I'm excited about where we're headed. But for sure there was a good couple years here. Fun."

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Year in review: Best and worst of 2013

December, 30, 2013
Friedell By Nick Friedell
Derrick RoseAP Photo/Michael ConroyBulls superstar Derrick Rose spent most of 2013 on the bench with knee injuries.

CHICAGO -- The 2012-13 Chicago Bulls season will always be remembered as the one in which Derrick Rose didn't play at all as he recovered from a torn ACL in his left knee.

No matter what the Bulls did on the floor the fans still talked about Rose's status. Few within the organization believed at the start of the season that Rose would not play at all, but by the time the Bulls were eliminated from the playoffs last May that's exactly what had happened.

Despite Rose's situation hovering over them, Tom Thibodeau's team managed to grind out a pretty impressive season and an appearance in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Given the fact that the Bulls missed Rose all year and dealt with a myriad of injuries, it will be remembered as one of Thibodeau's best coaching jobs.


5. Bulls beat the Heat in Miami twice: It will get lost in the shuffle of a forgotten season -- but Carlos Boozer played arguably the best game of his Bulls tenure on Jan. 4 in a surprising win over the Heat. The veteran power forward scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds. The Bulls earned another surprise win in Miami during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. It was a performance that few in the league expected given how much energy the Bulls used to beat the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.

4. Bulls snap Miami's 27-game streak: The United Center was rocking on this memorable night on March 27. Already without Rose, the Bulls managed to knock off LeBron James and company without Belinelli, Richard Hamilton and Joakim Noah. Luol Deng led the way with 28 points as the Bulls picked up a win that both fans and players took great pride in.

[+] EnlargeNate Robinson
Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsNate Robinson scored 23 points in the fourth quarter of a triple OT win over the Nets.
3. The Nate Game: Nate Robinson got so hot at the end of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Brooklyn that he would joke afterwards that he felt like a character in the old video game, "NBA JAM,” in which if a player makes enough shots the nets burn because of the ensuing fire. Robinson scored 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Bulls wiped out a 14-point deficit with less than three minutes left to play in regulation. They would end up winning 142-134 in triple overtime.

2. Rose returns: After a stellar preseason in which he looked like his old self, Rose made his 2013-14 regular season home debut a special one as he knocked in a game-winning floater against the New York Knicks. After a year and a half away from the game, Rose looked relieved to deliver for his team in the clutch once again.

1. Noah, Bulls find a way in Game 7: May 4, 2013 is the defining moment of Thibodeau's tenure to date. That's when the undermanned Bulls, playing without Deng (illness), Kirk Hinrich (calf) and Rose found a way to win Game 7 against the Brooklyn Nets. Noah, playing with plantar fasciitis, racked up 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots in a performance that will live in the annals of Bulls' history.


5. Reality check for Bulls: So often during the Thibodeau era, the Bulls would find a way to beat bad teams no matter who was on the floor. Last Nov. 3rd's loss to a New Orleans Hornets team playing without Anthony Davis was a reminder that there would be bad days ahead for a Bulls team without Rose.

4. Playoffs start poorly: The Bulls had high hopes coming into the postseason, but those were dashed in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals as the Nets beat Thibodeau's bunch on both ends. It was one of the worst games Deng has played in years. The All-Star forward scored just six points in 38 minutes and struggled to guard Gerald Wallace.

3. Rose wonders about the season: The Bulls lost an ugly looking 71-69 game on Feb. 13 to the Boston Celtics -- but fans will always remember what happened after that game. That's because Rose, who hadn't spoken to local reporters since media day, opened up the possibility that he may not play all season if he didn't feel right. Before that point, few thought Rose would sit out the whole season. After that night, it became a distinct possibility -- which ultimately came to fruition.

2. Sleepless in Sacramento: Rarely during Thibodeau's tenure have the Bulls been embarrassed in any game, especially against a bad team, but that's exactly what happened on March 13 against the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls got pounded 121-79 and never showed the heart that has become their trademark over the last four seasons.

1. It happened again: Nov. 22 is a day Bulls fans won't forget. That's because Rose went down again to a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter of a game against the Portland Trail Blazers -- this time a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. Players and coaches, not to mention Rose himself, couldn't believe that he had suffered another career-altering injury. The postgame scene in the locker room was eerily similar to the day in April 2012 when Rose tore the ACL in his left knee. A season full of championship aspirations came crashing down again with the news of Rose's latest setback.

Noah: 'True colors' will show in adversity

December, 14, 2013
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah, the emotional leader of the Chicago Bulls, delivered a personal challenge of sorts to his teammates after an embarrassing 99-77 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.

"Losing sucks," Noah said as he sat dejectedly in front of his locker. "There's no question about it. But it also shows people's true colors. Who's willing to keep fighting through the adversity or who's just going to say, 'You know what? I don't want no part of this, and I'm just going to take bad shots and just not care at all about making winning plays or playing defense and things like that.'? So everybody has to stick together. Everybody has to jell and keep fighting together."

[+] EnlargeNoah-Gibson
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh"Losing sucks," said a frustrated Joakim Noah, left; he remains confident the "high character in this locker room" will fuse the Bulls together.
For the first time in a while, it looked like the Bulls had stopped fighting together, especially toward the end of the game. Tom Thibodeau said he didn't want to use the fact that his team was playing its fourth game in five nights as an excuse, but maybe he should have. Battered by injuries and inconsistencies, the Bulls looked lifeless down the stretch and appear to be on the verge of another breaking point in a lost season.

So often over the past few seasons, the Bulls, despite any injuries, have managed to pull together to win games. Now, they seem to fall apart more quickly than ever. Their offense, which wasn't running efficiently even when Derrick Rose was in the lineup, looks worse than ever. Their effort, which has been so consistent in four seasons under Thibodeau, is running hot and cold all the time now. Some nights, players want to play all the way through, and some nights, players look like they are going through the motions.

Although Noah didn't call anyone out by name, many fans will look at his comments and guess that he was referring to Carlos Boozer. The veteran power forward was just 4-for-18 from the field Saturday and has been playing poor defense over the past few weeks since Rose tore the medial meniscus in his right knee. Boozer has never been a good defender, but his effort has been noticeably lackluster in recent games, as was the case in 27 minutes of play on Saturday night.

Whether Noah was referring to Boozer directly or not, though, shouldn't obscure the fact that the Bulls, as a group, have been bad since Rose went down. Boozer isn't the only problem on this flawed team that was built to win around Rose -- not play another season without him.

The Bulls just aren't very good right now.

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Opening Tip: Thibs talks injury mentality

December, 12, 2013
Friedell By Nick Friedell
NEW YORK -- Tom Thibodeau is the Bill Belichick of the NBA.

He is a hard-charging coach who has spent most of his life around the game. He expects his teams to play tough, physical basketball all the time. He also wants to give his teams every advantage he can to produce a win. That's a huge reason why Thibodeau is so guarded with his daily injury reports. He doesn't want any team to know exactly what is going on with his team's injuries. That's why media members have to read between the lines of his comments day after day.

After Tuesday morning's shootaround, Thibodeau, after giving updates regarding injured players Luol Deng (Achilles), Jimmy Butler (turf toe) and Mike James (knee), was asked if anyone on the roster was dealing with any kind of injury.

"No," he replied.

Only problem was that only a few hours later, Bulls center Joakim Noah revealed that he was dealing with a knee contusion. Thibodeau said he was just as surprised as fans and media were when he found out Noah was sitting.

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Bulls seek positivity after latest loss

December, 12, 2013
Friedell By Nick Friedell
NEW YORK -- With the way the Chicago Bulls' season has gone over the past few weeks, Taj Gibson and his teammates have two choices with regard to how they could feel. They could cry because of all the heartbreak and injuries they continue to endure, or they could laugh at all the bad luck they've had and smile with the hope that better days are ahead.

[+] EnlargeMike Dunleavy
AP Photo/Kathy WillensDespite all the injuries and losses, the Bulls remain confident that things will turn around in the near future.
While the Bulls are understandably frustrated with the way they have been playing lately, especially after Wednesday night's 83-78 loss to the lowly New York Knicks -- their ninth in the past 11 games -- Gibson and most of his teammates chose the latter when it came to how they were handling their emotions.

"We just got to get guys back healthy, man," Gibson said. "Having [Luol Deng] out and Jimmy [Butler] out is real tough right now."

Then Gibson did something that has been rare to see around this team in recent weeks -- he actually cracked a smile.

"You can see I'm guarding 3's," he said. "I'm guarding twos, I'm even playing the three spot at times. It's kind of awkward, but we're just trying to find ways to win."

That's the thing about these Bulls. They are still broken-hearted over the fact Derrick Rose suffered another season-ending knee injury. They are still in an emotional rut because of the recent turn of events. But amid all of the bad things, they remain confident that at some point in the near future things will turn around. They came back from a 23-point deficit in Wednesday's game and almost pulled out a win. Coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't do moral victories, but he knows his team is getting closer to turning things around.

"The fight is good and we're capable of doing better," Thibodeau said. "The important thing is for us to understand that every game is winnable. It always comes back to the three things that you talk about to be in position to win. Your defense, your rebounding and low turnovers. If you do those three things you'll be in position to win."

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Thibs isn't worried about Knicks, just Bulls

December, 11, 2013
Friedell By Nick Friedell

NEW YORK -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau rarely wants to talk about the past and never wants to discuss the future.

So it should come as no surprise that the veteran coach didn't want to discuss Marc Stein's story that Thibodeau could become a possible target for the New York Knicks at season’s end if they decide to fire Mike Woodson.

"I have no comment on any of that stuff," Thibodeau said before Wednesday's game against the Knicks. "Mike's a hell of a coach. I've got a great job. I love my team."

Thibodeau wants only to focus on the task at hand. That's what he tells his players when their names pop up in trade talks and that's the message he wants to impart when he sees his name pop up in reports.

"I don't pay any attention to that stuff," he said. "To me, the only thing I have to do is concentrate on our team, our next opponent, our improvement, and never get away from that. There's a lot of stuff that gets thrown out there that's just B.S. So if you pay any attention it does no good. It takes you away from what's important and what's important right now is our improvement and getting ready for the next game."

Thibodeau was asked whether the perceived rift between him and the front office that comes up in conversations bothers him. (Thibodeau, Bulls GM Gar Forman and executive VP John Paxson have said publicly that the trio has a solid working relationship.)

"No, because I deal with those guys every day," Thibodeau said. "It's what we think and it's what we know. So we're not going to react to the stuff on the outside. We got a challenge in front of us that we're looking forward to. Like I said, I've got a great group of guys that I work with every day. So we're trying to find the answers. We look forward to this. This is a great opportunity for all of us. And that's all we're thinking about. So all that other stuff is nonsense."

Thibodeau is trying to get his beleaguered team over the emotional hurdle of losing Derrick Rose for the second consecutive season; it’s been an understandably difficult task. The Bulls came into Wednesday's game with an 8-11 record, but Thibodeau is trying to get his players to view the rest of this season as a new challenge.

"Each year has been totally different," Thibodeau said. "The first year Carlos [Boozer] was out for a significant amount of time and then [Joakim Noah] was out for three months and we were able to overcome that. The second year Derrick missed half that season so we were able to overcome that. Last year Derrick missed the entire season. We had a lot of guys step up and do a great job.

"So this year we've been hit with a lot of injuries. It's early in the season and we have to take this challenge and we need everyone putting everything they have into it. And I believe we'll be successful."

Opening Tip: Injuries change Bulls' outlook

December, 11, 2013
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- In a season full of low points, the Chicago Bulls hit another Tuesday night. Not only did they lose an ugly 78-74 game to the lowly Milwaukee Bucks, they appeared as lifeless on the floor as they've been in a while.

Hampered by injury problems throughout the season, the Bulls look and sound like a team that's just ready to play out the remaining schedule.

The problem is they still have 63 games.

There are a host of reasons why this once-proud team has fallen on hard times. Losing Derrick Rose for the season due to a knee injury has rocked Tom Thibodeau's team into an emotional rut from which they can't seem to dig out. The Bulls also are playing without Joakim Noah (knee contusion), Luol Deng (Achilles) and Jimmy Butler (turf toe).

Any team would struggle with that amount of talent out of the lineup, and the Bulls, as evidenced by their 8-11 record, are no different. But their collective mindset appears to have changed as the injuries have piled up.

No longer can Thibodeau sell his players on being able to contend for a championship this season. The Bulls have always been a prideful group with veterans like Deng and Noah leading the way, but pride is all they can play for the rest of the season, and that reality is starting to set in throughout the locker room.

So often over the last three years, several Bulls played through various injuries. They would find ways to be on the floor no matter how much discomfort they were in. They didn't want to disappoint Thibodeau or let down their teammates. They knew they were playing for something more every time they went onto the court; they knew they were playing for a shot at a championship.

When Rose went down in Portland on Nov. 22, the Bulls' championship aspirations went down with him. That's the part that Thibodeau, ever the motivator, is having a hard time getting his team past right now.

That's also what will cause Thibodeau more frustration than ever.

Players like Deng and Noah are too proud and have too much respect for the game to sit out a contest just because they don't want to play. Butler wants to be back on the floor to be in the fight with his teammates again.

But maybe Rose's injury has reminded all three players, and the rest of the Bulls' locker room, that there are more important issues at play than dragging yourself onto the floor for a relatively meaningless game in December.

If a player has an injury, maybe he'll listen to his body a little more in light of what has happened to Rose. That remains to be seen in what has become a lost season for this organization. Thibodeau would never intentionally make his players play if he knew they were injured, and almost all of the players in his locker room are too proud to sit if they aren't hurting badly.

But where is the line?

Every pro sports franchise deals with that question over the course of a season. But rarely does a team built around one superstar go from having championship expectations to really no expectations at all in one fell swoop, as has happened to the Bulls over the course of the past few weeks.

How hard are Thibodeau's players willing to push after going through the emotional roller coaster of last season?

Rose's possible return hovered over this team all year because the players and coaches were convinced that at some point he would bring them back to prominence. Now that he has been ruled out for the season, the rest of the players are trying to figure out exactly what they are playing for.

They killed themselves last season while trying to play through injuries. They gutted out a memorable Game 7 win against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round before being bounced in the second round by the Miami Heat.

The Bulls' players still respect Thibodeau for the job he has done and they still want to win, but are they willing to win at all costs and sacrifice their bodies the way they have in the past?

Are they willing to push their bodies to the max to possibly reach the second round again? Is that worth it to them?

Are they worrying more now about their futures than they did before?

Will Thibodeau be able to deal with the fact that his players may not want to play through all the aches and pains that they have put up with in recent years?

All of these questions will be answered in due time. But one certainty for the Bulls now is that the answers are more complicated than ever.

Defiant Rose not lacking in confidence

December, 5, 2013
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose's attitude during Thursday's press conference can be summed up in one word: defiant.

The Chicago Bulls star never wavered in his emotions as he made his first public comments since having surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. He made it clear that he still believes he can come back and be the same player, if not better. He made it clear that he still believes he has a chance to come back this season, and that he doesn't want to recruit players to come to Chicago. But most of all, he made it clear that people shouldn't doubt him.

[+] EnlargeRose
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastDerrick Rose is doing his best to stay positive for another knee rehab.
The 20-minute media session was vintage Rose.

The most intriguing part came after he was asked if he believes the Bulls can still build around him despite all his recent injuries. Rose paused for about 10 seconds while trying to find the right thing to say.

"You can be a fool if you want to," he said. "I know I'm going to be all right."

The problem for Rose is that in that context, there are plenty of fools out there now. Some fans/media believe Rose will never come back and be the same player that he was before the knee surgeries, but the former MVP doesn't care. He thrives around that kind of doubt and will use it as motivation as he tries to make his way back -- again. He views the injury as a positive in the sense that he didn't tear the ACL in his right knee this time around.

"They say usually when you tear your meniscus you tear your MCL or you tear your ACL along with it," Rose said. "It was just the meniscus. So it's something I just got to deal with, but I'm used to being in this position. I've been in this position my whole life as being an underdog. I could care less what people say about me, or criticize my game or whatever, or how I play. How I play is how I play and that's hard. I could tear it 10 more times, as long as I'm playing hard and giving the game my all I could live with it for the rest of my life."

Rose said he doesn't care what people think, but that's only true to a certain extent. He cares deeply about his fans and that's why he wouldn't completely shut the door on a return this season, despite the fact Bulls general manager Gar Forman told that he's "really out" for the year, no matter how far the Bulls may go in the playoffs.

In that regard, Rose handled his press conference about as well as could be expected. What else was he supposed to say when it comes to his future? His game has always been based on speed and power, but a key aspect in his ascent to the game's elite has always been his confidence. He has always believed that he was the best player on the floor. If he starts doubting himself now and saying that he won't ever return to being the same player, then he never will be.

Rose has got to keep thinking the same way in order to make it through another arduous rehab. The issue now for him, and his team, is that he will have to sit and watch for the second straight season. Out of all the mental hurdles he will have to cross over the next six months, that will be one of the toughest for him to clear again.

"It's hard," he admitted. "I could complain and pout about it, but that's not going to do anything. I got a long time until I come back so I'd rather smile than be sad."

Rose hasn't changed stance on recruiting

December, 5, 2013
Friedell By Nick Friedell
CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose's latest knee injury hasn't changed the way he feels about recruiting players to come to Chicago.

"I don't think I'll ever recruit," he said during his Thursday press conference. "I think if you're a hooper and you know as a basketball player if you can play with someone, I don't think it's a problem with just coming to a team. I think we never had them problems with stopping anyone from coming. I think I'll never recruit. I'll play with anyone. I think I can play with anyone. But I'll never recruit."

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastDerrick Rose talked publicly about his knee injury for the first time Thursday during a press conference at the United Center.
Before last season, Rose said he called Kirk Hinrich to talk to him about coming back to Chicago, but the former MVP has said over and over that he won't go out of his way to bring players in to play with him.

As for a message he would like to deliver to his fans, Rose reiterated that his final story has yet to be written.

"That I'm not done," he said. "I know that [God] is preparing me for something bigger. Of course right now when you're living in the moment you just don't understand certain things. But I think if I were to look 10 years from now or so, just be in the future and looking back, I think this is going to be minor. It's something that just happened, and I'm never going to stop. I could tear or hurt myself 10 more times, I'm never going to stop, never."

Rose stayed mostly upbeat during his 20-minute session with reporters, showing no doubt that he will come back and be the player he used to be.

"It's kind of frustrating at first knowing that I'm going to miss a long period of time without playing the game that I love playing," he said. "It's tough right when it happened but me having these days just to think about it and just being appreciative of me going out there and showing glimpses of how I used to play, that's encouraging. And just knowing that I have a bright future, I'm all right. I think that my faith is good, my spirit is good, and I'll be back."

Coach Rose?: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose wasn't going to sit on the bench at this point, but it would happen in the near future. He is just happy to see Rose back around the team.

"He'll be around the team," Thibodeau said. "He talks to me a lot so we talk about the team, we talk about our opponents, things like that so he's involved. Mentally he's very involved."

Thibodeau is confident that Rose will stay positive throughout his latest round of rehab.

"If you look at it, most players at some point in their career, they're going to deal with injury," Thibodeau said. "So I think the fact that he made it through the ACL, and he got through that very well, that recovery is complete. He's completely healthy, he's explosive, so I think that gives him a frame of reference to deal with this one. This [injury] is not nearly as severe, and he's already mapping out his preparations for next season and getting ready. So at the end of the day hopefully it will be nothing more than a bump in the road. He can get completely healthy and move forward."

Does Thibodeau think Rose could be a coach in the future?

"I hope so," he said. "I told him, I've got a chair for you. He's got great insights, we talk quite often, and I think it will help his development as well to look at it from maybe a different perspective. He's a student of the game. He studies the game. It will be good."



Derrick Rose
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5