Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose

Bulls injury updates: Rose, Gasol, Gibson

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
2:24
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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TUALATIN, Ore. -- Injured Chicago Bulls stars Derrick Rose (strained left hamstring) and Pau Gasol (strained left groin) are expected to go through all of Sunday's practice, according to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

Both Rose and Gasol are still questionable for Monday's game against the Utah Jazz. So is Kirk Hinrich, who is still recovering from bruised ribs suffered in Thursday's loss to the Sacramento Kings. Thibodeau said Hinrich would participate in "some" of Sunday's practice. Bulls power forward Taj Gibson has been sent back to Chicago to have his injured left ankle checked by team doctors.

As for Rose, who has now missed four straight games because of a hamstring injury and eight overall this season, Thibodeau remains convinced that the former MVP will be able to shake off the rust that has hovered over his game.

"You just have to take it as it comes," Thibodeau said before Sunday's practice. "So whatever the circumstances are, we're going to make the best of those. We'll see where Derrick is today after he practices. And hopefully he'll get to a point where he can string some games together. And when that happens, the rust will come off. From what we've seen thus far when he's been out there, he's looked great, so we just got to get him out there."

Thibodeau was noncommittal in regard to whether Rose is closer to playing than where he was after the initial hamstring injury happened Thursday against the Toronto Raptors.

"It's hard to say," Thibodeau said. "He's moving a lot better, so from that standpoint [it's good], but I want to see where he is today after practice."

For his part, Gasol sounded optimistic about his chances of playing on Monday. He originally got hurt over a week ago in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.

"I'm feeling a lot better," Gasol said. "I was able to do some running [Saturday] on the court. Do some shooting on the move. Did a little work and it didn't flare up, have any setbacks so [that's] perfect. So I think we're on the right track, and today I expect to go a full practice."

As for Gibson, Thibodeau said he is expected to be day-to-day after being checked out by team doctor Brian Cole. Gibson, who has been dealing with left ankle injuries for the past couple of seasons, reinjured the ankle in the third quarter of Friday's loss to the Trail Blazers. He had X-rays after the game that were negative but left the Moda Center on crutches and a walking boot.

"The encouraging thing is there was not much swelling," Thibodeau said. "So we'll go from there. I don't want to play doctor. Dr. Cole will make that determination."

Misery in Portland continues for Bulls

November, 22, 2014
Nov 22
1:50
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Chicago Bulls' night of misery began about an hour before their 105-87 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers even started on Friday night. After a slow bus ride to the Moda Center full of traffic and cold rain, the Bulls' players and coaches filed into the quiet visitor's locker room. As players began heading out to the court, one main sound was audible above the din of the noises that accompany a team in the midst of a long two-week, coast-to-coast trip.

It was the sound coming from Derrick Rose's leg compression machine.

Almost a year to the day Rose tore the medial meniscus in his right knee in the same building, Rose laid on the ground with both of his legs in compression sleeves, quietly watching videos on his cellphone. He didn't play Friday night because of ongoing left hamstring issues, but the reminders of what had occurred a year before were fresh in everyone's memory.

Every time the Bulls come to Portland lately it seems as if something bad happens. Friday night's game was just the latest example of that. Damian Lillard dominated a depleted Bulls' squad that was also playing without Pau Gasol (strained left calf) and Kirk Hinrich (bruised ribs). The Bulls came into the game having lost eight of their last 10 games in Portland, giving up an average of 101.5 points in each contest according to ESPN Stats & Information. After the Trail Blazers' latest triumph, the Bulls have now lost seven straight games here.

Aside from the loss, the bigger issue on this night for the Bulls was the fact they lost Taj Gibson to a sprained left ankle that could keep him out a little while. Gibson had to be helped off the court by his teammates in a scene similar to the one Rose endured last season. While Gibson's ankle injury isn't nearly as serious as Rose's knee injury was, it had to feel like déjà vu for Bulls' personnel to see Gibson head to the locker room on crutches and in a walking boot after the game. A year earlier, it was Rose who stood on crutches in the back of the visitor's locker room staring into a mirror and wondering about his own future.

[+] EnlargeTaj Gibson
Craig Mitchelldyer/USA TODAY SportsTaj Gibson is helped off the floor in Portland after spraining his ankle.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau didn't want to hear about the parallel storylines after the game, believing the injuries Rose and Gibson sustained could have happened anywhere.

"I don't get caught up in that stuff," he said. "Injuries are part of the game. If a guy gets hurt, he gets hurt. But it's not the building, it's not any of that stuff. Injuries are part of the game so you just deal with them."

His players understand that, but they didn't feel the same way about the bad mojo that seems to come their way every time they play in Portland.

"F--- this place," one player muttered in the locker room as he peeled off his jersey.

As much as Thibodeau may not want to admit, the injury to Gibson only reinforced the bad feelings the players have when they walk into this building after seeing what happened to Rose a year ago.

"This is the NBA," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "It sucks that guys get hurt. But you just got to keep going forward, the games keep coming, and nobody feels sorry for you, so you just got to keep going and we just got to get better and hopefully Taj gets better soon."

In a strange twist, when Gibson hobbled his way back to the locker room after injuring his ankle in the third quarter, one of the first people he saw was Rose, who had been sitting in the locker room during the game. After dealing with all the ups and downs of another year of rehab on his knee, Rose's message to Gibson was clear as they talked in the same building in which the former MVP's season ended.

"He was just saying to me, 'It's that same ankle that's been bothering you.' " Gibson said of his talk with Rose. "I was like, 'Yes.' He said, 'You just got to be patient. You really got to get on top of that. It's a long year. You can't sprint to the finish line already. You got a long fight, you just got to be smart and get back fully healthy.' "

After another meltdown against the Trail Blazers, that sounds like sage advice. Rose understands Gibson's pain better than anyone -- and that's why it should come as little surprise that Rose was the first player to exit the locker room late Friday night. He wanted to get out of the building as quickly as possible.

So did the Bulls.

The changes of Derrick Rose

November, 14, 2014
Nov 14
1:22
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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TORONTO -- Derrick Rose has changed.

Not his game. His perspective.

"Yeah, just letting me know what's real," Rose said Thursday, in the wake of comments he made about his health and future. "As long as I'm being myself and inspiring people the way that I am and touching people the way that I am, that's all I can do, caring about myself and just being positive."

The aura of invincibility that defined Rose's game earlier in his career is gone, too. That's not to say he can't be the same player he once was, or close to it, after the injuries, the surgeries, and the ups and downs of 2 1/2 years worth of rehab. But Rose has begun thinking and openly discussing his future, in basketball and after his career is over, more than ever before.

Before the injuries, Rose always wanted to be on the floor. He played through nagging pain because he wanted to prove he was the best. He played with no fear. More importantly, he didn't allow fear to cloud his thoughts. There was no talk about the future, only the next game, the next challenge.

When he came back last season and his right knee gave out after 10 games, all those doubts and insecurities came to the forefront again. All the hard work he put in to get himself back on the floor went out the window. But as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau pointed out again Thursday, there are three aspects to Rose's latest return: mental, physical and emotional.

Which leads us back to the former MVP's recent comments.

Could Rose have been more eloquent in choosing his words earlier this week? Yes. He's in the third year of a max contract from the Bulls that will pay him almost $100 million in total. The shoe deal he has with Adidas is worth more than $200 million. The average person can't comprehend that kind of money, or the idea that a 26-year-old wouldn't want to play through the soreness of a couple of sprained ankles after missing so much time the past two seasons.

But Rose doesn't seem to care nearly as much about the public's reaction to his decisions like he once did. He knows he has to make decisions that are best for his long-term health, not for any kind of short-term gain. Most of all, Rose knows better than almost anyone that his basketball life is short.

That doesn't make him much different than his teammates, who know how much risk is involved in what they do, and they have stood solidly behind Rose for the past 2 1/2 years because they see all the work he puts in behind the scenes. They are willing to continue to be patient with Rose as he makes his way back because they know they can't win a championship without him.

Privately, several teammates and Bulls personnel blamed the media partially for the uproar caused by Rose's comments. Even if Rose was the one who turned an innocuous question into a national story, the organization is looking to move forward. Bulls center Joakim Noah stood up for Rose on Thursday after their 100-93 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

"This is not a one-man team," Noah said. "But at the end of the day we need him, we need him and I don't want to see him down. I know sometimes it's frustrating, you've got injuries, you've got tweaks. Every time something happens to him people act like it's the end of the world and that's f---ing so lame to me. Relax. He's coming back from two crazy surgeries, obviously we're being conservative with him, and when things aren't going right, he's got to listen to his body more than anybody. So everybody needs to chill the f--- out."

So just how much has Rose changed since that first knee injury? Everybody seems to have an opinion, but those directly involved seem to agree that things are different.

"I think all players should change each year," Thibodeau said before Thursday's game. "You should grow with each year of experience, so you never want to stay the same. So I think he's had to deal with a lot of adversity, you have to learn how to get past that. I think it's all part of being a pro. I think most guys at some time or another during their career, they're going to get hit with something that they have to get past.

"Unfortunately for him, it was two consecutive injuries, two consecutive years. I think for him the only way to approach it is the way he has approached it. You have to look at it really as seeds of growth. How do you get past it? Keep grinding away. He's got to shake a lot of rust off. When you're out that long, basically it's been three years, that's a long time in pro sports."

But even as Rose continues to look more like the same player physically, Bulls' personnel understand that might be the easiest step in the process. The mental part of the game, especially after the temporary setbacks he's already suffered this season, scares the Bulls more than anything else because of the uncertainty of it all.

In the short-term, Rose is just trying to stay positive after his latest setback this season, a hamstring injury suffered Thursday night.

"This is going to happen," Rose said of the setbacks. "Talking to a lot of people that had surgeries, my agent [B.J. Armstrong] had five or six surgeries. It's just going to happen, especially when you miss two years ... [I'm] just trying to do everything right. Eat right, hydrate right, stretch right, work on my flexibility, just trying to put everything on my side so at the end of the day I'm just trying to get better."

But that's the biggest quandary for Bulls management moving forward. Even if he does everything right in his rehab, will all these setbacks take too much of an emotional toll? Rose may physically regain his form, but that mindset has changed, and it doesn't seem as if it will ever be the same.

Does that mean Rose was wrong for being honest about his future?

No. It means he's human.

With Rose back, Bulls' balance in order

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
12:07
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- For the first time in the regular season, the Chicago Bulls actually had their entire starting five on the floor playing together Monday in a 102-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

That meant the return of Derrick Rose, the straw that stirs the drink for Tom Thibodeau's Bulls, who had missed four of the past five games with sprained ankles. With Rose on the court, it should come as no surprise that the starting unit played its best all-around game of the season. Rose scored 24 points with seven assists, Jimmy Butler continued his solid shooting with 19 points and Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol combined for 30 points, 29 rebounds and 10 assists.

[+] EnlargeRose
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastDerrick Rose scored 24 points in his return to the Bulls after missing four of the past five games with sprained ankles.
"It was really nice," Gasol said of finally playing with the Bulls' intended starting five.

Bulls general manager Gar Forman and executive vice president John Paxson have garnered a lot of praise in the past few months for putting together the deepest roster in Thibodeau's tenure. But as solid as this group looks on paper, they know this team is only going to go as far as Rose takes them.

Rose has the rare ability to make everyone around him better, as he showed on Monday.

"Derrick's a hell of a player," Noah said. "It means having your best player on the court, our floor general. It means a lot. When he's out on the court, he demands so much attention and it opens up a lot of easy opportunities for everybody else."

That might be the single biggest reminder from this game: Rose's ability to penetrate opens all kinds of space for his teammates. What has to please Thibodeau is that even when Rose couldn't find his shot during a few possessions in the waning minutes and the Bulls clinging to a 90-88 lead, there was Gasol to knock down a jumper off the ball movement that included a Mike Dunleavy assist. During the next possession, Rose set up an even bigger 3-pointer from Butler for a 95-88 lead with 1:55 remaining just as. Those are the types of possessions that the Bulls are hoping for in May, not just November.

"I think we're such an unselfish team that everybody's finding everybody in positions to score," Butler said. "I think that's one of the pluses of this team; we're each willing to make that extra pass so the next guy can get a great shot."

Lost in the excitement of Rose's return was the fact that Noah played easily the best game of his young season. As he continues to make his way back from offseason knee surgery and, more recently, a bad case of the flu, the All-Star center was more active than he has been in his five games this season with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

"I thought Jo, that was one of his best games," Thibodeau said. "You can see [his game] is coming. He and Pau were terrific inside battling and played very well off each other, too. And you're seeing Jo with the multiple-effort-type plays and that's huge for our team."

With Noah slowly improving, Rose continuing to shake off rust, and Gasol, Butler and Dunleavy all learning to play with each other, the Bulls offered a glimpse of what could be. This is the team that believes it can win the organization's seventh NBA championship this season. Gasol came to Chicago for that chance.

"It was good," Gasol said. "It was great to have everyone, the full roster, on the floor available and healthy. So now we just got to keep it that way."

Rose (ankles) game-time call vs. Pistons

November, 10, 2014
Nov 10
11:53
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose went through all of shootaround and is a game-time decision against the Detroit Pistons on Monday night as he continues to recover from two sprained ankles. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said that Rose, who has missed the past two games (and four overall this season), will warm up before Monday's game before making a final decision. Once again, Thibodeau shot down the notion that Rose would sit for an extended amount of time in order to let the ankles fully heal.

"When he's healthy he's got to play," Thibodeau said. "It's really that simple. He's dealing with sprained ankles, the rest of his body is good, so when he's ready to go, he goes. That would be the same for anybody. Sprained ankles are part of it and just work your way through it."

As he has the past two games, Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich is expected to start in Rose's place if he can't play. Like the rest of his teammates, Hinrich fully supports Rose as he tries to make his way back after two knee injuries, and now two ankles injuries, over the past two and a half years.

"I think ideally you'd like to know [if you're starting], but [the situation] is not always ideal," Hinrich said. "Just try to be ready for everything and whatever's needed of me that night and try to go out and do it. Not change my preparation and how I get ready, just make it the same, get a routine, and hopefully that will have me prepared."

Hinrich and his teammates don't seem to be affected much by the constant on-again, off-again status of Rose's fragile health.

"We know from being here last [season], being around, that things are going to happen," Hinrich said. "Guys are going to go in and out. Obviously, he's a major story and a major piece, but whatever happens, we have to be ready, and that's what we're trying to do."

Derrick Rose to miss second straight game

November, 8, 2014
Nov 8
6:05
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose will miss his second consecutive game, and fourth of the season, Saturday night against the Boston Celtics as he continues to deal with sprains in both of his ankles. Rose did not participate in the Bulls' walk-through before Saturday's game.

"He’s not ready to go yet," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We’ll see where he is tomorrow. Go from there. I feel good about the other guys. Everyone has to step up. Aaron [Brooks] and Kirk [Hinrich] are doing a good job filling in."

As he has done since Rose initially got hurt last Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thibodeau knocked down the idea of having Rose sit down for an extended period to allow his ankles to fully recover.

"Just let him go through his process," Thibodeau said. "And the rest of the guys have got to lock in and get ready for the games. As I said, the one thing about when somebody’s out, it gives an opportunity for others to step up and show that they can get it done. I like the way our team is playing."

Thibodeau continues to hold to the belief that whenever Rose is healthy enough to play, he has to play to knock the rust off his game.

"Injuries are part of the game," Thibodeau said. "If a guy's not comfortable going, he's not going to go. You just go to the next guy. Get out there and get it done. As I said, Kirk and Aaron are playing very, very well."

What's the rush on Derrick Rose's return?

November, 7, 2014
Nov 7
7:29
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Derrick RoseDennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsDerrick Rose's comments about his health drew sharp criticism.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Chicago Bulls are stuck in a multi-million-dollar catch-22.

When Derrick Rose plays, the entire basketball world holds its breath, hoping he doesn't re-injure himself after two knee surgeries, and now, two ankle sprains. When he doesn't, as was the case on Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, some question his toughness and wonder if he will ever be the same player.

The Bulls can't win.

When asked on Friday whether Rose would be ruled out for Saturday's game against the Boston Celtics as well, coach Tom Thibodeau didn't wait until the question was finished to respond.

"No, no," Thibodeau said. "We'll see (Saturday). We'll see where he is. If he can go, I think he has to go. If he can't, then he doesn't. It's really that simple. It's the only way he's going to shake the rust off is getting out there and playing."

The Bulls' front office feels the same way. While GM Gar Forman and executive VP John Paxson are hopeful that Thibodeau will keep Rose and Joakim Noah on a minutes limit to start the season, their outlook jives with the head coach's: If Rose feels good enough to play, then that's what he should do.

But after watching Rose tweak his ankle injuries during Wednesday night's win over the Milwaukee Bucks and then limp around the locker room after it was over -- not to mention that Friday marked the third game Rose has missed six games into the 2014-15 season -- one question comes to mind:

What's the rush?

The NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint. Thibodeau, Forman and Paxson should all tape that saying up to their mirrors and say it to themselves when they wake up in the morning. Because contrary to Thibodeau's oft-stated belief, every game does not count the same in the NBA. Whether the Bulls win or lose on Saturday night against the Celtics, is that really going to make a difference if they are lucky enough to play into May or June?

The last thing the Bulls need is for Rose to play and tweak something else. That's exactly what happened three seasons ago. Rose was never quite the same after a turf toe injury in early January, and he continued dealing with a slew of different injuries before tearing the ACL in his left knee.

The Bulls are already being cautious with Rose's health, but they need to be even more cautious. Rose indeed needs to shake off rust, but he doesn't need to do so until his ankles are completely healthy.

And that didn't seem to be the case Wednesday in Milwaukee. He wasn't moving well laterally and did not look comfortable on the floor. He confirmed as much after the game.

"Of course I wasn't 100 percent tonight," Rose said. "But I felt like we needed this win. And just try to come out here and do anything it takes to get this win with my teammates."

This is where Rose can help himself. Some may think he is being too cautious, that he doesn't have the same all-in mindset he once had. But Rose and Thibodeau don't seem to care much what other people think. And that's important when deciding when and where to pick spots for the former MVP.

"I try not to get wrapped up in that," Thibodeau said of the mounting criticism surrounding Rose. "When he's playing all the time and playing great everyone talks about (how) he's a tough guy, he's a warrior, he's this, he's that. He's the same guy. The guy has had two serious injuries -- he's coming back, he's working, there's going to be some bumps. So he's got a sprained ankle, he's got to deal with it and then when he's ready to go, he goes.

"And that would be the case for any of our players. Any guy that's coming back off an injury or a surgery you got to make sure ... what you don't want is a guy out there laboring and then something else happens. So just be patient, let him work his way through it, it will be good in the end. He's doing fine."

But Thibodeau and Rose can't have it both ways. Rose can't say one night he wanted to play to help his teammates, as he did in Milwaukee, and then the next night say he just wants to be patient and knows there are a lot more games to play, as he did before Friday's game in Philadelphia. Thibodeau can't say one night that he wants Rose to be patient and the next night that he wants him to play and continue shaking rust off.

Thibodeau and the front office know this team has more than enough talent to win games without Rose. They don't need him on the floor if he is not 100 percent healthy at any point before the All-Star break. They need him on the floor in the playoffs.

Whether Rose ends up playing 70 games this season or 40, the Bulls must remember the bigger prize at stake. Games against bad teams are not worth risking the health of the most important player on the team.

Rose likely out, Noah likely in against Sixers

November, 7, 2014
Nov 7
11:24
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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PHILADELPHIA -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose did not participate in the morning shootaround and is officially a game-time decision against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night after tweaking his sprained ankles in Wednesday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Neither Rose nor coach Tom Thibodeau sounded optimistic about Rose's chances of playing against the Sixers.

"I'm feeling the same," Rose said. "A little sore. But [I'll] come in tonight, warm up a little bit more and see how it goes . . . if not, if I can't play, don't worry about it. I'm trying to be in it for the long haul."

Rose initially sprained both ankles in the second quarter of the Oct. 31 overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He missed two games before returning against the Bucks, with 13 points and seven assists in 31 minutes, but did not seem to be moving well at times and was limping a little in the locker room after the game. Rose said it wasn't a setback, but admitted that he was sore and didn't feel like himself on the floor.

"I just wasn't able to play the way that I normally play," Rose said. "I think I had no fast-break points, didn't attack the way that I wanted to, but I just wanted to get that win."

Thibodeau continues to preach patience regarding Rose's return.

"It's his decision, along with the medical people," Thibodeau said. "You have to trust them. They're doing what's best. If he can't go, I don't want them out there. And if he's not comfortable enough to go, I don't want him out there. I feel really good about the guys we do have. We're going to let Derrick work his way through it and we got to be patient. There's going to be some ups, there'll be some downs, just keep moving forward, and that's all I want him to do.

"He's been out a long time, people tend to forget it, everyone wants it back in a day, it doesn't happen like that. When you miss the amount of time that he's missed, it's going to take a while for him to get back and we all have to understand that."

Rose remains in good spirits, but acknowledged that the latest injury setback, and all of the chatter about his future, got a little tiring.

"I think when I sprained it it was like that, but now I'm not thinking about it," he said. "We won a couple of games, the atmosphere, the vibe of the team is good right now, the spirit of the team is good and we're just trying to keep things going, stay positive and keep things going."

The Bulls' front office has also preached a patient approach, especially because Rose came into this season having played only 10 games in the past two years because of two serious knee injuries. Thibodeau just wants Rose to continue focusing on getting treatment and coming back to play consistently at the same high level.

"He's dealing with a sprained ankle right now," Thibodeau said. "We got to make sure he's recovered from that. You don't want him compensating for that and then something else happens. Just let him recover from that and that's what we're trying to do. So when he's ready to go he'll let us know and we'll go from there."

In other Bulls-related injury news, center Joakim Noah went through Friday's shootaround and is expected to play after missing the past two games because of flu-like symptoms.

Derrick Rose's decision to sit was correct

November, 1, 2014
Nov 1
11:33
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Derrick Rose admittedly could have played against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday if he'd really wanted to, but he didn't.

And after the Chicago Bulls star sprained both of his ankles in Friday night's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, sitting was the right move.

"It felt all right," Rose said after the game, a 106-105 win for the Bulls. "If it was a real need for me to play I think I could have played. But [I'm] just trying to be smart, trying to give it an extra day and thank God that we came out with the win."

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SportsDerrick Rose rested rather than push through two sprained ankles on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
A win in the third game of the season over any team, let alone a bad team like the Timberwolves, is always going to be secondary to Rose's health. The Bulls can't win a championship without Rose, which is why from the outset of training camp the organization has been more cautious than ever regarding his health.

"The most important thing is how he feels," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You can't put somebody out there who's not comfortable to be out there so we're not going to do that. If he needed another day, we'll give him another day. We have two days off here so it's good."

That is the right approach in Rose's case, and one the Bulls' front office has filtered down to Thibodeau since before the season began. While the veteran coach might not be happy with the minutes restrictions being placed on both Rose and Joakim Noah early in the season, he understands that Rose is the Bulls' meal ticket and must be treated differently than the other players.

"The way we're going to approach it is if he needs a day we're going to give it to him," Thibodeau said. "If he doesn't, he'll keep playing. So far, knock on wood, it's been good. That was sort of a freak play. He landed on one ankle and then he landed on the other one. So it was a very unusual play. He'll be fine."

The interesting part of Saturday's decision to sit Rose is that after warming up on the floor, the former MVP said he never spoke to Thibodeau about his status, instead relaying his message to Bulls trainer Jeff Tanaka and director of sports performance Jen Swanson.

"We didn't even talk about it," Rose said of Thibodeau. "He didn't ask me about it to tell you the truth. I told T-Nak, T-Nak and Jen talked to him for a little bit, but as far as me and him talking about it, we didn't talk about it yet."

Is that a red flag in the relationship between star player and coach? No. But it does speak to the fact of how many people are involved in the decision-making process regarding Rose's status. Rose isn't just any other player. He's the man charged with carrying the Bulls to the promised land, despite the fact he came into this season having played just 10 games last season.

Bulls general manager Gar Forman acknowledged before Friday's game that there might be times during the season when the organization would decide to sit Rose on certain nights if he wasn't feeling right. Saturday's game was the first example of that philosophy in action.

"We don't want to jump that far ahead," Forman said on ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy Show" in regard to Rose's status. "We'll evaluate that as we go. Up to this point, he's tolerated everything that's been thrown at him very well. But we evaluate that almost on a daily basis as far as where he's at, and if it any point we feel that he needs some type of rest then we would do so. But up to this point, everything that's been thrown at him, he's handled very well."

That was the case again Saturday. Rose made the right call by deciding to err on the side of caution. Obviously, Thibodeau would love to have his best player on the floor at all times, but it's a decision the veteran coach is going to have to live with at various points during the season.

Rose not worried about doubters ... or Melo

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
1:15
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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videoNEW YORK -- Derrick Rose wants to prove all of his doubters wrong, but he's trying not to let all the doubts about his game get into his head. As Rose gets set to open a new season against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night (ESPN, 8 ET), the former MVP sounds excited about being back on the floor after playing in just 10 games over the past two seasons because of two serious knee injuries.

"I can't get caught up in that," he said of the doubters. "I let my game speak for itself. By the way that I play you should be able to tell that I'm in the gym almost every day working on my craft. I don't like to say too much about my haters but you should be able to tell by the way that I work that I've been in the gym really going hard."

Teammates and coaches have consistently praised Rose for the work ethic he's put in over the past few months in order to get ready for the season. While he still wants to use his speed and quickness to overwhelm opponents, the 26-year-old is also trying to be more of a distributor during this return.

"Someone like Larry Bird, he just had a great feel for the game," Rose said. "His teammates, they loved playing with him. He made sure he got everybody the ball, but in the fourth quarter they knew that that was his fourth quarter. So [we're] just trying to get the same atmosphere here where [we] go through the game, go through the first couple of quarters getting everybody touches, then in the fourth quarter it's my time."

There was a point during free agency when many in the Bulls' organization thought Knicks star Carmelo Anthony would ultimately land in Chicago, but that didn't come to fruition after Anthony decided to take the extra guaranteed money and re-sign with the Knicks. Rose isn't worried about the Bulls' flirtation with Anthony as the pair prepares to face off.

"That's over with," Rose said. "I wouldn't say it's weird at all. He made his decision and like I said at the time, who wouldn't want to play with a talent like that? He came back [to New York], you can't get mad at him. But the people that we have on our team is who we got and that's who we have to roll with."

Bulls can afford to be patient with Rose

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
11:09
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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videoNEW YORK -- Tom Thibodeau defends harder than his team does on most nights when it comes to certain topics. The most notable example of this over the past three years is in the way the veteran coach has generally protected Derrick Rose as the fragile superstar tries to make his way back from yet another knee injury.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty ImagesWith a more balanced team offensively, the Bulls can afford to be more patient with Derrick Rose in his second comeback from knee surgery.
Thibodeau has always publicly stood behind the decisions Rose has made in regards to his body, even if he was frustrated that his best player wasn't on the floor. It's the smart thing for any coach to do, especially with a player as talented as Rose, but that loyalty has been even stronger over the past two years as critics and some fans openly questioned whether Rose will ever be the player he once was.

It's that loyalty and protectiveness which have also guided Thibodeau's comments about Rose throughout the summer. No matter how good or bad Rose has played over the past few months -- whether it was with Team USA in the World Cup of Basketball or with the Bulls in the preseason -- Thibodeau reminds anyone who will listen that Rose still has a lot of rust to shake off.

"There's still a long way to go," Thibodeau said after Tuesday's practice. "And that's what we have to understand. The preseason is one thing. The regular season is something totally different. There's a lot of work to be done. He just has to keep concentrating on improving, put everything he has into each day. There will be more game-planning for him. He has to be ready for that."

But the difference between this Rose comeback, the one that continues during Wednesday night's regular season opener against the New York Knicks, and the one from a year ago, is that Rose isn't exactly the same player he used to be.

And that's OK.

No matter how good or bad Rose looks in the first couple months of the season, the difference is that the Bulls don't need him to be the player he once was right away. They need him to continue shaking off the rust that comes with having only played 10 games in the past two seasons. The beauty of Thibodeau's plan in tempering expectations is that it takes at least some of the pressure off the 26-year-old player who is still determined to prove his doubters wrong.

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Sure, Thibodeau wishes he could use Rose more than the 30 or so minutes he'll likely play on Wednesday, but even Thibodeau understands that Rose's circumstances are different this time.

The Bulls are different as well. While they will always be dependent on Rose to score on some level, they are a much more balanced team. Their roster is deep and features several players who can help take some of the offensive burden off Rose's shoulders. With veteran Pau Gasol in the fold, Jimmy Butler looking more confident offensively and Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks backing up Rose, the Bulls don't need the former MVP to dominate as much night to night as they did the past few seasons.

They need Rose to get incrementally better over time and focus on staying healthy and producing. They need him to become even more of a distributor and continue working on his jump shot. Most of all, they need Rose to grow his confidence back to a level where he can take over games again as the playoffs roll around this spring. The Bulls don't need Rose to win games in November and December, but they will need him to close again in May and June.

Thibodeau remains steadfast in his belief that Rose will be able to do just that when the time comes.

"I expect him to get back to exactly who he was," Thibodeau said. "Just gotta remember what he did to play like that. This is the process he has to go through, a lot of rust to shake off when you've missed the amount of time he has missed. As long as he continues to improve, he'll get there."

Derrick Rose takes next step in Bulls win

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
11:36
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Taj Gibson spoke for the entire Chicago Bulls' organization Sunday night when he described what it was like to have Derrick Rose back on the floor to close out games as he did in a win over the Charlotte Hornets.

"It's a dope feeling," Gibson said. "We know who's going to take the shot. Either Pau [Gasol], Derrick. We got Joakim [Noah] making solid plays. We got guys that's back in the rotation, and even with Derrick, he's stepping in and taking that strong midrange when he needs to take it, and it showed tonight."

Rose's stats were solid against the Hornets, but out of his 27 minutes played, it was the final 7:22 that were most crucial. That's because that marked the first time in almost a year that Rose was on the floor to close out a game. While the former MVP has downplayed the significance of being on the floor late for preseason games, it's clear his teammates and coaches were thrilled to see him back in the pressurized, late-game saddle on Sunday. They know they need him out there late and were happy to see his stabilizing presence on the floor as the final minutes wound down.
[+] EnlargeRose
AP Photo/Paul BeatyDerrick Rose was on the floor in the fourth quarter Sunday -- a welcome sight for fans, teammates and coaches alike.

"I think it's a positive thing," Gasol said. "It's great that we can have him down the stretch. He also gets used to playing those minutes where every decision is important. So, yeah, it's nice to have him on the floor."

Rose still has a lot of rust in his game. It's noticeable on his drives to the rim and in some of his shots, and it will likely take months before he consistently feels like himself again with the ball. But the mental aspect of Rose's return is huge for both him and his teammates, and even if Rose isn't the same player he once was (right now), he's still a talented point guard who can create space -- and shots -- for his teammates. His ability to cut into traffic makes his teammates feel better about their chances.

That's why head coach Tom Thibodeau has to be pleased with what he saw Sunday. It was the best all-around performance his team has had in the preseason, and it ended the way he's hoping many games this season do -- with the ball in Rose's hands as the contest is coming to a close.

"The intensity's different," Thibodeau said of the fourth quarter. "The defense is different. You have to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the team, understand how they're defending you, what you can take advantage of, what the openings are. Who are they rotating to? How far off are they? And then you want to make them pay. Usually for a player like that, any time you put two [defenders] on him, there's somebody open. And he's got to have the ability to read that and make that decision quickly. I think that comes back by being out there."

Rose took another small but important step in his latest comeback Sunday. He closed out a game with the rest of the starters (minus the injured Jimmy Butler) and remembered what it was like to take pressure-packed shots -- and make them. Thibodeau has said many times the past few months that the best thing Rose can do to knock the rust off is play.

Although Rose's confidence is still a work in progress, the confidence his presence breeds in those around him can't be overstated. The Bulls are hoping a lot more nights in the future end like Sunday did -- with Rose on the floor and a victory in hand.


CHICAGO -- The most intriguing moment of Thursday night's game did not come when Jimmy Butler drained a winning 3 at the buzzer over some Atlanta Hawks bench players. It came with 6 minutes, 7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when Butler came to the scorer's table to check back into the game with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.

That instance was a lot more important than a meaningless preseason win because of who was not with Butler, Noah and Gasol when they went to check in: Derrick Rose.

After saying since training camp opened that players need to learn how to play with Rose again, coach Tom Thibodeau decided to leave his star on the bench when he brought back the rest of the core of his starting unit. After the game, the veteran coach brushed the decision aside, saying he expected Rose to play in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls' final three preseason games.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Gary Dineen/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose is being dutifully patient with playing time and wasn't concerned about limiting his availability late in Thursday's tilt. "Just when the time is right, it's right," he said.
"[He's] still not comfortable yet, but he's getting there," Thibodeau said of Rose. "Just want him to be ready when he does go in there. He's close, though. He's close."

But he's feeling fine?

"He said to [Bulls athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka] that he was done," Thibodeau said. "He was going pretty hard in the third. So [we'll] wait another game, see [how he's feeling], make sure."

The patient approach is a prudent one when it comes to Rose's status. The Bulls should go to extreme lengths given Rose's recent health history to make sure he is comfortable when he's on the floor, especially in just the fifth preseason game of a long NBA season.

But that Thibodeau didn't go back to Rose -- and that Rose didn't sound too concerned about not being in for the stretch run -- is telling. If nothing else, it shows a distinct change in philosophy from player and coach.

During Rose's last four preseason games a year ago, the former MVP averaged almost 32 minutes per game. He played down the stretch in games and became accustomed to taking pressure shots again. He wanted to be back on the floor all the time to show the rest of the world, and himself, he could still play at a high level.

A year later, Rose, at least outwardly, seems content to allow the preseason to play out at a slower pace, appreciating the long grind of a new basketball campaign.

"I think my body is going to hold up," Rose said. "I think I worked too hard. I'm not worried about minutes. I could care less about them. Just trying to be patient and do exactly what they tell me to do."

Rose always has been a people pleaser, but he seems intent on listening to himself, and his body, more than ever. That's what makes the present situation a little trickier this time around for Thibodeau and the Bulls.

The coach has voiced his displeasure several times about the medical restrictions being placed Rose and Noah during the preseason. But on the night Noah took another step in his progression by coming back into the game in the fourth quarter, Rose sat quietly on the end of the bench watching the action.

Should fans be worried because Rose didn't come back, or should they be excited that he is taking a different approach to his latest comeback?

Rose said he would like to have been in the game late, but he knows there will be more to play for in the future. He said he didn't talk to Tanaka about the 20-minute runs he's been getting in the preseason. It just kind of happened.

"I would [like to be out there], but at the same time be patient," Rose said. "It's no rush at all. Knowing how hard I worked, I'm not worried about it. Just when the time is right, it's right."

If Rose isn't worried about his playing time, should the rest of us be? It's an interesting quandary for the entire organization.

On one hand, Thibodeau has said all summer that in order for Rose to find his rhythm again, he must play. On the other, Thibodeau doesn't want to upset his star player and risk putting him into a situation he's not ready for right now.

Maybe Thursday's decision not to come back into the game will be insignificant over time as Rose eases his way back into playing after so much time off. But in the short term, the Bulls know they must play together in order to find the consistency that has eluded them throughout much of the preseason.

"We just have a lot of work to do," Noah said. "And yeah, continuity's important. Right now we're in a situation where we got to find the right balance. We've got guys coming back from injuries; that's a reality. And continuity is very important as well, so we got to find the right balance.

“It's not pointing fingers at anybody. We just got to find ways as a team to make this work, and I know we will."

Nobody is blaming Rose for his decision to sit a few extra minutes Thursday night. His teammates and coaches all want what's best for him in the long term, and they know they can't win a championship without him. After all, championships aren't won in October.

But the seeds of a championship run are planted now.

The confidence that has defined Rose's game has to be built up again.

In order to do that, the former MVP has to trust his body can withstand all the minutes coming his way. He'll get plenty of chances in the near future to prove he does.

Derrick Rose: It's all coming together

October, 8, 2014
Oct 8
9:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Derrick Rose continues to feel good about his progress as he makes his way back from knee surgery yet again. The former MVP said he had no soreness after playing in his second consecutive game against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, and he is confident in how his game is progressing.
[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose has played just 14 minutes in two games, but it's so far, so good for the Bulls star.

"It's all just coming to me," Rose said. "I wouldn't say there's one area that's better than another. It just takes playing. Going out there and actually getting game-time minutes under your belt. Practice is another thing. But when you're actually playing against and competing against another team, that's all I need."

As was the case in Monday's loss to the Washington Wizards, Rose played just 14 minutes in the first half. Although he didn't score a field goal, he showed the same aggression that was on display in Monday night's opener.

"I think I didn't hit a shot today, but I hit six free throws. I took eight and hit six," Rose said. "That's pretty good for me -- just seeing the ball go in. If I could have played the rest of the game, I know I would have been more aggressive. But just trying to be patient, stay patient and really take it one day at a time and get the most out of every day."

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau admitted there wasn't much to take from Rose's second game, but he did like that his point guard got to the free throw line.

"It's hard to tell. It's such a short amount of time," Thibodeau said of Rose's performance. "It's hard to build a rhythm like that. I thought [Monday] night was good. I don't know what you get out of tonight, what you learn or see. I'll look at the film and see how it looks, but you just got to continue to work and improve."

New Nate: On a night when the Bulls faced off against their former teammate and new Piston D.J. Augustin, his heir apparent on the Bulls roster took center stage. Aaron Brooks had 18 points and has quickly made an impression on Thibodeau.

"I love him," Thibodeau said. "He's got a lot of toughness to him. We need to have more practice time with him, as well. But the fact that he's an established pro, he comes in, he runs offense with the rookies, stays late, talks the game, thinks the game ... I think he's going to be a good fit for us."

Brooks, like former Bull Nate Robinson, has no fear when it comes to taking and making big shots and creating his own shot off the dribble. Like Augustin and Robinson before him, Brooks should be able to help Thibodeau a lot this season. Also like Robinson, Brooks is from Seattle.

The last word: "It's, I think, a little unusual to have a back-to-back this early in training camp. But as I told our players, I liked it because this is the NBA. There are times when the schedule is in your favor [and] times when it's not. You got to be able to handle both." -- Thibodeau on the preseason schedule.

Noah out against Pistons; Rose plays

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
7:41
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah will not play Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, as he continues to recover from offseason left knee surgery. The night off did not come as a surprise given Tom Thibodeau said Monday it was likely Noah wouldn't play. As for how Noah's schedule looks during the rest of the preseason, Thibodeau is taking a wait-and-see approach.

"We'll see," Thibodeau said. "Medically, if he needs time off, then he should take it. Practice is important, playing's important, conditioning's important, playing together with the team is important. So those are the things that go into winning. But if he needs time off, we got to give it to him."

Noah is onboard with the plan, but it was clear during his 14 minutes of play Monday night that he is still getting used to playing with the bulky left-knee brace.

"I had knee surgery, and the first two games are a back-to-back," Noah said after Monday's win. "So it's the smart thing to do. I feel pretty good. I wanted to play more. Trust me, if it was my choice I'd be playing. But I'm going to stick to this, and I'm going to use this to get better."

Derrick Rose started Tuesday's game, and Thibodeau said he expects to play the former MVP about as much as he did Monday, which was about 14 minutes of first-half action.

New Pistons' head coach Stan Van Gundy is impressed by the progress Rose has made.

"His quickness is back," Van Gundy said. "There's no question. Even last night, early in the game, he got three really good attacks in transition going to the basket. He's played a lot of basketball now on the way back, so I think he's pretty well ready to go, it seems.

"I wish it weren't true, but I think it is."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
21.6 3.2 1.6 39.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 10.5
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.6
BlocksP. Gasol 2.3