Chicago Bulls: Chicago Bulls

Thibs: LeBron 'up there with all-time best'

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
9:00
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Tom Thibodeau does not believe it's fair to try to compare LeBron James to other players at this point in his career. After all, James is still just 29 years old and doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. But that doesn't mean the veteran coach can't heap some heavy praise on James and his prolific, all-around game.

[+] EnlargeTom Thibodeau
Greg Bartram/USA TODAY SportsTom Thibodeau is just 2-8 against LeBron James as a head coach.
"Obviously, what he's done has been great," Thibodeau said Monday before the Bulls' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. "I think it would be unfair to him to judge him now. I think when you're judging greatness, it's having the ability to judge it over a long period of time. Until he's done, we won't know ultimately, but he's right up there with the all-time best. When you look at it, to do it year after year, he doesn't miss many games, he's been very durable. He's a great competitor, and he makes his team win."

Thibodeau would know. Although he had some success against James during his time as an assistant with the Boston Celtics, Thibodeau is just 2-8 in the playoffs against James as a head coach. He knows James has the rare ability to make a play even when the defense can be drawn up perfectly.

"He's a great player," Thibodeau said. "[There's] not many things he hasn't seen. Sometimes you could do it perfectly, and he still can hurt you. The idea is you want to make him work for what he gets, but you can't do it at the expense of leaving everyone else open. The challenge when you're guarding somebody like that is you're helping with him, but you're also getting back to the other guys. It requires multiple efforts and challenging shots and finishing your defense. When you're dealing with a star that passes the ball like that, what it does is it makes everyone else a lot better. He tests you in every different way."

James' test is one Thibodeau knows the Bulls must be prepared for this season. Although he does not like seeing him on the opposite end of the floor, Thibodeau appreciates how good James has become. He knows that in order to be the best, the Bulls are eventually going to have to get through the best player in the league.

"If you're a competitor, I think that's what you want," Thibodeau said. "When you're facing great teams and great coaches, that's what makes it challenging. We know it's not about one guy -- it's about the team. Same for us. When you're facing a great team, it requires you to make sure that you're committed to playing as a team. If we stray off and try to do it individually, we'll be in trouble."

In listening to Thibodeau speak about James, it's also clear the domineering head coach is appreciative of how James goes about his business. Thibodeau likes that James thinks for himself and does what he believes is right. That's why he never seemed shocked James came back to Cleveland for the second time earlier this summer.

"The one thing about LeBron is he stays true to himself," Thibodeau said. "I don't think he gets wrapped up in criticism or praise. He does what he thinks is right. He made a bold decision to leave. He made a bold decision to come back. But ultimately, he did what he felt was best for him and his family. I've got great respect for him as a competitor."

Rose enjoys challenge of LeBron, Cavs

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
10:41
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Derrick Rose does not like talking about one-on-one matchups. Like his coach Tom Thibodeau, he knows games are won and lost as a team. But that doesn't mean Rose didn't have a little extra motivation to perform well Monday night against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"It's basketball," Rose said. "I've been competing my whole life. I'm used to the stage, I'm used to playing against very good people, very good talent, and that's all they got on that team is talent, so you know, when you play against them, you know you got to come out here and ball."

Rose and Thibodeau got a firsthand look at James' new running mate, Kyrie Irving, this summer, when the trio represented Team USA in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball.

"Kyrie, he's a young guy that's gotten better and better," Thibodeau said. "He's a star. He's a superstar.

"He played great for Team USA. He can shoot, he can break you down off the dribble, he can make plays. I thought his defense was excellent throughout [the tournament]. He did a really good job. He's right up there at the top of the league. There's not much he can't do. Obviously, handling the ball [and] pick-and-rolls. He can play off the ball, too. But he's a very good player."

While it was clear from Rose's play that he was more amped than usual for this contest, the former MVP said he's feeling good as he gets set for the regular season. Monday's game marked the second set of back-to-backs he has participated in this preseason.

"After every game, Jen [Swanson] always tells me I should feel like I always do [even] more," Rose said. "That's how I feel right now, even though I played the back-to-back. Both games were hard, [but] I feel like I could always go out there and play again. Just taking my time, listening to everything that they tell me to do and really listening to my body and conditioning my body -- that's key."

Noah enjoys being at Ohio State: Joakim Noah likes being booed. He enjoys playing the role of villain to fan bases throughout the country. He took more pride in that role than usual Monday night at Schottenstein Center, the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the team the University of Florida, led by Noah, defeated in the 2007 national championship. Noah admitted to looking up at Ohio State's runner-up banner that hung in the rafters.

"It's because we won the championship," Noah said of the boos. "And then we beat them in football. It's all good, though."

Noah also took pride in the fact that Monday's game marked the first pair of back-to-backs he has participated in this season, as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.

"I feel good, and I feel like I can do more," he said. "I'm just happy. Compared to how I felt two weeks ago, I feel like it's just progressing, and that's a positive."

The last word: Noah, on Rose's 30-point performance: "It's big, especially with everything that he's gone through. He's the fastest guy on the court, by far. ... I like his mentality. He's aggressive, and I think we're going to be really good."

Rose's performance brings joy to locker room

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
10:09
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The most noticeable part of Derrick Rose's 30-point explosion was the impact it had on the rest of his teammates. The Chicago Bulls lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, but you wouldn't have guessed it from the smiles that lit up their faces while they talked about Rose performing at the highest level again. They watched as Rose drove to the rim and knocked down jumper after jumper in the first half. They nodded in appreciation as Rose's cuts opened up the floor for everybody else. This was the man they've been waiting to see, waiting to play with since Rose tore the medial meniscus in his right knee. This is the man who can lead the Bulls to a championship. Most importantly, this is the man who gives them hope.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteDerrick Rose's vintage effort against the Cavs served as a reminder to LeBron and the league that he and the Bulls are going to be a force in the East if they can stay healthy.
"It [brought] up old memories, man," Bulls power forward Taj Gibson said happily. "Just a good positive thing to take from this game. Derrick looked great."

For the first time in almost a year, Rose looked once again like the player he used to be before his initial ACL injury in the first game of the 2012 playoffs. He looked like the type of player who could put a team on his back and carry it to a different place. For the Bulls, watching Rose dominate offensively was like watching an old favorite movie for the first time in a while. His play brought up the confidence level of everybody around him.

"You're talking about an MVP-caliber player," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "So it makes the game easy for everybody. He's getting easy baskets in transition, he's attacking in the pick-and-roll, he's in the paint making plays, so it's a positive."

It's also a large negative for the rest of the league if Rose can continue turning back the clock like this. While there is no such thing as a statement game in October, Rose offered up a large reminder to LeBron James and the rest of the league that he and the Bulls are going to be a force in the Eastern Conference if they can stay healthy.

Rose didn't want to come out and say this was his best preseason game to date, but it was obvious after listening to those around him speak: This wasn't just Rose's best game in the preseason, this was Rose's best game in a while. He wanted to send a message to James and Kyrie Irving, the player who started ahead of him on Team USA this summer, that he can still be the dominant force he used to be.

"The team is feeling more comfortable with me being on the floor," Rose said. "Feeling comfortable with me just picking my spots, getting people involved and just trying to pick spots in the game where I can really affect the game."

Rose is such a transcendent talent, and so important to the Bulls' future, that he has the ability to affect more than just the game. On this night, he affected the entire organization's mood. The relief from Bulls personnel throughout the building was palpable. This was the man they hoped they would see again. This is the man who can deliver them to where they want to go.

"It feels great," Bulls center Joakim Noah said of Rose's performance. "Just seeing him move like that is big for our team. He's definitely one of our big guns -- he's our big gun -- so just to see him play like that, I know how hard he's worked to get there. I just feel like if we just keep improving we can do something special."

Jimmy Butler out with sprained left thumb

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
5:26
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler will not play Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers because of a sprained left thumb. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday when the Bulls return to Chicago.

"As of right now it's just day-to-day," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. We'll know more after [Tuesday]."

Butler injured the thumb during Sunday night's win over the Charlotte Hornets after going for a steal in the first quarter. He stayed in the game for a few more minutes after the initial injury but was taken out and never returned. He wore a splint on the thumb while working out on Monday night.

Veteran guard Kirk Hinrich will start in Butler's place.

As for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah's status, Thibodeau was non-committal regarding whether or not they would play in the fourth quarter as they did on Sunday night against the Hornets. For the first time in almost a year, Rose was on the floor on Sunday to close out a game. The Bulls have taken a cautious approach with both Rose and Noah as each recovers from knee surgery.

Derrick Rose takes next step in Bulls win

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
11:36
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
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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.

Butler out with sprained thumb

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
8:19
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
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CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler will miss the rest of Sunday night's preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets after he injured his left thumb. The injury, dubbed a sprained thumb by the Chicago Bulls, occurred with about five minutes left in the first quarter, when Butler went for a steal. He stayed in the game at the time but was taken out toward the end of the first quarter and never returned.

Butler, who is having the best preseason stretch of his career, has been the Bulls' most consistent all-around player since training camp opened.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said Butler would be re-evaluated Monday. While Thibodeau wasn't sure of the exact protocol, it's likely Butler will get an MRI to make sure his ligaments are intact. Thibodeau did say there was some swelling in the thumb.

"It's a sprain," Thibodeau said. "So they'll know more [Monday]. We'll see."

As for Butler's availability Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Thibodeau said that would be determined later.

"I don't know yet," Thibodeau said. "[Athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka] basically told me it's day-to-day right now, until they can re-examine him and then go from there."

There's a method to Thibs' madness

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
11:37
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- There are 5.3 seconds left in overtime of an otherwise meaningless preseason game against the Detroit Pistons, and Tom Thibodeau is coaching as if it were Game 7 of the NBA Finals. With his team down by two points, the Chicago Bulls head coach is screaming at little-used second-round pick Cameron Baristow to deny the basketball.

"Five! Five! Five!" Thibodeau barks at the officials while holding five fingers in the air.

The ball is inbounded just before the officials blow their whistles. The Bulls have to foul. Pistons big man Greg Monroe hits his free throws and pushes the lead to four points with just 0.9 seconds left. Game over, right?

Not for Thibodeau.

He decides to use a 20-second timeout to draw up a play that results in a long-range jumper for second-year man Tony Snell. The Bulls lose 111-109, but as usual, Thibodeau has drained every possible learning moment out of the game. He has shown his team one more time that every step counts. There are no wasted teaching moments for a team that wants to win a championship.
[+] EnlargeThibodeau
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsBulls head coach Tom Thibodeau's antics might seem strange to some, but his players understand and respect him.

While the rest of the basketball world might laugh at the way Thibodeau berates the officials throughout the three-hour affair, his players and coaches understand there is a method to Thibodeau's madness. That said, just like fans, even the players have to shake their heads at how hard Thibodeau coaches all the time.

"I think everybody does," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said with a laugh. "But you can't be [surprised]. It's just who he is, man. It's just who he is. He just loves the game that much. I think we're just used to it. I think everybody else that's around or just fans of the Bulls, they're not used to it yet. But as far as the team, we've been in so many practices with him, been around him so many times, that we're used to it."

But does that mean it's good for the Bulls in the long-term? Thibodeau was asked recently if he feels he puts too much emphasis on the preseason.

"It's competition," he said. "And it establishes who you're going to be. I don't subscribe to the notion that games aren't important, regular-season games aren't important, nothing's important. Well, everything's important. If you study winning and you study guys who have won big, everything's important."

But at what point does that constant drive start to wear on a team? It's something fans continue to wonder as they watch Thibodeau lead the Bulls into his fifth season as head coach. It's a question that has popped up sporadically during Thibodeau's tenure, especially after the regular-season finale the past season in Charlotte, in which Thibodeau decided to play Jimmy Butler 48 minutes when many fans wanted him to rest the starters for the playoffs.

Thibodeau doesn't believe in that mentality. Tuesday's game, on the second night of a back-to-back in the preseason, is just the latest example of that. In this case, it wasn't that the veteran coach played any key players too many minutes. Rose played only 14, while All-Star center Joakim Noah didn't play as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. It was that Thibodeau, unlike some other coaches in the league, coached this game as hard as any other. He wanted to win this game just as badly as he does any other.

While that kind of passion can be draining over time, it's very clear Thibodeau's message continues to resonate with the rest of his players. Sure, there are times they might get tired of listening to him scream and yell, but they still respect him. His hunger for winning is usually matched day in and day out by his players.

When, after Monday's loss to the Washington Wizards, Noah was asked why he was diving on the floor for loose balls in the preseason, he looked almost incredulous.

"There's a loose ball out there. You just got to go get it," Noah said. "I'm supposed to not dive for it? You got to dive for it. That's our job."

That's the way Noah and his teammates have been trained by Thibodeau. Although Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson deserve a lot of credit for identifying players who can play in Thibodeau's system, the 56-year-old coach is the man who has raised the bar for this organization in terms of effort every night.

"It just shows our character," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said in regard to Tuesday's overtime affair. "You got guys that really want to win and really want to win big. Everybody's understanding the situation we're in. We have a team good enough to go deep in the playoffs, and that's on guys' minds, and guys are really competing and try to show the coach, like, "Hey, I can play, Coach. I can do good on this team." That's good that everybody's challenging each other every game."

But will that intensity burn out over time? Will those orders fall on deaf ears if the championships don't start to appear? Only time will tell, but in the moment, nothing has changed for Thibodeau and the Bulls. The players still believe he is the man who will lead them to the top, and he is still determined to make every second on the floor count.

Nikola Mirotic opening eyes in Bulls camp

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
2:23
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Tom Thibodeau is not an easy man to impress.

The veteran coach has lived and breathed basketball his entire professional life so it's not often Thibodeau goes out of his way to praise young players early on, especially rookies making their first appearance on an NBA stage.

[+] EnlargeNikola Mirotic
AP Photo/Lefteris PitarakisNikola Mirotic quickly impressed the Bulls' coaches and players.
But Nikola Mirotic is not your average rookie.

The 23-year-old has been playing professionally in Europe for years and has already started opening eyes in his first few days with the Chicago Bulls.

"I thought he had a really good first day," Thibodeau said after Wednesday's practice. "And then after watching the film it was even better than I thought."

The Bulls' front office has always been high on Mirotic since picking him up on draft day three years ago, and the early reviews of Mirotic's game have been strong from Thibodeau and his players.

(Read full post)

Doug McDermott learning 'Bulls' way'

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
9:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
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CHICAGO -- Doug McDermott wasn't about to take any chances. As he got ready to go to sleep Monday night, in advance of the Chicago Bulls' first official practice of the year on Tuesday, the rookie from Creighton did what many young people would do in preparation for their first day on the job: He set three alarms so he wouldn't be late for work.

“The butterflies came more [Monday] night," McDermott said after completing his first practice. "Once I step on the floor, it's just basketball. [Monday] night, I set like three alarms. I woke up every hour. I just had Thibs' voice in my head. I don't want to miss my first day. I was here bright and early. The nerves are gone. It's just basketball now, and I'm glad we're finally underway."

The Bulls have been high on the sharp-shooting swingman for several years and were thrilled when they swung a deal on draft night to acquire his rights from the Denver Nuggets. They believe he can become a shooting presence alongside Derrick Rose for years to come -- a fact Tom Thibodeau has acknowledged since the moment McDermott became a Bull.

"So far, what I'm seeing from Doug, in the USA setting and summer league, is his ability to shoot," Thibodeau said. "And I see how people react to his ability to shoot. When you have someone like that, it opens up the floor."
[+] EnlargeDoug McDermott
Jack Arent/NBAE via Getty ImagesWith the nerves appropriate for a Jordan-era Midwestern kid, Doug McDermott couldn't sleep the night before his first Bulls practice.

Aside from the shooting prowess, the key for McDermott -- and the Bulls -- is the rookie seems to already have a good feel for what it takes to be a Bull in Thibodeau's system. It will take time for him to earn the veteran coach's trust, especially on the defensive end, but Thibodeau usually gives the benefit of the doubt to players who work hard all the time. McDermott wants to become one of those guys, and the fact that he is already hearing Thibodeau's voice in his dreams means he's adapting quickly to his new way of life in the NBA.

“I went to bed early, woke up and thought it was time to go, but I looked at my phone and it was like 3:30 [a.m.]," McDermott said. "That's part of what's made me good. I'm kind of a perfectionist. I like being on time, and that's kind of the Bulls' way, anyway."

Now that practices have officially begun, McDermott's new teammates just want him to get used to playing in the NBA. Rose noticed McDermott seemed to be pressing during Tuesday's first workout.

"I think Doug's biggest problem right now is just his nerves," Rose said. "His nerves are up right now, and I think just playing in his first game or just playing in preseason is going to calm down his nerves so that he's more relaxed. The teammates, us as a team, we're going to really have to put our hands around him and calm him down because he's a great player, but nerves have something to do with just coming in and starting in your first year."

Like most rookies, McDermott, the reigning college national player of the year, admitted the speed of the game is different in college and the pros. He knows it's going to take time to adjust, and he knows he's going to have to deal with the initiations from veterans that come during many rookies' first year -- Rose joked McDermott didn't bring doughnuts to the gym Tuesday -- but the affable rookie is enjoying being a Bull. Given how hard Thibodeau can be on players, that alone is a good first sign for an organization so high on McDermott's potential.

“It's crazy -- being a Midwest kid growing up, I have to pinch myself at times," McDermott said. "Driving by those banners is pretty cool. I'm not going to take it for granted. I know how lucky I am and how blessed I am to be here and just want to take advantage of it."

Rose and Davis? Imagine the possibilities

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
11:24
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
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Anthony Davis Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesChicago native Anthony Davis is quickly becoming one of the best players in the NBA.
Anthony Davis' play for Team USA has made the collective mind of Chicago basketball dance.

Would Davis, a Chicago native, come back home to team with Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls? That scenario is still several years off, but that doesn't mean that fans can't enjoy the pair together in the moment as they did over the weekend when the Perspectives Charter product teamed up with Rose, the pride of Simeon High School, for the first time Saturday night at the United Center.

"It was a lot of fun," Davis said of playing with Rose. "The things that he do can't be taught. For us to go out there and be with each other for a couple weeks total, and then go out there and play with that much chemistry, that much effort, says a lot."

It also has to make Bulls fans salivate at the possibilities.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose leads an impressive collection of Chicago talent in the NBA and on its way.
Chicago basketball is gaining national acclaim again thanks to Rose, Davis, Simeon product Jabari Parker, Marshall product Patrick Beverley, and upcoming Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor from Whitney Young and Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander from Curie.

All are talented. Rose became the youngest NBA MVP in league history during the 2010-11 season. Beverley was selected to the All-NBA defense second team. Many believe Parker will be the NBA Rookie of the Year this season with the Milwaukee Bucks. Okafor and Alexander are expected to follow Parker's lead into the league in the near future.

But it's Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans' All-Star center, who in just two short years has become one of the best players in the NBA. Davis is still in his rookie deal. The Pelicans have a team option in that deal for the 2015-16 season and then they can offer a qualifying deal a year later. Using history as a guide, most young stars such as Davis have signed another extension with the team that drafted them. Rose did it, as well as Kevin Durant, LeBron James and, most recently, Kyrie Irving with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even Kevin Love, who is expected to officially become a Cavalier in the coming days, signed an extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves before forcing his way out.

So Chicago must wait a few years to see if Davis would ever seriously consider coming home. But at 21, it's not as if Davis is hitting the peak of his career. He's just getting started -- and only getting better. While it's still several years too early to consider him as a possibility for the Bulls, or any other team, the reality of the collective bargaining agreement means front offices must consider all potential scenarios years into the future.

This Bulls team, with Rose at the forefront, could look totally different in three years. Joakim Noah will be 30 this season and has just two years left on a team-friendly contract. Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Rose all have contracts that expire after the 2016-17 season. While that doesn't make the Bulls that much different than many other teams in the league, it is a reminder that the window for this current Bulls core isn't as wide as it used to be.

It's also a reinforcement that when the window for this group comes to a close, a 24-year-old Davis in Chicago would open a brand new one. Coach Tom Thibodeau and his team aren't focused on that right now, but it's a sure bet it has crossed the minds of Gar Forman and John Paxson -- especially as they watch Davis and Rose on Team USA.

As Team USA continues to come together over the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see how Davis and Rose play together, assuming the general soreness that has kept Rose out the past three days subsides. Both players enjoy playing for their country, but representing their city seems to mean a lot to them, as well.

"Here in Chicago, it's kind of like basketball is everything," Rose said. "You go down south, football is everything. But here you go to a high school game, and you won't be able to get in because it's so packed."

The United Center is almost always packed no matter what. But if Rose and Davis ever end up playing together on the Bulls, the electricity everyone felt in the building Saturday would be there on a nightly basis thanks to two homegrown stars.

Anxiety all part of game in Rose watch

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
12:55
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
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That feeling isn't going away: that feeling fans have every time Derrick Rose jumps, every time he makes a cut. And that "every time" -- like Tuesday, when he has some soreness in his knee and he can't practice -- isn't going to go away for a long time.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose faces what figures to be a season-long test to prove he can regain his form and stay healthy.
It's in the pit of most fans' stomachs because of recent history. That's because Rose has barely been on the floor the past few years. Forty-nine games in the last three seasons, to be precise, and just 10 in the last two because of two serious knee injuries. After all the rave reviews in regards to Rose's performance the past few weeks, Tuesday was a sobering reminder about the uncertainty of Rose's future.

While medical experts -- and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau -- have all said that soreness is a normal reaction as Rose returns from the torn medial meniscus in his right knee from last November and the torn ACL in his left knee from over two years ago, it's still a sobering thought for fans to think that Rose's status will perpetually be day-to-day for the foreseeable future.

But that's the reality of the situation. Rose, and the Bulls' training staff, have put an inordinate amount of time into keeping his body in the best shape possible as he attempts this latest comeback. Bulls director of sports performance Jen Swanson has been at Rose's side during trips to Las Vegas and Chicago with Team USA. Rose has talked openly about how much better he is at taking care of his body at this point in his career.

"It's totally different," Rose said on July 30 in Las Vegas of his new routine. "Waking up making sure that I'm hydrated, drinking six to eight bottles of water every day. Things that I thought I would never do: eating, taking supplements, just for my blood flow, just everything. Stretching at night, using a band, using a roller, just becoming a professional.

"When I remember being in my rookie year and I used to see all the older players stretching and using trainers to stretch them I didn't think nothing about it. But now I'm kind of mad because I didn't take advantage of it when I was younger. Whenever I talk to these younger players, I try to tell them, get the maintenance on your body. Get massages. Make sure you're always getting treatment, because you're going to need it for this long career."

Rose still expects to have a long career and has prepared his body for the grind of many NBA seasons, but nobody knows whether his body will be able to hold up this season and beyond. That uncertainty hovers over Team USA, the Bulls and the city of Chicago, and it's part of what makes this Rose comeback so compelling. Every day is a new story, a new chance for Rose to take another step forward and prove again he is one of the best basketball players in the world.

Nervousness will be the prevailing emotion until Rose can prove he can stay healthy for an entire season. Until then, every move he makes will be watched with more trepidation than excitement, a sad twist given how much joy Rose's game has the ability to provide if his body will allow him to stay on the floor this season.

Kaplan on Rose: Knee soreness normal

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
11:34
AM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
Derrick RoseNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose has sat out the past two Team USA practices to rest his surgically repaired knees.
If Derrick Rose is experiencing soreness in his surgically-repaired knees, it likely can be viewed as a normal part of the rehab process, according to ESPN medical analyst Dr. Michael Kaplan.

"I think it's not something that you need to necessarily get nervous about," Kaplan said Wednesday on the "Carmen & Jurko Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "Obviously, when it's Derrick Rose, everybody does, and I think that's normal from a fan ... and particularly for a guy who has had both knees go sour. I understand it, but when you have two major operations like he's had and when you come back and compete at the level in which he's competing, you can get some synovitis, a little inflammation in the joint and it starts to get a little sore when you're pushing it to the degree he's pushing it. Then you rest it a bit. You let it quiet and that's what they are doing.

"I don't think they are seeing or finding anything clinically that's making them worry to the extent that they are working it up and saying 'OK, this is something that we are going to take him out.' They are talking about playing him tonight. I don't think this is something that everybody needs to have alarm about."

Rose tore the ACL in his left knee in April 2012 and the medial meniscus in his right knee in November 2013. After scoring seven points in 24 minutes in Team USA's 95-78 victory over Brazil on Saturday -- his first competition since Nov. 22, 2013 -- Rose has sat out of full practices the past two days.

A source familiar with Rose's condition told ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell that Rose has been bothered by knee soreness, but he still is expected to play against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.

"I think he's probably having a little soreness in both his knees to the extent that he is putting the kinds of stress on his knees now that he has not had for some time: the torsional stresses from changes of direction, the moves that we're accustomed to with Derrick and the beautiful kind of poetry on the court," Kaplan said. "These are the things we had to wait for. He waited longer than most and that's appropriate that he did.

"[Vikings running back] Adrian Peterson went back quicker because he doesn't do the same kind of things that Derrick does and he was smart to wait a little bit longer after his ACL. [Rose is] being appropriately cautious. At 25, he wants to play a long time. You have to be careful with these knees. You don't get second chances necessarily. If you tear your ACL a second time, it's pretty much game over."

Asked about playing Wednesday night, Rose said Tuesday, "Hopefully I am. I didn't do anything [Tuesday]. I just got treatment and [Tuesday] is just really another rest day. I'm really, really happy with where I am right now as far as health-wise. I'm just trying to take my time and get rest. We have a long schedule ahead of us, and I'm just trying to get as much rest as possible."

2014-15 schedule: 10 games to watch

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
5:04
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Derrick RoseMark Halmas/Icon SMIDerrick Rose and the Bulls will get their first look at Carmelo Anthony on opening night in New York.
Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls are gearing up for one of the most hyped seasons in recent memory. Coach Tom Thibodeau's team enters the season with a legitimate chance to contend for a title depending on Rose's health.

The eyes of the basketball world will be focused on Rose as he tries to make his way back from a second serious knee injury.

With that in mind, let's take a look at 10 of the most intriguing games on the Bulls' 2014-15 schedule (see the full slate here), which was released Wednesday:

KnicksBulls at New York Knicks, Oct. 29: The regular-season opener comes against a player the Bulls tried to land this summer in Carmelo Anthony and marks Rose's first regular-season game in almost a year. Rose and Joakim Noah have talked in the past about how much they enjoy playing on the Madison Square Garden stage.

CavaliersCleveland Cavaliers at Bulls, Oct. 31: The energy for this game is already palpable in Chicago. It will be Rose's sixth home game since tearing his ACL in the first game of the 2012 playoffs. It will also be LeBron James' first appearance at the United Center since coming back to the Cavaliers. The UC will be rocking on Halloween.

ClippersBulls at Los Angeles Clippers, Nov. 17: This showdown between Rose and Chris Paul marks the start of a tough seven-game, two-week trip that will send the Bulls coast to coast.

KnicksKnicks at Bulls, Dec. 18: Carmelo Anthony makes his first appearance at the United Center since spurning the Bulls in free agency. How many times will he say his new deal "wasn't about the money?"

Lakers Los Angeles Lakers at Bulls, Dec. 25: Carlos Boozer makes his return to the United Center with a Lakers team that faces off for the first time against former teammate Pau Gasol. Given the injury woes Rose and Kobe Bryant have dealt with, fans (and the NBA) have to be hoping for a Christmas present of two healthy stars.

BucksMilwaukee Bucks at Bulls, Jan. 10: A Bucks game in January doesn't usually get the juices flowing, but this game marks former Simeon standout Jabari Parker's first game as a professional in Chicago. Rose vs. Parker should be a lot of fun to watch for years to come.

HeatMiami Heat at Bulls, Jan. 25: Luol Deng didn't get a chance to return to the United Center last season after being traded to Cleveland. This season, he comes in with a revamped Heat team that still has Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Deng, who spent nine-plus seasons with the Bulls, likely will get a nice ovation from Chicago fans.

SpursBulls at San Antonio Spurs, March 8: The Bulls will try to knock off the defending champs for the second straight season on their home floor. Many believe the Bulls have tried to set up a Spurs-like roster, and Thibodeau again comes face-to-face with the organization he calls the "gold standard" of the NBA.

ThunderBulls at Oklahoma City Thunder, March 15: A nationally televised game featuring Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Rose should be fun to watch. The Bulls have not fared well against the Thunder, dropping five of their past six games against them, but this gives them another chance to turn the numbers around.

CavaliersBulls at Cavaliers, April 5: An intriguing matchup between the Central Division rivals comes late in the season. Playoff seeding and a division crown could be on the line.

Bigger Team USA role should benefit Rose

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
10:57
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Derrick RoseGarrett W. Ellwood/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose will have to take on a bigger role with Team USA after the loss of Kevin Durant and Paul George.
Tom Thibodeau spoke with a sense of relief during Team USA's training camp in Las Vegas two weeks ago. The Chicago Bulls head coach and Team USA assistant was ecstatic that Derrick Rose was back on the floor and performing at a high level, playing with the same speed and explosiveness that he had shown before his first knee injury in April 2012.

But most importantly, Thibodeau was relieved because he knew Rose wasn't going to have to be "the man" on a talented USA team as he takes the next step in his comeback from a torn meniscus suffered in November 2013. He wasn't going to have to be relied upon to carry the scoring load each game like he usually does with the Bulls.

"I think this is why [this camp] is so good for him," Thibodeau said on July 29, the second day of Team USA's camp. "Because of the talent level that's here. It's a chance for him to measure himself to see where he is. He doesn't have the burden to carry the load for a team."

Things have changed since then for Team USA -- and for Rose, who came to Chicago for practices Thursday and Friday before playing in an exhibition game against Brazil on Saturday at the United Center.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose likely won't just be primarily a facilitator on offense for Team USA anymore.
Paul George suffered a gruesome broken leg in Team USA's scrimmage a few days later. Then Kevin Durant left the team Thursday because of "physical and mental fatigue." In the span of just a few days, the dynamic of the next month changed for Rose. He has gone from a dynamic facilitator to a player whom Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski probably is going to have to lean on more offensively when the World Cup of Basketball starts Aug. 30 in Spain.

It's a challenge that Rose will assuredly embrace, but it's fair to say he wasn't expecting it just a couple weeks ago.

While there are plenty of scorers left on Team USA, including James Harden and Stephen Curry, both of whom have international experience, Rose will now be counted on more offensively. Although Thibodeau remains eternally confident in his star, it's a role that has to leave him a little uneasy given the circumstances.

Rose has only played in 49 games in the past three years because of all the injuries and just 10 in the past two because of two serious knee injuries. Thibodeau wanted to ease him back, but that doesn't appear to be as likely now -- and that's probably a good thing for the Bulls.

In the immediate aftermath of George's injury, some fans and undoubtedly some in the Bulls' organization had to wonder whether Rose should continue to play for Team USA this summer. What if he suffered another injury? George's misfortune was another reminder that injuries can occur anywhere.

Rose hasn't played much in three years, and Team USA has given him a platform to show what he can do on the world stage. It will be a great litmus test for him to see where he is mentally and physically heading into the Bulls' season with high expectations.

It will also give Rose a chance to prove to himself and to the rest of basketball that he can still be the go-to guy on a team when needed. Thibodeau and the rest of the coaching staff will continue to watch Rose closely, and they know that there will still be rust for the former MVP to shake off, but now he will have to shed it even quicker than expected.

If Rose's week in Vegas was any indication, that shouldn't be much of a problem. Players and coaches raved about how well he was playing, and Rose even acknowledged how much more fun he was having on the floor.

"I usually say whatever the game needs, that's what I'm going to put into the game," Rose said. "And I learned that by actually playing through my mistakes with the first injury. Just seeing that I was forcing everything, it wasn't the way that I was playing. I wasn't enjoying the game like I was before the injury. Now it feels like I appreciate it a little bit more and just enjoy being on the court and playing the game that I love playing."

He'll have even more chances to showcase his skills now that George and Durant are no longer on the roster. In the short term, that fact might make the Bulls and Thibodeau a little nervous, but it should pay off in a major way for the Bulls in the long term if Rose can stay healthy throughout the tournament.

Lillard continues to learn from Rose

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
1:37
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
As far as the calendar is concerned, Derrick Rose, 25, is only a year and almost three months older than Damian Lillard, but the Chicago Bulls superstar is much older in professional basketball years.

Rose is entering his seventh season in the league while Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers star point guard, is coming into just his third year. The pair will reunite beginning Thursday in Chicago as part of the continuation of Team USA's training camp as it prepares for the World Cup of Basketball in Spain later this month.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose and Damian Lillard
AP Photo/Don RyanDamian Lillard has looked to Derrick Rose's game for pointers to improve his own.
For Lillard, the opportunity to play with Rose, who Lillard has patterned parts of his own game after, is something special.

"It was a lot of fun," Lillard said of his Vegas training camp experience with Rose last month. "Not only to play against him but to play with him, to watch his habits. I think it's a great thing for a guy coming up in this league to be able to play with and against a guy who's been an MVP, been to the conference finals. Who's been as successful as he's been. You want that same thing for yourself. I think that's great."

Lillard, who was drafted sixth overall in 2012 out of Weber State, acknowledged during his rookie year that he watched a lot of tape of Rose's game before coming into the NBA. Lillard appreciated how quick and explosive the Bulls' point guard was to the rim. Given Rose's struggles to stay on the court the past few seasons, limiting him to just 49 games in the last three seasons, Lillard was waiting to see how Rose looked.

The early returns have been great.

"He looks healthy," Lillard said. "He looks just as explosive as he was. He doesn't look like he's lost any of that explosiveness. Obviously, the rhythm and just everything hasn't come back [yet]. I think you got to play more and at this level [of] competition get completely back as far as game-wise. But he looked good. He looked like he was right on track to still be Derrick Rose."

Rose finds it a bit strange to have been in the NBA long enough now to have players such as Lillard following in his footsteps.

"It's weird playing against younger players," Rose said. "This is going on my seventh year so it's kind of weird. I'm not old, but at the same time I'm older than a lot of players that's here. I've been doing the Select Team and USA Basketball ever since I got in the league so I've been around for a long time. I'm happy I didn't lose sight of all my goals."

Rose's biggest one this year is proving he can stay on the floor. Thanks to two knee surgeries, he played in just 10 games over the past two seasons. As the years have gone by Rose has matured in different areas, including taking much better care of his body, a pearl of wisdom he wants to give to younger players.

"It's totally different," Rose said of his physical preparation. "Waking up making sure that I'm hydrated, drinking six to eight bottles of water every day. Things that I thought I would never do: Eating, taking supplements, just for my blood flow, just everything. Stretching at night, using a band, using a roller, just becoming a professional. When I remember being in my rookie year and I used to see all the older players stretching and using trainers to stretch them I didn't think nothing about it. But now I'm kind of mad because I didn't take advantage of it when I was younger.

"Whenever I talk to these younger players I try to tell them, get the maintenance on your body. Get massages. Make sure you're always getting treatment because you're going to need it for this long career."

Lillard says the pair have had some casual conversations over the past couple years but nothing too in depth up to this point. Still, the 24-year-old Lillard, a former Rookie of the Year himself, appreciates the position he's been put in alongside one of the players he watched before coming to the league. That point is underscored by the fact that Lillard, like Rose, has become one of the global faces for Adidas basketball over the past year.

"It's special," Lillard said. "That I could be one of the faces of a brand alongside him and help push that brand and kind of try to make it bigger. And have people gravitate towards his story, my story and that whole Adidas brand. I think that's great for myself."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5