March 10, 2013
During the first quarter of today’s Bulls-Lakers game, ESPN’s Doris Burke reported that Derrick Rose’s hamstrings — and not his surgically-repaired left knee — are delaying his return.
Rose has been taking part in full-contact practices for a month and the big “news” on Friday was that he’s been medically cleared to play (although that should have been assumed given that he taking part in full-contact practices). Which naturally led to the obvious question: Why isn’t Rose playing?
As it turns out, Rose says his hamstrings are “on fire” after practice and that he won’t return until that isn’t the case.
This situation is starting to get a little out of hand. Rose says he isn’t ready to play. As an organization, the Bulls have been saying all the right things, specifically that they will not pressure Rose to return. Then a “team source” leaks that Rose has been cleared to play. Then Rose misses practice on Saturday. Then the hamstring story surfaces today. Meanwhile, there’s not much actual information being provided by Rose or the Bulls about where exactly Rose is at mentally or physically.
At this point, it almost feels like the best thing to do would be shut Rose down for the season. Don’t make him (or allow him) to come back at the tail end of the season and head into the playoffs untried and untested. Give him the time he needs to feel fully prepared and (as he put it) 110% ready to go.
In all reality, there’s no real sense in Rose playing this season, other than a little spiritual lift for the team and its fan base. It’s very unlikely the Bulls could compete for a title this season, even if Rose — and Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Rip Hamilton and Taj Gibson — were all completely healthy and ready to go.
Shutting Rose down for the year would end the endless questions and all the associated drama. Scratching this year off the record, Rose has given the Bulls absolutely everything he had and everything the team could have asked for. If there’s little or nothing to be gained by playing someone who isn’t mentally ready to play — especially someone like Rose who has earned a little good faith — then put this saga to an end and let this year’s unit move on.
That’s just my two cents.
March 8, 2013
A standard Bulls news day — Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton and Taj Gibson are all still out with injury — has been disrupted by some pretty amazing news: Derrick Rose’s doctor has cleared him to play!
But he won’t. Not yet anyway.
According to ESPNChicago’s Melissa Isaacson:
Derrick Rose’s doctor has cleared the Chicago Bulls’ star to play, a team source said, but his long-awaited return to the lineup won’t occur until he can confidently dunk off his left foot, Rose has told the team.
Rose, who had surgery to repair a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on May 12, has been videotaped dunking off each foot, but more casually than he would during a game. A source said that although he has been practicing and scrimmaging hard, he told the Bulls that until he feels “in his mind” he can confidently dunk off his left foot in a game situation, he is not 100 percent mentally ready to return to competition.
It’s positive news. Great news. But also a little bit of a letdown to everybody jonesing to see Rose play again.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: “He’s doing everything there is to do in practice so he’s been cleared from that standpoint. We’ll cross that bridge [whether Rose will play when he says hes ready] when we get there. We’re just going day by day. Just keep improving. There’s a lot of people that got to sign [off]. Obviously, he’s the most important piece. But from Jerry [Reinsdorf] on down everyone has to sign off on it.”
We just have to keep reminding ourselves: It’s a process. It’s a process. It’s a process…
Obviously, the team isn’t pressuring Rose to return before he’s ready. Nor should they be. But they want him to play.
The Bulls have told Rose that while they will support whatever decision he makes, they would prefer he return this season, the source said, “and get it under his belt, rather than wonder all summer if he could.”
I’m sure Rose is nervous and possibly even afraid about re-injuring his surgically repaired knee. How could he not be? Remember what Rose said about the injury last summer: “Dr. [Brian] Cole, the Bulls doctor [who also performed the subsequent surgery], came up to me and told me it was torn. I couldn’t believe it. That’s the closest thing to death, the closest to death I’ve got to right there, where it just seemed like the wind and everything was taken out [of me].”
That sure seems like a healthy does of fear to me.
Regardless of when Rose actually plays, at least this is another step forward in the process.
February 26, 2013
The Basketball Gods giveth…and they also taketh away. To wit: The good news of Derrick Rose dunking in warm-ups (click here for video) has been tempered by an injury to somebody else.
ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell writes: “An MRI on Taj Gibson’s left knee revealed a sprained MCL on Monday, according to a league source. The timetable on his return to the Chicago Bulls’ lineup is uncertain. The veteran forward injured his knee in the second half of Sunday night’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder and spent some extra time in the training room having it checked out.”
As the Chicago Tribune’s KC Johnson points out, at least it wasn’t a torn ACL, but Gibson will be on the shelf for at least a couple weeks. Meaning the shorthanded Bulls are even more shorthanded. And this team was already thin in terms of frontcourt depth.
Tom Thibodeau’s response was predictable.
Said Thibs: ”We’ve got enough. We have to do our jobs. We’ve shown when we do that, we’re capable of beating anyone.”
Conversely, the Bulls have also shown they’re capable of losing to anyone, as evidenced by a disappointing collection of losses to the likes of the Bobcats, Bucks, Hornets, Suns and Wizards.
And the Bulls don’t have an easy schedule coming up. Their next two games — at home against the Cavaliers (18-38) and 76ers (22-32) — aren’t terrifying. But after that they have a home game against the Brooklyn Nets (33-24) followed by a two-game road trip to Indiana (35-21) and San Antonio (45-13). They then come home for a game against the Jazz (31-26) followed by another three road games against the Lakers (28-30), Kings (19-38) and Warriors (33-23). Then there’s a three-game home stand against the Nuggets (36-22), Trail Blazers (26-30) and Pacers.
There aren’t many breaks in this stretch. And the injuries aren’t helping. But that’s just life in the NBA.
February 12, 2013
Many people — myself included — suspected Derrick Rose might return from left knee surgery late this month or early next month.
That now seems very unlikely.
During a Monday interview with USA TODAY Sports, Rose said: “I don’t have a set date [for my return]. I’m not coming back until I’m 110 percent. Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple of weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It’s just that I’m not coming back until I’m ready. … Right now, probably in the high 80s [percent]. Far away. Far away.”
That’s a bummer. But also not exactly unexpected. After all, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf insisted last summer that Rose would not return until there was every medical certainty that his knee was ready: ”I’m not going to let him back until the doctors tell me that it’s absolutely safe for him to come back. I made that mistake with Michael Jordan years ago where I think we let him come back too soon. It worked out OK, but it might not have. This time I’m not going to make that mistake. Until the doctors say he’s 100 percent and they put their reputations on the line, he’s not coming back.”
Not surprisingly, Bulls general manager Gar Forman agrees with that assessment: “Every injury’s different. People want to pigeonhole exactly when he returns, and I understand that. “Everybody would like to know [when Rose will return]. We would like to know the exact date. But what we really tried to do was stay true to the process and not skip steps as he went along his rehabilitation. … We wanted to make sure we did what was right for Derrick.”
So there you have it. Rose will be out for a while longer. Maybe quite a while. Maybe out until next year.
But when he does come back, Rose expects to be much improved: ”I know it’s going to be something good. With all this hard work I’ve been putting into my game, I’m doing stuff I never did before. I gained 10, 11 pounds of muscle. I don’t know what type of player I’m going to be. I just know that I’m going to be very good.”
Sounds like Muscle Watch 2012 has already begun.
In all seriousness, this is the best course of action. Even if Rose came back this season, it’s unlikely the Bulls could compete for a championship. Not unless the earth opened up and swallowed the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder. And maybe not even then. So why take chances? When he finally does make his return, the Bulls and their fans will want him completely healthy and then some.
February 11, 2013
Joakim Noah is having one of his best seasons as a professional basketball player. Some would say it’s his best season, although his Per 36 Minute numbers and various advanced metrics seem to indicate he was better last season.
At any rate, Noah has been playing at an extremely high level and was justly rewarded by being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
At the time, Noah said: “I’m extremely excited to be recognized as an All-Star for the first time. It’s more of a team honor than an individual honor, because it would not have been possible without my teammates and coaches. I look forward to representing my teammates and the Bulls organization during All-Star Weekend.”
That was then. This is now.
Noah has been struggling with plantar faciitis in his right foot. For those of you who may have forgotten, Noah developed the same condition in his left foot during the 2009-10 season, eventually missing 18 games. If you check the stats, Noah was putting up similar numbers in fewer minutes and shooting better that season. And his Player Efficiency Rating was higher then (18.8) than it is now (17.2).
This is what Noah said back in 2010: ”Every morning when I wake up and don’t feel that pain, it’s a bright spot. You wake up in the morning and are always scared that you’re going to get that horrible feeling where you feel like you can hardly walk, knowing that you have a game that same day, going to push against those big bodies. [Plantar fasciitis] is no joke, especially because running is a big part of my game. When I don’t have that, it’s tough.”
How tough? Well, check out Noah’s splits from 2009-10. In January, he averaged 13.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 blocked shots over 14 games. Then the plantar faciitis flared up. In February, Noah played only six games, averaging 5.7 points, 5.2 rebounds. He had only one blocked shot. He also played only six games in March, averaging 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds.
My point is, the injury derailed an All-Star-caliber season three years ago. And it may do it again.
After Friday night’s loss in Denver, Noah admitted the injury is still a problem.
Said Noah: ”There’s really not that much you can do right now. I just want to keep getting all the treatments, and I want to be out there on the court for my teammates.”
Noah doesn’t want to miss time, which is admirable. But at what cost? We know the Bulls will almost certainly make the playoffs. But we also know that without Derrick Rose at 100 percent — and it is unlikely he’ll be back at 100 percent this season even if he does return — the Bulls probably can’t expect to make a title run this season.
So why push it?
Because that’s sort of how Noah and these Bulls roll.
Still, given the seriousness of the injury and Noah’s history, sitting him for a while would probably be the most prudent course of action. And he really shouldn’t risk further injury at the All-Star Game, even though he really wants to play.
Said Noah: ”To me, [the All-Star Game is] pretty important. I mean, it’s not that important, but it’s something I want to do. I also have to do what’s right for the team. There’s obviously a bigger picture than the All-Star Game. We’ll see.”
As usual, time will tell.
February 2, 2013
Update: Kirk Hinrich (elbow) and Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) and Carlos Boozer (hamstring) are all out again tonight. Hinrich is expected to be out at least a week with this injury. Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, Rip Hamilton and Nate Robinson are starting for the Bulls, which means extended minutes for Gibson, Deng and Butler (Nazr Mohammed continues to fall in Tom Thibodeau’s eyes).
Atlanta Hawks Status Check:
Home Record: 16-7
Last 10 Games: 5-5
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 93-92 win over Toronto
PPG: 96.7 (14th)
Opponents PPG: 96.0 (9th)
Offensive Rating: 104.3 (16th)
Defensive Rating: 103.5 (9th)
Pace: 91.4 (16th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .515 (5th)
Turnover Percentage: .145 (28th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .731 (17th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .233 (26th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .165 (28th)
Opp. eFG%: .491 (13th)
Opp. TO%: .147 (5th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .187 (6th)
Leading scorer: Josh Smith (16.8)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Atlanta Injury Report:
Anthony Morrow: out (strained hip/sore back)
Zaza Pachulia: questionable (sore Achilles)
Lou Williams: out (torn ACL)
Chicago lost their first game of a five game road trip, but that isn’t the bad news. They may have lost Joakim Noah for an extended period of time with plantar fasciitis. The last time Noah dealt with this injury, it was in his other foot, and it kept him out for 18 games. The fact that Noah has been through this before could help his return, but it’s still too early to know.
“I know it’s hard to come back from,” Noah said. “But I’m on it a lot earlier than I was last time and I think the difference was that last time I just tried to keep fighting through it and keep fighting through it. And I’m just trying to be smart about it, because I just know that if I would have kept playing on it, even just today, I would probably have been out for a lot longer. I’m just trying to be smart.”
Being smart is the key. There is no reason to rush Noah back. If we are being honest, there is no reason he was playing nearly 39 minutes a night to begin with, but that’s a different story. Right now, Noah is the most important Bull. Chicago needs to take the same care with Noah as it is with Derrick Rose. If that means Noah misses 15 to 20 games, then so be it. It’s just unfortunate that the Bulls don’t have a Turkish center as Noah’s backup that just so happens to be an elite rebounder and elite defender. I mean, that would be really hard to find and if a team does have something like that, they probably wouldn’t just give it up.
Not only was Noah out, but Kirk Hinrich, Carlos Boozer and obviously Derrick Rose were missing as well. The Bulls put in a great effort, even led going into the fourth quarter, but eventually—and not surprisingly—ran out of gas down the stretch. Taj Gibson (16 points, nine rebounds) played the entire game and Luol Deng (18 points) sat for just four seconds, when he went out with an injury.
Four guys—Gibson, Deng, Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson—played more than 40 minutes.
Tom Thibodeau will surely say the Bulls have “more than enough to win with.” But that “more than enough” he is referring to keeps shrinking. Gibson and Deng playing 48 minutes in a game is a bad idea. The fact that the game also happens to be the first night of a back-to-back makes it worse.
It’s clear Thibs doesn’t trust many of the guys on this team. Nazr Mohammed started but played only eight minutes, Marquis Teague played just seven minutes, while Daequan Cook and Vladimir Radmanovic didn’t see the floor. It’s understandable that the guys at the end of the bench aren’t Thibodeau’s top choices, but he has to play them at this point. One of these days, he is going to have to realize that what’s causing these injuries are the high minutes. Deng has, knock on wood, stayed relatively healthy even with the extra load for the past three seasons. But as a center, Noah breaking down was more likely to happen.
Right now, the Bulls have ten healthy bodies. All of those bodies need to get in the game. Rip Hamilton needs to play more than 17 minutes like he did on Friday night. The minutes need to be spread out, and if Tom Thibodeau doesn’t understand that, he needs to be told. Killing Deng and Taj isn’t the answer to these injuries, it’s the start of more injuries.
The Bulls got crushed the last time they met Atlanta on the second night of a back-to-back, falling 92-75. Chicago got revenge the next time, holding the Hawks to 58 points in a 39-point shellacking.
While the few healthy Bulls were logging big minutes, the Hawks were resting, as they’ve been doing for some time now.
Atlanta hasn’t played since a Wednesday night win over the Raptors. Al Horford scored 22 points on 15 shots and also grabbed ten boards, Josh Smith posted 20 points and eleven rebounds and Kyle Korver hit 5-9 three pointers. Korver is averaging 18.4 points over his last five games, while shooting 59.0 percent from deep.
The Bulls had an uphill battle to begin with, playing a rested team on the second night of a back-to-back. Chicago is 4-6 playing on no rest, and that is when they were a much healthier team.
As for who is playing tonight, that’s still up in the air. Noah shouldn’t play; he needs to rest. Hinrich was sent back to Chicago, which doesn’t bode well for him playing tonight. Boozer said he is still stiff. No matter what the Bulls have, they’re going to give it their all. It’s just my hope that the minutes are spread out, because this situation is already bad, it shouldn’t be made worse.
December 4, 2012
Even as the Bulls prepare to face the division rival Indiana Pacers tonight, good news has arrived in the form of Derrick Rose actually sprinting in bursts at practice.
But wait. There’s more.
There are rumors he could be only weeks away from actually practicing with the rest of the team. According to an unnamed source: “That’s the belief that a couple of [the Bulls'] players are under.”
Well, don’t get too worked up just yet. Returning to practice — if that even happens in the time frame suggested by Mr. Anonymous — is not the same as playing in games. Furthermore, Bulls owners Jerry Reinsdorf has made it abundantly clear that Rose will not return until “doctors tell me that it’s absolutely safe for him to come back.”
Still, any news about Rose’s forward progress is good news.
December 3, 2012
Life without Derrick Rose continues for the Chicago Bulls.
Now they’ll also be living without Rip Hamilton for the foreseeable future.
Hamilton injured his left foot in Saturday night’s 93-88 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. And although Rip returned to knock down some clutch free throws, it was fairly obvious something was wrong.
After the game, Hamilton said: “I was able to put a little weight on it, so I could go back in the game. It wasn’t 100 percent or anything like that, but I felt I could help the team. When I jumped up, as soon as I came up I felt something pop in the bottom of my foot. Yeah [it scared me. The simple fact no one was around. They always say the worst injuries are when nobody is around and you don’t fall down. When it happened it scared me. I felt I did not want to put pressure on it, but it was not a whole lot of pain. [Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau] did not want to put me back at first. But I’m like, ‘I’m good, I’m good.’ I won’t know what it is until I get an MRI. We’ll see (Sunday).”
That MRI revealed that Hamilton has a torn plantar fascia.
In response, the Bulls issued the following statement: “Chicago Bulls guard Richard Hamilton had an MRI today that revealed he has a torn Plantar Fascia in his left foot. He will return to play as his symptoms permit.”
The words “day-to-day” and “out indefinitely” apply.
Sam Smith of Bulls.com suggested Rip could be back in a week or two, and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune noted that James Johnson missed only one game with a similar injury when he was with the team back in 2010.
Of course, Johnson was in his early 20s and had just entered the league. Hamilton is 34 and has logged 28,878 minutes over 753 games in his 14 NBA seasons.
It’s hard to know how this will play out. As Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times writes: “The team’s statement indicates that Hamilton’s status is day-to-day. But the torn plantar fascia is one of those injuries with a variance of recovery schedules. Some players return in a week. Others take months. Toronto Raptors shooting guard Alan Anderson is out three to six weeks with a torn plantar fascia.”
So Rip is out. He could be back soon. He could be gone for a while. Only time will tell.
Hamilton has been up and down this season. He’s scoring 13.9 points per game. His field goal percentage (45.5) and three-point percentage (37.5) are above his career averages of 45.0 and 34.8, respectively, and he’s knocking down a career-best 93 percent of his free throws. His Per 36 Minutes numbers are on par with his career averages. Ditto for his Effective Field Goal and True Shooting percentages.
However, his Player Efficiency Rating of 13.9 is below the league average and his Win Shares Per 48 Minutes of 0.085 is near a career-worst. At times, Thibodeau hasn’t trusted him to play in the fourth quarter.
Still, losing Hamilton for however long could be a significant blow to a team that was already struggling to deal with the loss of key bench players from previous seasons.
The general consensus is that shooting guard duties will fall to Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler during Hamilton’s absence. That’s the most likely scenario, although Thibs could also use Kirk Hinrich more at the two spot while letting Nate Robinson and rookie Marquis Teague share point guard duties.
Butler is having a fine season. He currently leads the Bulls in Effective Field Goal Percentage, True Shooting Percentage and Win Shares Per 48 minutes (.211). He’s also third on the team in PER (16.8) and has played very solid defense. That said, he occasionally looks lost on offense and seems reluctant to shoot.
As for Belinelli, he’s shooting a career-low 36.8 percent from the field, although his three-point percentage (40.7) and free throw percentage (89.5) are strong. He looks more lost on defense than Butler does on offense — which bodes very poorly for a player in Thibodeau’s system — and his PER of 9.7 is way below “replacement player” levels.
There are no easy answers. Like I said, Thibs could try using Hinrich at shooting guard, but he’s having his worst-ever season and has lost a half step (or more) defensively. And Robinson is a nice change-of-pace, spark-plug-off-the-bench type of player, but he’s woefully undersized even for a point guard and a tendency to either play great or out of control.
The Bulls are heading into a rough stretch of four games in five nights, starting with Tuesday night’s home game against the division rival Indiana Pacers. After that, they head to Cleveland and Detroit before returning home to play the New York Knicks on Saturday.
Once again, the Bulls are going to have to adjust on the fly.
July 13, 2012
According to his brother and manager Reggie Rose (via ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell), Derrick Rose’s rehab is going well and ahead of schedule.
Said Reggie: “He’s walking without a (brace). He’s way ahead of schedule. It’s just keeping him focused, and we’re not trying to rush him. Basically, just rehab, rehab, rehab. We haven’t put nothing basketball in his face.”
This is the second report that Rose’s rehab is ahead of schedule. Bulls team doctor Brian Cole, who performed Rose’s surgery, also said as much late last month.
Said Cole: ”Derrick is ahead of schedule. This was part of the plan established before surgery. This was not a consultation with another physician, but rather it’s working with another therapist in collaboration with the Bulls’ training staff.”
This is great news.
April 30, 2012
Stage 1: Denial.
“This…this can’t be happening. Not to Derrick. Not now. He’s already missed so many games. He’s hardly played in months. His body should be healthy and rested. And how could he have possibly been hurt making a jump stop? He’s done that, like, a million times. He didn’t even get touched on the play.”
Stage 2: Anger.
“Why Derrick? This isn’t fair! Why was he even in the game? What was Tom Thibodeau thinking?!”
Stage 3: Bargaining.
“Maybe he’s not hurt that badly. Maybe it’s just a hyper-extension or a sprain. Maybe he’ll only miss a couple games.”
Stage 4: Depression.
“Torn ACL? Out for the season? It’s over. It’s all over. The team’s playoff run is finished. I’m so bummed out I don’t think I can even watch the rest of their playoff games. There’s no point anyway.”
Stage 5: Acceptance.
“Okay. Derrick’s gone for now. But the team played without him for a large part of the season…and they kept winning. They may not win a championship, but if they do go down, these Bulls will go down fighting. There’s still basketball to be played.”