It is generally accepted there are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
Chicago has gone through the stages since Rose went down in Portland several weeks ago.
There was a blowout loss in Los Angeles while the team and the fanbase refused to accept the idea Rose was gone for the year. Anger arrived with the news of Derrick’s torn meniscus, fans fumed at the perceived unfairness of yet another lost season especially in what was billed as ‘the year’ for this core to make its championship run.
Bargaining came in the form of hoping Rose might return earlier than next season. That didn’t last as the team announced he was shelved for the remainder. Depression has continued, however, with a loss to one of the worst teams in the NBA in Utah and a meek home loss to Detroit. That barren run was punctuated by a morale-lifting win against the Heat.
The boost didn’t last long as another home defeat against Milwaukee sent this team to a new low and a third sub-80 point performance in New York confirmed the scale of the problem.
Now comes acceptance.
Mike Dunleavy sunk a game-winning three to rescue a win from the brink of defeat in Milwaukee Friday night. Yet again, the Bulls struggled to score points against another contender for the number one pick in the draft in June.
Joakim Noah has been inconsistent most of the season as he nurses injuries but picked the Bulls up off the deck by tying up Gary Neal to force a jump-ball that led to Dunleavy’s banked winner.
Tonight the Bulls head back home to host the Toronto Raptors. Toronto comes into the United Center with a very different rotation than they had just three weeks ago. Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy were all sent south to Sacramento in return for Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes.
The trade ultimately got Rudy Gay’s bloated salary off the deck and brought in another competent point guard in Vasquez. GM Masai Ujiri has now traded away Gay and Andrea Bargnani’s combined $60 million in owed salary while bringing in multiple future draft picks and assets that can be flipped again before the deadline for yet more picks or salary flexibility.
Kyle Lowry still runs the show exceptionally well north of the border but expect his name to continue to appear in trade gossip columns now the Raptors have a surplus of point guards on the roster. Practically anyone not named Jonas can be had at the right price of expiring deals and future assets.
Amir Johnson detonated on the Lakers in Kobe’s return game last week, pouring in 32 points on a variety of post moves and mid-range shots while also pulling down 10 rebounds in a frightening display of all-round ability. DeMar DeRozan added 26 points himself in his first game freed from the ‘your-turn-my-turn’ offense he and Gay shared.
Toronto comes to Chicago on the back of a 108-100 win at home against Philadelphia, though they are embracing tanking for the top pick this summer. DeRozan scored 27 and Terrence Ross had 24 including the game-icing three pointer in the final minute that let Toronto pull out the victory.