It was all good just a week ago. Maybe not all good, but last Monday, I was confident enough to attempt to talk Bulls fans off the ledge after Derrick suffered his devastating, season-ending knee injury.
But now, after Jo's severely sprained ankle and the Bulls facing a 3-1 deficit against the Sixers, things look pretty grim. All of a sudden, it seems like nothing can go right for the Bulls, on or off the court. On the brink of being eliminated from the postseason heading into Tuesday's Game 5, it's do or die for the Bulls and as remarkable as the regular season was -- don't forget, even in the shortened, injury-plagued season, they again finished with the league's best record -- it almost seems all for naught now, as the expected rematch with Miami in the conference finals seems unlikely occur and even if it did, without Derrick, even if Jo was back on the court by then, that would appear to be too tall of a task with all of the ailments this M.A.S.H. unit of a team has been through.
Regardless, what fans need to remember is that the core of the team is still relatively young and the championship window, if postponed, remains open for the future, no matter what happens Tuesday at the UC. On to this week's mailbag:
Do you think Rose's injury was almost inevitable? He went up without much contact, and apparently in the push off it just happened. Does that likely mean it was probably going to happen soon anyway that the ligament was somehow compromised, too tight, too weak, etc? i.e. if he were not in the game, then maybe it would have happened in the next game or soon afterward anyway? -- Ron S.
Ron, I definitely wouldn't say it was "inevitable," as first-time ACL injuries are unpredictable. I might buy the fact that Derrick was more susceptible to injuries because of what he's dealt with all season and going back to his explosive style of play without proper recovery time -- though it's unlikely that anyone would have been able to keep him off the court or "shut him down" for the playoffs -- but I believe it was truly a freak accident. It's also possible that he could have built upon what was a stellar game until that point and had a dominant postseason. We'll never know.
I believe Steve Nash would be a nice fit in a Bulls jersey next season, what do you think? -- Robert U.
Robert, I think Nash would be a good fit virtually anywhere, but I don't see him landing in Chicago for a variety of reasons. One, while some have suggested he could play a backup role, after playing at a high level and nearly leading an overachieving Phoenix team to the playoffs, I don't think he'd be willing to go to the bench, even if he would be able to start until Derrick returns. Also, while his playmaking in Derrick's absence and outside shooting fill needs for the Bulls, his up-tempo style and inferior defense don't necessarily mesh with the team's current personnel and style of play. Furthermore, if Nash does leave Phoenix, he's likely to sign with a contender and a Bulls team without Derrick, not to mention Luol Deng, probably isn't an upper-echelon squad entering next season. Lastly, while Nash might not be a max free agent, the Bulls are unlikely to have the financial flexibility to add a player who commands that type of salary and if they were willing to spend, Nash is unlikely to be a priority. Remember: Derrick will be back eventually.
Looking towards the draft, who do you think would be a good fit for the Bulls? -- Kyle R.
Kyle, by virtue of their regular-season record, the Bulls will again pick at the bottom of the first round and if somehow, athletic Mississippi State big man Arnett Moultrie, Syracuse scorer Dion Waiters or Washington shooter Terrence Ross fell in their lap, any of those players -- Moultrie gives them another frontcourt athlete with length, Waiters can play either guard spot and be a scoring sixth man and Ross has nice size and bounce on the wing to go with his shooting range -- would be ideal, but it's unlikely to happen. More realistically, I think Ross' Washington teammate, Tony Wroten, might not be a bad fit with his size, playmaking ability and defensive prowess -- he could potentially play with Derrick in an explosive backcourt on occasion, but would most likely be a backup -- but if he slips that far, it's probably because of concerns about his character and shaky jumper.
Kentucky's Marquis Teague is also intriguing, but his floor generalship still needs work, despite winning a national title, while Iona's Scott Machado was one of the nation's most underrated point guards, but his size and lack of competition raise questions. Shooters like Vanderbilt's John Jenkins, Ohio State's William Buford, Georgetown's Hollis Thompson and the Kentucky duo of Doron Lamb and Darius Miller could also make sense. Skilled big man Kevin Jones of West Virginia might deserve a look, as could Tennessee Tech scoring wing Kevin Murphy, versatile Memphis swingman Will Barton and a trio of somewhat raw big men in Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn, Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli and Syracuse's Fab Melo. The Bulls have the luxury of not needing a rookie to come in and be a star right away, but management could have a different approach with Derrick and potentially Lu missing significant time at the beginning of next season. Right now, the biggest potential needs are a shooter, a shot-creating playmaker, size if Omer leaves via free agency (as many expect) and depending on the thought process about Ronnie and Kyle, another swingman.
Is it reasonable to think Derrick as a 2 guard makes the most sense upon his return to the Bulls next season? -- Kristoffer K.
Kristoffer, I don't think so. While Derrick's mobility might not be the same initially, he still needs the ball in his hands to be most successful and contrary to popular belief, he is a point guard. I can see why some people might think, because of his scoring ability and size, he could slide over to the two, as he'd be defending less mobile players, but even if he doesn't have his full explosiveness immediately upon returning to the court, there's a good chance that he's still quicker than most players in the league. All that said, he is a point guard and that's the position he should play when he returns, unless the Bulls either acquire or develop an All-Star caliber player at the position or Rip isn't with the team anymore, since that's their starting shooting guard.
Keep the questions -- whether theyre about the Bulls, the rest of the NBA, other levels of basketball or life in general -- coming. Youll get a much better explanation, though not as instant, than you would via Twitter with only 140 characters. You can submit a question by commenting on this article below or by clicking here.