Defining Rose's 'next step' in recovery process

869649.png

Defining Rose's 'next step' in recovery process

The definition of "more contact" for Derrick Rose, as Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau described the "next step" in the former league MVP's ongoing recovery process is controlled games of two-on-two, CSNChicago.com has learned.

Thibodeau acknowledged after Tuesday's practice at the Berto Center that Rose was engaged in contact drills with his teammates, but as is typical for the tight-lipped coach, he wouldn't divulge further details.

CSNChicago.com talked to multiple people who witnessed Rose's participation Tuesday -- in fact, several members of the organization, from his teammates to Bulls management, observed the proceedings -- and they spoke favorably about the All-Star point guard's progress, though all were only cautiously optimistic and none were willing to speak to a timetable for his eventual return to the court this season.

"He's looking good. He's getting back to where he needs to be. He's just working. He'll be all right," one observer told CSNChicago.com. "He's getting there into game shape. He's working on it, just taking his time. He's going to be ready, whenever he's ready to come back.

"That's whether Rose showed flashes of his old form just going to have to wait. He's getting right. I can't really say too much on that," he continued. "He's a basketball player. He's going to compete. Anybody steps on the floor against him, they'd better be ready. He's going to compete."

According to a separate source with knowledge of the situation, the game was a closely-supervised matchup between Rose and reserve big man Taj Gibson against rookie point guard Marquis Teague and backup center Nazr Mohammed.

Not that the Bulls or other NBA teams don't engage in one-on-one or two-on-two games during practices for either enjoyment or development, but this was unique, as Thibodeau made the affair very situational, putting Rose in various pick-and-roll and pin-down scenarios, while stopping play periodically for instructional purposes.

Previously, Rose had only performed one-on-one drills with team staffers -- as was previously reported by the Chicago Sun-Times -- as the two were on the United Center court before recent Bulls games prior to the arrival of fans to the arena, but after many members of the media were present, similar to when the Chicago native did shooting drills with a small audience watching.

Tuesday was truly a next step, as Rose played with an intensity -- he got frustrated when he missed shots and attempted to play tough defense, even blocking a shot -- that showed after his long layoff, his competitive juices were flowing.

"He looked great. Remember how he used to cut through the lane? The way he used to cut through the lane and do the acrobatics," described another person who witnessed Rose's first time playing with teammates since last April 28, albeit in an informal, two-on-two practice setting. "It just looked so smooth. But he's just taking his time. I think he's got to come back when he's ready, but it's still progressing."

"Just looking at his body, it's crazy. Compared to where he used to be, his body, he's just been working real hard and you can tell how his jumping ability is, that burst. Even though he's a minute away, that burst, that back cut, it looks so familiar, but even faster," the individual told CSNChicago.com. "It was real competitive, but at the same time, he's still a while away. But he just needs to get his timing back. But he looks great."

Another source cautioned CSNChicago.com that Rose appeared winded afterward and certainly looked rusty, despite displaying flashes of his unique ability on occasion.

The same person speculated that depending on the team's schedule -- it should be noted that the Bulls don't practice Thursday, have a home game Friday night against Golden State, after which they'll travel to Washington for a game Saturday against the Wizards before returning to Chicago, likely having an off day Sunday due to the back-to-back and hosting Charlotte next Monday -- Rose could remain in this phase until at least next week before potentially moving on to five-on-five action with teammates, though the team rarely scrimmages during the season.

Carmelo Anthony: 'I'm glad (Derrick Rose) is on my team'

Carmelo Anthony: 'I'm glad (Derrick Rose) is on my team'

by Jonathan Joffe

Derrick Rose has a new fan now that he's in New York: Carmelo Anthony.

Rose's new teammate and fellow multi-time all-star is a happy to be teaming up with the former Bull.

In addition to complimenting Rose's game, Anthony applauded the Knicks' front office for making moves that allow the team to be competitive in the upcoming season.

It was once thought that Melo and D-Rose could sport the same uniform aside from Olympic competitions. While it won't be in Chicago, the two will be making that thought a reality in New York.

Report: Pau Gasol tells Bulls he has declined option, becoming a free agent

Report: Pau Gasol tells Bulls he has declined option, becoming a free agent

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but Pau Gasol is hitting the market.

Gasol told the Bulls that he has declined his option for the 2016-17 season and will become a free agent, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

The 35-year-old signed a three-year, $22.3 million deal with the Bulls in the summer of 2014.

In two seasons with the Bulls, he averaged 17.6 points per game and 11.4 rebounds and made an All-Star appearance.

Bulls: NBA Validation for Valentine came in the United Center last season

Bulls: NBA Validation for Valentine came in the United Center last season

Denzel Valentine’s annual growth had long been noticed by NBA executives but perhaps fittingly, it was a game in Chicago that served as the reinforcement he needed to know the NBA was in his sights.

On a national stage and on the United Center floor last November, Valentine put up one of the best stat lines in college basketball, leading Michigan State to a comeback 79-73 win over Kansas, a team ranked No. 4 in the nation at the time.

If he had any doubts about his future, a 29-point, 12-rebound and 12-assist performance served as the confirmation he was on an upward trajectory.

“I knew I could play in the NBA when I started my career at Michigan State,” Valentine said to CSNChicago.com after his introductory news conference. “Playing against guys like (Victor) Oladipo, (Cody) Zeller and those guys, I knew I could play in the NBA but I didn’t know I would be a first round, 14th pick. But I realized that this year after my triple double against Kansas.

“I realized I could be the best player in the country. It was very important because I got off to a good start and it helped me throughout the year.”

That night, the Bulls were rolling right along at 7-3, headed out West for a four-game trip and looking every bit like a team that would be in the thick of Eastern Conference contention. The likelihood of a marriage between a player billed as a mid-lottery pick and the Bulls seemed improbable if not damn near impossible.

But the Bulls hit several roadblocks and landed in the draft lottery, while Valentine put together one of the more complete statistical seasons in recent memory, averaging nearly 20 points and almost eight rebounds and eight assists.

Valentine hit a roadblock of his own with draft preparation, as word about prospective teams red-flagging his left knee began to trickle out, raising questions about his long-term availability.

At least one team in the lottery definitively passed on Valentine because of fears surrounding his knee, which was surgically worked on in high school and followed by a minor procedure in December, causing him to miss four games.

“It did surprise me because I’m healthy now,” Valentine said. “I only missed four games. I can control what I can control and let the chips fall that it may. I was a little surprised, a little angry that people were texting me asking if I were hurt. And I was like ‘what?’ But at the same time, I could control what I could control and I’m happy to be here.”

Missing a few practices here and there seemed to be the biggest side effect for Valentine through the season, as accolades followed nonetheless with him winning National Player of the Year over Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, who went sixth in last Thursday’s draft.

“He’s gonna go out there and fight,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s been in so many high-pressure games at Michigan State. For a guy that played in Final Fours, made big play after big play. He’s been a part of winning cultures since high school. That’s huge, great experience for Denzel. If he can suit up, he can play.”

The awards are certainly not a precursor for pro success, as more than a few collegiate POY’s have wound up as professional carcasses in an unforgiving game.

But the qualities Valentine was noted for in college could translate to the NBA, and from the sounds of things he’ll get every opportunity with the Bulls to show off his versatility.

He’ll be thrown into the shallow end of the pool, so to speak, in Summer League next month. New acquisition Jerian Grant (via the Derrick Rose trade), Cristiano Felicio, Bobby Portis and Spencer Dinwiddie (acquired for Cameron Bairstow) will also join Valentine in Las Vegas.

“He's a basketball player,” Hoiberg said. “That's the big thing I got from talking to coach (Tom) Izzo, is you can play him all over the court. He's a facilitator. He's an excellent positional rebounder. He can bust out with the ball. And he gives you the opportunity to play in so many ways.”

Valentine wasn’t given a definitive position, and perhaps there’s no natural one over the other. But having the ability to be a floor-spreading point guard with Jimmy Butler handling or even a small-ball power forward leaves Hoiberg and the Bulls plenty of options.

“And I think how we want to play with our young core, how Fred we wants to play, we think it's a perfect fit in regards to his skill level and his basketball IQ and what he brings to the floor,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said.