Rose eases himself back into the flow

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Rose eases himself back into the flow

His numbers were modest11 points on 5-for-9 shooting and eight assists in 32 minutes of playbut Derrick Roses return to the court was triumphant. Not just because the Bulls won, but for the first time in a long time, things felt normal again.

It was good, man. Spirits up just being out there, just getting a lot of love from the fans. It brought me up, even times where I felt down, the All-Star point guard said afterwards, as he answered mostly basketball-related questions from the media, instead of the injury inquiries that hes dealt with for the majority of the season. I just love the game, just being on the courtjust being with my teammates, reallyjust being out there, having the ball in my hands, it was an unbelievable feeling.

Roses playing status, in the Bulls third-to-last game of the regular season, leaked shortly before the contest against the visiting defending-champion Mavericks, began, but Rose knew hed play well in advance.

Rose decided hed play in the morning. But you know me, I dont like jinxing myself, he said. When I got here, I got a lot of treatment, went out there, shot a little bit.

Now, Rose still isnt 100 percent and he wasnt his typically explosive self, but some of that was by design and considering the fact that teammates Rip Hamilton and fellow All-Star Luol Deng had it going offensively, his usual exploits werent needed.

Rose felt a little bit of pain, but during the game, I was just trying to pace myself. Tried not to do anything to reinjure it. Trying to take the game easy, but play smart, Rose explained. Throbbing a little bit, but the great thing about it, we got the win. Got a couple days off, get treatment, stay off my feet and hopefully its going to get better, day by day.

Got to the lane a little bit during this game, but my confidence wasnt that high driving the ball and hopefully in the next couple of days, its going to get better and youll see me back to my usual self, driving to the hole, trying to get fouled, putting a lot of pressure on the defense, he continued. My conditioning is great. I wasnt that tired when I was out there. I didnt push the ball like that, so walking the ball up, seeing whos open, throwing the ball up to Lu and Rip so they could bring the ball up, try to attack. It took a lot off me.

I missed a couple shots, missed a couple threes, jumpshots, but shots that I normally hit, shots that I normally take. Lu and Rip played their butts, knocking down shots, playing defense, rebounding the ball and just trying to make it hard on the other team.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: He looked good, taking everything into consideration. I think he played a very controlled-type game. He was taking care of the ball, running the offense and just trying to get a feel for being out there again. I thought it was a very good first step. Overall, I thought he played very well.

Rose also understands that its a process and he wont play at the MVP level of last season immediately, though hes confident he will continually improve at this late juncture of the season, as the Bulls attempt to clinch the Eastern Conferences top playoff seed and home-court advantage throughout the postseason.

When the opportunity comes, I know that Ill be totally healthy. I will, but until then, just try to make the game easy. We were going to do whatever it takes to win this game. Today, it was me passing the ball, getting guys open, putting them in situations where they could make the right play, he said. We still have to win out. The next one after this is Indiana. Were taking it one game at a time, not worried about any other team, just what were trying to here and were trying to win every game.

We want it, but if we dont get it, theres no excuses. We just cant stop playing because we dont get the No. 1 seed. Our biggest concern is trying to win out, taking it game by game. Were not trying to overlook any other team, Rose continued. Were playing against some good teams and towards the end of the season, people are trying to play hard against us, no matter what their record is. Theyre coming out playing hard and theyre NBA teams, so they can beat you any given night.

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.