Rose making gradual progress, showing flashes of previous form

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Rose making gradual progress, showing flashes of previous form

INDIANAPOLISFor a reigning league MVP, a 10-point, 3-for-11 shooting, performance wouldnt normally be termed a step in the right direction. However, when that same player has missed 26 games due to injury and the playoffs are right around the corner, you take what you can get.

Derrick Rose wasnt necessarily efficient as a scorer during the Bulls win over the Pacers, but he was both more explosive and aggressive than he was in Saturdays home victory over the Mavericks. The All-Star point guard only played 26 minutes Wednesday, but in addition to only committing a single turnover and dishing out seven assists, he began to regain his confidence in his still-healing right ankle.

Pushing off, every day its getting better. Im not trying to do too much out there, just trying to play within the team and trying not to get reinjured. Thats the biggest thing and making sure Im playing with a lot of confidence, Rose said afterwards. Im making sure that theyre clean drives. Im not getting hit that much and Im just trying to put pressure on the defense like I was when I wasnt injured.

It feels good. Getting treatment, icing it. Even when Im at home, doping the same thing. Icing it as much as possible. The swelling is down and hopefully I should be ready tomorrow and for the playoffs, he continued. I love playing games like this, just getting my rhythm back. Just being out there, playing defense. Trying to rebound, trying to jump off my right ankle and Im coming along, man. Im very positive, my spirits are up and thats the only thing I need to worry about right now.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: Rose was a lot more explosive. Hes gotten more comfortable. He was out a long period of time. When he comes back, he usually gets up to speed pretty quickly. He said this morning that he was feeling a lot better and thats after two days of practice, too. So, thats a real good sign. Im encouraged by that.

He had some real good attacks on the basket and the ball was in and out for him, but seven assists, one turnover, taking care of the ball, running the team. I thought that was very good, he continued. Each day he gets better and better, so thats what were looking for and I think hes getting a lot more comfortable. His bodys feeling a lot better and he needs to play, needs to play in games and I think hell get up to speed very quickly.

Rose acknowledged that he wasnt playing at the same level fans are accustomed to seeing, but some of that is due to both his adjustment in returning from injury and his teammates playing so well.

Im just trying to play within the group. Theyve been doing a good job making sure that Im taking my time, not rushing anything when I come off picks, just trying to make the right play, he explained. Im not worried about that. Im going to be all right. Certain situations, if it was a crazy type of game and at the end, I need to take over, thats what Im going to try to do. If not, Im still going to try to play my game, play aggressive.

Chimed in Kyle Korver: We need Derrick to play some. We dont need him to hurt himself or strain anything, but we need him to play and we need to play with him. Tonight, I thought he moved better. I thought he was more aggressive. Hes still trying to feel it out again, but he made a couple plays tonight where I was like, That was good.

I dont think theres a certain amount of games. I just think theres got to be a couple of plays where youre like, Yup, there it is, and thats going to be it. I dont think you can look at it in terms of games or weeks, or series or whatever you think its going to be. I just think its going to be a couple of plays. All of a sudden, he really moves on that foot and that ankle, and he makes a great play and were all just going to know like, All right, lets go, he continued. Hes still feeling it out a little bit. You can tell. I think he was trying to set guys up, trying to attack, but trying to pick his spots. I thought he looked better than he did the other night, for sure.

Why the 2016 free agency period could be a quiet one for Bulls

Why the 2016 free agency period could be a quiet one for Bulls

With the start of NBA free agency coming at 11:01 Central time on Thursday, prepare to be bombarded with news about meetings and potential signings.

But when the dust clears sometime in mid-July, don't be surprised if the only free agent transaction involving the Bulls is the re-signing of veteran guard E'Twaun Moore.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, the Bulls really like Moore. General manager Gar Forman praised the former Purdue star during the news conference to introduce top draft pick Denzel Valentine, and head coach Fred Hoiberg is also a big fan of Moore's versatility and toughness. Second, with just about every team in the league having significant cap room, the bidding war for second- and third-tier players could get out of the Bulls’ comfort zone and they might choose to keep their powder dry for a much deeper free agent class next year.

If the Bulls are able to re-sign Moore at a starting salary of somewhere between $8-10 million, don't be surprised if he begins the season as the starting point guard. Moore would definitely be the best defensive option at the position, and his size would allow the Bulls to switch on ball screens, with both guards (Moore and Jimmy Butler) able to defend taller players.

The Bulls do like the potential of former Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant, but at this point in his development a reserve role is probably best for the second year pro. Grant also has the ability to play off the ball at 6-foot-4, giving the Bulls another big guard with Butler and Valentine when Hoiberg wants to go to a small-ball line-up.

So, which external players might the Bulls be targeting in free agency? Remember, if they re-sign Moore at a starting salary of 8 million, that leaves them only about $16 million left to spend in what could turn out to be a crazy marketplace.

The Bulls could be looking to upgrade the small forward position, where Mike Dunleavy and Doug McDermott are the likely starting options. Kent Bazemore is an intriguing possibility, coming off his best season in Atlanta where he11.6 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field. He’s also a tenacious defender with plenty of potential for growth at 27 years old.

But with every team looking to spend big dollars this summer, Bazemore's contract could approach the $20 million mark in Year 1, which might be too rich for the Bulls' taste.

Forman talked about a process of trying to make the roster younger and more athletic, which means the Bulls are unlikely to pursue free agents over the age of 30, unless they come on one year deals.

Several restricted free agent wings could be on the Bulls' radar, including Golden State's Harrison Barnes, who reportedly was seen visiting Chicago on Tuesday. Under normal circumstances, the Warriors would automatically match any offer for their talented young forward, but if Kevin Durant indicates he wants to team up with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the front office would willingly sacrifice Barnes and fellow restricted free agent Festus Ezeli, and trade away a veteran contract like Andrew Bogut or Andre Iguodala to create the cap room to make it happen.

You've probably heard about Barnes' connection with the Bulls. He was a high school teammate of Doug McDermott on a state championship team in Ames, Iowa. That's the same high school where Hoiberg starred, eventually picking up the nickname of the "Mayor" after an outstanding college career at Iowa State.

So, even though the Bulls are in the "re-tooling" process, Barnes has to sign an offer sheet somewhere to start the restricted free agent time clock. Why not Chicago?

As a Tier 1 free agent, a max offer to Barnes would start at $22.2 million, meaning the Bulls would have to move another contract (most likely Taj Gibson or Mike Dunleavy), or use the "stretch" provision to release Jose Calderon from the final year on his deal, which would save them about $5 million on next year's cap.

Golden State will have three days to match the offer sheet Barnes signs, which they will most certainly do if Durant stays in Oklahoma City or signs with a different team. But with none of the other contending teams expected to make a play for Barnes, it might be worth the Bulls tying up their cap room for a few days for a chance to acquire a 24-year-old who would fit perfectly in the offense Hoiberg wants to run. And yes, Barnes played poorly in the Finals, but his inclusion on the 12-man Team USA Olympic squad says a lot about what talent evaluators around the league think of his ability.

If not Barnes, keep an eye on a pair of Portland restricted free agents. 23-year-old Mo Harkless and 24-year-old Allen Crabbe both fit the profile of players Forman discussed - young and athletic with 3-point range. Portland made a big move in the standings to reach the playoffs last season, and their front office is looking at some of the top centers on the market such as Hassan Whiteside and Al Horford. The Blazers might not be willing to match a significant offer for one of their young wing players.

Other names to watch for the Bulls include restricted free agents Terrence Jones, Dion Waiters, Dwight Powell and Jared Sullinger, along with unrestricted wings like Evan Turner, Eric Gordon, Lance Stephenson, Jeff Green, Wesley Johnson, Solomon Hill, Brandon Bass, O.J. Mayo, P.J. Hairston and Derrick Williams.

The Bulls front office could also decide to just re-sign Moore and save the rest of their cap room for 2017, when the list of free agents includes Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry and Blake Griffin. Forman made it clear the "re-tooling" effort is likely a two-year process, with the Bulls hoping to add a pair of first-round picks next summer and also have enough cap room to be a significant player in free agency.

So, enjoy the whirlwind of information and rumors that will be flooding social media over the next couple weeks. Just don't expect any franchise-transforming moves from the Bulls this summer.

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.