Chicago Bulls

Defining Rose's 'next step' in recovery process

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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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls the worst team in NBA?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Shepkowski (670 The Score) and Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel. Jake Arrieta will return to the rotation to face the Brewers. Can he recapture his pre-injury form? Mike Glennon gets another start Sunday but should he get the hook if he struggles again?

Plus, the guys discuss the one metric that says the Bulls are the worst team in the NBA.

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

A 'woke' Doug Collins returns to provoke thought — and we'll find out who's asleep in Bulls' front office

Doug Collins made it clear, that his return to the Bulls organization won’t result in a return to the sidelines as head coach, meaning Fred Hoiberg has nothing to worry about in the way of looking over his shoulder.

What Collins did admit, though, is he’s back with the Bulls to provoke thought. Anyone who’s listened to Collins as a broadcaster for ESPN or Turner Sports, or talked to him in any basketball capacity, knows he’s not only a hoops lifer but also someone who can have strong opinions, capable of quick dissection of a complex picture in a moment’s notice.

“I’m not here to be a decision-maker. I want to provoke thought. My mind is very active,” Collins said Tuesday afternoon at the Advocate Center. “And I think to get into a room and to bounce ideas off each other or whatever, at the end of the day, Gar, Michael, Jerry, Pax will make those decisions. The beauty of it is is that when there’s a level of trust when you’re talking about things, you can speak openly and honestly with people knowing the only thing that matters is that whatever happens is the best for the franchise.”

Announcing Collins as a senior advisor to executive vice president John Paxson adds another voice to the Bulls’ braintrust and is probably an admission this rebuild will require more than what the Bulls already have, be it in terms of connections, observation and even innovation.

Collins’ connection to Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf, a growing relationship with Michael Reinsdorf and ability to relate with Hoiberg due to the misery of coaching should align a front office to the floor in ways that has been in doubt for the past several seasons.

“Given Jerry's relationship and my relationship with Doug over the years, we thought, hey, let's see if maybe this isn't a good time for Doug to come back into the fold,” Paxson said. “So we approached him and it was very casual, no expectations other than he's been a friend of ours for so long. But the more we kind of dug into the prospects of this and what it means, the more we kept asking ourselves, why wouldn't we do this?”

Collins made it clear he won’t be giving up his family life, as he already has residence in Chicago and his son Chris is coaching Northwestern and a son-in-law coaching a high school team outside Philadelphia.

“The hours and the time commitment that Fred Hoiberg puts in on a day and the energy that he spends and being on the road and being away from his family,” Collins said. “(This) worked perfectly in my schedule when I talked to Pax that I could be a part of something special, the Chicago Bulls, and I love the Chicago Bulls.”

His energy and passion can light up a room, and though he tried his best to say that’s died down at age 66, claiming “I can sit and do a crossword puzzle for three hours now”, people wired like Collins don’t lose their fervor for the game.

“I think there’s this feeling that I’m a guy who’s always on and fired up,” Collins said.

But that fire and passion and presumably a willingness to be uncompromising with the truth should be something that’s welcome inside the Advocate Center. In addition to his acumen, one of Collins’ greatest strengths is his fervor, and it shouldn’t be scaled back.

That’s not how rebuilds work successfully. Lines have to be crossed and people have to be made uncomfortable in their line of thinking, even if it’s Paxson or Hoiberg or general manager Gar Forman.

It’s not hard to see the Bulls following the thinking of the Golden State Warriors when they added Jerry West in an advisory role years ago, resulting in several key moves being made, most notably West’s objection to Klay Thompson being traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love before Love was eventually moved to Cleveland.

West’s guidance played a part in the Warriors’ upward trajectory to championship status, and he hopes to have a similar affect with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Comparing West with Collins on its face is a bit unfair, considering West’s experience as an executive and championship pedigree dating back to his days with the Lakers.

At least with West, he’s not trying to convince anyone he isn’t anything but a tortured basketball soul at age 79. Collins reminded everyone he’s a grandfather of five and at a spry 66, West would call Collins a “spring chicken.”

What Collins can bring is a keen eye for observation, and expecting him to be a passive personality doesn’t quite seem right, especially leaving the cushy job at ESPN that allowed him maximum exposure and a schedule to his liking.

Perhaps the way Collins left the NBA, with a massive gambit in Philadelphia falling flat when Andrew Bynum’s knees rendered him useless and sending the 76ers franchise into “The Process,” left him with a bad taste in his mouth.

Maybe his competitive juices got him going again and the broadcast booth just wasn’t cutting it, along with having a front seat to the injury that changed the course of the Bulls franchise when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012 against Collins’ 76ers.

Maybe the crossword puzzles just couldn’t get it done anymore. After all, the man once cried on the sidelines as his Detroit Pistons beat the Bulls in a regular-season game in 1997. Curbing that passion would be a disservice.

“See how things quickly change? The NBA is cyclical now,” Collins said. “Other than the San Antonio Spurs, over the last 20 years, every elite franchise has gone through this moment. And so now what you got to do, you got to dig yourself back up.

“We got to start doing all the things that are necessary to gain assets day by day, to put all the work, so we’re going to give ourself a chance, when we continue to get better players and more talent, that you’re going to win more basketball games.”

Collins said he has old-school values, all while being caught up with the times that he called himself “woke” as a nod to the current culture.

If he truly is, we’ll also find out who’s asleep in the front office, in desperate need a loud wake-up call.