All Bull - Chicago Bulls
One sidebar to tonight’s Bulls-Knicks clash at the United Center is the April 28 connection.
On that date last year, both Derrick Rose and New York’s Iman Shumpert suffered ACL tears in their left knee as well as damage to the meniscus cartilage.
Shumpert, an Oak Park native, returned to game action on Jan. 17 and has now played in 40 games this season. Bulls fans don’t need a reminder that Rose’s return is still pending.
It’s an odd parallel, but there is a clear difference between the two players. Shumpert is a 20-minute a game defensive-minded role player, while Rose might put more stress on his body than any NBA player.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had a surprise injury update before Tuesday's game against Toronto -- Richard Hamilton is expected to see his first action since Feb. 26.
Hamilton has been out with a sore back and seemed to completely disappear from view for a while. But he was visible again at practice in recent days and looked relatively healthy shooting around at the Berto Center on Monday.
As recently as last week, Thibodeau said Hamilton wasn't all that close to returning.
"Now he’s been running for a while, he’s been shooting for a while and now, he’s been doing everything in practice, so the next step is to play," Thibodeau said. "We’ll see where he is."
One way to forecast Monday’s NCAA title game is to run it through the “NBA Test.”
This is an ongoing personal observation. Starting in the late 1990s, when every decent college player started turning pro early, the tournament champ more often than not has an edge in future NBA talent.
Sometimes, that means having one dominant player (Syracuse 2003: Carmelo Anthony). More often it’s having the better collection of futures pros (North Carolina 2009: Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, Ed Davis, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington).
Based on this theory, it’s been odd to see Louisville pegged as a favorite since the tournament began. Check the NBA Draft sites and there’s only one Louisville player projected as a late first-rounder, center Gorgui Deng.
The Derrick Rose Watch probably won’t be over until it’s over -- either he’ll start playing or the Bulls’ season will end.
Coach Tom Thibodeau sounded encouraging when he answered the usual questions about Rose before Thursday’s game in Brooklyn.
“He's close, but he's not going to come back until he's ready,” Thibodeau said, according to espn.com.” He feels a lot better, but he's still not there.
Thibodeau was asked for his definition of “close.”
As the Bulls prepare for Thursday's game in Brooklyn, word is an MRI exam on Taj Gibson's injured left knee showed no tear.
So basically, Gibson aggravated an already sprained knee in the second quarter of Tuesday's loss at Washington. Gibson originally suffered the injury on Feb. 24 in Oklahoma City. He sat out 10 games, then played in six before the knee buckled again.
There's no telling when he might return, but it does seem conceivable he'll be close to full strength when the playoffs begin. Gibson played well in those six games after returning from the original knee sprain, averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds.
I've heard NBA scouts complain for months that this year's draft will be weak at the top, which is one reason why Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel might be the No. 1 pick despite suffering a torn ACL during the college season.
The 2014 draft should be different, thanks to a loaded group of incoming college freshmen. All of the top players are scheduled to play in Wednesday's McDonalds All-American Game at the United Center. Basically, this game could be a 2014 lottery-pick preview.
Here’s a quick rundown of the reaction to LeBron James’ post-game complaints in Chicago on Wednesday:
Boston GM Danny Ainge commented the next day during a radio appearance.
“I think the referees got the calls right. I don't think it was a hard foul,” Ainge said. “I think the one involving LeBron against (Carlos) Boozer, that was flagrant. I think the officials got it right.
“I think that it's almost embarrassing that LeBron would complain about officiating.”
Bulls fans can probably relate to that sentiment. James shoots hundreds of free throws after minimal contact. The 2011 Eastern Conference finals provided plenty of examples. So Ainge believes James should be complaining when he’s been the beneficiary of so many favorable calls.
There’s no doubt LeBron James was hit hard a few times during Miami’s streak-busting 101-97 loss to the Bulls on Wednesday.
In the first quarter, Kirk Hinrich basically tackled James on a fast break. James was hit in the face by Taj Gibson near the basket in the first half, then a hard foul by Gibson in the fourth quarter was reviewed by referees before being called a common foul.
On the very next possession, Carlos Boozer set a screen on his former Cleveland teammate and James threw his shoulder into Boozer’s chest and also swung his arm without making significant contact. This time, the call was a flagrant foul on James.
Miami’s Dwyane Wade said he expects to play against the Bulls Wednesday after missing the previous two games with a sore knee.
Nothing has changed with the Bulls’ injury situation, though. There’s a chance Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) could play tonight. He’ll be a legitimate game-time decision.
Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain) is likely out. Richard Hamilton (sore back) is definitely out and Derrick Rose’s status is unchanged.
“Just taking my time and that’s about it,” Rose said at Wednesday’s shootaround. “Been the same way for a couple months now.”
Asked if there’s still a chance he’ll play this season, Rose didn’t give a definitive answer.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau revealed before Saturday's game against Indiana that Joakim Noah has had a recurrence of plantar fasciitis in his feet. Noah will not play against the Pacers and is most likely out for Sunday's game at Minnesota.
Noah missed three games in early February with a sore right foot, but has played well since returning to the lineup.
On the positive side, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson -- who returned from injuries on Thursday against Portland -- are expected to play. Derrick Rose (knee) and Rip Hamilton (back) remain sidelined.
David West (back) and Danny Granger (knee) are out for Indiana, which is trying to complete a four-game season sweep of the Bulls.