Chicago Sun-Times

October 2009 Archives

Bulls try to get past flat performance in Boston

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The Bulls began practice Saturday with a film session. Friday night's loss in Boston didn't look any better the second time around.

"It's early in the season," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We were on our heels, we weren't physical enough -- the same thing I said last night after the game. We just need to continually improve every day.

"Playing San Antonio and Boston back to back, you're hard pressed to start off any tougher than that. We're 1-1 going into tomorrow against Miami. We have to get back to where we were defensively - we slipped a little last night - and we have to start making some shots."

Once the film session ended, Del Negro led the players through a like workout at a local college in Boston before the team departed for Miami, where they face the Heat Sunday night.

The coach's message to the players was simple: Don't make too much of the game, but don't repeat that effort.

Bulls, Rose take on Celtics in playoff rematch

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It seems like only a short time the Bulls and Celtics were playing a very entertaining seven-game playoff series, but the teams were back at it in a new season Friday night at TD Garden in Boston.

Derrick Rose was no worse for wear after playing 33 minutes Thursday night and coach Vinny Del Negro planned to use him in a similar manner against the Celtics.

"Let's see how he feels," Del Negro said. "I wanted to keep him around 30 minutes [Thursday] and he got 33. I'd like keep him around 30, but let's see how the flow of the game goes and see how he feels.

"As he gets loose, he feels good. He got a little fatigued at the end I thought, but after not playing for a while he had a solid game for us."

Del Negro on the Celtics:

"They've got their enforcer back in Kevin Garnett, and they added Rasheed [Wallace] and Marquis Daniels, two veteran pros. They cause a lot of problems.
It's a good test for us. It's early in the season - only our second game - but it'll a good test for us, a good barometer. I expect their guys to come out and play hard and get after it."

Bulls watching Rose closely

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Derrick Rose started tonight's game against the San Antonio Spurs tonight, but only played a little more than half of the first quarter before giving way to Kirk Hinrich.

Rose missed his only shot, but had a highlight moment when he blocked a shot by San Antonio's Richard Jefferson on the fast break two minutes into the game.

"We'll try to limit his minutes a little bit," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Rose. "I want to see how he reacts. He's only had about three solid days of practice. It feels a little bit better every day, which is a good sign.

"We don't want a setback there. It's a long season, we'll be smart about it and look at the big picture and try to limit his minutes as best I can."

Bulls watching Rose closely

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Derrick Rose started tonight's game against the San Antonio Spurs tonight, but only played a little more than half of the first quarter before giving way to Kirk Hinrich.

Rose missed his only shot, but had a highlight moment when he blocked a shot by San Antonio's Richard Jefferson on the fast break two minutes into the game.

"We'll try to limit his minutes a little bit," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Rose. "I want to see how he reacts. He's only had about three solid days of practice. It feels a little bit better every day, which is a good sign.

"We don't want a setback there. It's a long season, we'll be smart about it and look at the big picture and try to limit his minutes as best I can."

Full speed ahead for opener

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It's official: The Bulls' starters for tonight's season-opener against the San Antonio Spurs are Derrick Rose and John Salmons at guard, Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas at forward and Joakim Noah at center.

Rose's minutes will be monitored because he is still working his way back from an ankle injury, but when asked if the point guard will be limited to 20 to 25 minutes, coach Vinny Del Negro said following this morning's shootaround, "Hopefully, more."

Because of Rose's injury, the Bulls had to scramble this week to get prepared.

"You always wish you had a little more time, but I think the guys are ready to go," Del Negro. "They're sick of beating up each other in practice. We've had a few good days of practice, which is good, and with the schedule we have to be ready to roll. We have a tough opening stretch and we have to be ready."

Predict how the Bulls will finish

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Now that the season opener against the San Antonio Spurs is a day away, it's time to take a stance and predict how many games the Bulls will win this season and where they will finish in the Eastern Conference.

My numbers: 45 wins, fifth in the East.

Leave a comment below with your predictions.

NBA awards preview

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With the start of the regular season just hours away, I've waited as long as possible before taking a stand. Here are my picks for the major NBA awards and the playoffs this season:

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER -- LeBron James, Cavaliers. He's still getting better, and that's scary.

COACH OF THE YEAR -- Phil Jackson, Lakers. It's absurd that's he's won this award only one time previously.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -- Tyreke Evans, Kings. Would have gone with Blake Griffin before learning he will be sidelined six weeks with a stress fracture of the patella. Maybe the Clippers are cursed.

SIXTH MAN -- Manu Ginobili, Spurs. If he's healthy, he'll have a big year.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER -- Dwight Howard, Magic. Controls the paint and is a rebounding machine.

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS -- Celtics over Cavaliers.


NBA FINALS -- Lakers over Celtics.

Let us know what you think.

Byars makes the cut

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Derrick Byars will be on the Bulls' roster on opening night and already is drawing an official NBA paycheck. But the 6-7 rookie guard from Vanderbilt isn't celebrating too much, because he knows his stay may be brief.

"They made me aware of the financial situation they have with the luxury tax," he said. "Even though I have the rookie minimum contract as it is, they're not sure how long they want to keep me around. I'm just taking it a day at a time."

Because the Bulls are so close to the luxury-tax threshold, keeping Byars are for the entire would push them over. He certainly won't be around past January when all contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season, and he might not be around more than a couple a weeks.

For now, Byars is just happy to make it to opening night on Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs.

"I've always wanted to be there," he said. "I've had two go-arounds already where I've been the last cut two days before opening day. So if I'm out there, what better franchise to be suiting up for than the Bulls?"

Players elect captains

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In a vote of the players, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Lindsey Hunter have been named Bulls captains for the upcoming season.

Bulls exercise options on Rose, Noah

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In a bit of a bookkeeping formality, the Bulls announced Monday they have picked up the options on contracts for point guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah for the 2010-11 season.

In the third year of his rookie contract, Rose will earn a little more than $5.5 million that season. Noah, in the fourth year of his rookie deal, will earn just over $3.1 million.

In other salary bookkeeping, the Bulls can sign Tyrus Thomas (entering his fourth season) to a contract extension (which would begin in the 2010-11 season) by the start of the regular season later this week, but the team has no interest in doing so.

Thomas will have to prove himself this season and then become a restricted free agent next summer.

Pargo sits out part of practice

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Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich participated in the entire practice session Monday for a second straight day, but Jannero Pargo tweaked his back during the workout and didn't finish.

Exactly what that means for Pargo's availability for the opener Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs won't be known at least until Wednesday morning.

As for Rose, he reported no problems, but acknowledged that it takes him much longer to get loose.

"I'm like an old man out there," he said. "I have to wait 20, 30 minutes into practice before it looses up."

Unless he suffers an unforeseen setback, Rose will start the opener, but how many minutes he will or can play isn't determined just yet. He said it will be "tough" for him to play the 35-plus minutes he would normally play.

"At least 20-something," he said. "I want to play even if it's five, 10 minutes. It's up to the team. I'll play the minutes they want me to play."

Bulls return to practice at full strength

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For the first time in a while, the Bulls had a full complement of players when they took the practice court on Sunday following Saturday's day off.

"Every one practiced," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Let's see how they feel in the morning, but we a full group today, which was great. Everybody went the whole way."

In fact, the three point guards that sat out the preseason finale Friday night against the Washington Wizards -- Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Jannero Pargo -- all stayed long after practice working on their shooting.

"I've got to get back in condition," Rose said.

It was Rose's first full practice since injuring his right ankle on Oct. 2. He participated in about 40 of practice last Thursday. As long as he doesn't suffer a setback in practice this week, he is on target to play in the regular-season opener Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Bulls thin at the point against Wizards

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Point guard is the deepest position on the Bulls' roster, but that certainly wasn't the case in the preseason finale against the Washington Wizards Friday.

With Derrick Rose (ankle), Kirk Hinrich (elbow) and Jannero Pargo (back) sitting it out, the Bulls were down to little-used Lindsey Hunter and volunteers.

They opened the game by going 2-for-18 from the field before the offense settled down in the second quarter. John Salmons also played a few minutes at the point, but the Bulls' true playmaker was center Brad Miller, who had six assists in the first half.

Bulls waive Richard

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The Bulls reduced their roster 14 on Thursday by waiving 6-9 forward Chris Richard.

Richard, a teammate of center Joakim Noah at Florida, played in six games this preseason and averaged 3.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in 19.7 minutes.

The loss of Richard means the Bulls will have no more than 12 healthy players at the start of the season because of injuries to Aaron Gray (lower leg stress fracture) and Jerome James (recovering from Achilles surgery).

That number could be reduced to 11 if guard Derrick Byars doesn't make it to the opening-day roster.

Rose participates in some of Thursday's practice

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Derrick Rose still is unlikely to play in Friday's preseason finale against the Washington Wizards at the United Center, but the point guard returned to the practice court on Thursday to participate in about 40 minutes of the 2 1/2-hour session at the Berto Center.

"I ran [Wednesday] and I woke up this morning and it wasn't sore," Rose said. "I told them that I wanted to practice. At first, they were telling me not to practice and just run, but I told them I wanted to get out there.

"I didn't get hurt and my teammates were happy I was back out there with them a little bit."

What it means for his status for Friday's preseason finale against the Washington Wizards remains to be seen, but Derrick Rose is practicing with the Bulls right now at the Berto Center.

Rose injury lingers on

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The Bulls didn't practice Tuesday, so technically Derrick Rose didn't miss another session. But if they had taken the court, it would have been without their starting point guard yet again.

After testing his lingering right ankle injury by running on Monday, Rose reported some soreness on Tuesday morning and his activities were limited to weight training and getting treatment.

"They didn't want me running [Tuesday]," Rose said. "I told them it was a little bit sore from all the running I did [Monday]. We're just taking it day-by-day."

Tuesday's soreness was just the latest chapter in a frustrating healing process for Rose. He was encouraged Monday after he ran for about 20 minutes without pain, but discouraged that he woke up sore the day after.

"Yeah, it's definitely from the running, but I can play through it," he said. "I'll try to practice [Wednesday] early and, hopefully, I'll be playing on Friday [in the preseason finale].

"Hopefully, they'll let me practice. If not, I will be kind of upset, but I have to listen to [the medical staff]."

The soreness isn't a setback per se, but a sign that the healing process isn't complete just yet, which is an obvious concern to coach Vinny Del Negro.

"It all concerns me," Del Negro said. "It's the old cliché, day-to-day.

"We'll see how he feels [Wednesday]. We want to get the soreness and inflammation out of there. He's getting a little bit better every day, so we'll see how he feels and, hopefully, he can do something out there.

"If he can, great, and if he can't, then we'll monitor that."

Rose status remains a mystery

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If you're confused about Derrick Rose's injury status, you're not alone.

The Bulls' starting point guard has been day-to-day for 2½ weeks and on Monday coach Vinny Del Negro sent a series of mixed signals concerning when Rose might return to the court.

Rose didn't play in the Bulls' 101-98 loss to the Orlando Magic. He ran some before the game and reported no pain in his troublesome right ankle. The hope is that Rose will return to the practice court some time this week and play in the preseason finale Friday night, but there's no definitive plan.

"He's getting better, felling better, but it's the old thing of day-to-day," Del Negro said. "We'll see how he feels [Tuesday]. We need to get him some practice time, and hopefully, that happens this week."

When asked after the game if it's possible Rose won't be ready for the opener against San Antonio on Oct. 29, Del Negro said: "Yes, it's in the realm of possibility."

When pressed about that issue - because he indicated it wasn't a possibility just a few days ago - Del Negro backtracked a bit: "I don't think he will [miss the opener], but I thought he would be back the other day."

More from Del Negro: "It's an unusual injury. It's a different injury. I want to make sure it's healed up. He's getting a little better every day. But I don't want to bring him back and the next day he's sore or the next day it's re-injured. We want to heal it up."

Whether Rose practices on Tuesday won't be determined until just before it begins, but he definitely won't participate in the contact portion of the workout.

"It's killing me not to be out there," Rose said. "I'm praying I get out there.

"[The doctors] haven't said anything. If they see me running right or maybe if I trick them, I'll be out there playing."

When that happens is anybody's guess right now. Although it's highly unlikely he won't play in the opener against San Antonio.

Gibson still in starting lineup

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The only surprise in the Bulls' starting lineup for Monday night's game with the Orlando Magic at the United Center was rookie Taj Gibson continuing to start at power forward over Tyrus Thomas.

Following his big game in his return from injury on Friday -- 22 points and 13 rebounds in 25 minutes -- I expected Thomas to reclaim his starting spot, but coach Vinny Del Negro had other ideas.

"We've been going that way," Del Negro said. "We want to get some practice in. Taj has worked hard and played well. He's young and we're gonna try and give him as much experience as we can."

Could Gibson keep the starting job into the regular season? We'll see.

Thomas: Gordon gone; get over it

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Tyrus Thomas is tired of hearing about how the Bulls have to make up for the loss of Ben Gordon's 20 points a game.

"Everybody keeps saying 'Making up Ben's points,'" Thomas said. "Ben's no longer a part of this team, so they're not Ben's points.

"I mean, we've got to do what we've got to do to win. We're not looking at it as making up for Ben because Ben is gone. Ben hasn't been here for training camp and he's not gonna be here this season, so we're not looking at it like that."

Deng feeling 'great'

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After playing three games in four nights -- and playing nearly 32 minutes in the third game -- Luol Deng reported no problems with his lower right leg following the Bulls' 94-90 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night.

In fact, Deng said his leg felt better Friday than it had at any point this preseason.

"Just moving wise, running jumping, I thought today was the best I felt out there," he said. "Even defensively, I was moving. This is the best I've felt so far. Even before the game, I just felt great."

Deng missed the final 2 1/2 months of the regular season and the playoffs last season with a stress fracture.

Thomas, Miller back, Rose still out

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It was partial good news on the injury front for the Bulls on Thursday. Tyrus Thomas (hip) and Brad Miller (flu) were back on the practice court, but Derrick Rose continued to remain on the sidelines.

The ankle injury that has sidelined Rose since Oct. 2 has progressed, but not quite enough to let the point guard return to action.

"Derrick ran a little bit and biked a little bit, but he's still a little bit sore," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We'll monitor that and, hopefully, he's a little better tomorrow."

Thomas and Miller are expected to play Friday when the Bulls host the Minnesota Timberwolves at the United Center.

"It was good to get Brad out there, get Tyrus out there, some more bodies," Del Negro said.

The Bulls played the last two games with just 10 players before of the injuries and illnesses.

Miller, Rose, Thomas out tonight

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Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas sitting out Tuesday night's game with the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center was no surprise. But center Brad Miller came down with the flu on Tuesday morning and was sent home.

Miller also won't accompany the Bulls to Minnesota after the game where they face the Timberwolves Wednesday night.

On the positive side, coach Vinny Del Negro said there's a chance Thomas could play at Minnesota.

Bulls at Water Tower Place on Monday

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As part of their "paint the town red" promotion, the Bulls will make an appearance at Water Tower Place on the Mag Mile Monday at 3:15 p.m.

The Adidas store on the fourth floor will offer a variety of promotions and giveaways.

Every member of the team is scheduled to attend the event.

Skiles comments on Bulls without Gordon

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There's been a healthy debate raging this preseason about exactly how much the Bulls will miss Ben Gordon, the team's leading scorer each of the last four seasons.

So before the Bulls played the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night in Green Bay, I asked Bucks coach (and former Bulls coach) Scott Skiles how he thought the Bulls would fare now that Gordon is playing with the Detroit Pistons and John Salmons is the Bulls' starting shooting guard.

"[Salmons] came in right away last year and played very well for them," Skiles said. "He's a veteran player. He can score. Ben's heroics over the years there are well documented, so there's a hole there to fill, but Salmons is a very qualified player and Pargo is sort of a poor man's Ben.

"They have very good guards, very good perimeter players."

That's pretty much the position I've taken. Sure, Gordon's departure leaves a hole, but the Bulls certainly are capable of filling it. Although 20-point scorers are tough to come by, the loss of Gordon won't be a big issue.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

Rose, Thomas sit out Bucks game

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Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas each will miss their second straight preseason game tonight when the Bulls play the Milwaukee Bucks in Green Bay.

"They're both feeling a little bit better," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Derrick's still nursing his ankle and Tyrus his side. They're both pretty sore, but they're getting better every day.

"We'll just be smart about it and monitor them every day."

Rose likely to miss Bucks game

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Derrick Rose, still bothered a sore right ankle and Achilles, sat out practice on Friday. He's unlikely to play when the Bulls face the Milwaukee Bucks in Green Bay Saturday night.

Tyrus Thomas, who missed the Bulls' game in London with a sore hip, took part in about half of Friday's practice. Whether he plays in Green Bay won't be determined until just before game time.

Del Negro ready to step up?

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Before last season, Vinny Del Negro had never coached on any level and it showed at times. He made several rookie mistakes -- particularly late in games -- and I pointed out many of them.

But Del Negro also did a lot of things right last season. I was especially impressed with the way he worked with the team's young players and got them to improve as the season went along. He did a very good job getting Derrick Rose ready to play from the start of the season and also had a positive effect on Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas.

Fans don't get a chance to see a coach work with players in practice, so I can understand why most Bulls fans had a negative opinion of Del Negro. All they saw were the games and there were too many mistakes to have any other opinion.

I know it's just the preseason, but I've noticed a change in Del Negro so far. The year of experience seems to have made a big difference. He's more confident and isn't as defensive. He's been very organized and the team got a lot accomplished in the first two weeks of camp. Barring any major injuries over the next three weeks, the Bulls should be prepared for a fast start in the regular season.

Although the ultimate test of Del Negro's improvement will come when he's involved in a tight game in the regular season, I think Bulls fans will be pleasantly surprised this season. I'm not saying Del Negro will be the second coming of Phil Jackson, but he knows the game, has a sound philosophy and I believe he will be a good NBA coach.

Johnson, Gibson look solid

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It would be foolish to read too much from the first couple of preseason games, but right now it's look as if rookies James Johnson and Taj Gibson will be key contributors off the bench from the start of the season.

Gibson followed up his splendid debut last week against the Indiana Pacers with another solid effort in the Bulls' thrilling 102-101 victory over the Utah Jazz Tuesday in London. Johnson also had a good game and gave the Bulls the win with a buzzer-beating short jumper.

Both rookies are active and athletic and will give the Bulls improved front-court depth. With Johnson and Gibson playing well, Tyrus Thomas better produce or else he could find himself losing playing time.

Rose still pushing for Olympics

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Count Derrick Rose among the scores of Chicagoans disappointed that Chicago lost out on its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Rose's dream was to play on the 2016 United States team in his hometown.

"It hurts," he said, "but I'm still a candidate for the team and, hopefully, the coaches decide to put me on that team."

Rose, who turned 21 today, will be just shy of his 28th birthday when the 2016 Olympics are held in Rio de Janeiro.

Bulls starting lineup

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For their preseason opener tonight against the Indiana Pacers in Conseco Fieldhouse, the Bulls will go with the projected opening-day lineup of Derrick Rose and John Salmons in the backcourt, Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas at forward and Joakim Noah at center.

The bench, however, won't look the same as Kirk Hinrich (hamstring), Jannero Pargo (wrist) and Brad Miller (grion) won't play because of minor ailments.

Showtime for Miller

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Brad Miller's love of the outdoors is apparent to anyone who talks to the Bulls center for more than five minutes. Now Miller has an outlet for his passion.

Miller is the co-host of "Country Boys Outdoors," a series currently airing on the Sportsman Channel (which is available on Comcast and Directv). The next airing of the show is Friday at 6:30 p.m.

"It's outdoors, hunting and fishing," Miller said. "It's been a project of mine for about three years and it's finally out. That's what I want to do when I'm done playing. I thought I'd get it started now at the end of my career."

Noah ranks among All-Stars

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According to a list released Thursday by the NBA, center Joakim Noah's jersey (#13) is the 14th best-selling jersey in Europe among all NBA players.

"I think it's cool to have one of the best-selling jersey in Europe," Noah said. "I'm also European, so I think that helps a little."

Noah was born in New York but spent much of his childhood in France before attending high school and college in the United States. His father, of course, is France tennis star (turned musician) Yannick Noah.

Kobe Bryant has the best-selling jersey in Europe followed by Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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