Just a few days after Derrick Rose threw cold water over Bulls nation on the speed of his recovery, he went through a full practice with the team. According to Tom Thibodeau Rose did "what everyone else did" which is good news for Bulls fans.
K.C. Johnson has some more quotes on the story.
Of course this is a good sign, but no one came out and said Rose looked great in practice, but it's likely that everyone will say much less after the recent Rose interviews.
The Bulls should get a lift from the return of Kirk Hinrich. Nate Robinson might be one of my favorite Bulls this year, but we've seen enough of Nate to know that he's best in small doses. As a 15-20 mpg guard off the bench where he can fire away and give the Bulls some energy, he's been amazing.
Once he has to start playing 40 minutes a night his weaknesses are exposed. Still, Nate's been perhaps the best signing this summer. Guys who don't even get a guaranteed contract aren't meant to be 40 minute per night starters. They're typically not even meant to play. They're typically doing what Radmanovic and Nazr are doing.
Robinson's given the Bulls a great lift, so though Chicago probably can't win with him as the man, it'd be ridiculous to expect that. Watching the Bulls with Kirk Hinrich playing instead of Robinson is a study in why stats like PER don't really capture how effective a player is. While Hinrich's fairly lousy statistically, he appears to truly impact winning for Chicago.
I typically don't bother to watch the all-star game, because, well, it's a waste of time. However, I did want to tune in to see Joakim Noah play. Watching Noah in the ASG was somewhat comical because no one gave him the memo not to try hard. Noah and Deng are both the anti-thesis of "all star game" players.
Not that they aren't worthy of being all-stars, but their games are based so much on defense and effort that throwing them into a game where there's an unwritten rule that the only defense allowed is one on one defense with no help/team defense, that rebounds should never be contested, and elbows shouldn't be thrown to Chris Paul's face, well, it just doesn't fit what they do so well.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Noah out there, I think it's a tribute to him that he still played like he always played and highlights why the all-star game sucks so bad because no one else really does.
The other comical thing about the all-star game was how hilariously bad LeBron looked. He kept trying to take over only to have Kobe stuff the hell out of him repeatedly. Humiliation might be a tad strong given the game is relatively meaningless, but the game was a reminder that despite being an amazing player, LeBron also relies on an amazing team to help him.
Speaking of LeBron, I have to give him some serious credit on finally rehabilitating his image. All he had to do was step out of his own way, and let the marketers do their job. The NBA, ESPN, and TNT all need LBJ to be loved to promote the game and as such there will always be a huge national media campaign to positively promote his image.
The Bulls kick off the second half of the season with a road game against the Hornets. After dropping four of five heading into the break, Chicago desperately needs to get on track if they want to maintain an upper half bracket seed in the East. The second half of the Bulls season is no picnic with three games left against Miami and plenty of other tough games on the schedule.
Chicago's a game and a half out of 3rd place right now, but they'll likely lose the tiebreaker to the Pacers. If the Bulls want a shot at avoiding Miami until the ECF they'll need to climb to third or drop to sixth. However, in the end, it's largely irrelevant because unless the Heat lose one of the big three to injury, there's no one in the East that has a snowball's chance in hell of beating them and the west will really only present some snowballs.
Whether the Bulls are in the top half or lower half of the bracket really only determines how far they have the potential to go before getting crushed by the Heat. However, there's no guarantees in any series right now, as the Bulls could just as easily make it to the ECF as they could lose in the first round. Without Derrick Rose, I'd put the Bulls as at least mild underdogs against the other teams fighting for the two through five spots.
Hopefully Chicago can get on track tonight and hopefully Derrick Rose is ready to return sometime in the near future. While the delay is certainly disappointing and somewhat worrisome, the good news is that it looks like no one is rushing him and that's the best thing for him and the Bulls going forward.