Bulls Q&A with ESPN's Nick Friedell: Forman/Thibodeau rift, Rose, Deng

Bulls Q&A with ESPN's Nick Friedell: Forman/Thibodeau rift, Rose, Deng

Derrick Rose will address the media today for the first time since suffering his season ending knee injury.

You can be sure there will be plenty of questions thrown at him about his future and mindset following his second major knee injury. With that in mind, I chatted with Nick Friedell, who covers the Bulls for ESPN Chicago.com

We talked about Derrick Rose's future, the supposed rift between Gar Forman and Tom Thibodeau, and if the Bulls should deal Luol Deng.

Follow Nick @NickFriedell

TL:  We keep hearing Derrick needs to adapt his game to survive physically. Yet, what scares me is both injuries resulted from non-contact plays. Does that premise still make any sense and how do you think he would he change his game?

NF:  I really don't think Derrick is going to change his game that much. He is who he is as far as his style goes. The mental part of returning has always been most difficult for him, as it is for most athletes.

I think that will be the most important hurdle for him. He has to be able to trust his body again, if he can do that I think he'll be fine.

TL:  Many suggested the Bulls wouldn’t get past the Miami Heat without adding another star or highly productive scorer. How has the blueprint to a championship changed for the front office now, if at all? Can they still look to building around Rose?

NF:  They almost have to. Rose still has three years after this one left on his deal. With that kind of money locked into a player's future the Bulls have to just be hoping that Rose can bounce back and be the same player that he was.

They still have Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson and they are confident that Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell will continue to progress. They also remain confident that Nikola Mirotic is going to come over at some point in the near future -- the problem for them is that it's hard to build around a 25 year-old star that has already had two major knee surgeries. Only time will tell if he can hold up physically.

TL:  Yahoo NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski keeps insinuating there is quite a rift between Gar and Thibs. If they do deal Deng this season do you think any roster tweaking could provide some turmoil or breaking point for the management team?

NF:  I've always thought the odds were stronger that Thibs wouldn't finish out his deal in Chicago. He still has three years left after this one and to think that the rift between Thibs and the front office has disappeared just isn't the case.

Do I think they are trying to have a strong working relationship? Sure, they work around each other almost every day. But there is definitely lingering tension on both sides. If Gar and Pax decide they want to deal Deng and make some other moves it's going to be really interesting to see if Thibs wants to stick around in a rebuild type environment.

If the Celtics got a first round pick for Doc Rivers, the Bulls could get at least the same in a deal for Thibs.

TL:  It only makes sense to deal Deng this season, no?

NF: I don't understand why they wouldn't. Deng doesn't want to take a 'hometown discount' and the Bulls don't want to offer him more money right now. If Gar and Pax decide to let Deng play out the season and then watch him leave they will get crushed by fans and media.

TL:  Media types and fans have mentioned phrases such as “Full scale rebuild” or “tanking” when it comes to the Bulls. Please explain why these theories probably don’t apply to this organization.

NF:  I don't think it's going to happen for a lot of reasons. Two in particular are that Thibodeau won't allow his team to tank and the Bulls' front office is still convinced that they are a lot of solid future pieces in place.

Forman hasn't talked about the 'culture' the Bulls have built under Thibodeau and they don't want to break it down completely. They'll listen to offers but I don't think they are going to gut the team all the way.

TL:  Gar still claims the Bulls are set up for a bright future, agree?

NF:  It depends on the point of view. To Forman's point, they do have a lot of young pieces still in place. If Mirotic comes over and the Charlotte pick turns into something, those could be solid pieces to go alongside Noah, Gibson, Butler and Snell.

The problem for the Bulls is that it all depends on Rose. All the nice pieces in the world won't help you get to a championship if your superstar can't stay healthy.


Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Filed under: Interviews

Leave a comment