Bulls sign Mike James as Derrick Rose battles turf toe

Bulls sign Mike James as Derrick Rose battles turf toe

With reigning league MVP Derrick Rose suffering a left toe injury in Tuesday’s road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Chicago Bulls signed nine-year veteran Mike James, the 6-foot-2 point guard’s agent, Bernie Lee, confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

James is expected to be available for the Bulls, his tenth different NBA club, Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards at the United Center (at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet). Coach Tom Thibodeau coached James in Houston during the 2004-05 season.

James, who has career averages of 10.5 points and 3.6 assists while shooting 37.8 percent from three-point range, has not played in the league since 2009-10 with the Wizards, but impressed earlier in the week as a member of the D-League’s Erie BayHawks. The 36-year-old posted 23 points, five rebounds and five assists in 42 minutes Monday in his debut with the BayHawks.

Obviously, the acquisition signals that Rose’s injury is more serious than the 6-foot-3 star was letting on after a 111-100 win over the Wolves. He told reporters in the locker room that he’s “fine” and “will be playing [Wednesday].” Given the fact that the Bulls signed James shortly thereafter, it’s a safe bet that Rose will be sidelined longer than expected.

Thibodeau told reporters before Wednesday’s game that John Lucas III will start for the ailing Rose, who is listed as day-to-day. He also revealed Rose has a sprained left big toe — not a turf toe condition.

“Those things happen,” Thibodeau said. “That happened in the first quarter. Those things happen in a game. It’s a sprain and hopefully he’ll be back in a day.”

Still, Bulls fans shouldn’t panic. The word is that Rose’s turf toe is not as serious as it might seem, although he is reportedly wearing a walking boot. But clearly it worsened enough for the front office to act swiftly, signing the squad’s fourth point guard. As expected, C.J. Watson and Rip Hamilton will sit out against the Wizards, although both are “very close.”

“He’s going to take a lot of hits,” Thibodeau told the assembled media Tuesday when asked about Rose’s injury. “He’s got to get through all that stuff. He’s shown how tough he is and that’s all part of the game. It’s a tough, physical game. He’s got the ball the majority of the time. So that’s the way it is.”

Bulls forward Carlos Boozer suffered a turf toe to his right big toe late last season. However, Thibodeau said Rose’s sprained toe is “a lot different” than the injury Boozer had.

“[The medical staff] say it’s a sprain. It’s different than turf toe,” he said.

In a similar move last November, the Bulls picked up Lucas and asked him to be ready to play in that night’s contest against the Denver Nuggets in place of an injured Rose (neck). Interestingly, both Lucas and James share the same agent.

ESPN.com first reported the signing. The Bulls made the news official in a press release about two hours before the game versus Washington.

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