Texas star Dexter Pittman leaves NBA Draft Combine after family tragedy

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On Thursday, Dexter Pittman was running around a gym in Chicago trying to prove to a room full our NBA general managers and scouts that he is in shape and that his post game has dramatically improved.

But he left to return home on Friday after his brother had been shot and killed back home near Houston. ESPN has the report:

Harris County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Janie Wagner said a deputy was sent to the home just before 10 p.m. Thursday. The deputy found the victim “in the garage in his residence sitting in a chair with a gunshot wound to his head.”

Johnson was one of Pittman’s three siblings. Pittman was informed his brother was shot at midnight ET Thursday. Pittman arrived in Houston midmorning Friday, where he was informed by his mother that his brother had died.

“I just feel terrible for him. Dexter has gone through so much to get to this point, he was in the best shape of his life, he worked so hard, and then this tragedy happens,” said Mark Bartelstein, Pittman’s agent.

Pittman, who played for Texas, was at the combine to prove he deserved to be a second-round pick (or higher, although that is not likely). He is a big body – 6’10”, 303 pounds with a long 7’6″ wingspan – that could be part of an NBA roster as teams look for ways to match up with the size of teams like the Magic (with Dwight Howard) or the Lakers. The question is conditioning and commitment — Pittman tested for 20 percent body fat at the combine, the highest of any player there.

Pittman has the body and some skills, he could be a solid big off the bench, but he’s really going to have to work for it.

Our thoughts are with him and his family.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.