Bulls GM denies rift between Derrick Rose and the organization regarding his return

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It’s easy to see how the return of Derrick Rose from a torn ACL injury that has kept him out the entire season to this point has become a stress-filled situation for both sides.

Rose has already earned an MVP trophy in his brief, four-year stint in the league. He’s a top-tier, elite level player when healthy, so the organization obviously wants him back on the court just as soon as he’s physically ready.

The consternation has arisen because a report has surfaced that Rose has been medically cleared to return to action.

Rumors that he’s being pressured to play have surfaced as well, even though Rose has told the team he doesn’t feel ready to take the court just yet.

Add in his brother’s comments from a couple of weeks back, and we have the makings of a full-blown controversy.

The reality, however, is that Rose and the organization are, and have always been on the same page regarding his health. Everyone has said that Rose will come back whenever he’s fully ready to do so, and whenever that is will be just fine.

Bulls GM Gar Forman reiterated that on Saturday, stating for the record that no rift exists between Rose’s camp and the organization regarding his getting back on the court.

From Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman denied Saturday that there is any kind of  communications rift between Derrick Rose’s camp and the organization regarding the return date for the all-star guard from his knee injury.

“We talk all the time. We have been in communication throughout the whole process. High-level communication,” Forman told the Tribune before scouting the DePaul-Pittsburgh game at Allstate Arena.

“From Day One, the communication has been consistent and it has been very encouraging. There have been no setbacks and (Rose) continues to make progress,” he said.

Forman said he would not comment on an ESPNChicago.com report that attributed a source as saying Rose has medical clearance to resume playing after suffering a torn ACL 10 months ago.

“I don’t comment on what a source says,” Forman replied.

The follow-up question to ask, obviously, would have been to say “well, has he in fact been medically cleared to play?” But even then, the response matters little in the grand scheme of things.

Rose is all about basketball, and wants to be out there just as much as anyone else wants him to be. He is a genuine individual who truly seems to value the love of the game over all else, and based on everything we’ve seen and heard from him, he will play again for the Bulls the second he feels he’s able to do so.

As an aside, a popular argument that’s surfaced recently goes something along the lines of, “hey, the Bulls aren’t going to win a championship this year, so Rose should just sit out the season.”

Do you know how stupid that sounds?

I hate to break it to those who agree with that line of thinking, but only three teams have a true shot at a championship this season barring freak injuries — the Heat, the Thunder, and the Spurs. That’s it. So does that mean that any player injured on one of the league’s 27 non-championship contenders should simply sit out the rest of the season, even if they’re physically able to come back and play? Of course not.

The pressure is going to continue to build until Rose does make his eventual return to the court. It’s going to come this season, and will likely be before the playoffs begin. Only then will the rumors and speculation subside, but either way, Rose isn’t going to come back until he’s fully ready, and the Bulls organization isn’t foolish enough to push him to come back any sooner than that.

Sixers Jabari Parker upgraded to “probable,” will decide after warm ups

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Everything you saw in the first two games of this Miami/Philadelphia playoff series you can throw out in the trash.

Joel Embiid is back and is now “probable” for Game 3, the Sixers announced, upgrading his status from “doubtful” earlier in the day. Embiid had been out with a concussion and orbital bone fracture.

Embiid will go through warmups — trying out both a mask and goggles — then will make a formal decision. However, he is expected to go. He certainly wants to play.

This changes the Sixers and the series. Yes, Philly has likely Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and high quality role players such as J.J. Redick and Robert Covington, however, is Embiid that makes it all work. Put simply, when Embiid is on the court the Sixers are 15.2 points per 100 possessions better — their defense is elite and their offense is outstanding.

The Sixers will be better with their best player back in the fold, but don’t think this makes the series a cakewalk for Philly. It changes everything about matchups, but things are not all positives. When Embiid is on the court, the up-tempo, ball-movement style that the Sixers built around Simmons slows down and stops at points. The Sixers have played Hassan Whiteside and his rim protection off the court with floor spacing shooting bigs, now he has a place to be in the matchups. There are things the Heat can do now that may work for them.

It just may not matter — Philadelphia just got a lot better.

PBT Podcast: NBA first round playoff series breakdowns

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LeBron James‘ Cavaliers looks to be in a battle royal in the first round — and they could lose to Victor Oladipo‘s Pacers.

Miami’s defense and versatility is challenging the Sixers and shaking the faith of all those that just jumped on the bandwagon.

Utah stole a game in Oklahoma City showing great grit and resolve, not to mention a lot of Donovan Mitchell.

Anthony Davis has done everything but walk on water for the Pelicans.

The first round of the NBA playoffs has been filled with fascinating storylines — and we are just two games into each series. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down all eight first-round series in this podcast, starting in the East and the tight races there, then move into the West. There’s even some “who wants to pay Jabari Parker this summer?” talk thrown in.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

James Dolan says Knicks must build around ‘great’ Kristaps Porzingis, offers fair rebuke of meddling charges

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Phil Jackson received a standing ovation in his first game at Madison Square Garden as Knicks president. Don’t forget how excited New York was for Jackson, who coached the Bulls and Lakers to 11 championships and played for the Knicks’ last title team. He was welcomed as a potential savior.

The common refrain: Jackson would have a chance to succeed if Knicks owner James Dolan didn’t meddle.

Immediately, Dolan said he would cede control to Jackson “willingly and gratefully.” Dolan later pledged to honor Jackson’s full five-year contract.

But fans turned on Jackson as he did an awful job and the Knicks struggled. Dolan opted into the final two years of Jackson’s contract, anyway, as he said he would all along. Fans got angrier. When Jackson publicly flaunted Kristaps Porzingis trade talks, outrage reached a fever pitch. Finally, Dolan stepped in to fire Jackson.

Dolan, via Larry Brooks of the New York Post:

“A great player in hockey is the difference, but a great player in basketball is the team.

“And I think we have a great player in Porzingis. We just have to build around him.”

“Everybody who wants to talk about the Knicks wants to ask me about Phil Jackson,” Dolan said, smiling and shaking his head. “The entire market wanted to me to hire him and when I did, the entire market said it was a great move. The only thing was, everyone said that I shouldn’t interfere with him.

“Three years later, everyone wanted to know when I was going to do something about Phil. The same people who told me not to interfere wanted me to interfere. But that’s OK. I just think that Phil underestimated the job.”

Dolan makes a salient point about how people perceive his involvement. The problem isn’t that Dolan meddles. It’s that he makes poor decisions.

Hiring Jackson – an out-of-touch former coach with no front-office experience – was a poor decision. I’m not enthused about Steve Mills as Jackson’s replacement, either, though we’ll see how that plays out.

Building around Porzingis is a better decision. He’s an extremely talented 22-year-old.

But it’s hardly a foolproof plan. Porzingis is recovering from a torn ACL. Dolan said Porzingis could return in December – or miss next season entirely.

Either way, the Knicks must surround Porzingis with better teammates. Dolan will and should be a part of that process. Whether he’ll positively affect it is another matter.

76ers: Joel Embiid doubtful for Game 3 against Heat

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MIAMI (AP) — Joel Embiid remains listed as doubtful by Philadelphia for Game 3 of the 76ers’ Eastern Conference playoff series at Miami on Thursday night.

Embiid was on the floor with the 76ers for their morning shootaround practice, but coach Brett Brown says there’s no change in the All-Star center’s status.

Embiid has missed Philadelphia’s last 10 games while recovering from a concussion and surgery that repaired a fractural orbital bone around his left eye. He’s no longer in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

He took to social media after the 76ers lost Game 2 of this series to the Heat, saying he’s tired of being “babied.”

Embiid has averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds in 63 games for the 76ers during the regular season.