Derrick Rose: “I’m not playing well right now”

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The numbers are just ugly any way you slice them up.

Derrick Rose is shooting 28.8 percent overall and 27.6 percent from three so far this young season. He has taken nearly half his shots (48 percent) inside the restricted area but is shooting just 36 percent on those. He is 5-of-22 outside the paint, 1-of-7 from the midrange. The Bulls were up 20 on the Sixers Saturday yet lost and Rose was a big part of that collapse with five fourth quarter turnovers.

He’s had more rust than the Tin Man.

And he isn’t oblivious to it, as he told Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com.

“You can call it whatever you want to call it,” Derrick Rose said after his 13-point, 4-for-14 shooting, eight-turnover game in the Bulls’ Saturday-night loss to the 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. “I’m not playing well right now.”

“I would have to say the turnovers,” Rose responded when asked what bothered him most about his performance. “The missed shots, I could deal with. My rhythm’s going to come. But the turnovers, I had two or three in a row. We couldn’t afford them at the time. But all I could do is work hard and like I said, it’s going to come to me.

“Me just doing too much, overthinking the play,” he continued when asked why they were occurring. “Easily could have dropped the ball to Booz or Jo, but just thinking too much. But it can easily be fixed. We blew a lead and at the end, they got to almost every loose ball, hit almost every shot they needed to win the game.”

I went back Sunday morning and watched every Rose shot and turnover through the first three games and if you want the silver lining it’s that his knee is just fine — he’s quick and explosive like his old self. That’s not the issue.

But the problem is not complex, it’s pretty obvious — he isn’t finishing shots he did before. He’s making bad decisions with the ball on the attack.

Part of what made Rose compelling to watch was his Iverson-like ability to both penetrate and finish among the trees in the paint in the NBA. We’ve seen that in flashes — his first bucket of the season, his game winner against the Knicks — but mostly if he’s contested at all he’s struggling to finish. He’s had better luck in transition, but usually there he has a little more room to operate.

He also seems more confident in taking the three, he isn’t shying away from it, but that isn’t going in either.

Three games in is small sample size theater and we should say, “It takes a while to get back up to game speed and adjust.” No matter when he came back there were going to be bumps in the road because there is simply no substitute for playing at the speed of an NBA game and dealing with the length of those players. He’s in that period.

The next question is this: How long before we should be worried?

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.

Report: Other small-market teams championing Pacers’ tampering allegation against Lakers

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The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR

In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”

Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.

The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.

I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.