By K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune –
CHICAGO — At this rate, the Bulls might start longing for the days Derrick Rose merely hurt himself with an apple cutter in bed.
Rose didn’t miss any games when that odd incident occurred in December 2008 of his rookie season.
But in this crazy, condensed NBA schedule, Rose already has missed action to a sprained left big toe and lower back spasms. And he attributed the latter to tendinitis in his legs that has flared intermittently since his high school days.
Rose also suffered a bruised left elbow Jan. 4 against the Pistons that almost sidelined him but didn’t. The Bulls obviously prefer their most valuable player — and the NBA’s — to be breaking down defenses, not simply breaking down.
Addressing reporters late Monday night in New Jersey, Rose vowed to play Wednesday night against the Hornets. According to someone who spoke to him on the Bulls’ off day Tuesday in New Orleans, Rose felt slightly better after receiving treatment and a massage.
With the Hornets reeling, C.J. Watson rolling and the Bulls offense clicking, it’s possible Rose could sit for the sixth time this season. He missed just six games combined in his first three seasons.
“You’re always concerned,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Certainly with him, but no more so than every other player too. Health is a big concern. He has done a great job of taking care of himself this year, doing a lot of extra conditioning, lifting, rehab, massage, rest. We’re hopeful that this is a very short-term thing.”
Short- or long-term, Watson is ready for whatever.
“I try to have the same mindset, play aggressive whether I get eight minutes or more,” Watson said.
Watson flirted with a triple-double against the Nets and is averaging 14.8 points and 5.3 assists in just 26.8 minutes over the last four games.
“C.J. is an excellent point guard,” Kyle Korver said. “It’s tough when you have the MVP. Your minutes aren’t always there. But I don’t think there’s any doubt that if Derrick doesn’t play, we’re going to get a great game from him.
“He runs the offense really well. He makes all the reads. He’s a good defender. Obviously, we’d prefer to have Derrick healthy. But we feel confident with C.J. handling the point.”
Watson said Thibodeau instructs him to play with pace, particularly when he’s with the second unit, and Watson’s decision-making has been efficient.
“It’s a great luxury to have because it’s not only his ability to play extended minutes, he has confidence to start,” Thibodeau said. “C.J. does a little of everything. He’s a scoring point guard, very good pick-and-roll player. And the game usually picks up when he’s running the point.”
Thibodeau has a point. But everybody knows the Bulls need a healthy Rose to get to where they want to go.
“I’ll get a massage and stretched the right way and hopefully it will be gone,” Rose said of his plans for Tuesday and Wednesday — and beyond.
Layups: The contracts of Brian Scalabrine and John Lucas III will become fully guaranteed for the remainder of the season Friday. Either player would have had to be released by close of business Tuesday to clear waivers before the deadline. … The Bulls remain in a holding pattern for veteran center Joel Przybilla, who is choosing between the Bulls, Heat and not playing.