• Now that Derrick Rose has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, Chicago is faced with a string of important decisions regarding its roster's construction. First and foremost: The fate of Luol Deng, the tough-defending, persistently underrated forward set to play out the final year of his contract this season. Zach Lowe waded into Deng's future on Grantland, summarizing his situation as such:
Keeping Deng on the books would also kill the (very tenuous) possibility of Chicago carving out max-level/LeBron-level cap space this summer, even if they were to use the amnesty provision on the final season of Carlos Boozer's massive contract. If the Bulls think this era is basically dead, they'd be wise to test the trade market for Deng rather than let him walk for nothing.
The market for expiring contracts has been cool in recent seasons, as teams have learned to properly value first-round picks over a few months of contract-year production from a trade piece. But Deng is a well-regarded Swiss army knife of a player who doesn't require touches and could fit within any system. Chicago might be able to pry a late first-round pick from some borderline contender in exchange for Deng — the desperate Wizards just coughed up a potential lottery pick for Marcin "the towel ripper" Gortat — but even if they can't, the Bulls might net some combination of savings and second-round picks.
• NBA.com's Lang Whitaker sits down with Ricky Rubio to discuss his beard growth and play "Change This Face."
• Perhaps where the Lakers gained most in extending Kobe Bryant's contract was in not having to watch a franchise icon succeed elsewhere.
• It's always a treat when Nathaniel Friedman finds occasion to write about the NBA again, even when these depressing times are what give him the call. Friedman, for GQ, on the style and loss of Derrick Rose:
In the grand lexicon of injury stories, the ones that work best—that is to say, can be spun into something other than sheer disaster—are the ones that carry an element of fate to them. Either the player burned too brightly to last; their style of play flew too close to the sun; they took so many chances, on and off the field, that losing everything fit into their world. Maybe they went too hard, maybe they just upped the ante of creativity to somewhere nearly Faustian. Maybe they never deserved elite status to begin with; injury was karma lowering its blade.
Derrick Rose is none of those things. Like the best running backs, he's raw power transfigured through athleticism and footwork. There's a heroism there that's neither blue collar nor virtuosic, a directness that admits the possibility of creativity. Rose isn't a force of nature. He's a guy who is absolutely sublime at showing up every day and going to work. No fuss, no mess, no underdog glint, just a lot of high-test problem solving. It's a quality few NBA players at his position (or with his importance to a team) possess.
• Through the NBA's public stats database, you can now click through box scores to see full video of every statistical event. It's an incredibly useful resource to see where a player's shots are coming from, the source of a team's turnovers, whether a player's rebounds are contested, and much, much more.
• Dirk Nowitzki, as inspiration for the greatest in the game. Every one-footed fade might as well bear his signature.
• The Bucks far have thus far proven to be a hideous basketball team by perfect accident, having constructed a vaguely competitive roster and suffered a string of crippling injuries. Tom Ziller of SB Nation digs in:
This season has been a disaster you can't script. When the Bucks handed Sanders a massive early extension, he didn't seem like the kind of guy who'd destroy his thumb in a bar fight. When the Bucks traded Brandon Jennings for Brandon Knight, they didn't think they'd lose the new point guard for most of the first month of the season and rely on a second-round pick to lead a team without weapons. When the Bucks acquired Butler for nothing, they didn't realize he'd become a veteran crutch for coach Larry Drew, who has to squeeze points out of a horribly mismatched, broken roster.
Sometimes, you choose to rebuild your team. Other times, your team chooses to rebuild itself. That's what is happening in Milwaukee: a couple of key absences are exposing the rancid guts of a team without a strong base and without a singular offensive player who can rescue it from trouble when needed.
• On the silver lining of the Bucks' poor start: John Henson has made some nice strides as an interior defender.
• A thorough look at where the Grizzlies stand in Marc Gasol's absence, including a needed mention of the differences between the Spurs dismantling Memphis' offense in the postseason and a generic regular season opponent trying to handle he Grizz on the fly.
• A nice, added benefit of the Pacers' early season success: Frank Vogel's tinkering. Winning makes some complacent, but it's seemed to only make Vogel more creative with his rotation. • How Rick Barry changed the business of the NBA forever.