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With Derrick Rose injured, Bulls are looking for backcourt help in draft

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Xavier v Baylor

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Xavier v Baylor

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Updated: July 10, 2012 6:08AM

The 29th pick in the NBA draft on June 28 has taken on even more importance for the Bulls with Derrick Rose and perhaps Luol Deng unavailable to start the season. Factor in the uncertain status of Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson, and the team could use a player who can contribute immediately.

Several guards interviewed at the NBA predraft camp Friday said they sensed a rare opportunity with Rose in Chicago.

“The one thing I’ve heard about Derrick Rose is he’s a very nice guy,” Xavier point guard Tu Holloway said. “Sometimes, when you’re in the pros and you’re a rookie, they aren’t always professional, but I hear from guys who know him that he helps them. I hope I get drafted by the Bulls with the 29th pick. If not, I hope I can go to another good team.”

Bulls general manager Gar Forman and vice president John Paxson prefer to take the best available player regardless of position, but their backcourt needs might take precedence with Rose recovering from surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Several players who’ve worked out for the Bulls said the team is focusing on the backcourt.

Ratcheting up the urgency are salary-cap issues that are expected to prevent the team from making significant upgrades via free ­agency.

 “That’s a great situation to be in,” Oregon State shooting guard Jared Cunningham said of joining Rose and the Bulls. “He’s one of the best point guards in the league right now, and maybe with him being out, you can establish yourself as a combo guard or whatever they want you to play coming in, and then when he comes back, I could play behind him or with him. That’s a great situation for me.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau called the Spurs the NBA’s “gold standard” during the regular season, and it wasn’t just because of how much he respects the coaching job Gregg Popovich has done through the years. The Spurs’ front office also has been a model for the Bulls.

The Spurs have been contending for championships and therefore picking near the bottom of the first round for more than a decade but have continued to find role players to surround cornerstones Tim Duncan, Tony Parker (28th overall in 2001) and Manu Ginobili (57th in 1999) late in the first round and even in the second round.

The Bulls had similar success with Taj Gibson (26th in 2009). Jimmy Butler (30th) was solid as a rookie and likely will assume Ronnie Brewer’s former role next season. 

“I just feel like they have a great team,” said Iona point guard Scott Machado, who also has worked out for the Bulls. “They play great defense and have a lot of pieces over there they can work with. Derrick Rose being hurt is just an opportunity for somebody else to step in and [follow] what he’s been doing with them and just be able to control the team and run the team like he was doing. 

“Then when he comes back, I’d just be learning from one of the best point guards in the NBA. That would be a great thing.”

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