The Chicago Bulls have played reasonably well through their first 19 games, despite the absence of Derrick Rose. However, the loss of Richard Hamilton strikes a heavy blow to a team that already has scoring issues.
The Bulls are 24th in the NBA in points per game, scoring only 94.1 points a contest. But they stay competitive thanks to a swarming and relentless defensive effort, which holds opponents to 91.3 points per game.
Still, the team could use the services of their two top guards. And thankfully for them, rumors are starting to swirl that both stars could be returning sooner rather than later.
According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Rose could be only weeks away from returning to the practice court.
Rose is already cutting and running drills on his reconstructed knee, but his return to game action isn't expected to happen before February, as originally projected.
The final edition of Rose's ‘‘The Return’’ Adidas campaign kicked off last week, and now it seems that tangible progress is being made toward that eventual goal.
Rose isn't the only guard looking to overcome a long injury diagnosis. Hamilton is projected to miss four weeks after tearing the plantar fascia in his left foot last week against the Philadelphia 76ers.
But he hopes to be inserted back into the lineup well before that mark (via NBC Chicago):
[Chicago's medical staff] said four weeks, but they said that I can probably come back before that. Everybody’s body’s different. It’s just one of those things where you just want to try to get better every day.
Would the Bulls be a title contender with Pau Gasol?
At 34 years old, Hamilton isn't exactly spry at this point in his career, so it's hard to project how he'll react to rehab. But, if he can manage to even come back a few games early, it would be a monumental help to the Bulls' offensive efforts.
But it would be a trade for a player the level of Pau Gasol that would provide Chicago the biggest help. According to Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, the Bulls would be in a prime position to deal with the Lakers for Gasol in a three-way trade.
The Bulls could dangle Taj Gibson and the future No. 1 draft pick they're owed by the Charlotte Bobcats.
Gasol is having a difficult time adjusting to Mike Dantoni's system in Los Angeles, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Lakers look to move their All-Star power forward.
If they do, expect the Bulls to be one of the first teams on the phone to make an offer.