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Bulls playing well through pain, but injury worries to Rose, Deng, and Watson shadow

Looks like I didn't miss too much. 3 games without Derrick Rose (which basically don't count, like Rose's half-court heaves!), and the trade deadline came and went. Though the Bulls didn't do anything, at least the Heat or another top-tier contender did any improving either. And the Bulls were always in a unique and enviable situation where they had no easily identifiable ways to upgrade (like, Lakers PG or Heat C or something), nor obvious dead money to help get it.

No, with a deep and contributing roster that means a lot of wins, also makes for less-than-exciting trade deadlines.

And it can also lead to improbably exciting wins, like the one against Miami. It was an amazing thing to see, and even if it may turn out to mean little, it felt great. As much as the Bulls have been close in their losses to the Heat, the fact that they couldn't win one of those last 5 was starting to get into my head. Not necessarily the Bulls head, since they're very likely of greater mental conviction than I, though it wouldn't be crazy to think the John Lucas Memorial Awesome Game gives some kind of edge for future matchups. A meaningful edge, probably not. But it can't hurt, and it helps in obtaining the bigger edge that is home-court advantage.

Of course, it's hard to get too giddy when discussing how great the Bulls are handling injuries since they're having to handle injuries in the first place. When it comes to Derrick Rose's groin injury, there are compounding factors of tricky diagnoses and Bulls subterfuge that has apparently not only disallowed any information about his return, but the lack of desire to even try to find out. I'll push this Sam Smith speculation if only to embarrass the idea of such a thing:

Now, no one has said anything to me and I haven’t asked, and the Bulls say Derrick Rose remains day to day. But just watching Rose, who missed his third consecutive game with a groin injury and 13th this season, I wouldn’t be surprised not to see Rose playing for a few more weeks.

Another observer is only willing to go as far as to say Rose will sit out this week's road trip. A reporter in KC Johnson (qualified as such because he at least 'asked'...sources) said earlier in the week Rose will go on the trip. I'm not sure if the traveling training staff beats not traveling at all, but I hope such disregard for caution isn't so they can keep saying 'day-to-day' and have guys not bring jackets to mess with opposing gameplans.

Rose's backup CJ Watson has admirably played through his injury, perhaps partly because he's more needed with Rose out. The cost of doing so doesn't sound too fun, and the combination of treatment and painkilling shots has him to the point of saying "I'm alive, that's all I can say".

And in even worse news, Luol Deng is also playing through pain and it's not just treatment that's affecting him, it's making a difference on the court. I think Bulls Confidential put it well in his recap of the Sixers game:

Over the past two games Deng has combined from 1 for 11 from the three point line, and Deng's three point shooting has been the only thing keeping his offensive game afloat. He dribble penetration game has dwindled with the wrist injury, and Deng hasn't been moving off the ball in the offense as much as in the past.

He's become an expensive spot up shooter who can play defense. Those are still valuable skills, but it's not what the Bulls would get from a fully healthy Deng.

As for Rip Hamilton, every time I see an update my first thought is recollecting that he's indeed on the team.

Maybe that buyers remorse had the Bulls reluctant to make a move during the deadline. Or instead of thinking they have enough to stand pat because it's their year, they really did so because it could just not be their year: if there's too many key injuries nothing on the trade market would've helped anyway.

Meanwhile, the Bulls keep playing hard and winning games, because that's what they do. And by playing superlative defense and having their own shots serve only as potential offensive rebounds, they can still win a lot. It's incredibly impressive, but not as important as getting the full team back. Hopefully the thrill of such victories and veteran buyout season is enough of a distraction until we get to that point.