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Bulls vs. Knicks game preview: No Butler for opening night

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The Bulls season kicks off on the road, in New York, against Carmelo and the Knicks.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 7 p.m. CST, the Bulls take on the Carmelo Anthony's New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. It's the Bulls first chance to show Carmelo what he missed out on by passing on the opportunity to join the Bulls and instead taking all that sweet skrilla that the Zen Master was offering.

It's hard to blame Melo for passing on the money, much as we might want to do, as selfish fans. Coming to Chicago would have come with a huge downgrade in pay. Melo would have had to move his kids from the city they've begun to call home. It probably would have pissed his wife off. Plus, there's no guarantee, with the questions about Derrick Rose's health, that the Bulls could win it all. Nothing is guaranteed, after all, except for NBA contracts. Getting that money while it's there is usually the smart bet. Still, though, the Bulls failed pursuit of Melo is sure to be a storyline that the ESPN broadcast hits on more than once and if it helps you get excited for tonight's game, by all means, enjoy booing at your TV or computer screen whenever Melo touches the ball. I may even join you.

Melo figures to have a good game, though, as the Bulls will be without Jimmy Butler tonight, and unfortunately, it seems for at least a few weeks. That's trouble, because Jimmy is the Bulls only wing defender with any hope of slowing Melo down. Tony Snell will probably get a chance, if only because he has the length and on-ball defensive skills to potentially bother Melo in his isolations. If the Knicks are running the triangle effectively, that increases the chance that Tony gets lost, as he often does, and gets the Thibs-hook. So that's something to watch for tonight.

On top of booing Anthony, we can also look forward to the greater joy of watching Derrick Rose play real-life NBA basketball games that count for the first time in almost a year. On top of that, Rose has often seemed to get up for playing in Madison Square Garden, as many stars often do. Remember this?

Or how about this?

It was a while ago, so you're forgiven if you'd forgotten Derrick's Garden exploits.

In addition, last year, this time in Chicago, Rose struggled for much of his game against New York, as Tyson Chandler's rim protection (helpfully absent this year) seemed to bother him all night. But that didn't stop Derrick from doing this at the buzzer:

Hell yes! Are you amped? I certainly am. I can't wait to see Sad Spike Lee again tonight. Again, I say, hell yes.

I could go into the potential concerns that the Bulls pre-season play has caused to bubble up in my head, but for tonight, I'm pushing that all to the side. Derrick Rose is back playing games that really, really count, and as long as that's true, everything else is gravy. Go Bulls.