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Follow the Suns

D.H. Kim | Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Chicago Bulls for a while were the only team able to thwart the Miami Heat on their historic run closing at 27 consecutive wins, just six shy of the Lakers’ record 33-game win streak. The adage, however, is the regular season doesn’t really matter. With Derrick Rose out indefinitely from a left ACL injury, the Bulls are still an incomplete team and too lacking to be a serious playoff contender.
The Bulls’ defense, which has been their main forte, is struggling with a depleted roster torn by injuries. Marco Belinelli is suffering from an abdominal strain, Richard Hamilton has a lower back strain and Joakin Noah has a foot injury. The rest of their roster is not so distinguished and worthy of mentioning. Brian Scalabrine is better than most of their bench players, and I am not making fun of Scalabrine, who has been the subject of many NBA memes.
 The main point here is the Bulls definitely need to focus on rejuvenating their roster. They need to learn from the Phoenix Suns’ training staff, which has an extensive track record of quickly recovering high-profile players including Channing Frye, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash and Grant Hill. What the Suns have done is amazing. It’s like “Moneyball” all over again. Using research and proven medical techniques, the Suns keep the team healthy on a far more regular basis than an average NBA team and squeeze as much potential as they can from their aging veteran players. They have found the fountain of youth, and it’s definitely not in Florida.
Shaq is a testament to how the Suns have been able to rapidly regenerate injured players. When O’Neal arrived in Phoenix in 2008, I was skeptical of his ability to even contribute the tiniest bit. I imagined O’Neal’s Phoenix arrival as a ceremonious finale to his hall of fame career, but in fact Shaq played more than 70 games during the 2008-2009 season with the Suns, more games than since his 1999-2000 season playing with Kobe Bryant.
The fact is the Bulls definitely have the funds the Suns do not have. They can finance huge stars and make as many roster changes as they can, but the Bulls can learn a valuable lesson here. They can revamp their training facility and staff like Phoenix and take a much more active and comprehensive role in the health of their players.
Derrick Rose is arguably one of the most dynamic players to watch on television, and it’s a shame they have not already sent him to Phoenix for treatment. I hope Rose comes back to posterize Goran Dragic again and prompt Bulls’ commentator Stacey King to say, “Stop it. Do not do him like that. What are you doing Dragic? Did you not get the memo? Derrick Rose can go upstairs! Where is my poster machine?”