NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Bulls make their choice for future, deal Rose — If you somehow missed it yesterday, the Chicago Bulls sent their former MVP, Derrick Rose, to the New York Knicks in a trade that ends a memorable-yet-difficult era in Chicago. Yes, Rose was the league’s top player in 2010-11, the Rookie of the Year in 2008-09 and a three-time All-Star. But his greatness was sapped by a multitude of knee injuries and in his absence, swingman Jimmy Butler emerged as a star. In dealing Rose, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago made it clear who it is siding with as the face of its future:
It’s Jimmy Butler’s team now.
Gar Forman hesitated to call it that, but the general manager couldn’t hide from the obvious on Wednesday, after the Bulls announced that they had traded Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks in a five-player deal.
That meant Rose’s long-standing health concerns are no longer a Bulls problem. His camp’s inability to consistently have civil conversations with his hometown organization? His brother/manager, Reggie, spouting off? Rose’s questioned work ethic by Butler and others?
All of it, sent packing in a deal with the New York Knicks that now has Rose in the “Big Apple,’’ along with Justin Holiday and a 2017 second round pick.
“Knowing Derrick as I do makes this trade a hard one,’’ Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “Everyone knows him as the local kid who became MVP for his hometown team, but not everyone got to know him like I did. While he is a terrific basketball player, he is an even better person with a tremendous heart.
“I wish him the best of health for the remainder of his career, and I want to personally thank him for everything that he did on the court and in the community during his time with the Chicago Bulls.’’
Forman reiterated that sentiment.
“It’s always difficult when you’re going to trade somebody like Derrick Rose,’’ Forman said in a news conference at the Advocate Center. “Derrick obviously has meant quite a bit to this team, to this organization, and to this city, and we’re very thankful with everything Derrick brought to the table.
“Even though it’s very difficult to move someone like Derrick, we thought it was the right decision for the direction that we’re headed.’’
Privately, the Bulls were getting the sense that Rose would want a max deal coming off a 2016-17 season in which he was scheduled to make $21.3 million, and rather than have to deal with the headache of negotiating or the public relations hit they might take, the decision was obviously made to move on now.
Forman called it a “basketball decision’’ rather than a financial decision, but reiterated that the cost uncertainty of free agency over the next few seasons because of a rising salary cap was a factor.
A graduate of Simeon High School, Rose’s game hit its ceiling during the 2010-11 season in which the 6-foot-3 point guard averaged 25 points and 7.7 assists per game. It was a year later in the playoffs, however, that Rose’s climb would come to an abrupt ending.
Tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the first-round playoff loss to Philadelphia, Rose sat out the entire 2012-13 season, and when he did return lasted only 10 games because of a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Since those injuries, Rose’s game was never the same, with his healthiest season coming this year, as he averaged 16.4 points and played in 66 games.
With Hoiberg and Butler both signing five-year deals last season, staying power wasn’t favoring the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year.
“The decision really was what I said,’’ Forman said, when asked if the clash of egos between Butler and Rose played a factor. “We felt that we needed to start changing the roster. We felt we needed to start getting younger and more athletic. It was more from a team building standpoint in trying to get this process started.’’
With Rose now out the door, it was further evidence of the break-up between free agent-to-be Joakim Noah and the Bulls also underway.
As the Sun-Times reported last month, Noah had already set his mind on going elsewhere because of a mistrust in the front office, specifically Forman. The Rose trade does very little to change that, especially with how tight Noah and Rose were.
No. 2: Report: George accepts offer to play for Team USA — One of the first NBA players to be on the fence about playing in the 2016 Olympics was Indiana Pacers star Paul George. His apprehension was understandable, given that he was recovering from a gruesome leg injury that robbed him of all but six games in 2014-15. While George more than bounced back to his All-Star form last season, he remained iffy on Team USA prospects until his season was over. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, George is in fact heading to Rio for the 2016 Olympics with Team USA:
Indiana Pacers guard/forward Paul George has accepted an invitation to play for USA Basketball’s 2016 Rio Olympics team, a source told The Undefeated.
George suffered a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg while playing in the USA Basketball Showcase scrimmage in August 2014. The injury caused the three-time NBA All-Star to miss most of the 2014-15 season. USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo promised George an Olympic roster spot after he suffered the injury, and the latter recently accepted.
It has always been a dream of George’s to compete for a gold medal for his country, a source said.
George, 26, will be playing for the USA Basketball national team for the first time.
George had said during this season that he was unsure whether his body would allow him to vie for a spot on Team USA after the grind of the NBA campaign, but said in an interview with ESPN’s Cari Champion earlier this month that he was going to give it “a shot.”
“I was just hesitant on the simple fact that, the past couple years has obviously been tough for me — just felt like I didn’t have enough time to myself, and time to recover, and you know, give my body a rest,” George said. “I didn’t want to jump out of a season, jump right into the Olympics. But I think I kind of said that too prematurely.
“I didn’t give myself enough time to really think it through. I think since I’ve been off, my body’s telling me yes, my mind is telling me yes, people around me are telling me yes. So I feel good about it. And, you know … I want to give it a shot.”
And while George is apparently in for this summer’s Olympics, it seems Cleveland Cavs star LeBron James remains likely to sit it out:
No. 3: GM reassures Lakers’ Russell about trade rumors — Much like the trade deadline in mid-February, today will be one of the more stressful days for a multitude of players in the NBA. As the NBA Draft approaches tonight (7 ET, ESPN), players with years of experience as well as those just a few seasons into their careers may hear their names bandied about in trade talks. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reports that Los Angeles Lakers officials have tried to reassure second-year guard D’Angelo Russell about any trade chatter he may hear:
The indifference regarding endless trade scenarios went beyond D’Angelo Russell’s confidence and talent.
“You hear trade talks,” Russell said on Tuesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Then you get a text from your GM saying he trusts your work ethic and don’t worry about it.”
Russell represents one of the few assets the Lakers could dangle in a trade for a veteran or for another draft pick. But it hardly appeared Russell’s future seems in question. He has spent most of the offseason working out at the Lakers’ practice facility and peppering Lakers coach Luke Walton with questions over the phone.
“Please don’t take this the wrong way,” Russell said. “He didn’t compare me to Steph (Curry). But I asked him a lot about Steph. I asked him a lot of Steph questions about how he got to this point.”
Walton then brought up how Curry’s work ethic largely elevated his shooting.
“‘Get your jump shot and ability to score the ball up to par like he did,’” Russell recalled Walton telling him. “It’ll have defenders not knowing if they should close out to block your shot or close out to defend you. That’s when it causes hell for other teams.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Once he’s done serving as U.S. president this year, Barack Obama might be interested in part-owning an NBA team someday … During yesterday’s championship celebration, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson got in a not-so-subtle shot at Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green … Cavs forward/veteran Richard Jefferson reverses field about that whole retiring thing …