Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards - NBA Global Games Rio 2013

Chicago columnist hammers Derrick Rose as no longer humble star


Derrick Rose is loyal. Don’t believe me? Remember when he said he wanted to roll with with Keith Bogans as his two guard rather than recruit other guys to shake up the roster? It’s just who he is.

Then came the report out of the New York Daily News (not a local source) that Rose was concerned that the Bulls would choose to rebuild rather than load up for title contention. He’s also a very competitive guy.

Dan Bernstein of CBSChicago put those two things together with the second consecutive season of Rose suffering a major knee injury and decided Rose is no longer a humble homegrown star — then ripped him for it.

What does he think they have, and where does he think it’s going? Most importantly, what does he not understand about the primary reason for the Bulls’ current plight? It takes some nerve to call out his employers after they have paid him 30% of their salary cap to miss consecutive seasons.

This is typical behavior from a player who has always done only what is in his personal best interest, everybody else be damned. He’ll take every last dollar, and enjoy all the team-supplied resources for medical consultations, surgeries, rehabilitation programs and various therapists, only to ignore their professional opinions just because he feels like it. And don’t bother asking him for even token assistance in welcoming potential free agents either, because he doesn’t want to.

At this moment, John Paxson and Gar Forman are trying to win an NBA championship more in spite of Derrick Rose than because of him.

It goes on. It’s just ridiculous — you think Rose wants to be injured? It’s a column that sounds of frustration — but it strikes a chord with some Bulls fans. There is a lot of frustration with Rose right now, fans thought they had a potential contender to cheer this season and that blew up along with his knee. He’s been out a long time.

Still, I find that attitude just out of touch with reality or just understanding the players involved.

First and foremost, Rose doesn’t get to decide what happens with the team — but he has a right to be concerned. The same way those fans do. The Bulls are not the most free spending of franchises. Bulls fans are going to tell me they are not concerned the front office could screw this up?

That said the Bulls are going to stick with what could be the core of a contender — Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler.

That list doesn’t include Luol Deng — he could leave this summer as a free agent. Rose’s loyalty instincts want the Bulls to pay whatever to keep him. The reality is they may move him to get some other long-term pieces, or just let him walk to free up cap space. Which is the same reason Carlos Boozer could be amnestied — make some space to go get another star.

That’s not Utah Jazz-style rebuild, what Chicago plans is a retooling. Guys potentially coming on the market in the coming years — Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge — might be better fits, the kind of guys that make the Bulls contenders.

But right now there is just frustration and disappointment in Chicago. Which leads to some ridiculous finger pointing sometimes.

51 Questions: Do the Phoenix Suns finally have a playoff formula?

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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Do the Phoenix Suns finally have a playoff formula?

It has been five years since the Phoenix Suns made the playoffs, tying the franchise record for longest playoff drought. It’s the fourth longest active drought in the NBA (Timberwolves at 11, Kings at nine, and Pistons at six).

Think about it this way: The Magic, Sixers, and Jazz have been to the playoffs more recently than the Suns.

Phoenix hasn’t bottomed out on a rebuild, they’ve actually been pretty good — they surprised everyone and won 48 games two seasons ago, then had 39 wins last season when things went very wrong and injuries crushed the team after the All-Star break. However, in a deep Western Conference pretty good isn’t good enough.

Suns management and ownership wants that to change. They want back in the playoff dance. Now.

It’s why they went hard after LaMarcus Aldridge this summer, coming in a surprising second to a Spurs team that nobody was likely to catch in that chase.

This summer the Suns made other moves to address needs. They went out and got Tyson Chandler as a free agent. The first reaction was he was there to provide a shot blocking and defensive quarterbacking, two things the Suns sorely lacked. However, just as importantly, they needed a vocal locker room leader, a vacuum that was part of the problem in Phoenix’s implosion last season.

The Suns also needed shooting, they went out and got Mirza Teletovic and drafted Devin Booker.

It’s easy to think the Suns regressed because they lost a lot of talent since the last trade deadline — Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Gerald Green, Brandan Wright — but they believe the pieces they have now fit together better.

Phoenix believes it can make the playoffs; it thinks it finally has the right formula.

Maybe. They will be in the mix. But a four things have to happen to make that a reality.

First is Chandler has to lead a defensive renaissance on this team. Last season they were average, 17th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, but Chandler can help change that. First, he gives them defensive rebounding that they lacked. He gives them a quarterback that they needed to call things out and have everyone on the same page (reports of how he talks on defense are already pouring out of camp). And he helps protects the paint — that means Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and P.J. Tucker can pressure the ball more and take risks out on the perimeter knowing Chandler can erase some mistakes.

The second is an obvious one: Bledsoe and Knight need to be able to work well together. They are going to share playmaking duties, and both are going to spend time working off the ball, both need to be ready for that mental adjustment. We haven’t seen that much yet, we need to see how it works out.

Third, there needs to be shooting to space the floor. Bledsoe is a penetrator who is a career 32 percent from three, while Knight shot just 31.3 percent from three after being traded to the Suns (likely due to ankle injuries that required off-season surgery). Those two men will be running the pick-and-roll with Chandler, who sets a good pick, rolls hard and can finish, but doesn’t have shooting range. The Suns other two starters are likely P.J. Tucker, who is not a huge threat from three but shot a respectable 34.5 percent from there last season, and Markieff Morris, who is a career 32.8 percent from three.

If I’m an opposing defense, what’s to keep me from going under picks and packing the lane against the Suns? Phoenix needs Knight to return to the guy who is a career 36 percent from three, they need Morris to improve from the outside, and they need guys like Teletovic and Booker to play key minutes and space the floor at times.

Fourth, and finally, they need the potentially volatile mixture of an unhappy Morris and a coach in Jeff Hornacek in the last year of his contract not to combust. Everyone is saying all the right things at the start of camp, and this is why guys like Chandler and Ronnie Price were brought in, but there is the potential for things to go sideways, especially if some early losses pile up.

The biggest hurdle for the Suns in ending their playoff drought is they are in the Western Conference.

Even if all four of things mentioned above go right for them — if they run and hit more threes plus play better defense — this is likely a 45 win team (give or take a few, and probably take). The problem is that in the West that may not be enough. Barring injuries, there are likely seven lock playoff teams in the West — Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Rockets, Thunder, Grizzlies, and Pelicans. That leaves the Suns battling teams such as the Jazz, Mavericks and maybe the Kings for that final playoff spot. It may take more than 45 wins, and things are going to have to break the Suns’ way to get there.

Maybe Robert Sarver gets his way and the playoff drought ends this season, it’s more likely than snow in Phoenix this winter. But I wouldn’t bet much on either happening.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James

Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.