Derrick Rose was aggressive in pursuit of free agent Pau Gasol. Recruiting Carmelo Anthony? Not so much.

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There’s a weird tension building between Derrick Rose and the Bulls front office, and it’s obviously (at least partially) related to his injury history when compared to his contract.

With Rose being injured and unavailable for the majority of the last three seasons (playing just 49 games in total), the least he could be doing in the eyes of the franchise would be to help lure free agents to sign in Chicago in order to bolster the roster.

But Rose has been historically reluctant to engage in that activity, and that was apparently a sore spot in the Carmelo Anthony meetings this summer — especially when considering that Rose was much more aggressive in getting involved with trying to recruit free agent Pau Gasol.

From Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Multiple sources in the organization say tension was mounting because Rose allowed his own camp to take shots at the franchise. Gradually, there seemed to be less communication between the Bulls and their biggest star. And tensions hit a peak when Rose, who has a five-year, $94.8 million contract, seemed to blatantly resist helping build the roster in a new NBA where stars increasingly double as recruiters. …

Looking back, it’s clear Rose wasn’t all that interested in teaming with Anthony, who chose to return to the New York Knicks. Rose was much more aggressive in the Bulls’ pursuit of free agent Pau Gasol, not only asking for the veteran’s phone number, but giving a hard sell to the big man on joining the Bulls.

So why Gasol and not Anthony?

“That’s someone that I knew I could play with,’’ Rose said of Gasol. “You think about Pau, him now being in the East, what he’ll be able to achieve with the way we play, the way we dump the ball in the post a lot. It could be great.’’

There’s more in that piece about the particulars of Rose’s involvement (or lack thereof) with Anthony’s free agent visit to Chicago, and the tensions that may exist between Rose’s “camp” and the front office.

But once Rose returns to action, all of this will be in the rearview mirror. Neither Rose nor the Bulls are going to be in the best of spirits while he’s sidelined due to injury, and that’s the only time when this off-court stuff will creep into the headlines and onto the surface.

Rose is there to help the Bulls win games, pure and simple. All indications are that he’s ready to do that once next season begins, and as soon as that happens again, the dissection of what he did or did not do during the offseason will immediately cease to exist.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.