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Derrick Rose: Bulls are more talented than at any point in his career

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Derrick Rose has reportedly patched up his beef with the Chicago Bulls.

Or it never existed in the first place.

The Rose-Bulls saga has been tough to read, because there has been so much innuendo with few – even under the cloak of anonymity – direct complaints. Have Rose’s injuries led to discord? What sides do ownership, the front office, coaches and other players take? As far as rifts, this one is mostly blurry.

But there was one exception: Derrick Rose’s brother complaining on the record the Bulls hadn’t built a good enough supporting cast around the point guard.

Considering that’s the strongest indication we have of a divide between Rose’s camp and the Bulls, maybe we don’t need to look too deeply into why Rose and the Bulls are on such good terms. The answer might be pretty simple.

Chicago had a good offseason.

Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott are impressive additions to a team that already includes Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy.

Rose can work with that.

Rose, via Nick Friedell of ESPN:

“I think this is the most talented team I’ve played on in my NBA career to tell you the truth,” Rose said after Team USA’s practice on Wednesday. “With all the players that I have, with the experience that everybody’s bringing to the table. And the way that everybody’s working out individually during the offseason and what I’ve been hearing.”

Rose is pleased with the efforts made by general manager Gar Forman and executive VP John Paxson in upgrading the roster.

“I have that sense that they went for it,” Rose said. “That they gave their all. We got who we could get and who wanted to come. And that’s who we have to ride with. We have a lot of confidence in the players that we just signed and we know that the guys that’s already there is working out very hard. So it’s just a matter of getting in the gym, working out together, jelling very quickly, since we’re not going overseas early.”

Rose has played for a team a team that went 50-16 and another that went 62-20 and reached the conference finals. Could this edition of the Bulls really surpass those two?

In terms of talent, maybe. One of those prior teams started Keith Bogans, and the other started Ronnie Brewer. Whether you consider Jimmy Butler or Mike Dunleavy the weak starter, he’s better than Bogans and Brewer.

However, there are diminishing returns on a team that features four solid big men. Ninety-six minutes might not be enough for Noah, Gasol, Gibson and Mirotic, and I doubt any of them can play the three with any regularity. Plus, Mirotic and McDermott might need time to adjust to the NBA – not a knock on their talent, just their readiness.

Undoubtedly, the Bulls are talented. How many wins that eventually translates into and how quickly Chicago reaches peak form are yet to be determined.

Of course, Rose’s health is the lynchpin. His brother can complain about the Bulls’ supporting cast and Rose can praise it all they want. Chicago isn’t reaching its highest goals unless Rose is healthy.

Without him, they’re not nearly talented enough.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.

Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is helped to his feet by teammates James Harden #13 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.

So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.

The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.

Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.

After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).

But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?

Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.

He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.

But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.

I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.

John Wall pushes down Jusuf Nurkic from behind in retaliation (video)

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John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.

An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.

But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.