Kurt Helin

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 07:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during a game against the Miami Heat  at American Airlines Arena on April 7, 2016 in Miami, Florida.  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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Derrick Rose keeps underdog mentality heading into wild offseason in Chicago

10 Comments

Can the Chicago Bulls become Jimmy Butler‘s team if Derrick Rose is still on it?

That question — and the evolution of the team’s roster to fit the style Fred Hoiberg wants to play — promise to make this an interesting and tumultuous offseason in Chicago.

Rose doesn’t want to talk about any of that. He never does. All he would say in an interview with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune is that he will work to get better for next season, and he’ll deal with free agency in the summer of 2017 when his contract is up.

“I’ll think about that when that time comes,” Rose said. “As far as right now, the only thing I can think about is this offseason. I’ve had that mentality ever since my injuries. I learned to deal with reality and live in the moment. I feel I’m doing all I can for this team, myself and my family. And that’s all I can control right now….

“I sometimes feel people forget I’ve endured three surgeries, three rehabs. But even when I was younger, I always had the underdog mentality. People always would put people in front of me. I always had to fight my way to the top.

“In this league, having the success that I had so early and then having the injuries that I had, it kind of put me in the same place. I’m familiar with it. It’s not foreign ground. I’ve been here before and there’s nothing but hard work to get back to the top.”

Rose played 66 games this past season — more than in the three previous seasons combined — and overcame an orbital eye fracture to average 16.4 points per game on a true shooting percentage of 47.9 percent (below the league average) while adding 4.7 assists a night. His shooting numbers were a lot better after the All-Star break, with the facial injury healed and his legs under him he averaged 17.1 points a game and shot 37 percent from three.

He’s still a quality player, but he’s not a franchise player anymore. Three knee surgeries robbed him of the explosive athleticism that set him apart and made him an MVP, a max salary guy that was a fan favorite around the league. Now he’s a good player, not great. The question is fit. Of course, it was hard for anyone in Chicago to find a steady role or fit this season.

The Bulls are expected to see if there is a trade market for him this off-season, but at $21.3 million it will be tough to find a taker even if it is the final year of his contract (and other teams are flush with cap space). Rose likely remains a Bull.

Expect Rose to keep his head down and keep working. (Although, if he does get moved it will be interesting to see what he says on his way out the door.)

Quote of the Day: LeBron is not playing against Stans

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: at the United Center on April 9, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images
8 Comments

“It’s not about me vs. Stan (Van Gundy), me vs. Stanley (Johnson) or me vs. any other Stan.”

LeBron James, talking about the Cavaliers’ first-round series with the Pistons, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Just to be clear, it’s also not about LeBron vs. Stan Lee, Stan Musial, Stan Marsh from South Park, Stan Wawrinka, Stan Laurel, Stan Kubrick, Stan Getz, Stan from the Eminem song, or the Stanley Cup.

Giannis Antetokounmpo talks loving Milwaukee, popularity in Greece

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 25:  Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks carries the ball against the Boston Celtics during the first quarter at TD Garden on February 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Getty Images
5 Comments

It’s a good time to be Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jason Kidd and the Bucks found an on-the-court role for him as a point-forward where he thrived at the end of the season. Also, he is eligible for a contract extension to his rookie deal this summer, and that is going to get him PAID — he is a clear max extension player and with that his salary in 2017-18 will jump to roughly $25 million a season (depending on the final salary cap numbers).

Antetokounmpo is not looking to get out of Milwaukee, saying at his exit interview he hoped to play 20 years for the same team like Kobe. He echoed the same sentiment to Jared Zwerling in an interview on the NBPA site.

“I love it, especially I’m not such an outgoing guy. Living here, it makes me more focused with basketball and my family—the two most important things in my life. I love to be here in Milwaukee—a really respectful, a really quiet city, not flashy, not fancy. A lot of fans approach me every day and give me words of wisdom.”

A lot of fans approach players in New York too, but far less rarely with words of wisdom.

Antetokounmpo said he plans to spend this summer working out with his basketball playing brothers — Thanasis (who played in the D-League for the Westchester Knicks and played two games for the Knicks themselves this season) and Kostas (who just finished high school and will play college ball next season).

“This is a really important summer for me, Thanasis and Kostas. We’re going to have our own training camps in Greece, Milwaukee and L.A.—just step away a little bit from everybody and just focus. When [our youngest brother], Alex, is done with school, he’s going to join us.”

The players are famous in Greece, which has had a good national team program for years. It’s something they are still adjusting, too.

“Last summer was pretty crazy. Me and Thanasis were just hanging out at our apartment and tweeted like five hours before that we’re going to be there to just play basketball. I thought there would be like 20, 30 guys, but like 2, 3,000 people came. And camera crews from every Greek channel came.”

The one key takeaway from the article — which you should read — is that Antetokounmpo is grounded. He has his family close, and that’s what matters to him. That and basketball. There’s always a risk giving a max extension to a young player, wondering if and how that kind of money may change him (in terms of focus or work ethic). The Bucks should have no such concerns.

Now they just need to build the right kind of team around them.

AP: Timberwolves talking with Mark Jackson about head coaching job

Mark Jackson
26 Comments

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A person with knowledge of the search tells The Associated Press that the Minnesota Timberwolves plan to interview Mark Jackson for their coaching vacancy.

The person says Jackson will interview with the team Wednesday, days after the Wolves completed interviews with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy, a former Knicks coach who is now with ESPN. The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team has not publicly disclosed specifics of its search.

Jackson has not coached in the NBA since he was fired by the Golden State Warriors in 2014 after three seasons and a 121-109 record that included two trips to the playoffs.

Minnesota chose not to retain interim coach Sam Mitchell, who filled in last season after the death of Flip Saunders in October.

Jamal Crawford named NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for record third time

8 Comments

Jamal Crawford is the quintessential gunner off the bench — he comes in firing away. He puts up numbers — 14.2 points per game this season — and doesn’t worry about efficiency (52.9 percent true shooting percentage, right about the league average) or defense. He is there to change the tempo and flow of the game by firing away — and when he is hitting the Clippers tend to win.

That’s what the media voters apparently want in their Sixth Man of the Year.

Crawford has been named the Sixth Man for a record third time in his career. At age 36 he is also the oldest player ever to win the award — breaking his own record of two seasons ago.

“It’s remarkable because (Crawford) is still an elite scorer, he basically beat us last game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said before his team tipped off against the L.A. Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. “He does not look like he’s slowing down at all, and you forget that he’s 36. He’s got a live body, makes clutch shots, and wins games for (the Clippers).”

Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors came in second, Enes Kanter of the Oklahoma City Thunder finished third. Iguodala and Manu Ginobili of the Spurs had seemed the frontrunners for the award midway through the season but both suffered injuries that kept them out for extended periods, and that hurt their candidacies.

Crawford got 51 of the 130 first-place votes from a panel of media members (the ballots for this award are three deep and the players get points for where they finished on the ballot). Here is the final complete order of finish (with first place votes in parenthesis).

Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers (51)
Andre Iguodala, Golden State (33)
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City (19)
Will Barton, Denver (15)
Evan Turner, Boston (3)
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans (4)
Jeremy Lin, Charlotte (1)
Ed Davis, Portland (1)
Dennis Schröder, Atlanta (1)
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland (2)
Shaun Livingston, Golden State
J.J. Barea, Dallas
Boris Diaw, San Antonio
Zach LaVine, Minnesota
Darren Collison, Sacramento
Allen Crabbe, Portland
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans
Patrick Patterson, Toronto
Mirza Teletovic, Phoenix