Bulls

Bulls: Derrick Rose admits to looking ahead to 2017 free agency

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Bulls: Derrick Rose admits to looking ahead to 2017 free agency

The influx of contract money that funneled through the NBA this summer caught the attention of a few players around the league.

Two-time All-Star John Wall of the Washington Wizards made note of Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson receiving an $80 million deal despite just becoming a full-time starter since being traded to Detroit at the trade deadline last season.

Count Derrick Rose among those looking forward to his contract being up so he can reap the financial benefits, as it seemed like it was a quiet motivating factor with his summer training.

“This whole summer I had tunnel vision. My mindset was just making sure that I was working out every day, and spending as much time as possible with my son,” Rose said. “And focusing on those two things. Making sure my family is financially stable, as far as seeing all the money that they’re passing out in this league. Just telling the truth. Just knowing that my day will be coming up soon, and it’s not for me. It’s for P.J. (his son) and his future, so that’s what I’m thinking about now.’’

[MORE: Derrick Rose proclaims his innocence in strongest statements to date]

Rose is a full two years away from free agency (after the 2016-17 season), as he’s the inspiration behind a rule that was put in the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement for players of his ilk. The “Derrick Rose Rule” allows a team to pay a player who finishes his rookie contract to make 30 percent of the salary cap as opposed to 25 percent if he crosses performance thresholds set by the league.

When asked if he was talking about being a Bull or taking his talents elsewhere, Rose clarified say saying “Here, here, it’s here.”

“But when you talk about that much money the only thing you can do is prepare for it. I’m trying to prepare, not only myself, but my family. And I’m doing this all for my son. Like I said, I’m thinking about his future. Even though we’re alright, we’re comfortable, when you talk about that x-amount of dollars, I think it raises everyone’s eyebrows, so there’s nothing wrong with being over-prepared.’’

To hear Rose speak about “his day coming” was a bit surprising at Media Day, considering he wasn’t asked about anything regarding a future contract but it was clearly on Rose’s mind.

Rose is still the highest-paid Bull for this coming season and his $20.09 million salary ranks ninth in the NBA, as the Bulls are seventh in payroll at $87.3 million in committed salary. Jimmy Butler has the longest deal considering he just signed a max contract this summer and Rose is looking ahead.

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“I’m preparing for it,” he said.

An optimist can choose to look at Rose looking ahead as a sign of confidence that he can do something he hasn’t been able to do since his MVP season—stay upright and on the floor. He finished the Bulls playoff run in uniform instead of in a suit, but has to wrestle with the fact he’s missed more games than he’s played since the start of the 2011-12 season.

Of a possible 312 games, Rose has played in 100, which includes missing the entire 2012-13 season with his first torn ACL.

He finished the 2015 playoffs showing he can still produce at a high level, but this season will prove if he can do it consistently. Being able to train in Los Angeles all summer as opposed to rehabbing is likely a key to his confidence, which was likely buoyed by Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook complimenting Rose’s workouts at the USA Basketball camp this summer.

“It felt good. It felt good. Worked out from like, get up in the morning, work out from like 11 to 1 o’clock, just like all track work,” Rose said. “You know just getting back into a routine, which is something I haven’t done in three or four years. I had the opportunity to do it all over again, or start doing it again, and it felt good.’’

[MORE: Jimmy Butler doesn't believe the Bulls are his team now]

But has he done enough modifications to his game due to physical limitations to put him back in the upper echelon of guards, let alone silence the growing critics who believe he’ll never have that type of affect on the game again, at least not enough to talk about future contracts 21 months in advance?

“I can’t get caught up into that. I know I’m great,” Rose said. “There’s a lot of people that don’t know I’m great, that’s the thing. But it’s cool. I know I can hoop.

“You can put me anywhere and I know how to play the game of basketball. I can’t get mad at people for how they criticize my game and the way that I play, or the way that I used to play. I know I’m great, and that’s it.’’

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

Los Angeles—Lauri Markkanen called himself “The Finnisher” when asked what the movie of his life would be called.

Apparently, that moniker didn’t apply to the All-Star Skills challenge as he took down the best big men but couldn’t close against a former Bull, Spencer Dinwiddie, in the final.

The contest highlights players’ ability to dribble around cones shaped like NBA logos, throwing a chest pass into a net while having to complete a layup and then 3-pointer before their opponent does.

Markkanen took down Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before facing off with Dinwiddie. He held a pose after hitting a triple to beat the uber confident Embiid, in what will likely be used as a memorable gif following the weekend.

His confidence doesn’t come across as blatantly as Embiid’s, but that snapshot shows he’s no humble star in the making. He didn’t even practice for the contest, by his own admission.

“I heard some of the guys did,” Markkanen said. “I didn’t do much, just before the competition, I did a little warm-up.”

Missing on the first pass attempt into the circular net in the final, it gave Dinwiddie the advantage he wouldn’t relinquish, hitting on his second 3-point attempt before Markkanen could make it downcourt to contest.

“It’s a lot harder than I’ve seen,” Markkanen said. “I thought it was gonna be super easy but it was kind of tough. Maybe I need to hold my follow through (on the pass).”

“I saw he missed (the first shot) and I started going. I thought he would’ve missed it too. I think I would’ve gotten it on the third shot.”

Being one of the multi-dimensional big men in today’s game who can be adept on the perimeter as well as the interior, it almost seems like the contest was made for Markkanen. Although he doesn’t do much handling in Fred Hoiberg’s offense, it’s clearly a skill he will develop as time goes on.

The last two winners of the skills challenge were Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, and Markkanen was well aware of the recent trend.

“The last two years the bigs have won,” Markkanen said. “I’m kind of pissed that I couldn’t keep the streak going after (those two). I think there’s a lot of guys who can do that now, it’s why they changed the format to bigs versus smalls.”

For Dinwiddie, who was discarded by the Bulls last season after a promising start in the preseason so they could pick up R.J. Hunter, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity with Brooklyn.

“I think for Chicago it was just another series of unfortunate events,” he said. “They were in win-now mode. I was an unproven guard on a non-guaranteed contract and they felt Michael Carter-Williams gave them a better shot to win.”

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

This is part of a four-part series looking back at the historic career of Michael Jordan and the legacy he left on the game of basketball. It all leads up to Saturday when we unveil his top 5 moments on his 55th birthday. Here are 55-4544-23, and 22-6.

5. Jordan wins fourth title and finishes greatest individual season ever, June 16, 1996

It’s hard to comprehend just how much Jordan accomplished during the 1995-96 season. We’ll try:He won his fourth championship, was named NBA Finals MVP for a record fourth time, won All-Star Game MVP, won a record 72 games, was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, was the league’s leading scorer and became the Bulls’ all-time leader in games played. So when he dropped a casual 22 points in Game 6, it marked the end of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Oh, and Space Jam came out a few months later.
 
4. Jordan hits six triples, scores 35 points in first half against Blazers, June 3, 1992

During the 1991-92 regular season, Jordan never made more than three 3-pointers in a single game. In fact, the most 3-pointers he had in any two-game stretch that year was four. So when he began burying triple after triple in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, even Jordan couldn’t believe it, giving a shrug toward the NBC announcers as if to say, “I don’t know, either.” Jordan finished the first half with six triples and scored an NBA-record 35 points. The Bulls cruised in the second half, so Jordan finished with only 39, but his shrug remains one of the most iconic NBA Finals moments in history.
 
3. Jordan battles the flu, scores 38 in Game 5 on his way to fifth title, June 11, 1997

The Flu Game. Jordan was battling a nasty illness in the lead-up to a pivotal Game 5 in Utah, and there were concerns about whether he would even suit up. Hours before tip Jordan got out of bed and made his way to the arena, looking to halt Utah’s momentum after it had taken Games 3 and 4 to tie the series. The Jazz came out red-hot while Jordan looked sluggish, but he responded with 17 points in the second quarter alone to give the Bulls a halftime lead. Jordan then keyed a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to erase a Jazz lead, and he hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give the Bulls a three-point lead. The Bulls hung on, and Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms walking off the floor. His final line? 38 points, 13 of 27 shooting, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Two days later the Bulls won the title in front of a sellout Chicago crowd.

2. Jordan scores 63 points against Celtics in playoff loss, April 20, 1986

Jordan had just turned 23 years old when he took to the Boston Garden floor to face Larry Bird in his prime and the Celtics. These Celtics had gone 40-1 at home, led the NBA in field goal percentage defense, started FOUR future Hall of Famers and had a fifth come off the bench. They would ultimately go down as one of the all-time greatest teams, and Jordan made them look absolutely silly. He played 50 minutes in the double-overtime thriller, shooting 22 of 41 from the field and making 19 of 21 free throws, including the last two with no time on the clock and the Bulls trailing by two at the end of regulation. He scored 54 in regulation, added five in the first overtime and four in the second. He also led the Bulls with six assists. It still stands as the NBA record for most points in any playoff game. Twenty-three years old. Twenty. Three.

1. Jordan scores 45 in final game with the Bulls, securing sixth championship, June 14, 1998

Jordan’s final game with the Bulls was iconic. Like so many of these moments, die hards know exactly where they were. The 45 points were majestic, and while he only had one rebound and one assist he affected just about every possession on both ends. But what we’ll remember most is the final 37 seconds. Jordan drove to the basket for layup that cut Utah’s lead to one, then stripped Karl Malone from behind on the next trip down. That gave the ball back to the Bulls with 20 seconds left. Jordan let the clock tick down to around 9 seconds before making his move from the left wing, driving right on Bryon Russell, (maybe pushing off) and pulling up for a jumper at the foul line. The shot was good with 5.2 seconds remaining, and John Stockton’s ensuing 3-pointer was off the mark. It gave Jordan and the Bulls their sixth NBA title, and marked the perfect ending to his Bulls career: getting it done on both ends, in the clutch, and finishing with a victory. Because it encapsulated so much of his 14-year career in Chicago, it’s our top Michael Jordan moment.