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.’’

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.