Bulls: Derrick Rose proclaims his innocence in strongest statements to date


Bulls: Derrick Rose proclaims his innocence in strongest statements to date

Derrick Rose didn’t hide from the allegations of sexual assault that have been levied on him in a civil suit from a former acquaintance, and the Bulls franchise offered him full support as the 2015-16 season kicks off.

Rose was going to be center stage no matter the circumstance, but given the nature of what’s been alleged, it put more of a spotlight on the guard who’ll turn 27 in less than a week.

“I think you all saw everything that was put out,” said Rose, referring to the report put out by TMZ on Aug. 26 concerning the sexual assault suit. “I will be proven innocent, but at the same time it hasn’t affected anything. It’s not true.”

Rose issued two strong statements in the day after the lawsuit but faced the media for the first time since on Media Day, which took place at the Advocate Center Monday afternoon. While he wouldn’t address specifics—and no one would expect him to given the upcoming litigation—Rose made it appear as if it were someone looking to take a shot at him because of his name and fame.

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“I take it as motivation. I feel like the devil is just working,” Rose said. “I feel like I’m on the right track as far as where I want to be at in my life, and the direction I want to go. And I feel like that when you’re that focused people just try and take you down, so I’m very confident that I will be proven innocent.’’ 

Bulls general manager Gar Forman mentioned Rose’s ongoing situation, and neither anticipated he’ll miss any time due to it. But until it goes through the legal process, a lot of it is merely conjecture.

“In regard to Derrick's situation, we understand that there's a process he'll need to go through. But Derrick's part of our family. He's got our full support,” Forman said. “I know he's got the full support of all his teammates, too. Like I talked about earlier, he's in a really good place physically and mentally. I think his focus, just like his teammates' focus, is on getting started tomorrow and getting preseason camp started and just having a really good, productive season.”

It’s clear Rose feels a level of regret from even being in the situation, regardless of the motives. Because of a similar allegation surrounding Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, there’s a heightened sense of awareness concerning how athletes handle themselves behind closed doors.

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And it should be noted Rose's situation is a civil suit while Kane's is being treated as a potential crime.

“I mean you have to be very careful. I think anybody in my position, my case I think it scared everybody in the league probably,” Rose said. “If not, I hope it got everybody’s attention. The only thing you can do now is just learn from it. A person in your life, you got them in your life for a few good reasons, more than one, so I think that everybody in the league should just learn from my mistakes.”

But when asked if he should change how he conducts himself or who he places himself around, Rose got on the defensive, issuing another strong statement concerning the matter.

“I wouldn’t say that. The story was false,” Rose said. “I don’t think I have to alter anything. I live my life the way I live my life. I live in the moment, and I enjoy life. I can’t let that one incident that’s not true affect the way that I live, and I’m not going to let it. I love my life, actually, so I can’t complain about anything. I just got to take this, use it as fuel, and the season is around the corner.”

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Picture yourself at 19 years old.

Maybe you were in college. Maybe you hit the job market early.

What you likely weren’t doing was guarding one the NBA’s best centers in your first professional game.

That was the task charged to Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls’ 127-108 loss to the 76ers in the season opener at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday.

Carter Jr. was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft after just one season at Duke. He earned the start in his NBA debut after an impressive preseason, but nothing could’ve prepared him for going up against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Carter Jr. said when asked if Embiid was as impressive as he thought he’d be. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of, or the best, big man in the league. Very skilled, very poised. He knows his spots on the court.

“I didn’t go out there with my best effort. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Carter Jr. had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in 20 minutes. He also picked up four fouls, which the rookie attributed to the physicality and craftiness of Embiid.

But he did flash the impressive and varied skill set that made him a high pick and such a coveted prospect. He was also able to garner the praise of the Bulls’ veterans.

“Even though Wendell got in foul trouble he was still playing (Embiid) solid,” Zach LaVine, who scored a team-high 30 points, said. “That’s a tough first game right there. But he didn’t lack for confidence. Made him take some tough shots, but he’s going to make them. He’s that type of player.”

To his credit, Carter Jr. was candid about his performance. He admitted that his emotions ran the gamut from nervous to excited to happy.

In a season that will have its ups and downs as the young Bulls develop and learn, there will likely be more games like this against other elite NBA competition. It’ll be how Carter Jr. responds that will define his career.

“It’s the first game so I don’t want to put too much on myself,” Carter Jr. said. “It would be different if it was like the 50th game or 60th game. It’s the first game. We’re just going to move on from it. We’ve got our home opener on Saturday (vs. the Pistons). That’s where my mind is right now.”

See, he’s learning already.

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

The Bulls backup point guard situation will be in dire straits all season, with no established veteran behind Kris Dunn. And although the front office has seemingly committed to Cameron Payne as the backup PG (for at least this season), Ryan Arcidiacono showed enough in the season opener to justify giving him meaningful plying time in the rotation. 

Here are the stat lines of Arcidiacono and Cameron Payne from the season opener in Philadelphia:

Arcidiacono: 8 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 from the 3-point line

Payne:           0 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 from the 3-point line

With so many capable ball handlers and score-first players on the Bulls, point and assist totals aren’t as important as the rebounds and 3-point attempts. To provide the necessary space needed for driving lanes, there has to be openings in the defense caused by defenders sticking close to player they believe are a threat to shoot.

And that is where the problem lies with Payne.

Ryan Arcidiacono—while by no means a dominant scorer—showed a willingness to attack off of the pick-and-roll, even showing off an impressive ball-fake:

Payne, despite coming into the league with the reputation of a scorer, has yet to be aggressive enough to make teams think twice about leaving him wide-open on the perimeter. And he is not one to attack the basket with purpose, averaging less than half a free throw per game for his career. Payne's general lack of aggressiveness when on the floor is often times made worse by his occasional poor post entry passes that seem predetermined:

Even if the above play was designed to get the ball to LaVine in the mid-post, Payne chooses a terrible time to make the pass. When he starts the motion to give the ball to LaVine, Ben Simmons is positioned in front of LaVine to force a tougher pass, as rookie Landry Shamet gambles over the backside to get the steal.

Had Payne chose to swing the ball around the perimeter, or give it to Bobby Ports and then get it back, he could have created an opening for the LaVine pass.

Obviously, the Bulls 19-point loss can’t be blamed on solely on Payne, the terrible defense was a group effort, as was the sometimes questionable shot selection. But with the defense already appearing to be perhaps one of the league's worst units, Fred Hoiberg would be wise to put Arcidiacono in more.

Hoiberg is in a crucial year where he needs to show that he can be the head coach of this team when they finally become competitive.

And for Hoiberg to show that type of growth as a coach, he needs to set the tone that minutes are earned not given, something he has already started with his moving of Jabari Parker to the bench. Payne only received 22 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for Arcidiacono, and it is tough to see that changing if things continue on like they did on Thursday night.