Bulls

Deserving Rose exudes class at contract extension presser

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Deserving Rose exudes class at contract extension presser

As with virtually every event surrounding Derrick Rose, Wednesday's press conference announcing his five-year, 94-million maximum contract extension was a genuine moment.

"I don't even know how much I make right now, to tell you the truth," deadpanned Rose. "I just know I get paid, I watch my accounts, they're growing and I'm happy."

Despite that moment of levity -- another occurred when the facial expression of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, alongside Rose at the podium, crinkled up when his point guard was asked about taking it easy during the shortened season -- the 23-year-old's remarks were mostly of the heart-warming variety.

Similar to the speech he made when he was presented with the league's MVP award last season, Rose involved his family -- his mother, Brenda, and three brothers, Reggie, Dwayne and Allan, who were all in attendance, along with teammates Luol Deng and Brian Scalabrine, and his agent, former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong -- when thanking a laundry list of people within his support system.

"Wow," he began. "I want to thank the city of Chicago for just sticking behind me, through the good and the bad...I know this: I'm tremendously blessed and I don't take anything for granted, and I appreciate everyone.

"I think I can finally say this now," Rose continued. "Mom, we finally made it."

Some would argue that he made it before receiving the extension, the product of the "Derrick Rose rule," a provision in the new collective bargaining agreement that allows players on their rookie-scale contracts to be paid more based on reaching certain incentives, such as being named the youngest MVP in the history of the NBA.

"I put my goals very high. It might sound crazy sometimes, when I say the things that I say or the goals that I have, but it's just for me to push myself. As a player, you never want to go out there and not give it your all, and that's what I try to do almost every night, just go hard and try to excite people," he explained. "Money, I don't think it's going to change me. If anything, it would have changed me by now, I think. Right now, with the salary that I'm getting, I'm able to get whatever I want. I don't spend that much, I'm humble, I take care of others and it has a lot to do with my mom, making sure that I'm talking to her all the time -- my brothers all the time -- and they're always talking to me, telling me to stay level-headed and just make sure that I provide for other people."

Bulls general manager Gar Forman testified to Rose's humility.

"Probably the greatest asset about Derrick Rose is his loyalty, and Derrick has been very committed to his teammates, to this organization and his hometown of Chicago," he said. "I really can't think of anyone who's more deserving of this than Derrick Rose...we are so proud of everything that he's accomplished and we're just thrilled that we'll be able to watch Derrick play in a Chicago Bulls uniform for many years to come, as he and his teammates continue to grow and he leads us to what eventually we hope will be our ultimate goal of bringing a NBA championship back to Chicago."

Added Thibodeau: "Well, I don't think you can measure him now; you have to wait until his career is over, but what we've seen thus far is he embodies all the characteristics that you look for in a championship player and it's a lot more than just the talent. The talent is the obvious part. Then, when you look at his will to win, his basketball I.Q., unselfishness, his humility, I think hose are the things you can build a championship-caliber team around and the way he works each and every day sets the tone for our team.

"I wish it was a 10-year contract."

Rose himself said he doesn't feel more pressure because of the contract. In fact, it appears that he's only further motivated.

"When we're practicing, I know my teammates hear me saying things like, 'Championship,' and just trying to push us, yelling it, and that's just because I really want one. I think that with the guys that we have, we really have a chance to go out there and play for it," the two-time All-Star said. "Of course, everybody's goal, if you're trying to play this game, you want to win a championship, but who's going to put forth the effort? Who's going to go into the gym every day and work, even if you're tired? All those little things add up, especially for your team."

It seems so storybook, the local product playing for his hometown team, with a real shot at bringing home a title. One precocious MVP has already eschewed the burden of doing that, while other superstars are opting to leave the teams they were drafted by for so-called greener pastures by the day. Rose, however, is steadfast in his commitment to his team. And city.

"I don't think I'll leave Chicago, unless they trade me or something," he said, again eliciting laughter from the media, team employees and well-wishers on hand. "I would want to finish my career here."

"Everybody's different. To each his own, so they handled it their own way. I don't have a say-so about it," the top pick in the 2008 NBA Draft added about what stars such as Dwight Howard are experiencing. "I'm just happy that we got things done over here and I'm happy to be a Bull."

Chimed in Forman: "Most of these players of Derrick's stature that are signing contracts, in most cases, there's either a player option or an ETO (early-termination option) or something within those, and Derrick absolutely didn't want that. He wanted a full commitment with the Chicago Bulls and to stay here in Chicago, and to us, that's really special."

At the end of the press conference, Rose expressed what fans, Chicagoans and certainly the Bulls organization have felt about the first four years of his professional career.

"It's been perfect," he concluded, managing to do, as he has a knack for on the court, the right thing at the right time. "I couldn't ask for anything better."

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.