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Despite world travels, Chicago always on Rose's mind

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Despite world travels, Chicago always on Rose's mind

All of the hoopla surrounding the day's festivities were certainly appreciated, but to Derrick Rose, Saturday's launch of his new signature sneaker was more about giving back to his hometown.

"It feels good, man. I'm blessed, very blessed for at least one of you all media to be here. For all of you to come and all these people to come and just follow everything that I've been posting up on Facebook, it's been a blessing to have this outcome," said Rose at the State Street Foot Locker in the Loop. "It's crazy, man. Just coming from here and people knowing you, words can't explain how I feel right now. How emotional this is, just knowing that I'm from here. I've been seeing people I went to school in grammar school, just showing support. It means a lot to me."

During this extended offseason--caused by the ongoing NBA lockout--Rose has spent more time than he planned in his offseason stomping grounds of Los Angeles, allowing him to focus on improving his game, despite no signs of a season on the horizon.

"It's been tough. That's part of the reason I moved out to L.A. You can still hide there, but here or other big cities, you can't hide there," said the reigning league MVP, who also made pointed comments about the work stoppage. "You know me, I try to stay out of the attention, stay out of the media, only for positive things."

But the 23-year-old has also delved into some international travel, taking a trip to the Far East and Spain for adidas.

"All of sudden, I was working out and I just get a call, 'Two days you're going to be in Spain.' I was preparing to go to China, so I'm thinking, 'I've got another week to stay in L.A. and work out,'" he recounted. Went from Spain to Shanghai, Shanghai to Guangzhou, Guangzhou to Beijing, Beijing to Taiwan, then came back to L.A."

In Madrid, Rose filmed a bullfighter-themed commercial for his shoe, the adiZero Rose 2, that gets frequent airtime and has received rave reviews.

"The commercial, wow. It was very hard, knowing that being out there in the sun all day--actually, it took like three days, went to Spain, the experience was great--but I'm just happy that the feedback was great. Everybody loved it and hopefully adidas comes up with some new ideas, so that we'll be out there again, but somewhere else."

Rose also discussed his experiences in Asia.

"It was fun. If anything, I think I've matured as a person, especially just being able to talk to people. I think that helped me out a lot, just being over there, being by myself. Everybody was loving it, just interacting with the kids, the fans," said Rose, whose video featuring him playing with hand puppets went viral. "All of them were something to remember, but the one that really got to me was Taiwan. The fans were really into it, their energy was great. I just loved being over there."

One thing the Bulls point guard doesn't plan to do is participate in any lockout-inspired exhibition games that seem to pop up every week.

"You know I don't like all-star games like that. I don't like pickup games. I think that's where people look at your game," he explained. "I just don't like it, to tell you the truth."

Confirmed his older brother, Reggie Rose, himself a star at Chicago's Hubbard High School: "When he was younger, I never allowed him. So that's something that stuck with up and back then he wasn't making money, so now he's making money. So, the magnitude of him getting hurt, I think it would be a dumb move on his part."

When asked what made the Philippines exhibition different, he quipped, " Well, if you're getting 300,000, that's a great pickup game."

Reggie Rose added that his younger brother would be participating in a charity game with a special cause.

"We're flying back out to L.A. and then we're going to leave on the 23rd for Honolulu or Guam for 'Hoops for Troops,'" he revealed. "Everybody's playing these games for money; we want to play these games to give back to the troops because if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't even be able to play these games.

The game will reportedly feature the likes of Portland big man LaMarcus Aldridge, Sacramento scorer Tyreke Evans, Atlanta All-Star Al Horford and Charlotte point guard D.J. Augustin, all of whom share Rose's agency, Wasserman Media Group.

For now, however, Rose continues to hone his skills in L.A. and mentioned that he might bring a few new wrinkles to the court when the NBA resumes play.

"Right now, it's posting up. Working up my post game and just sharpening up things, like my shooting, dribbling and all that stuff. I'm just trying to get better as a player, get smarter. I definitely want my basketball I.Q. to get better, but it comes along with just playing the game."

The Englewood native also has an eye toward making the 2012 U.S. Olympic team--conceivably, the next time fans could see their favorite players in organized competition--after excelling on the gold-medal winning FIBA World Championships squad in 2010.

"It would definitely be big, but it's not up to me, it's up to Coach K and the coaching staff to see who they're going to pick for the team. I'd love to be picked for the team, I'd love to be part of the experience, but it's not up to me," Rose confessed.

A burgeoning leader, Rose also has remained in touch with his far-flung teammates throughout the lockout, although various scheduling conflicts have prevented the Bulls from organizing a player-based minicamp, as some other teams have done.

"Joakim Noah is out there in L.A. right now. I worked out with him for two days before I came out here. He's out there focusing, just working out," he said. "Booz Carlos Boozer is in Miami, Lu Luol Deng is back here, Keith's Bogans in Orlando and C.J. Watson is in Vegas right now. So, I talk to them here and there."

With 2021 NBA Free Agency looming, Bulls fired Jim Boylen in the nick of time

With 2021 NBA Free Agency looming, Bulls fired Jim Boylen in the nick of time

In retrospect, we should have all seen it coming. On the final day of the NBA regular season, Arturas Karnisovas fired Bulls head coach Jim Boylen, ending a nearly two-year tenure that saw the team play to a 39-84 record.

“I thought the timing was right right now, going into the lottery and the draft process. It’s an official offseason for us. So we thought it was good timing,” Karnisovas said in a conference call Friday.

The seeding phase of the league’s restart ending Friday and the draft lottery six days ahead does provide a nice bit of symmetry. But was Aug. 14 too long to wait? Karnisovas officially accepted his position as executive vice president of basketball operations on April 13. He brought in new front office hires in Marc Eversley, J.J. Polk and Pat Connelly in early May. Yet Boylen’s tenure dragged into the dog days of summer.

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Why? Karnisovas addressed that on said conference call.

“I took my time for a reason. It was a process to make that decision. Over the last few months, since I was hired in April, I had no timeline,” he said. “This was the right time to make this change.”

“Since it was a very unique situation to be hired in April, we took our time. The restrictions were lifted a little bit more. Interaction was involved.”

That answer echoes Karnisovas’ reputation as a thoughtful and deliberate decision-maker. He’s also said in the past that, in his eyes, forming personal relationships is requisite to holding employees accountable — player or coach. Some will appreciate that approach applied in this context, especially given that he’s inheriting a franchise that has twice in the past has parted ways with coaches on Christmas Eve. Some may not.

But bottom line: The end result is the one the Bulls badly needed to reach, and just in the nick of time.

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The cruciality of moving on from Boylen now is multi-layered. For one, there appears to be burbling optimism that the eight teams excluded from the NBA’s Disney World restart will find a way to resume basketball activities in some capacity soon. It may not be in a second bubble, but even organized OTAs with group activities would be a step up for a Bulls team that has been constrained to voluntary individual workouts with stringent protocols thus far. 

“The players now can work out individually in our practice facility, and our gym is pretty,” Karnisovas said on the call. “So while we’re waiting, if we can get any additional support from the league — again, overall the league regrets that we couldn’t get anything done until now. But I’m hopeful to get something soon.”

Starting the search “immediately” (in Karnisovas’ words) could have a new coach in the Advocate Center doors for all or some of those activities, should they come to fruition. Even if it doesn’t, the Bulls still have plenty of runway before the start of the 2020-21 campaign, which has yet to be finalized.

And in a big picture sense, getting fresh blood in the building has the potential to further a much-needed shift in the Bulls’ league wide perception that was catalyzed by its front office facelift months ago. 

Because this decision makes the organizational message clear: No half-measures. With a new executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager, burgeoning player development personnel, and soon a new coach — particularly, one that will replace a coach that lost games at a historic clip and often prompted questions about his player relationships — there are no caveats required to call this a new era of Bulls basketball; an era in which player development appears to be king, and mediocrity isn’t tolerated.

“The signal is that we’re changing things. It signals that we’re looking forward to what comes next,” Karnisovas said. “We just felt this program needed a change and needed a change now. And I can’t wait to find the next coach for this group.”

The looming free agency period of 2021 makes sending that signal now all the more important. Of course, firing Boylen doesn’t guarantee the Bulls Anthony Davis or Giannis Antetokounmpo. It might not even get them a meeting. 

For the time being, the Bulls are pretty much locked in place from a roster standpoint. Otto Porter Jr. opting in to his $28.5 million player option — which still qualifies as a near-certainty — and the cap hits the team’s first- and second-round draft choices will eventually invoke will cinch the Bulls in as an over-the-cap club for the 2020-21 season. 

So, the ship likely isn’t getting entirely righted overnight. Whatever your opinion of Boylen, some share of the blame for a 22-win season falls on the roster, as well. However talented you deem the Bulls’ core pieces, new leadership won’t vault them straight to title contention. 

But they don’t necessarily need to, at least not next season. The foundation has to start somewhere, and that summer of 2021 is where things get interesting. To steal a chart from myself, here’s what the Bulls books roughly look heading into that summer, as matters stand right now (via Spotrac): 

  2020-21 2021-22 2022-23 2023-24
Total Cap Allocations $106,027,707 $65,249,867 $9,344,636 $0
Signed Players 13 8 2 0

A possible Lauri Markkanen’s extension is pending, but partial guarantees on the third years of Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young’s contracts, as well as a team option on the third year of Ryan Arcidiacono’s, provides flexibility. Bottom line: They’ll be in a position to make major changes, possibly a splash — assuming the salary cap holds in the vicinity of its current $109.1 million status.

Which makes it all the more imperative that the 2020-21 season not play out as 2019-20 did. The Bulls are an attractive coaching job for the same reasons they were an attractive front office gig — young talent on the roster (albeit largely unproven), own all their own draft capital, cap space coming, big market, rabid fanbase — but to leverage all of that into being a desirable player destination, the soggy hunk of clay that is this rebuild needs to take shape. 

To follow in the footsteps of recent successful rebuilds — think Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers; big-market teams that parlayed modica of promising talent into scrappy overperformance on the court, and, in turn, big moves on the trade and free agent markets — the Bulls need to transform themselves into a team on the rise. 

That doesn’t have to mean a top-four seed or a first-round playoff victory from the jump. But it starts with maximizing the pieces on the team now and improving next season, so that, in the age or perpetual player movement, when opportunity comes knocking, they’ll be prepared to seize it. It’s evident by the results that Boylen wasn’t the person to foster such progression.

A coach with a specialization in player development and relationships — which Karnisvoas said will be a focal point in the search — will be a foundational step. What the changes necessary will look like specifically may have to wait until Karnisovas and Co. have a precise candidate in their sights. Fortunately, there’s just about nowhere to go but up.

For now, it’s at least refreshing to know the Bulls are on the right track.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Jim Boylen is out as Bulls head coach

Bulls Talk Podcast: Jim Boylen is out as Bulls head coach

Once the regular season ended, the official start of the offseason began and the Bulls' first move was to let Jim Boylen go. In an emergency edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, host Jason Goff is joined by Bulls insider K.C. Johnson and Bulls beat writer Rob Schaefer as they discuss the decision.

(1:30) - What led Arturas Karnisovas to the decision to let go, Jim Boylen

(6:00) - Arturas Karnisovas on having full power to make decisions

(16:30) - Potential candidates to replace Jim Boylen

(25:20) - How can a coach get the best out of the current Bulls roster

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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