Bulls

Obama still likes Rose's upside, has channeled his inner MJ during presidency

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Obama still likes Rose's upside, has channeled his inner MJ during presidency

Count President Barack Obama as one fan who believes Derrick Rose still has upside.

POTUS sat down with HBO's Bill Simmons in an exclusive interview for GQ magazine for "Man of the Year." The interview as a whole is fantastic, and after Simmons asked his hard-hitters the mood lightened and turned to Obama's affinity for sports.

For the Chicago native, that included some Bulls-specific questions. Among them, Simmons asked whether Derrick Rose or Jay Cutler was more untradeable.

"Oh, I think Rose still has more upside. Remember, Rose is still awfully young," Obama said to Simmons.

Simmons asked a follow-up on whether he had given up on the 25-year-old Rose.

"I’ve not given up on him. Sadly, I think it’s hard to imagine, after that many injuries, him getting back to his MVP-season performance," Obama responded. "But he can still be a top-ten point guard."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Knee, groin, ankle, hamstring and facial injuries have contributed to Rose appearing in just 110 games since the start of the 2011-12 season. He'll likely never be the 25-point-per-game scorer he was in 2011 or the MVP he was in 2012, but even while battling double vision Rose has performed well in 2015-16. In 10 games, he's averaging 13.6 points and 6.0 assists per game. His 32.4 minutes per game are the most he's averaged in a season since tearing his ACL.

Obama was on hand for the Bulls' season opener against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, sitting courtside much of the contest. In that game Rose scored 18 points and dished out five assists as the Bulls won, 97-95.

Obama also said he'd "absolutely" want to be part of the ownership for an NBA team in his post-presidency, but admitted doing so with the Bulls is unlikely.

"Well, you know, I know [Jerry] Reinsdorf pretty good—he’s not giving that thing up anytime soon," Obama said. "But I have fantasized about being able to put together a team and how much fun that would be. I think it’d be terrific."

Obama also related how he handles his presidency, or any form or leadership, to times when he'd watch Michael Jordan.

"A thing that you’re reminded of, watching those old Bulls games, is Jordan had some stinker games in the playoffs. But he would get that out of his mind, and then the next moment comes and he’s right there. He could have a terrible game for the first three quarters and then suddenly go crazy the fourth. Or he might miss a free throw, and then the next play is he’s stealing the ball and hitting the game-winning shot. Part of what I try to do—not at the level that Jordan did on the basketball court, but part of what you aspire to as president or any of these positions of leadership—is to try to figure out how to be in the moment, make the best decision you can, know that you’re going to get a bunch of them right, but a bunch of times you’re also not going to get it exactly the way you want it."

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Trust the Rookie: Wendell Carter Jr. draws Opening Night start against Joel Embiid, Sixers

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Trust the Rookie: Wendell Carter Jr. draws Opening Night start against Joel Embiid, Sixers

In a five-game span Wendell Carter Jr. saw preseason action against Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Myles Turner. The 19-year-old rookie had his share of expected ups and downs but performed well enough that Fred Hoiberg officially announced him a starter for the team’s season opener tomorrow night.

His reward for all that hard work? A matchup against All-Pro center Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

It’ll be an eye-opening experience for the Duke product, who just a year ago was readying himself for his first season of college basketball and a season-opening matchup against Elon. It’s safe to assume Embiid will pose a few more problems than did Phoenix center Tyler Seibring.

“Joel Embiid was one of my role models growing up,” Embiid said before practice Wednesday. “He was someone I always wanted to pattern my game after. Just to go up against him is a remarkable feeling. He’s a very physical player. He’s a very talented player. I’m going to be able to stack up and see what all I need to work on to last in this league.”

While it’s no easy task against a talent like Embiid, who was named All-NBA Second Team last season, Carter’s most important job will be staying out of foul trouble. Carter piggy-backed an impressive Summer League with a preseason that included averages of 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in 21.1 minutes. But those numbers also included 7.7 fouls per 48 minutes. He racked up 17 fouls in five games, and had at least three in each.

Embiid only went to the line five times in Tuesday’s season-opening loss to the Celtics, but that was primarily against Defensive Player of the Year candidate Al Horford. Embiid won’t face as much resistance against Carter, putting the pressure on the rookie to stay on the floor.

“He’s going to have to navigate that without using his hands,” Fred Hoiberg said. “We have to be all five aware. It’s just not a one-man problem with Embiid. We have to have great awareness of him and try and mix up coverages and hopefully make him take tough shots, knowing that he’s going to hit some of those. You just can’t get deflated when he does.’’

The decision was a mere formality – Bobby Portis will start at power forward – after the frontcourt combination played considerably better in the Bulls’ final two preseason games. Though Jabari Parker was initially slotted in at power forward following Lauri Markkanen’s elbow sprain, Portis’ impressive preseason forced Hoiberg’s hand. Portis averaged 17.0 points and 5.8 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field in just 22.4 minutes.

“It’s all about combinations out there and we felt like Bobby gave us a great start with the way he was playing,” Hoiberg said. “And then we kind of changed things up with that second unit and put the ball in Jabari’s hands, so it was more that in trying to get guys out there with the right combinations.”

Lopez may have an expanded role if Carter gets into foul trouble early, while Parker will be the facilitator on a second unit that doesn’t have much in the way of a point guard. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the frontcourt will play out once Markkanen returns in roughly a month; if Portis and Carter continue playing well, Hoiberg could opt to keep them together on the second unit and put Lopez back in the starting lineup.

But for at least Opening Night – the Bulls also get Andre Drummond and the Pistons on Saturday – it’ll be the seventh overall pick getting his NBA feet wet with a matchup against arguably the best center in basketball. But’s it a role he’s earned, and on a Bulls defense looking for any sort of improvement, Carter is the player who can anchor it.

“His defense is always going to be important for us. He’s the guy that’s the anchor in that starting unit at the rim,” Hoiberg said, “and he’s done a really solid job of making perimeter guys taking contested shots when he gets switched off, or staying vertical at the rim and trying to make a big finish over the top of him, so yeah, again it’s a great challenge, great opportunity for Wendell.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: