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."

Timberwolves' Tom Thibodeau appreciative of time with Bulls

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Timberwolves' Tom Thibodeau appreciative of time with Bulls

There's likely a lot Tom Thibodeau would love to get off his chest.

But the newest head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves continued to take the high road on his tumultous ending with the Bulls when he spoke to David Kaplan Monday morning on ESPN 1000.

Thibodeau, who was hired by the Timberwolves in April as head coach and president of basketball operations, said he was appreciative of his five seasons with the Bulls.

"I felt I had a great job here and I had great guys to coach," he told Kaplan. "That part, you're disappointed that it's going to end, but you know if you're in pro sports. These things happen. I was disappointed that we weren't able to win the championship, not only for our players, but for the fans here and for Jerry (Reinsdorf). Jerry took a chance on me and I'll always appreciate that he did that. I enjoyed my time here.

"Obviously I loved living here and appreciate all the support we received for our team over the five years I was here," he added. "I know what the Bulls mean to this city and I know how the organization feels about the support that they receive from the fans. This is a great, great sports city and I certainly appreciate all they did for me as well."

Thibodeau's departure coincided with Fred Hoiberg's arrival at the helm. The Bulls struggled in their first year post-Thibodeau, missing the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

Thibodeau alluded to myriad injuries the team faced, including the season-ending shoulder injury to emotional leader Joakim Noah.

"Jo (Noah) is a big hit. You can't underestimate that, but along with Jo going down I felt that the East had gotten a lot better," Thibodeau said. "When you combine those things, and sometimes that happens. They're still a really good team. I think Fred is an excellent coach. They have to be healthy. That's a big thing for the organization, and unfortunately that hasn't been the case for the last few years."

The Bulls and Timberwolves will play twice next season.

Tom Thibodeau all smiles after seizing all the power in Minnesota

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Tom Thibodeau all smiles after seizing all the power in Minnesota

With the controversy behind him and a future that’s envied by virtually every team not in the playoffs, former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau embraced his introduction as Minnesota Timberwolves coach as a new beginning.

Of course, the smile was a little wider considering the title he’s also walking into the door with, as President of basketball operations. He’ll be able to create and establish his own culture as basketball czar, with comrade Scott Layden as general manager.

Layden will do the daily, dirty work, but Thibodeau will have final say in basketball matters—a responsibility he craved in this year away from the sidelines, and also evidenced by his partnership with the popular firm Korn Ferry, the firm that helped place Stan Van Gundy in Detroit.

"For me, personally, this is about alignment," Thibodeau said at his introduction. "It's not about power. It's not about any of that stuff. I've known Scott a long time. We've shared philosophies with each other about certain things. He was the person that I really wanted. So I'm glad we had the opportunity to get him."

Like Van Gundy, Thibodeau had a rocky relationship with his previous employer before turning the tables in his next stop to become the all-knowing basketball being.

Scathing comments after his firing last spring from Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf stung Thibodeau, according to reports, but was offset by Thibodeau thanking Reinsdorf for taking the chance on hiring him, not the ugly, forgettable ending.

“I don’t want to keep going back to Chicago, that’s gone,” he said afterward. “When I look back in totality, there was a lot more good than bad. That’s the way I prefer to view it. The next time you go around, you want to do it better. You analyze different teams, see the synergy between front office and coach and you try to emulate that.”

It’s easy to take the high road when two of the league’s brightest and youngest talents—Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins—are in your stead, healthy and ready to bust out.

And it’s easy to take the high road when there’s no barrier between what you want to happen and what will happen inside the building—a tricky proposition, it should be said.

The natural conflict that often exists between a front office and coach—one takes a more immediate view of matters while the other must consider the long-term effects of the franchise as a whole—won’t exist at all with Thibodeau and Layden because the hierarchy is clear.

It’s Thibodeau at the top and everyone and everything must bend to his will, per se. Considering the way he felt about the way things transpired in Chicago, where he reportedly clashed with Gar Forman and John Paxson over myriad issues, no one can be too surprised he followed the model laid out by Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers and Van Gundy, among others.

And like Van Gundy, Thibodeau has the task of getting the team with the longest conference playoff-less streak back to the land of the living—a feat Van Gundy accomplished this season with the Pistons, his second. The Timberwolves haven’t made the postseason since 2004, when Kevin Garnett won MVP.

It was four years before Garnett and Thibodeau connected in Boston in the 2007-08 season, helping the Celtics end a 22-year titleless drought. It’s Garnett, and players like Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah who helped Thibodeau earn this reputation as a master motivator and defensive wizard.

He thanked those players among others, as well as late Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, who drafted the likes of Towns and Wiggins with the long-term view of having them develop at their own pace with the likes of veterans like Garnett and Tayshaun Prince there to guide them.

Thibodeau the coach will be there to prod, poke and push the greatness they’re expected to possess, the same way he did with Rose, Noah and Butler to varying degrees.

Thibodeau the coach won’t have much patience for mistakes, but Thibodeau the executive must resist the “trade everybody” emotions many coaches have when players go through down periods.

Having perspective was never one of his strong points, as he squeezed every ounce of productivity from his teams, but perspective must be his greatest ally in his second act in the spotlight.

Taking a long-term approach in a season when it came to minutes and players’ bodies was something he reportedly bristled at—and even if the narrative was somewhat exaggerated, the rap remains on him, unlikely to shake until proven otherwise.

Now he must take a long-term view in everything, and has to deal with the politics that come with being a top executive in the NBA, a task much easier done in fantasy than application.

Perhaps he gained that perspective in 11 months off after being fired from the Bulls, and using the time to gain insight into other franchises operations while watching the Bulls crumble from the inside.

The Bulls got what they wanted with his ouster, and it was a case of “be careful what you wish for”.

Eleven months from now, one wonders if the same mantra will apply to the coach who wanted it all and got it all.

Marc Gasol thinks brother Pau should sign with Spurs

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Marc Gasol thinks brother Pau should sign with Spurs

Pau Gasol has long been expected to opt out of the final deal of his contract with the Bulls this offseason.

And while there was a time when the interest in Gasol returning to the Bulls on a new deal appeared mutual, the liklihood is now that Gasol plays his 16th NBA season in a different uniform.

His brother, Marc Gasol, seems to think so, too.

When Gasol signed with the Bulls in 2014, he was also considering the Spurs, who at the time were the defending champions. Gasol chose Chicago over San Antonio and Oklahoma City, where he was twice named an All-Star and averaged 17.6 points and 11.4 rebounds in 150 games.

But he didn't have the success he expected when he signed. The Bulls were knocked out in the second round last year and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons this year.

Gasol would make sense with the Spurs, who both tout a long track record with international players and veterans. It would also give him one last shot at earning a third NBA title, something he wasn't able to accomplish in two seasons with the Bulls.