With new year, Rose's evolution continues

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With new year, Rose's evolution continues

Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011
4:07 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
As the 2011 calendar year begins, Derrick Rose continues to be under siege. In the midst of his elevation to a true superstarboth on and off the courtopposing defenses have shown him corresponding attention, blitzing him, blanketing him with two and sometimes three defenders; anything at their disposal to get the ball out of his hands.

While the increased defensive focus has occasionally resulted in some of the high-turnover games Rose has suffered through as of late, his evolution into a top-tier decision-maker and consummate floor general, albeit incomplete, has been sped up. Much of that is due to the freedom given to him by new Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Never. Never in my whole life of playing basketball, said Rose about whether any of his other coaches have given him such latitude. He doesnt care. He just cares about defense. When we come down and shoot a bad shot or whatever, he doesnt really care about that. He wants to pick that up on the defensive end. That mistake on the offensive end, it cant happen on defense. He just says he can live with missed shots, but he cant live with people not giving their full effort."

In Memphis where Rose attended college, it was like a dribble-drive motion offense, where I didnt really need to call plays--or if I did, there were other players on the court that would call something because they were older than I was or they've been in that system for a long time--but last year, it was kind of like the same thing, Vinny really called all the calls, he continued. But this year, I'm learning the system a little bit more, studying it, especially when you've got a guy like Booz, where you could come down, tell Coach to sit down and you could just pass him the ball and let Booz do his thing or come down, do pick-and-roll, or you see Kyle's in the game and he's hot. You could call a play for him or Lu. It's easy when you've got options on the court.

Thats been another step in Roses development, picking and choosing what to do on the floor and when, given the autonomy he receives as a play-caller. Despite being a first-year head coach, the decision to let Rose operate with near-impunity on the offensive end hasnt been a difficult one for Thibodeau.

To me, he has the ability to read and if he sees something that he likes--we're in constant communication through the game--so he's telling me the things that he's seeing, I'm telling him the things that I'm seeing and in preparation for each opponent, we know what we're trying to attack and what we're looking for, said Thibodeau.

For me, I want him to attack. Him being aggressive, I want him to read, I want him to make the right play. I want him to run the team, in pick-and-rolls, transition, if he has the ball, he's the first option and that's what puts pressure on the defense," Thibodeau added. It's his responsibility to run the team and recognize what's going on and what the matchups are.

Added Rose: Thibodeau always tells me to take my time in practice, just making sure everybodys in the right spot because if one person messes up, it messes up our whole playit messes up the rhythm of the play that were runningso just making sure everybodys in the right spot and making sure that we run everything through.

Rose has obviously responded extremely positively to the trust Thibodeau has displayed in him, shedding some of his low-key demeanor as hes become empowered even more as an on-court, vocal leader for the team.

As a point guard, youve got to know what plays to call, said the third-year floor general. I look at Thibs sometimes, but other than that, I go with the flow.

The game really isn't that hard. I remember last year, we used to go into games and be like, 'Man, how are we going to win this game?' or 'What are we going to do?' But now, we go into games and we know what to do. If we're messing up in a certain area, we can hurry up and change it right when we're playing. We don't have to look at film tomorrow or say 'that's why we lost.' We can change it right there and that's been the difference between this year and last year, continued Rose, who didnt fault Chicagos previous coaching staff for any aspect of its instruction, but clearly believes Thibodeau has helped take his game to another level, both mentally and physically.

Roses newfound studiousness has been manifested in him taking a page from Thibodeau and watching game film in his off time, a diversion from his usual off-court consumption of sitcoms on DVD.

I don't really watch games. I look at the scores or whatever, but I don't watch NBA games like that, revealed Rose. Film, I'm watching a lot more, looking at how our team is and looking at the percentages and how we're doing.

While Rose has always been quietly confident, his production and talent are now so obvious that even the humble South Side native must admit hes approaching rare air, as far as his status around the league. A helpful nudge from his agent, former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong, helped him realize that.

Just asking him what Mike Michael Jordan did or what they did at certain times and his knowledge of the game because he played with the greatest in the world, so he knows what he did. Im nothing near him, but he was just telling me all the things that he did, so I could have a little bit more confidence out there in knowing what Im doing, said Rose of what kind of advice he solicits from Armstrong. Hes a guy studies the game, was a pretty good point guard in the NBA, played for a couple of years, won championships and hes my agent, so why not ask him questions about everything he went through?

I know that now, I could easily come down and do whatever I want to do in the game, but Ive just got to pick it out at the right times, so that everybodys getting the touches that they want and I can easily get in the groove of the game.

At the same time, hes still the same 22-year-old whodespite playing in last years All-Star Gamejoked about his chances of playing in the annual event again next month, It would be great, but just get me on the team. Let me be the water boy or something like that. I'll be good. Towel boy or something. Let me run the clock or something. I'll be good.

New year, same Rose.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Joakim Noah appreciative of time with Bulls despite 'low blow'

Joakim Noah appreciative of time with Bulls despite 'low blow'

Joakim Noah may be wearing a different uniform, but he's still wearing the same heart on his sleeve.

That much was made clear in his comments made to the New York media on Wednesday.

Noah, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Knicks after eight seasons with the Bulls, was asked about comments Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf questioning Noah's future as a main contributor on a team.

Reinsdorf told the Chicago Tribune earlier this month that Noah was "not a frontline player," referencing the team's decision not to bring him back in free agency.

Noah responded to those comments in classy fashion - while also getting his true thoughts across:

“He’s entitled to his opinion,’’ Noah said. “I feel I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me that’s all that matters. I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow, but at the end of the day I have nothing but respect for that organization. I’m just excited for this new chapter of my career.”

No one would ever question Noah's heart, but it's undeniable that his body is beginning to show wear, and his performance has reflected it.

Noah played in just 29 games last season before a season-ending shoulder injury, averaging career-lows in points (4.3), field goal percentage (38.3%), free throw percentage (48.9%) and steals (0.6). That came on the heels of a 2015 season in which he missed 15 games and averaged 7.2 points, the lowest since his second season in the league.

But the Knicks are hoping a rejuvenated Noah, playing in his hometown, will find some magic in his 31-year-old body and be able to get the Knicks back to the playoffs.

Noah, Derrick Rose and the Knicks will square off against the Bulls at the United Center on Nov. 4.

Chicago Mag is right: The Bulls will be must-watch in 2016 with Wade, Rondo

Chicago Mag is right: The Bulls will be must-watch in 2016 with Wade, Rondo

No one knows how all the new pieces the Bulls brought in this offseason - eight, to be exact - will fit together.

The team opened training camp on Tuesday, and it should come as no surprise that everyone seems to be getting along just fine. It won't be until the real games get going close to Halloween that we see how the new team, built by GM Gar Forman and VP John Paxson, fares. And realistically, the squad won't be a finished project until well into 2017.

But as Chicago Mag's Adam Waytz wrote earlier this week, no matter how the new faces - particularly two veteran champions in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo - mesh together, the Bulls will be must-watch television and live streaming in 2016-17.

Yet for all of Rondo’s outward absurdity, a similar strangeness lurks just below Wade’s surface, manifesting in an occasional thrown elbow and, this summer, in his erratic exit from the Miami Heat. Wade had no reason to leave Miami, where he led the team in 2006 to its first championship and holds franchise records for points, games played, assists, and steals. Yet the looming presences of Shaquille O’Neal and Pat Riley on the 2006 team, followed by LeBron James’s arrival in Miami (and subsequent departure!) overshadowed Wade’s steadfast tenure as the most successful athlete in South Florida history. Then came this summer’s contract quibbles.

But Wade’s departure had little to do with money. It was about the Heat, and the league more broadly, slowly wallpapering over his relevance as a top five all-time shooting guard.

This slow burn of Wade’s ego is the flame to Rondo’s fuse. Rondo also unwillingly tumbled into obscurity, with each setback—a 2013 ACL injury, his acrimonious 48-game Dallas stay, and a purgatorial last season in Sacramento (where a national audience ignored his career bests in rebounding and 3-point shooting)—fueling his resolve. For both Wade and Rondo, arriving in Chicago signaled a pressure release—they have already vocally deferred team leadership duties to Jimmy Butler—yet their pride still smolders.

Bulls fans now get to sit back and watch the Wade-Rondo redemption tour, a revenge fantasy that Tarantino could not have stunt-cast better. If all goes as planned, Rondo’s eccentric aggression will allow Wade to access the strange spite he secretly harbors, and Wade’s polish will set an example for Rondo, guiding him to restore luster to his recently tarnished reputation. If nothing else, watching their rejuvenation will be way more fun than pondering the sadness behind Rose’s eyes or wondering whether Noah and Taj Gibson can play together.

One has to wonder, too, about how much Wade's decision to return home had to do with his best friend, LeBron James, doing the same in Cleveland two years ago. And even though he's already dubbed the Bulls as Jimmy Butler's team, it thrusts him back into the spotlight playing for the team he dreamed about ever since he was a kid.

For both Wade and Rondo, it's also an opportunity to rebound from sub-par years. Wade played in 74 games, his most since 2010, but shot a career-worst 45.6 percent from the field, and his 19.0 points and 4.6 assists were the lowest since his rookie season 13 years ago. That's not to say the future Hall of Famer doesn't have plenty left in the tank - he does, at witnessed by his stellar playoff performance - but some added motivation in a new jersey will serve him well.

Rondo has even more to prove. The Bulls will be his fourth team since the start of the 2013 season, and while he led the NBA in assists per game last year (11.7) his shot and defense remain liabilities. Both Rondo and Wade can opt out of their deals after this season, and while that doesn't mean leaving the Bulls per se, there are financial games to be made by the pair having dominant seasons.

Combine that with Jimmy Butler attempting to prove he can play nice with a pair of Alphas, and as Waytz wrote, there will be something new to watch for every night.

Time will tell if Fred Hoiberg can harness the egos, talent and attitudes in the Bulls locker room. But one thing's for certain: no matter the outcome, it'll be worth watching and streaming.