NBA teams – much less singular owners of NBA teams – rarely send out press releases chiding the media for trumping up what the team deems a non-story. This can either lend further credibility to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley as he discussed rumors of a rift between the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose’s “camp,” or it can add to your already-dismissive feelings regarding the reporter.
Cowley spoke with Rose in Las Vegas, discussing rumors he’d heard from unnamed sources discussing a reported sense of displeasure the Chicago Bulls “organization” had with Rose’s lack of involvement in the recruitment of former free agent Carmelo Anthony. Here is Cowley’s characterization of Rose’s words, in Rose’s words, kind of:
“I know it’s been there,’’ Rose told the Sun-Times, acknowledging there has been growing tension between the organization and his camp. “I heard there were some upset people.
“I’m happy I didn’t personally see it. I don’t want to see that. I kind of wonder where it was coming from because it seemed like whenever I was around, everything was all right. It bothered me because when I wasn’t around, I would hear from certain people that everything wasn’t all right.’’
And now, the press release in full from the Bulls:
"I am confounded by the irresponsible report in the Chicago Sun-Times suggesting there is anything approaching discord or confusion between the Bulls executive office, coaching staff, and Derrick Rose or any other Bulls player. To the contrary, I can remember no time when the organization has been any more focused, optimistic, and cohesive. I've got to assume suggestions otherwise are intended to undermine the goals and objectives, spirit, and reputation of the Chicago Bulls. I am deeply disappointed that unnamed sources and totally inaccurate statements and assumptions can be used to foment nonexistent friction. The report is totally without basis or fact. It is pure malicious fiction."
Again, those are Rose’s words, and even though it was the Sun-Times that had to add the “acknowledging there has been growing tension between the organization and his camp,” those are still his words. Derrick did say that there was an “it” to actually see, so technically that is a bit of an acknowledgment.
The Sun-Times reported that Rose stood in semi-defiance of Chicago’s recruitment of Anthony, refusing to go to a planned dinner with the Knicks forward as the Bulls attempted to sign Carmelo outright as a free agent. Cowley then pegged an ESPN report, one calling Rose’s trip to the United Center during Anthony’s visit as a happy accident, as a plant by the Bulls. This holds some weight because the Bulls usually practice in Deerfield, Ill. (for now, at least), which is a bit of a haul in midday Chicago traffic away from the UC.
The United Center doesn’t sit like a basketball gym 365 days a year, though, with the court intact for all hours. Sometimes it hosts hockey, sometimes it hosts awesome Queen and Steely Dan concerts, and sometimes it hosts basketball – it takes plenty of prep and notice and workers on hand to set up a court if Rose wants to swing by for a run. If Rose knew the court was down and usable, he knew it was because the Bulls were showing it off to Anthony, which meant that he knew Carmelo was in the building.
If that’s the scenario, then yeah – you can kind of understand why Derrick Rose didn’t want the Bulls, Anthony and Carmelo’s reps observing him like a show pony. Of course Anthony is going to want to know Rose’s health status before aligning his future with the former MVP, but rolling out a basketball and asking Derrick Rose to dance should have been demeaning to all involved.
This frustration, according to Cowley’s report, resulted in Rose not attending the dinner held later that night featuring Bulls brass, Anthony, and Chicago big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Gibson’s presence was crucial – it was a clear sign to Anthony and New York that Chicago was not interested in breaking up its core just in order to give Anthony a few million more per year. According to the Sun-Times, Rose’s absence was far more crucial.
Which is bunk from the Bulls' end, because Carmelo Anthony was never going to leave New York, where he could make more money and talk himself into thinking that the Knicks could be good someday. That was apparent when the Knicks’ miserable season ended last April, it was apparent when the free agency period opened, and it was apparent when Anthony stepped out of his limo and onto Madison St. on July 1. Rose could have filled up his phone with dozens of voicemails, and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Actually, that approach would have probably pushed him back to New York with more alacrity, because who the hell leaves voicemails anymore?
Speaking of annoyance, here’s Cowley talking to Rose’s agent, former Bull B.J. Armstrong:
“I don’t do interviews, and what does that word ‘camp’ even mean?’’ Armstrong said when asked about the Rose camp and its relationship with the Bulls.
Asked if there was one spokesman for Rose, Armstrong said: “No one does interviews. No one talks. Derrick speaks to you [media] guys, and that’s it. There’s nothing to discuss. If there is something going on, there’s two people: You can get it from [chairman] Jerry Reinsdorf or you can get it from Derrick Rose. There’s nothing else to talk about.’’
Armstrong was informed of growing concerns by members of the organization concerning Rose and the advice he might be receiving from those around him.
“You’re talking about rumors,” Armstrong said. “I see Jerry 50 times a year. If I ask Jerry Reinsdorf right now how the relationship is, that’s all I care about.’’
The Sun-Times talked up Armstrong’s relationship with Bulls vice president John Paxson in ways that would lend one to believe there is enmity there. For years during the duo’s playing days Paxson started ahead of Armstrong when it was clear that B.J. was the better individual player. Armstrong also seemed to be second in line to take over as general manager following Clarence Gaines Jr.’s separation from the Bulls, but instead Paxson came on to take the gig when Jerry Krause was let go, and Armstrong left the team two years later to become an agent. All the juicy stuff seems to line up.
The issue here, though, is that the Chicago Bulls are a large organization.
The Sun-Times repeatedly quotes those “team” and “Bulls” sources, but we have no clue what sort of position or department these sources work in. We’re not saying Cowley ran wild after engaging with the guy that makes those delicious press room chicken sandwiches (seriously, crew, good stuff), and it’s possible that people with very high rankings in the scouting or executive department are extremely unhappy with the reported idea that Derrick Rose came off as indifferent in the recruitment of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Especially when Rose personally reached out when it came time to engage with Pau Gasol.
That doesn’t mean Reinsdorf, Paxson, or Bulls general manager Gar Forman is dismayed. Tom Thibodeau is perpetually dismayed, but that’s just because you’re not fighting through that pick and roll hard enough. Yes, you.
So, believe what you want. Believe part of Reinsdorf’s press release, Armstrong’s angry comments, Cowley’s tale of a frustrated Bulls staffer, and Rose’s laconic acknowledgement of someone, somewhere, being upset with him.
Don’t believe Chris Broussard’s story, though. That one was a total plant that didn’t make any sense.
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