Thursday, June 19, 2008
Rose tries to sway Bulls into drafting him ahead of ... Beasley?
By Andy Katz ESPN.com
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Derrick Rose desperately wants to be the face of his hometown Chicago Bulls. He's not hiding his feelings one bit.
If the Bulls don't draft him with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft next Thursday, he said he'll be crushed.
Rarely has a potential No. 1 pick politicked as much as the one-season Memphis freshman point guard, who played at Chicago's Simeon Career Academy. The last hometown star to be drafted No. 1 was Akron's LeBron James, to Cleveland in 2003. But James did not have to convince the Cavs to take him -- he was going to be first pick the moment the Cavs won the draft lottery.
"Everything would be perfect, it would be a dream come true, I swear," Rose said Thursday at the Bulls' practice facility. "I'll probably faint if they call my name, I'll need a paramedic close by."
If Kansas State freshman forward Michael Beasley is taken by Chicago and Rose falls to the Miami Heat at No. 2, Rose's reaction will be decidedly different.
"I'll hate it. Anybody would hate their hometown not taking you, knowing that it could happen," Rose said, exhaling a bit after meeting the demands of a massive Chicagoland media horde in the midday sun. "But the biggest thing was playing in the NBA. My work ethic isn't going to change."
"I can understand the human element," Bulls general manager John Paxson said. "It's not something that is dismissed. I understand that. But we do have a decision to make and it ends up being a business decision, and that dictates how we'll decide to go forward. We still have a week and we haven't made up our mind."
Derrick Rose has made his feelings perfectly clear: He loves his Bulls and would hate to play for the Heat, who pick second next week.
The Rose-or-Beasley debate is noticeable around Chicago. Both phenoms have been on hand this week for extensive interviews, which are much more important than any on-court workout, with Bulls personnel.
A year ago, Portland had to debate whether it wanted to select a scorer in Kevin Durant or an anchor position in the post in Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick. The Blazers chose Oden. Durant went on to be a scorer (20.3 points per game) for the SuperSonics and won rookie of the year honors. Oden did not play at all because of microfracture surgery but is still expected to be the team's franchise center.
If the Bulls choose Beasley, Paxson said the franchise will be getting a scorer who would balance out a guard-heavy roster.
"With Derrick, he's a special talent at a position that you can have him at for the next 10 to 12 years and feel very good about it," Paxson said. "It's an interesting argument. We're not sitting there comparing the same position. We're comparing two totally different things. What we'll answer at the end of the week is 'Where do we think we'll be with the players three or four years down the road?'"
Some of today's NBA rules, like not allowing contact, specifically a forearm on a player out on the perimeter, favor a quick lead guard like Chris Paul or Deron Williams. Such a comparison helps Rose.
"Then you can make the argument that Michael is a guy who can flat-out score, and in our league you've got to put the ball in the basket," Paxson said.
If Rose is his choice then Paxson said the Bulls' numbers at guard would need addressing, although this wouldn't happen until after the draft. Ben Gordon and Luol Deng are restricted free agents, which makes it "more difficult" for Chicago to try moving them.
"It's a tough decision because I think Michael will come into the league and score," Paxson said. "That's what he does. Derrick can come in and have an effect on games without scoring. You're looking at what fits for how you want to shape your roster for the future."
Recently hired coach Vinny Del Negro, who played 13 seasons in the NBA as a guard himself, echoed Paxson's thoughts. He said having a point guard like Paul and/or Williams can allow a team "to play a certain style. It opens up the floor more."
But Del Negro said the "scoring aspect is incredibly important and Michael has done some things in college that were incredibly impressive."
Beasley averaged 26.2 points a game while leading the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament's second round. Rose led Memphis to the national championship game and within one shot of winning the title before Kansas rallied for victory in overtime.
"Watching his workout [Tuesday], you could see how easy the game is for him [Beasley]," Del Negro said.
But just as Del Negro was effusive in his praise of Beasley, he reminded himself about the Bulls' need for a leader at the point.
"We have a really talented young team that needs some direction in some areas and a point guard would help," he said. "Another scorer would help, too. It's not as cut and dried as most think."
Adding intrigue to the situation is Del Negro embarking on his first coaching job at any level.
"It couldn't be better to have a young talented team that I feel underachieved last year and then to have the No. 1 pick," Del Negro said. "How fortunate can I be? But in saying that, we have a lot of work to do."
Representatives for both Beasley and Rose have told ESPN.com their client will be taken with the No. 1 pick. So far they have had no reason to waver.
Rose said he's not sure if and when he'll travel to Miami to work out for the Heat. Beasley was making both the Chicago and Miami trips this week.
"Both guys are going to be terrific NBA players," Paxson said. "We were looking at being at nine [in the draft lottery] and we end up at No. 1. We count our blessings and whatever we do we can't go wrong."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.