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Michael Carter-Williams says he’s excited to join Bulls
by Sam Smith
Posted on Oct 17
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Wearing Number 1 for the Bulls, at point guard….
…from Hamilton, Massachusetts?
“I was No. 1 in college at Syracuse,” said the Bulls latest point guard, Michael Carter-Williams, acquired Monday for Tony Snell. “I’ve been No. 1 a lot. The discussion is probably going to be D. Rose, that was his old number. It has nothing to do with D. Rose. He was great for this city. He’s an excellent player. I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes or anyone’s boundaries. Just a number I like. I was No. 1 in college, I was No. 1 in Philly. I felt like I had some success in Philly winning rookie of the year and when I went to Milwaukee I was No. 5. It’s a new place. I’m trying to get my chip on my shoulder and perform well.”
And so in perhaps a bit more unintentional separation, the Bulls continue to move on.
Carter-Williams met with reporters before Monday’s preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets. The Bulls said he is scheduled to take his trade physical Tuesday morning and hope to have him in some of practice and then ready to play in the final preseason game Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska.
For his part, Carter-Williams seemed anxious to get on with his new team after a hectic weekend. He said he came to Saturday’s game with the Bulls in Milwaukee planning to play and then was told about being traded. He said it became a chaotic two days of moving and didn’t even realize he’d asked for Rose’s number. Carter-Williams apparently understood questions would be raised about if this were a slight toward Rose or a question of an ultimate jersey number retirement. Though the Bulls gave out numbers before retirement ceremonies, like with Bob Love.
“Today’s the first day I got down here,” Carter-Williams said. “They asked me what number I wanted and I said No. 1 and there wasn’t too much discussion. I know this organization respects Derrick Rose and, like I said, it has nothing to do with stepping on anyone’s toes or anything like that. He was a great player and he did a lot for this city. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about it. There was so much going on. I showed up to the game ready to play against Chicago a couple of days ago and I get traded. I have to move all my stuff. There’s a lot of things.”
Which makes a number selection more a footnote, especially for the Bulls in what appears like an impressive addition of a player who was a recent NBA Rookie of the Year and one of the league’s top young defensive guards.
The Bulls Monday started Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Robin Lopez, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. Although coach Fred Hoiberg said his starting five for the opener Oct. 27 isn’t set, that group seems like it will be the five. Hoiberg said he’ll still consider possibilities into next week, though Butler, Wade and Rondo are set.
Carter-Williams appears to fill a concern at backup point guard with Spencer Dinwiddie, Jerian Grant and Isaiah Cannan having varying degrees of success at the position in preseason. Carter-Williams at 6-6 also is capable of filling in at forward spots in smaller lineups, this giving the team more flexibility.
“The way I’m looking at it is it gives us another very talented player in the mix,” Hoiberg said of Carter-Williams. “He’s got great positional size, a guy who has had some success in this league, especially going back looking at that rookie season where he put up unbelievable numbers. Career wise he’s averaging 14.5 points and almost six rebounds, six assists. So he’s a very versatile player and I think he’ll fit in very well with how we want to play; he’s very good in the pick and roll, you can utilize him in mismatch situations in the post, putting him in there against smaller players. And his vision is huge in the post there when he draws a double team; he does a lot of things that fit. He’s a very willing defender who will pick up 94 feet, so we’re excited about his versatility.”
Carter-Williams has had an unusual road as the league’s top rookie in 2014, let go in the 76ers’ former plan of going for the worst record and then amidst internal organization issues in Milwaukee.
“I don’t really know,” Carter-Williams said about why he was traded twice despite good production. “Some places work for some people and some places don’t. I think I was able to have some success my rookie year and I got moved. That’s just the business of the game. Crazy things happen in this league. Those are the things you can’t really focus on. Whatever happens, happens and you’ve just got to make the best out of your situation. I think my biggest thing right now is getting comfortable with these guys in the locker room. We’ve got a season ahead of us. I’m looking at we’re definitely a playoff team, so I’m looking to help the team in any way I can. I’ve got to gel with these guys and that’s my main goal. I’m not worried about stability next year or anything like that. I’m just worried about today and tomorrow I’ll worry about tomorrow.”
Carter-Williams can be a restricted free agent after this season and said he looks forward to just helping the Bulls for now.
“I was also shocked and I didn’t know the trade was going to happen, but I think it’s a great situation for me,” Carter-Williams said. “I’m happy here and the guys are great and the staff seems really cool and I think I can help this team. I think I can learn from some of the older guys we have here. I think I can come in the game, bring a lot of energy on both sides of the ball. Just try to play my part and do anything to help the team win. I have been fortunate to start a lot of my career, but it’s a process. I’m still learning every day. I’m looking to learn from Rondo. He’s one of the best point guards in this league. This is something fresh and new and will give me a little push, a little jolt. I think it will be fun.
“I think I’d be a defensive guy,” Carter-Williams said about his game. “I think I’m pretty good at pressuring the ball, forcing turnovers. Offensively, getting in the lane, getting rebounds and pushing the ball up the floor and finding my teammates. I’ve had some ups and some downs. Every time I go out there. I try to play as hard as I can and that’s all I can really ask from myself. Just to put in the work so I can be successful on the court. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get out there, I can’t wait to practice, I can’t wait to learn and I can’t wait to play.”
Former Bulls players to wear No. 1?
Delmer Bashore, Wes Matthews, Randy Brown, Jamal Crawford, Randy Livingston and Rose. Next!