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Does Derrick Rose Really Prefer Joe Johnson To LeBron James?

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There's been an assumption that Bulls star Derrick Rose would be totally cool playing second fiddle to LeBron James should James go to Chicago. Nevermind that the Bulls have been selling fans on the club being "Derrick Rose's team" since he arrived, or the Bulls letting Ben Gordon go for nothing because he took away Rose's touches. All that would be forgotten because of LeBron, right?

Well, maybe not. We haven't heard much from Rose all summer about LeBron, and maybe this is why. Via Brian Windhorst:

[LeBron] really likes Rose & Noah. But there's lack if shooters on roster. Also it doesn't sound like he's exactly being welcomed by Rose.    

Didn't say Rose was anti-LeBron. But the word is preference was Joe Johnson. They have same agent. That is what multiple people tell me.    

Wait a minute - Rose prefers Joe Johnson to LeBron, just because Rose and Johnson share the same agent? The same Joe Johnson that got a ridiculous max contract from the Hawks? It sounds ridiculous, especially if Rose really wants to win, and frankly, the agent thing seems like a red herring. But it also sort of makes sense, in a not-so-good way for Bulls fans.

 

As mentioned before, most of us have been assuming Rose wouldn't mind being a second-fiddle guy. But why? It sounds like one of those things that someone (cough Bill Simmons) throws out there and everyone runs with it because it sort of makes sense. Rose is quiet publicly, so we assume he'd be quiet privately once a guy like LeBron is brought in.

But there are also plenty of reasons for Rose to legitimately feel he doesn't need LeBron to win. Rose was a number one pick, after all, after being a highly-touted recruit that arrived to Memphis with a ton of fanfare. He's been given the keys to the Bulls from Day 1, and he's been the face of that franchise the whole time. So to expect him to just step aside and let LeBron take over the team - it's not exactly the easiest transition in the world, you know.

That, to me, explains this Joe Johnson stuff. They have the same agent, sure, but it seems hard to believe that connection would matter this much. More likely, Rose prefers Johnson because he realizes Johnson would have to tailor to him, and not vice versa. This isn't to say Rose is an egomaniac, it just makes him like most other great players in this league. If Chris Bosh can believe he's a "centerpiece," why can't Rose? (Rose did more with less than Bosh this season, after all).

And that's a shame if true. Rose is a very good player, but unless he makes a major leap, he isn't leading a team to a title without significant help. LeBron James, of course, is significant help. So it would be a real downer for everyone if Rose is indeed this concerned about sharing the spotlight. 

(HT: The Baseline).