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Old 06-28-2008, 03:01 PM   #1
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Default Bulls article from the Chicago Sun-Times

Now that the Bulls have selected Derrick Rose with the top pick in the draft, general manager John Paxson can move on to the next item on his to-do list.

Paxson said he hopes to hire the assistants for new coach Vinny Del Negro within the next few days. He also will begin contract talks with the agents for Ben Gordon and Luol Deng when the NBA's free-agent market officially opens Tuesday.

''We are going to start the process right away,'' Paxson said during an interview Friday on WSCR-AM (670). ''I know that we've been in contact with both Ben and Luol. ... We're hoping [Tuesday or Wednesday] we get them here and we sit down face-to-face and start seeing what we can do.

''But I never know. They're restricted this time around. There could be a market for them. And they have the ability to go explore that.''

As restricted free agents, Gordon and Deng can solicit an offer sheet from another team. The Bulls have retained the right to match any deal by extending qualifying contract offers of $6.4 million to Gordon and $4.45 million to Deng before the deadline Monday.

Gordon and Deng -- who both turned down five-year, $50 million contract extensions last October -- will become unrestricted free agents next summer if they accept their respective qualifying offers.

The team officially will introduce Rose -- as much as Chicago needs an introduction to the former Simeon star -- at a news conference Monday at the United Center.

Paxson said the addition of Rose, whom the Bulls drafted with the No. 1 pick Thursday, does not necessarily mean a roster fire sale is at hand, particularly in the backcourt.

''We're not going to rush into that because, for example, I think Kirk Hinrich can play very effectively with Derrick Rose,'' Paxson said. ''I think Ben Gordon can play very effectively with Derrick Rose. I think Thabo [Sefolosha] can. We have Larry Hughes as well.

''Because of Derrick's age [19], we're going to be careful in how we go about this. We're not going to rush into giving up some of our players thinking that's going to solve all our problems.''

During his two-day visit to Deerfield before the draft, Rose met Hinrich, Gordon and Joakim Noah.

''I think I can blend in great,'' Rose said. ''We're young, we'll be able to talk to each other. They're great guys.''

Paxson said taking Rose over Kansas State forward Michael Beasley was more than a consensus choice.

''Very honestly, at the end when we made our decision, it was unanimous among our scouts and coaches and myself,'' Paxson said. ''This had everything to do with the direction we felt was right for us. I think he's a special type of talent.

''I think ultimately what separated Derrick for us is his position, point guard, is such a difficult one to fill for the long term. ... There are 20 teams ... that would love to have a bona fide point guard. And most of the teams that do are some of the elite teams.

''I don't think there is a player at that position who has the physical gifts Derrick has -- the strength, the incredible speed he has. I think that is something that's going to be very difficult to guard. I guess that's what we finally came down to. Finally, I think Derrick's just a super young man. He's humble.''

Paxson also liked the fact Rose led Simeon to consecutive state titles and Memphis to the NCAA final as a freshman last season.

''He wins everywhere he goes,'' Paxson said. ''That's an intangible thing that's important.

''You also have to look at our league right now. A number of years the league looked at scoring numbers that had gone down. They looked at how the perimeter was being defended. The league basically, and very wisely so, took away some of the contact that was allowed defensively on the perimeter. So now when you have good guards that can handle the ball, penetrate, and have speed and quickness, they're at an advantage.

''Derrick has that going for him in a big way. He's the type of player that's probably going to get to most places he wants to on the floor.''

NOTE: In the second round, the Bulls chose Arkansas forward Sonny Weems, then worked out a trade that sent him to the Portland Trail Blazers for the rights to 7-foot center Omer Asik from Turkey.

Asik, who will turn 22 Friday, is expected to spend the next two years in Europe. General manager John Paxson believes the Bulls landed a ''first-round talent'' in Asik.

''We made this as a futures play,'' Paxson said. ''You look at size ... we thought if we could get him, it was a no-brainer.

''The other thing is ... honestly, we didn't want to put another guy on our roster this year out of the draft. We're young enough. We just felt if we could get him, knowing that's a chip for 2010 that we'll have coming over, we thought that was great.''

I'm not too sure about this... Paxson NEEDS to change up the roster now more than ever. Playing Rose and Hinrich together won't change a thing. Send Hinrich to a team that would be willing to give up a big man who the Bulls need.
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