Jay Williams took plenty of criticism when he called out his Chicago Bulls teammates during a dismal rookie season, but the tactics of the former Duke star found support from the franchise's biggest star.
Williams, the second overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft, lost more games in his first month of his NBA career than he did in three seasons at Duke, where he was the national player of the year as a junior.
He said his frustrations grew as he watched his teammates during a 30-52 season.
"I was so frustrated because it seemed like guys didn't care," Williams said Thursday on "The Afternoon Saloon" on ESPN 1000. "The energy, the atmosphere wasn't right."
VOTE IN THE POLL ----->
Enter Michael Jordan.
"I remember I got killed in the papers, and I got a call from Michael Jordan, and Michael's like 'Hey, listen, keep speaking out because eventually people are going to listen. You need somebody to really demand the best out of their team.'"
It's that kind of vocal leadership that might do the Bulls some good, according to Williams. Asked about the inconsistencies of a fellow Duke alum, Luol Deng, Williams said: "I've never really seen Lu lead. I didn't see him lead when he was in college, and I haven't really seen him lead as a pro. I always see him kind of fitting in, following the flow."
Deng, the seventh pick in the 2004 NBA draft, signed a $71 million extension in the summer of 2008 and his production -- and ability to stay on the court -- has suffered since. If those are tied to the big contract, Deng wouldn't be the first, Williams said.
"I don't know if Lu has gotten a little content after he got the big contract. I'm not saying that I've spoken to Lu or that he has, but you see that in the NBA," said Williams, now a basketball analyst for ESPN. "All of a sudden Eddy Curry comes up in his contract year, and he loses 25-30 pounds, he's in shape, he's dunking everything, and he's a beast. Then he gets his contract and everybody is like where's Eddy Curry at? That happens around the NBA all the time."
Blazers are interested in Bulls' Thomas, source says
A league source confirmed to The Columbian on Thursday that the Portland Trail Blazers are highly interested in Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas.
The source said the Blazers' are intrigued by Thomas' youth and his shot-blocking abilities. In addition, Thomas would fit in well with Portland's timeline and current roster needs.
Yahoo! Sports originally reported that the Blazers offered either Steve Blake or Travis Outlaw — both of whom have expiring contracts — and two future second-round draft picks for Thomas. The Bulls reportedly declined the deal, though, because they want more value in return.
Bulls not lacking for Thomas suitors
After the Chicago Bulls suspended forward Tyrus Thomas(notes) for losing his temper with coach Vinny Del Negro, an interesting thing happened: More teams started calling the franchise’s front office wanting to talk about a trade.
Everyone understood Chicago executives are now determined to move Thomas, and a clear price has been established for suitors: Expiring contracts and a future first-round draft pick, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Bulls are also exploring ways to package Thomas with guard Kirk Hinrich(notes) to free themselves of his contract.
The Charlotte Bobcats bid Acie Law(notes), and Flip Murray(notes), a league executive said. The Bobcats have been searching for a long, athletic forward like Thomas, the fourth pick in the 2007 draft, and are expected to be aggressive pursuers. Portland Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard made an offer they’ll have to improve upon to be taken seriously – one of his expiring contracts (Steve Blake(notes) or Travis Outlaw(notes)) and two future second-round draft picks.
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The New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets are among the multiple teams who’ve spoken to Chicago about Thomas. The Bulls are telling people that they have several teams willing to offer first-round picks – in 2010 or beyond.
Bulls, Rose optimistic he'll play in All-Star Game
Derrick Rose was moving around and feeling better Thursday, and the Bulls are optimistic he will be able to play in Sunday's All-Star Game.
Rose left Wednesday's loss to Orlando early in the first quarter after being knocked to the ground by a hard foul from Magic center Dwight Howard. Rose landed flat on his back and tailbone. He was able to shoot an ensuing free throw, then left the game and didn't return.
X-ray and MRI exams taken Wednesday night showed no significant injury. So it's basically a matter of when Rose feels well enough to start playing again.
The second-year guard traveled to Dallas on Thursday and will continue to be monitored by Bulls team physician Brian Cole. Rose is scheduled to defend his title in the skills competition Saturday, then become the first Bulls player to participate in the All-Star Game since Michael Jordan in 1998.
With Rose out of the game, the Bulls fell apart and lost to the Magic 107-87, heading into the all-star break with a 25-26 record. Their next game is Tuesday against New York at the United Center.