By Cody Westerlund–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Bulls really have moved on from Derrick Rose. We found that out Monday before newly acquired guard Michael Carter-Williams had a change of heart.
After initially choosing uniform No. 1 — Rose’s old number — and being listed in the game notes with the said integer, Carter-Williams reversed course later in the evening, tweeting he hadn’t made his number selection official and then telling CSN Chicago in a brief postgame comment that he would instead wear No. 7. Carter-Williams presumably did so to avoid controversy regarding Rose, who donned No. 1 for the Bulls during his eight-year run in Chicago that was marked by being the 2011 MVP.
The Bulls traded Rose to the Knicks in June, marking the end of an era and the start of a new chapter in a franchise retooling. Amid great roster turnover this offseason leading into training camp, no one had previously chosen No. 1, until Carter-Williams arrived Monday following a Bulls-Bucks trade that sent wing Tony Snell to Milwaukee.
While it appears Carter-Williams ultimately won’t end up in No. 1, the fact that the Bulls were initially willing to let him wear it provided a glimpse into the organization’s eagerness to put the Rose era in its rear-view mirror, to distance themselves some more in every regard. Because the way Carter-Williams explained it, the process of him initially choosing No. 1 was simple.
The Bulls asked which number he wanted to wear. He wanted No. 1, which he sported in college at Syracuse and early in his professional career with the 76ers, two stops in which he had success at.
So the Bulls issued him No. 1, with Carter-Williams saying he received no pushback. He wore No. 5 with in Milwaukee, but that number is taken by Bobby Portis in Chicago.
Earlier in the evening, Carter-Williams explained he meant no disrespect to Rose.
“I’ve been No. 1 a lot,” Carter-Williams said. “The discussion is probably going to be about D-Rose, that was his old number. It has nothing to do with D-Rose, who was great for this city. He’s an excellent player. I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes or anyone’s boundaries. It’s a number I like.
“They asked me what number I wanted. I said 1. There wasn’t too much discussion. I know this organization respects Derrick Rose. Like I said, it has nothing to do with stepping on anyone’s toes or anything like that. He was a great player. He did a lot for the city.”
Amid a whirlwind few days, Carter-Williams didn’t initially put a great deal of thought into choosing No. 1.
“There was so much going on, trying to get ready to play against Chicago a couple days ago,” Carter-Williams said. “I get traded, I got to move myself. There’s a lot of things. To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about Derrick being No. 1.”
Carter-Williams wasn’t be available Monday night when the Bulls lost 108-104 to the Hornets in overtime. He still has to take a physical, which is scheduled for Tuesday morning, coach Fred Hoiberg said. The goal is for him to practice Wednesday and play Thursday in the Bulls’ preseason finale in Omaha.
Hoiberg believes a change of scenery will do Carter-Williams good. After being taken 11th overall in the 2013 draft and winning the 2014 Rookie of the Year, Carter-Williams was shipped from the 76ers to the Bucks in February 2015 but never found a fit in Milwaukee.
“I don’t really know,” Carter-Williams said when asked why it didn’t work out in Milwaukee. “Some places work for some people, and some places don’t. 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 things you can’t really focus on.”
Hoiberg had a theory as to why Carter-Williams wasn’t well-suited for the Bucks. When he initially arrived to finish off the 2014-’15 season, he was accustomed to being a focal point. In 2015-’16, the Bucks moved Giannis Antetokounmpo to point guard, minimizing Carter-Williams’ responsibility.
“The way I look at it, with Milwaukee’s situation, is they’ve pretty much been committed to putting the ball in Giannis’ hands, and rightfully so,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a mismatch nightmare with the ball in his hands.
Added Hoiberg of Carter-Williams: “He’ll fit in with how we want to play. He’s good in the pick-and-roll, we can utilize him in mismatch situations in the post.”
In Chicago, the 25-year-old Carter-Williams is expected compete backup minutes in the Bulls backcourt, where he has the potential to be a defensive force and could have playmaking opportunities when the likes of Rajon Rondo, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade are resting.
Carter-Williams has career averages of 14.5 points, 6.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds in three seasons, though he’s often been inefficient. He’s a 41 percent shooter for his career, 25.5 percent on 3-pointers.
Carter-Williams acknowledged he was “shocked” but also “excited” to hear of the trade. He’s expected to compete backup minutes in the Bulls backcourt.
“It’s a new place,” Carter-Williams said. “I’m trying to get a chip on my shoulder and perform well.”
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for CBSChicago.com and coversthe Bulls. He’s also the co-host of the @LockedOnBulls podcast, which you can subscribe to on iTunes and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.