Michael Carter-Williams drove into Chicago Monday and got right to the point.
“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. 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.”
And so the Bulls new point guard begins his drive to help the Bulls move forward in the new season.
“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.
Carter-Williams also showed that he’s versatile, quick thinking and a team guy.
Before the game, he told reporters he had chosen jersey No. 1 to wear because that was his number in college and when he was Rookie of the Year with the Philadelphia 76ers. Carter-Williams seemed surprised when reminded it was the number worn most recently by Derrick Rose, the popular Chicagoan traded to the Knicks in June. It was clear in the haze and surprise of an unexpected trade and coming to Chicago between being informed Saturday night and Monday morning, Carter-Williams never gave a thought to a jersey number.
“I was No. 1 in college at Syracuse,” he said when first asked about the number. “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.”
The Bulls said Carter-Williams 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 the hectic weekend.
“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.”
During the game, Carter-Williams sent out a tweet saying his number choice wasn’t official. After the game, he said he had chosen No. 7.
It seemed apparent from his reaction when speaking with reporters he hadn’t realized No. 1 was Rose’s number. Then he opted to change without apparently being told to do so. It suggests that he is unselfish, about the team and not someone who wants to create issues or disturb the legacy of the franchise.
“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.”