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NBA AM: Derrick Rose Remains A Lightning Rod

Derrick Rose has remained a lightning rod for skeptics. Is it fair?

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Derrick Rose hurt, again, during Thursday’s win over Raptors

Derrick Rose’s basketball journey over the past few years has been filled with highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There is the league MVP award won after an outstanding 2011 campaign. There’s the two crippling knee injuries, which subsequently robbed him of nearly two full seasons. Then there’s the 2014 FIBA World Cup where Rose managed to play throughout, winning a gold medal, even though his play was shaky.

The 2014-15 season has been filled with similar up and down moments for the former MVP.

Rose was seemingly on his way to one of his trademark performances in the second game of the season versus the Cleveland Cavaliers with 20 points in just over 25 minutes played. But Rose was forced to sit the remaining portion of the second half with a pair of sprained ankles. Those ailments have forced Rose to miss four games total.

In the Bulls’ last two games, wins over Detroit and Toronto, Rose is averaging 22 points and 5.5 assists while converting 13-of-15 free throws.

However, Rose was forced out of the Raptors victory on Thursday night after tweaking his left hamstring. The Bulls got the win over the emerging Raptors but the aftermath naturally turned to the topic of Rose’s health.

Rose played off the severity of the latest injury and is hoping not to miss any court action.

“I guess it’s cramps in my hamstrings,” Rose said according to ESPN Chicago after the Raptors game. “But I think it’s minor, and they decided to pull me out.

“I don’t think it’s that serious. Just ice it, stim, see if I can practice [Friday] and give it a go Saturday.”

The latest potential setback comes after a firestorm of media criticism about Rose’s ability to play through injuries and stay healthy.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau defended the guard earlier this week and believes the criticism is off base.

“He’s navigating through coming back off of 2-1/2 years off,” Thibodeau told Fox Sports. “It’s a lot. I think everyone has to take a step back and be patient and let him go through this process. He’s going to be special again, just be patient.

“He’s a lightning rod right now. The same people that were praising him in his MVP year are the ones that are criticizing him now and, when he starts playing great again, will be the same people praising him again.”

In five games this season, Rose is averaging 18 points, 5.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 28 minutes per outing. The Bulls host the struggling Indiana Pacers at home on Saturday.

Bucks’ owner looking to improve financial literacy throughout the league

Behind the flashy dunks, fame, expensive cars, beautiful women and lucrative endorsement deals lies a seldom mentioned state of affairs – bankruptcy among former professional athletes is still an issue needing to be addressed.

While the NBA has improved its efforts over the years attempting to educate players entering the league, it’s important to keep in mind that the audience oftentimes features guys under 21 years old from poorer economic backgrounds.

However, if it is left up to new Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens, the subject will receive even greater attention moving forward.

According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Edens wants players to become more savvy off the court and give them financial outlets to help them improve and maintain their accumulated wealth.

“I want to help guys out to understand financially how to be in a better place,” Edens said according to the report. “I know when I was 22 (years old), I made a lot of bad decisions.

Edens is founder and co-chairman of Fortress Investment Group LLC. The asset management company is reportedly worth $62 billion.  He purchased the Bucks, along with New York hedge fund exec Marc Lasry, back in May for a reported $550 million.

For now Edens’ work on financial well being has remained exclusive to his franchise but according to a source in the original report this is a topic the newly minted owner is extremely passionate about.

“This is something he really feels passionate about,” the source said. “The stats about the number of players ending up in bankruptcy are unacceptable to him and he wants to see what he can do to help his players.”

Milwaukee is currently 4-4 on the season and would make the Eastern Conference playoffs if the campaign were to end today.

Mavs’ Felton still not ready for game action

After an offseason full of moves, the Dallas Mavericks appear to be one of the stronger teams in the league during the early portion of the 2014-15 campaign. The team’s marquee additions this past summer was emerging forward Chandler Parsons in free agency and former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler via trade.

The team also made improvements to their depth at point guard signing veteran floor general Jameer Nelson and acquiring Raymond Felton in a trade with the New York Knicks.

To date, however, Felton hasn’t been able to log any time due to a severely sprained right ankle suffered in training camp. But even when Felton is 100 percent he will have to serve a four game suspension after pleading guilty to a gun charge during the offseason.

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle says there hasn’t been any setbacks concerning Felton’s ankle.

“It’s just a little bit slow,” Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News. “There has not been a setback. We’re not going to mess with it. The rules state that he’s got to be healthy to begin [the suspension]. And we’re not going to mess with league rules.

“We need him. We need every available healthy guy on our roster that we can get. Don’t think it doesn’t cross your mind when you see Jameer Nelson go down the other night and limp off the floor. But Mother Nature is difficult sometimes. He’s working hard at it. We’ll just keep pointing in that direction and hopefully it will be soon.”

Felton is on the Mavericks’ books for $3.8 million this season. The guard has a player option worth $3,9 million for the 2015-16 campaign.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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