CHICAGO -- In an era when NBA superstars pair up for the easiest path to a championship, former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy wondered Monday if Derrick Rose will be one of the next to look for greener pastures if the Chicago Bulls don't land another superstar or win a championship.
"I think the interesting one coming up in the future is going to be Derrick Rose," Van Gundy said on AM-740's "The Game" in Orlando. "I think Derrick Rose is a great, great representative of our league, and he's a great player. And he's got good players around him, very good players around him, but if (the Bulls) can't get another star there for him is he eventually going to look around and say, 'Hey, I've got to work this out on my own and I've got to find somehow to get somewhere else so that I will have a chance to play with another star.' The league has changed."
Rose, who tore his ACL during the Bulls' first playoff game last season against the Philadelphia 76ers, has stated that he plans to stay in Chicago for his entire career. He signed a five-year max extension before last season worth over $90 million. Van Gundy's point is that if Rose can't rebound from the injury and win a championship, even the most loyal player may start to look at other situations.
Van Gundy has first-hand experience with the trending phenomenon. Dwight Howard's very public campaign to get traded from the Magic sidetracked Orlando for much of last season. Van Gundy ultimately got fired and Howard landed with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash with the Lakers.
"The league has changed," Van Gundy said. "It used to be the stars wanted to sort of have their own team, they certainly wanted good players around them, but now everything's changed. I think it started with the Celtics, bringing (Kevin) Garnett, (Paul) Pierce and (Ray) Allen together and everybody saw that and decided, 'Look, this is the only way we're going to win.'
"I think sometimes the players get sort of chastised for that, but if you're a LeBron James and you're looking at (the situation) you might want to win it in Cleveland, you might want to lead your own franchise, same with Dwight Howard, but you're looking around."
Van Gundy believes Howard shouldn't be crushed by wanting to pair up with other stars.
"Chris Paul I think went through the same thing," Van Gundy said. You're looking around and you see Boston and you're saying, 'I'm not going to be able to do this alone. I got to find a way, somehow, where I can get with a couple of other true stars. Not just good players, but true stars.'
"And so then LeBron goes to Miami and Chris Paul takes off and goes to the Clippers, which isn't going to be enough for him, I don't think. And so if you're Dwight, you're looking around and saying, 'I got to get somewhere where there's more people somehow.' Either they've got to come here, which if you don't have a way to do that then you've got to go somewhere else."
Van Gundy's observations about Rose, Howard and others came on the heels of a question regarding Orlando's long term viability as a free agent destination and fans' frustrations with the fact that both Howard and former Magic center Shaquille O'Neal have now left Orlando for Los Angeles in the last 15 years. Van Gundy believes that the Magic still have the ability to get big time players to the play in the market over time.
"I think they can lure free agents," Van Gundy said. "Look, free agency comes down to the money, first of all. It comes down to the money. This isn't a college recruiting situation, though that a lot of times comes down to money, too. But this is (about) money. So if you've got more money than somebody else, you're going to get the guy.
"Now if it's equal, there may be other factors, but I think Orlando is a desirable location ... I think it will be interesting to see what they do. Clearly right now they've decided that they didn't want to bring players back for Dwight, that they want to start all over and rebuild, and how much they want to use free agency as opposed to the draft will probably determine how quickly it turns around or if it's a four or five year thing."