Bulls' Jimmy Butler says Derrick Rose has 'always been in my corner'

Coming off his breakout season, Jimmy Butler shot down any talk of tension with Chicago Bulls backcourt mate Derrick Rose.

"I think he's always been supportive of me being aggressive, especially on offense," Butler said on ESPN's "First Take" on Wednesday. "We all know that I'll be the aggressor on defense. So from what I can tell, the guy's always been in my corner."

CBS Chicago reported in May that tension between Butler and Rose had been building for weeks with Butler's emergence as the Bulls' primary scorer.

A first time All-Star last season and the NBA's Most Improved Player, Butler averaged a team-leading 20 points a game for the Bulls, who welcomed back Rose after two injury-plagued seasons. Rose, a former MVP, returned to average 17.7 points in 51 games.

Butler believes his relationship with Rose only became a storyline because of the way the Bulls ended their season, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the playoffs after taking a 2-1 series lead.

"The only reason that it came up is because we lost," Butler said. "I don't think we have any beef or whatever you want to call it. I think we just want to win. We didn't win, so now [people say] we're beefing, now we have a problem with each other, and I don't think that's the case."

Butler acknowledged in a "Be Honest" podcast with ESPN's Cari Champion that there were teammates he "definitely" didn't get along with during his four-year tenure with the Bulls but didn't specify names. He said he doesn't hang out with Rose much off the floor but doesn't believe that matters much in regard to how he and his teammates play.

"Probably not as much," he said of hanging with Rose off the floor. "But I don't think that that's a problem. He has his family, I got my guys with me all the time. So we spend so much time with each other if we're traveling on the plane, we're practicing, we're watching film, we're playing in a game. That's a lot of time to be around your team. So off the floor, you say hello, you might hang out every once in a while. But I think everybody goes their separate ways, unless you're like rookies and you don't got anything else to do. Y'all hang out with each other, but everybody kind of got their group with them."

Butler, who will be 26 when the new NBA season begins, believes he has to take an even bigger leadership role next year for the Bulls.

"I have to," Butler said. "I feel as though we have a lot of different leaders on the team, guys that lead emotionally like Joakim [Noah], guys that have done it before, that's won, Pau [Gasol]. Guys that are really great players in Derrick. You need a guy that can kind of be a little bit of everything. That's going to have to be me. I'm going to have to take a bigger role now because I've stepped in and I've made my name in this league, so I have to be a guy that people can count [on] night in, night out. Not to only perform on the floor, but to lead there also."