Like it or not, atop the Derrick Rose priority list is being healthy for his next big payday

SHARE Like it or not, atop the Derrick Rose priority list is being healthy for his next big payday

Finally, some clarity.

No longer is there a need to speculate on what Derrick Rose is all about.

The Bulls point guard made that very obvious with his actions over the last few weeks, and left no room for a gray area with his words the last few days.

Atop his priority list is that next free-agent contract. A close second on that list? That next free-agent contract.

An NBA championship, individual awards, his brand, his teammates, his coaching staff, his front office, his fan base, sure, they all have a place in the Rose universe, but they all pale in comparison to what truly drives Rose these days. What makes him skip practices and games without an ounce of remorse or guilt.

Just get out of the 2016-17 season healthy, show enough glimpses of elite play, and hit that open market for what could be his last chance at a major payday.

Not the first professional athlete to think that way by any means, but very unique in having no problem expressing it.

He put it in all of our faces on the first day of training camp back in late September when he was asked a question about a lawsuit he was facing and took an unprompted detour to get his mission statement on the record.

“This whole summer I had tunnel vision,’’ Rose said. “My mindset was just making sure that I was working out every day, and spending as much time as possible with my son. And focusing on those two things. Making sure my family is financially stable, as far as seeing all the money that they’re passing out in this league. Just telling the truth. Just knowing that my day will be coming up soon, and it’s not for me. It’s for [son] P.J. and his future, so that’s what I’m thinking about now.’’

When asked again what he meant by “my day will be coming,’’ Rose doubled down on the free agency talk.

“Yeah,’’ Rose said. “I’m preparing for it.’’

Prepare he has.

If something doesn’t feel close to right it’s a no-go on game night. It’s been his call, and according to him, his call only. That’s why Dr. Rose has deemed himself out of the last three games with right hamstring tendinitis.

Not that he should be condemned for that. If he can’t play, he can’t play.

It’s not like he bagged out of the last three games with some ambiguous excuse like “general soreness.’’ Probably because he used that one back on Feb. 8, pulling himself from a key matchup in Charlotte.

This is just the make-up of the man after three knee surgeries.

Maybe at some point he was “Chicago tough.’’ Now it’s obviously more important for him to be “Chicago wealthy.’’ Very wealthy.

“Nah. If I can’t play I’m not going to play,’’ Rose said, when asked on Friday if he would change his mindset come playoff time. “It’s a process, like I said.’’

In other words, no need to worry about an Isiah Thomas Game 6-like performance in which the Chicago-born guard poured in 43 points with a badly injured ankle. There’s no “Flu Game’’ in Rose’s playoff future.

He doesn’t need a heroic performance on his resume any longer. He just needs to be well compensated.

We all understand how the game works now. The rules are firmly in place.

When, and how often, he plays is solely on Rose.

How you judge him for that is solely on you.

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