Rookie Wendell Carter Jr. has a lot to say, but are the Bulls ready to listen?

SHARE Rookie Wendell Carter Jr. has a lot to say, but are the Bulls ready to listen?
SHARE Rookie Wendell Carter Jr. has a lot to say, but are the Bulls ready to listen?

Bulls rookie Wendell Carter Jr. has a lot to say. He is just trying to figure out when to say it.

Should it come in the huddle during a timeout of a game that’s getting away from him and his teammates? Should it come in a film session, away from the public eye? Should he say anything at all?

Ah, the confusing world of a 19-year-old trying to make his way in the NBA.

‘‘It’s definitely difficult,’’ Carter said of figuring out his place in terms of being a vocal leader. ‘‘I don’t want to make it an excuse of me being a rookie, but there is a place for rookies. I can’t just come here and tell my teammates how I feel or what I think should be done, anything like that.

‘‘It should honestly be the other way around, where I should be listening to them, letting them tell me what to do. But . . . I feel like I take ownership of what I do on the court. What I do wrong, I take complete ownership of it. It’s not about making mistakes. I can figure out things on the fly.’’

Leadership is one of those ‘‘things.’’

Carter isn’t a typical rookie. He has an honesty about him that most rookies keep to themselves. That was evident during the Summer League, when he spoke openly about how every player should pride himself on playing defense because it comes down to will and commitment on that side of the ball.


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Now that Carter is in the heat of an NBA season, he is feeling a building frustration. That was evident after a 122-83 blowout loss Saturday to the Raptors — their fourth defeat in a row — dropped the Bulls to 4-13.

‘‘At the end of the day, it’s just basketball, and I just feel like we separate a little too much, especially when times get hard,’’ Carter said of the recent slump the short-handed Bulls are going through. ‘‘No matter how old I am, I feel like that’s something that’s a simple fix for me. I try to step up in that leadership kind of role, try and pull everyone together.

‘‘But it’s hard at times, for sure, because during timeouts especially, everybody has different things on their mind. It’s hard for them all to come together on one thing, but that’s something we’ve all got to work on.’’

Carter then clarified the ‘‘we separate a little too much’’ comment by saying: ‘‘I feel like we kind of go in our separate ways . . . feeling like we’ve got the game won and then [the opposition] knocks down a couple of threes and gets on a run, and we’re looking at one another trying to point fingers sometimes. I feel like that’s not going to be successful for us.’’

Point fingers?

‘‘People are committed to the team effort,’’ Carter said. ‘‘It’s more pointing fingers at themselves. People are putting their heads down, blaming themselves, and I feel like the beauty of this game is there’s another play in a couple of seconds. We’ve just got to move on and try and make a better play the next time down the court.’’

Those are all good messages, but are the Bulls ready to hear it from a rookie? Carter might find out soon.

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