By Barca Blog - Earlier in the week, media outlets reported that the Chicago Bulls signed Derrick Byars to a non-guaranteed contract to start the NBA season. While the Bulls organization could dismiss Byars at any time under the deal, it came as a surprise when they decided to waive him one day later.
I contacted Derrick via email (before he was cut) about doing a Q&A, and he agreed to the request. Within 24 hours, the Bulls let him go. When this news came out, I expected nothing back from him in return, but was surprised when he took the time to answer every question about his experience with the Bulls. He’s a class act for sure and a great representative of Vanderbilt University.
Here’s what DB had to say:
What were your emotions during the last few days?
“My emotions on ‘making the opening night roster’ were naturally pleased that I made the cut, but I was never overly excited or too ahead of myself because the goal has always been and continues to be an NBA player that is productive in regular season NBA games. And even though this is as far into the preseason I have been so far, playing in a regular season game has still yet to happen.
“(Making it this far) still isn’t gratifying because I am and always have been a very motivated and determined player who is never content or complacent with where I am. Yes, the road has been difficult in terms of my pro career after Vanderbilt, but I can never be content until my career is completely over. I'm always going to be striving for better.”
Explain the timeline from being on the roster to being waived.
“My agent contacted me last week to tell me my name would be on the opening night roster but stated that the Bulls had no definitive time frame as to how long they planned on keeping me around due to financial constraints. Even though my contract would have been worth the league minimum, they felt it was in their best interest to hold on to as much flexibility under the cap because they didn't have much wiggle room, as I understood it. Front office personnel informed me that this decision was purely financial and had nothing to do with my talent as a pro basketball player.”
During the preseason, you traveled with the Bulls to London for an exhibition game. How was that experience?
“London was great. As a team, we had a chance to come together and get closer as a team while also taking in a little history and culture. Seeing some of the sites like Westminster Abbey and the Big Ben clock was a unique experience and we all had a good time. The fans there gave us a very nice and warm reception.”
There were a couple of SEC players on the Bulls' roster. Any stories you could share with us?
“Yes, there are a bunch of SEC alumni on the team. There were a lot of stories, but the most frequent topic concerning Vandy dealt with Memorial Gym. Every guy on the team (Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Jannero Pargo, Chris Richard) talked about how much they hated playing at Vandy. ‘What's up with you guys' court, man?’ is what they would say. Obviously everybody hated the unique home court advantage we had and talked about the adversity they had being so far from their bench to hear their coach and the noise factor with the crowd. I told them, ‘Anytime you lose one game from the beginning of the 2007 conference season until the end of the 2008 season, it's certainly a program that has a tough environment to play.’"
While you were in Chicago, were you in touch with any of the former Commodores playing for the Bears?
“Earl Bennett and I have actually been in touch while I was in Chicago and I was getting around to attending a Chicago Bears game to support him. We were trying to work our schedules out. Chris Williams is a friend of mine as well and needless to say I'm happy to be seeing those two and Jay Cutler, Hunter Hillenmeyer, and DJ Moore representing VU in their Bears uniforms.”
Can you talk a little more about what your deal was with the Bulls?
“Obviously, my particular contract was very tentative and not guaranteed at all. I was a little confused as to what the entire situation meant, but I just tried to work as hard as I could daily in practice and in games. I wanted to continue to do all the little things and be a good teammate. Unfortunately, the nature of the NBA is very unpredictable, and I am forced to continue my journey by working hard and seeking what's next in store for me. As always, I appreciate all of the support and following from everybody in the Nashville area and VU.”
photo courtesy of ChicagoBulls.com