Fans cheer return of Derrick Rose, Andrew Bynum to the court

Comebacks of the year

One superstar's return was widely expected, the other's somewhat surprising.

The reactions in Chicago and Cleveland were identical: It's great to see you in something besides an Armani suit.

Derrick Rose and Andrew Bynum didn't just make their season debuts. They ignited the hopes of two cities by appearing in games for the first time since the spring of 2012.

Rose scored 12 points in his first game and then made a gravity-defying, game-winning jumper against the New York Knicks two days later. The Bulls star looked plenty spry in his first action since he tore knee ligaments 18 months earlier.

Bynum logged perhaps the most meaningful 71/2 minutes of his career Wednesday in the Cavaliers' opener, hardly caring that he had only three points and three rebounds.

"Kind of like riding a bike," Bynum told reporters after his long-bothersome knees held up in his first appearance since a playoff loss with the Lakers in May 2012.

The trick for Bynum and Rose will be staying on it.

Hoping to be at a loss

One NBA general manager has finally admitted it: His sad-sack team is striving for Andrew Wiggins, not Larry O'Brien.

The anonymous executive told ESPN the Magazine that his team is going all in on increasing its odds of drafting Wiggins, the presumed franchise savior from Kansas who is expected to be the top pick in June.

That means losing games. A lot of them.

The payoff for finishing with the league's worst record would be a 25% chance at landing the draft's No. 1 pick. If the team loses out on Wiggins, there are tantalizing consolation prizes in Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart.

"You need superstars to compete in this league," the general manager told ESPN, "and the playing field for those guys is tilted toward a few big-market teams. They are demanding trades and getting together and deciding where they want to go in free agency. It's tough for us to compete with that. So a high lottery pick is all we have."

The executive went on to explain that his owner and coach were on board with the strategy of losing big.

Not surprisingly, he didn't say whether fans paying five figures for courtside seats had given their consent.

So, which is it?

First, Carmelo Anthony said he would opt out of his contract this summer and test free agency.

Then, the next New York minute, the Knicks star said he not only wanted to stay put but would lead his team's recruiting efforts.

Of course, it's hard to take him at his (latest) word, considering his comments that aired during a TNT broadcast Thursday may have been influenced by the well-known Knicks PR machine.

"I want to retire in New York, let's just be quite frank," Anthony said. "I think a lot of people jumped the gun when I said I wanted to be a free agent. And, yeah, I want people to come play in New York. I want them to want to play in New York."

The bigger question: Will he want to play there?

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