Despite slow start, Bulls won't underestimate Bucks

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Despite slow start, Bulls won't underestimate Bucks

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010
1:01 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

After their end to last years campaigna first-round playoff loss to Atlanta in seven games, despite star center Andrew Bogut out with a season-ending injurymany observers assumed the Bucks, along with the Bulls would be competing to be the class of the Central Division. After a productive, if not flashy, offseason, expectations were even more optimistic.

However, things havent gone as planned in Milwaukee, as Chicagos closest regional rival has struggled out of the gates, although their play has picked up as of late. Chief among the Bucks issues have been injuries, as Bogut still isnt completely healed from his gruesome fall last spring, young floor general Brandon Jennings is currently sidelined and swingmen John Salmons, Corey Maggette and Carlos Delfino have all battled a litany of ailments.

One Bulls player with insight into the Bucksregardless of the fact that he claims not to have watched them much this seasonis well-traveled veteran Kurt Thomas, who spent last season in Milwaukee. In fact, Thomas filled in for Bogut late in the year and did an admirable job, including a late-season road win over the Bulls at the United Center in the first game of Boguts absence.

The year before, we got off to a hot start in Milwaukee and there were a lot of new faces there and this year, again, there were a lot of new faces, but they got off to a slow start. It could be a lot of new faces or it could be the strength of the schedule, so you just never know and then sometimes it just takes guys the first 10 or 20 games before they really get into a rhythm. But I think theyve been playing a lot better lately. Theyve kind of been hit with the injury bug, but every team has to face that, Thomas said after the Bulls shootaround Tuesday morning. Theyre definitely going to play hard, theyre going to compete. Scott Skiles is a great coach and he doesnt accept anything less than them being very competitive.

Thomas spoke fondly of his time in Milwaukee.

Oh, it was great. A lot of fun. Fans in Milwaukee were insaneFear the Deer. It was just a great time. It was a great group of guys I was playing with last yearunfortunately, seeing that Bogut had a major injury thereyou never knowwe probably could have went deeper in the playoffs, said Thomas.

Bulls assistant coach Adrian Griffinwho played under Skiles in Chicagowas also with the Bucks last year, serving as an assistant coach. Like Thomas, he believes Milwaukee will overcome their so-so start to the season.

Right now, I would say they miss Brandon. Hes a big piece of what theyre doing. I wouldnt worry about Milwaukee too much. Typically, Scotts teams start a little slow in the beginning of the year and mid-season, and toward the end, they start picking it up a lot. It just takes them a minute to play the type of style that Scott wants and thats hard-nosed defense, committing to the defensive end, playing hard and executing on offense. It looks like theyre moving in the right direction, Griffin told CSNChicago.com.

Griffin, who was still with the Bucks through the majority of the offseason, likes the moves Milwaukee made over the summer, though he highlighted some players one wouldnt immediately expect.

One particular player they got in Keyon DoolingI was there this summer when they brought him in for workoutsand he looked great. He plays hard, a professional and I think he plays the type of style that Scott likes. Obviously Earl Boykins, youve got to respect him. People see his size, but hes a threat out there on the floor. They got some nice piecesLarry Sanders, Maggettewhen they get all those guys healthy and if they can get Delfino back, theyll be a force in the East, Griffin told CSNChicago.com.

Of course, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, known for his preparedness, doesnt underestimate the Central Division foe.

Theyre a great defensive team, so you can start there. Theyve had a ton of injuries this year, said Thibodeau. Bogut inside, hes getting healthier. He poses a lot of problems with the post-up and of course, their backcourt.

Doolings playing really well for them and Boykins has played terrificat times, theyre playing them togetherand of course, Salmons, so you have three guys who can do damage off the dribble. Maggette, hes coming off a concussion and hes back. Hes a guy who can attack the basket and Ersan Ilyasovas a range-shooting four. Theyre a quality team. I think theyre playing very well right now.

Just how well Milwaukee is playing will be measured Tuesday night, as the Bullswho last faced their primary competitor in the division in the preseason opener at Milwaukeehost the Bucks at the United Center.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria won't be fazed by rebuild

White Sox manager Rick Renteria won't be fazed by rebuild

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Rick Renteria knew a White Sox rebuild would be a possibility when he took over as manager and he’s not afraid of the challenges it presents.

Same as he told them in October, the new White Sox manager said on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings on Wednesday that he’s OK with whatever direction the team chooses to head. Given the events of the past two days, when the White Sox reigned in four elite prospects in pair of blockbuster deals for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, Renteria has a pretty firm grasp of what’s to come.

Shortly after trading they traded Sale to the Boston Red Sox for four minor leaguers on Tuesday, the White Sox acquired three top pitching prospects from the Washington Nationals for Eaton on Wednesday. Despite what promises to be an inexperienced roster in 2017, Renteria plans to take the same open-minded approach into next season as he always has regardless of the makeup of the roster.

“We're obviously going to miss Chris,” Renteria said several hours before the Eaton deal was completed. “He was an integral part of our organization and our team. My only concern is obviously whatever players, what group of players I have, those are the ones I have to manage. So at this point, we have what we have right now and we'll see how it continues.”

When he hired him on Oct. 3, general manager Rick Hahn said he did so in part because the Renteria could handle a veteran roster equally as well as a youthful one. Hahn mentioned Tuesday that the entire major league coaching staff has been restructured with player development in mind, including the additions of third-base coach Nick Capra and bullpen coach Curt Hasler.

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Regardless of whether or not the team planned to compete next season, Renteria expected to at least work with some younger players. It’s the way of the world, promoting prospects to the majors with the idea it’s the final step in their development, Renteria said. Renteria didn’t sound as if he’s worried if he was inundated with prospects.

“There was talks of the possibility, but there was nothing set in stone at the time obviously,” Renteria said. “Younger players are filtering in a lot sooner than they used to in the past. You still have to continue to teach at the Major League level, and that's one thing that's evident throughout.”

Renteria said the key to players young or old is communication. Either way his approach would mostly be the same.

“Every human being is the sum total of all their experiences, so you've got to get to know people first, see what it is that motivates them, what kind of clicks with them to get them to act out on certain things that you might have them perform on a more consistent basis,” Renteria said. “I think that baseball has its own language. It's something that is indescribable at times. But working with the younger guys, I relish it. I look forward to it.

"But I also look forward to working with older veteran players, too. It's the same. My approach doesn't change a lot, other than you give people with experience their place.”

White Sox deal Adam Eaton to Nationals for Lucas Giolito, two others

White Sox deal Adam Eaton to Nationals for Lucas Giolito, two others

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The White Sox completed another blockbuster deal at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday night, sending Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals.

One day after they traded Chris Sale to Boston for four minor leaguers, including two elite prospects, the White Sox traded their outstanding leadoff man for three more top prospects, including pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Washington’s 2016 first-rounder Dane Dunning is also in the deal.

The Nationals’ top minor leaguer and MLB.com’s third-rated prospect in the game, Giolito was one of the main players included in a reported package for Sale only two days earlier. A first-round draft pick in 2012, the 22-year-old right-hander features an outstanding fastball-curveball combination.

Lopez is the No. 38 overall prospect in baseball and Dunning was selected with the 29 th pick in the June draft.

Giolito is the second top-5 prospect the White Sox have added in two days along with infielder Yoan Moncada, the 2016 minor league player of the year, who came over from Boston in the Sale trade. The White Sox also acquired right-hander Michael Kopech, the 30th overall prospect, in the Sale deal.