Hamilton or Bogans? Bulls just want a winner

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Hamilton or Bogans? Bulls just want a winner

With only 11 players on the Berto Center practice court, it's no secret the Bulls are currently short-handed. Although Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau refused to comment on speculation that veteran shooting guard Rip Hamilton, waived Friday by the Pistons, some of his players cautiously voiced their opinions about the potential acquisition.

"Rip is a winner," Derrick Rose said Friday, after the first practice of the season. "I can't say anything bad about him. He's got a championship. It's great. He knows the game, he came from winning programs.

"If he comes along, I know we'd be happy to have him," the league MVP continued. "I'm fine with the team that I have. I don't know what's going on right now, with who might be coming in or whatever, but with the team that I had, I thought that we were good."

Chimed in Joakim Noah: "Rip's a hell of a player, but as a player, those aren't things that we can control. We don't really know what Pax and Gar, and the front office are doing. I have confidence in those guys doing the right thing, so for us, the only thing we can do is work hard."

Noah, however, did provide some insight on the mysterious saga of last year's starter at shooting guard, Keith Bogans.

"There's definitely a couple players that should be coming back," said the center. "Keith will probably be coming back -- I mean, I hope.

"I don't know what the situation is, but all we can do is control what we can control as players."

Added Rose on Friday: "Keith, he's always been a good vet to me.

"I don't know what's going on," he went on to say. "Coach didn't talk about it, so I really didn't think anything of it."

Thibodeau has been a consistently passionate advocate of Bogans' -- from when he was a surprise starter at the outset of last season, through fans and media alike maligning him for his typically light-scoring performances, all the way to when he first addressed reporters last week at the Berto Center -- so it wouldn't be a shock if Noah's prediction came true, with the caveat that it would have to work financially for both parties and Bogans would need to be willing to possibly accept a lesser role.

However, whether Hamilton, Bogans -- or both -- don Bulls uniforms this season, the team's star expressed strong feelings about what kind of player he'd like to see in Chicago.

"A winner. Someone that has a great attitude, that knows how to win basketball games and works their tail off. That's all we need on this team, someone that really knows how to win games and knows their role," said Rose. "Definitely, that a player with championship experience would be great. A winner is a winner. It comes from college, high school, grammar school, whatever. If you know how to win, we need you."

"It's not a skill, just a winner. Give me a winner. We've got winners on our team, just added Jimmy Butler -- he knows how to win games -- we just need winners on this team," he continued.

"With the guys that we have, the guys that we just added, like Jimmy and everyone else, we're a great team. We don't know who else is coming, but we know that whoever we have -- I know the front office has been doing a great job of bringing in good people with attitude that just want to win basketball games."

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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