Bulls have revenge on their minds vs. Milwaukee

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Bulls have revenge on their minds vs. Milwaukee

DEERFIELD, ILL. After surrendering a 27-point lead late in the third quarter in a late-November home loss to the Bucks, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau shouldnt have to do too much motivating when Milwaukee comes visits the United Center for a rematch Wednesday night.
I think we all remember it. He doesnt have to remind us, Jimmy Butler asserted after the teams morning shootaround at the Berto Center. We know what we did that game wrong, so we know what we have to go out there and do tonight. We all talk about it, not letting it happen, and it definitely happened that game, so we know how to prevent it.
Thibodeaus focus on the present wont allow him to revisit that gameafterwards, a mild controversy about him underutilizing his bench developed, though that game was somewhat of an aberration, as only Luol Deng and Joakim Noah regularly play heavy minute totals among the startersin which Milwaukees bench improbably outplayed the Bulls starters.
Theyre an explosive team, Thibodeau said. That was a home-and-home, so you can never let your guard down against anybody in this league. That was in the past; weve got to be ready for them now. They played very well last night.
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In their first game after the organization and ex-Bulls head coach Scott Skiles mutually parted ways, the Bucks topped Phoenix, but even with interim head coach Jim Boylana former Bulls assistant for whom this must be dj vu, as he took over for Skiles back in the 2007-08 seasonMilwaukees emphasis remains the same, as the high-scoring backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are complemented by defensive-oriented role players.
I think great players always figure out how to play with each other and I think when you look at how those two Ellis and Jennings play together, they have great chemistry. But I think the thing thats overlooked with them is they have young, athletic bigs. They lead the league in shot-blocking. Theyre quick, so the blocked shots can lead to open-floor opportunities. They anticipate quite well, play passing lanes, so they have shot-blocking to protect them if they miss and if they come up with steals, again, youre putting them into the open floor, and their speed and quickness comes into play, Thibodeau explained.
Theyre well-balanced. Their defense has been real solid. Larry Sanders is a tremendous shot-blocker, so he protects the rim for them. John Hensons a young, long, athletic guy. Ersan Ilyasova spreads you out defensively. Luc Mbah a Moute is one of the premier defenders in the league; hes back. Mike Dunleavys solid. Its a deep team. They have quality depth.
Butler chimed in: I feel like they play extremely hard, try to get up and down in transition, go for steals, block shots, get up and down, and make you run with them. If we play that type of basketball game, who knows what its going to be, but if we get back and make them play in the halfcourt, I think well be okay.

Carmelo Anthony: 'I'm glad (Derrick Rose) is on my team'

Carmelo Anthony: 'I'm glad (Derrick Rose) is on my team'

by Jonathan Joffe

Derrick Rose has a new fan now that he's in New York: Carmelo Anthony.

Rose's new teammate and fellow multi-time all-star is a happy to be teaming up with the former Bull.

In addition to complimenting Rose's game, Anthony applauded the Knicks' front office for making moves that allow the team to be competitive in the upcoming season.

It was once thought that Melo and D-Rose could sport the same uniform aside from Olympic competitions. While it won't be in Chicago, the two will be making that thought a reality in New York.

Report: Pau Gasol tells Bulls he has declined option, becoming a free agent

Report: Pau Gasol tells Bulls he has declined option, becoming a free agent

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but Pau Gasol is hitting the market.

Gasol told the Bulls that he has declined his option for the 2016-17 season and will become a free agent, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

The 35-year-old signed a three-year, $22.3 million deal with the Bulls in the summer of 2014.

In two seasons with the Bulls, he averaged 17.6 points per game and 11.4 rebounds and made an All-Star appearance.

Bulls: NBA Validation for Valentine came in the United Center last season

Bulls: NBA Validation for Valentine came in the United Center last season

Denzel Valentine’s annual growth had long been noticed by NBA executives but perhaps fittingly, it was a game in Chicago that served as the reinforcement he needed to know the NBA was in his sights.

On a national stage and on the United Center floor last November, Valentine put up one of the best stat lines in college basketball, leading Michigan State to a comeback 79-73 win over Kansas, a team ranked No. 4 in the nation at the time.

If he had any doubts about his future, a 29-point, 12-rebound and 12-assist performance served as the confirmation he was on an upward trajectory.

“I knew I could play in the NBA when I started my career at Michigan State,” Valentine said to CSNChicago.com after his introductory news conference. “Playing against guys like (Victor) Oladipo, (Cody) Zeller and those guys, I knew I could play in the NBA but I didn’t know I would be a first round, 14th pick. But I realized that this year after my triple double against Kansas.

“I realized I could be the best player in the country. It was very important because I got off to a good start and it helped me throughout the year.”

That night, the Bulls were rolling right along at 7-3, headed out West for a four-game trip and looking every bit like a team that would be in the thick of Eastern Conference contention. The likelihood of a marriage between a player billed as a mid-lottery pick and the Bulls seemed improbable if not damn near impossible.

But the Bulls hit several roadblocks and landed in the draft lottery, while Valentine put together one of the more complete statistical seasons in recent memory, averaging nearly 20 points and almost eight rebounds and eight assists.

Valentine hit a roadblock of his own with draft preparation, as word about prospective teams red-flagging his left knee began to trickle out, raising questions about his long-term availability.

At least one team in the lottery definitively passed on Valentine because of fears surrounding his knee, which was surgically worked on in high school and followed by a minor procedure in December, causing him to miss four games.

“It did surprise me because I’m healthy now,” Valentine said. “I only missed four games. I can control what I can control and let the chips fall that it may. I was a little surprised, a little angry that people were texting me asking if I were hurt. And I was like ‘what?’ But at the same time, I could control what I could control and I’m happy to be here.”

Missing a few practices here and there seemed to be the biggest side effect for Valentine through the season, as accolades followed nonetheless with him winning National Player of the Year over Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, who went sixth in last Thursday’s draft.

“He’s gonna go out there and fight,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s been in so many high-pressure games at Michigan State. For a guy that played in Final Fours, made big play after big play. He’s been a part of winning cultures since high school. That’s huge, great experience for Denzel. If he can suit up, he can play.”

The awards are certainly not a precursor for pro success, as more than a few collegiate POY’s have wound up as professional carcasses in an unforgiving game.

But the qualities Valentine was noted for in college could translate to the NBA, and from the sounds of things he’ll get every opportunity with the Bulls to show off his versatility.

He’ll be thrown into the shallow end of the pool, so to speak, in Summer League next month. New acquisition Jerian Grant (via the Derrick Rose trade), Cristiano Felicio, Bobby Portis and Spencer Dinwiddie (acquired for Cameron Bairstow) will also join Valentine in Las Vegas.

“He's a basketball player,” Hoiberg said. “That's the big thing I got from talking to coach (Tom) Izzo, is you can play him all over the court. He's a facilitator. He's an excellent positional rebounder. He can bust out with the ball. And he gives you the opportunity to play in so many ways.”

Valentine wasn’t given a definitive position, and perhaps there’s no natural one over the other. But having the ability to be a floor-spreading point guard with Jimmy Butler handling or even a small-ball power forward leaves Hoiberg and the Bulls plenty of options.

“And I think how we want to play with our young core, how Fred we wants to play, we think it's a perfect fit in regards to his skill level and his basketball IQ and what he brings to the floor,” Bulls GM Gar Forman said.