CTL on Rose's anticipated return and Thibodeau's coaching
The Rising Stars Challenge roster was announced Wednesday and Jimmy Butler won’t be joining teammates Joakim Noah and Luol Deng in Houston as representatives for the Bulls as his name was not on the list of second-year players chosen.
Butler’s teammates had been campaigning for him to be added to the roster of nine that pits the top rookie and second-year players against one another.
His play and improvement deserve recognition in the exhibition, but Butler took the news in stride, putting the focus on the team is he playing for.
“I don’t look at things like that because I feel like that’s more of an individual thing,” Butler said. “Kudos to those guys [who were selected], because they are great players and they’re really talented. I love this team and I want to play alongside these guys. I’ll do whatever it takes for this team to win."
The small forward is averaging 6.7 points and 3.4 rebounds on the season, but production had more than doubled across the board when he filled in for Luol Deng after the All-Star small forward had to sit out five games after injuring his right hamstring in a Jan. 18 overtime victory over Boston.
“I know how his teammates feel about him and certainly his coaches and that’s what’s really important,” coach Tom Thibodeau said about Butler. “He’s an important part of this team and we certainly appreciate all that he does for us. His play will do the talking for him.
“He’s earned everything that he’s gotten. He’s put the work in, he continues to put the work in and he keeps getting better. As long as he has that attitude and approach, he’ll continue to get better.”
Butler continued his success when Deng returned to the lineup on Monday with a career-high 19 points and six rebounds. In the six-game span, he is averaging 15 points (on 48.4 percent shooting), 8.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals in 42.9 minutes.
Last season’s MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge, Kyrie Irving headlines the game and will be joined by fellow second-year players Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Chandler Parsons (Houston Rockets), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats) and Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic).
The rookies are headlined by Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets).
The rest of the roster includes Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Bobcats), Alexy Shved (Minnesota Timberwolves), Dion Waiters (Cavaliers), Tyler Zeller (Cavaliers).
The game will be played Friday, Feb. 15.