Erik Murphy did not leave much of an imprint on the Bulls' 2013-14 season before the team waived him Thursday evening, but on Friday both coaches and teammates applauded the way the second-round rookie carried himself on a daily basis.
"'Murph' did a great job for us," head coach Tom Thibodeau said at the team's shootaround in advance of tonight's game against the Bucks. "Worked incredibly hard each and every day, great spirit, and I think he has a bright future. Unfortunately this is part of the NBA. Things like this do happen, and we have to concentrate on the guys we do have and get ready for the game tonight."
Murphy appeared in 24 games for the Bulls, scoring just six points on 3-for-13 shooting and nearly having as many personal fouls (seven) as he did rebounds (eight). Selected with the No. 49 pick overall in last June's draft, Murphy provided a salary-cap friendly deal that gave the Bulls additional flexibility to stay below the luxury tax line -- they'll now potentially be able to deal with potential bonuses for Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah at season's end while staying under the luxury tax line, as reported by PBT's Dan Feldman.
He never panned out as a stretch-forward after leading the SEC in 3-point shooting in his final season with the Gators, and playing time was bound to be scarce behind Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. Still, Gibson noted that Murphy's work ethic is something the Bulls will miss.
"It sucks because you have to lose a great guy, Erik Murphy," Gibson said at shootaround. "Guy comes in every day, busts his tail, never complains, doesn’t take one day off -- in my opinion never took a day off. Great rookie, and it sucks because around this league there’s a lot of guys that don’t go as hard as him."
Thibodaeu said Murphy had improved since Day 1, and that he filled his role as well as he could have.
"He’s a smart kid, hard-working, thought he did a great job in changing his body and really working hard," he said. "(It) takes young guys a little while to develop but he did a very good job for us, embraced his role, did a great job doing all the things he could to help the team."
[RELATED: Bulls waive Murphy, signing Brewer next?]
The Bulls now have options to fill out the roster. Chicago Tribune's KC Johnson reported that the team worked out veteran Mike James, while CSN Chicago's Aggrey Sam reported that wing Ronnie Brewer worked out at the Berto Center on Thursday. Tom Thibodeau opted not to comment on any potential signings, only saying that he was focused on his own players.
Gibson did note, however, that he spoke with Brewer on Thursday and that the former Bulls forward would be a nice addition this late in the season because of his familiarity.
"If we get Ronnie it’d be even better because he’s familiar with the whole team," Gibson said. "He’s been to the Eastern Conference finals with us, he’s been through a lot with us and that’s our guy."