After signing Ronnie Brewer earlier in the week, the Bulls added two more veterans who have previously been on their roster, point guard Mike James and power forward Lou Amundson.
James, who was with the team on a series of 10-day contracts this season, as well as having played for the Bulls at the end of the 2011-12 campaign—not to mention crossing paths with Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau earlier in his well-traveled NBA career—was in Houston, working out with ex-NBA player and coach John Lucas (father of former Bulls backup point guard John Lucas III and Thibodeau’s former boss) when he got a call from Chicago.
“I knew I earned myself at least the opportunity that the Bulls would call me, especially around playoff time, knowing how severe things are when playoffs come, if somebody gets hurt or foul trouble, matchup problems. So I just kept myself prepared. I just kept myself sharp and I just said, ‘I’m going to train until April 15th. If nothing happens by April 15th, then I’m going to stop.’ But it feels good to see that someone still sees that I have something left inside of me, that they believe that if anything happens, they know that someone’s prepared,” he told CSNChicago.com. “They’ve been playing good basketball and I didn’t know if Chicago would call, especially after they signed Jimmer [Fredette]. Then, they signed Ronnie and it was like roster spots were filling up. I didn’t think it would happen here, but it’s good that it happened here because I’m familiar with everyone and it’s like I never left, almost like I was just on vacation for a second. But I came back to a system that I know instead of learning a new system.”
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Amundson was with Chicago on a 10-day contract last season and was with New Orleans earlier this season before being waived by the Pelicans.
“It was getting so late in the season, I wasn’t really sure what to think, but obviously I’m happy about joining a really good playoff team. I had a good experience here last year, so I’m excited about it,” Amundson, who was inactive for Friday's game along with Derrick Rose, told CSNChicago.com. “I remember certain things [about the Bulls’ system]. I wasn’t here very long, but just a little familiarity. Every team is different, as far as philosophy goes, big-picture stuff, so that’s good to know coming in. But as far as learning the plays, I’ll probably have to brush up on a lot of the plays, get up to speed.”
Thibodeau is pleased with the signings because he knows exactly what to expect from the veterans, who are not only insurance policies heading into the playoffs, but, along with Brewer, because of the structure of their contracts, provide the Bulls’ front office with some offseason flexibility.
“We’re familiar with them and they’re familiar with us, I think it’s good in general and where they’re going to help the most is just with their approach, their attitudes,” the coach said. “Obviously, they’re brought in to bring energy, help the team prepare and then if there’s a need, we’re not going to be afraid to call upon them.”
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Butler more recognizable than he thinks
When asked after the Bulls’ morning shootaround at the United Center if he believed he would received recognition for his defense in the form of votes for the league’s All-Defensive Team, third-year swingman Jimmy Butler took the modest approach.
“Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows who I am in this league still,” he said. “So I think I still have a long way to go.”
But Pistons interim head coach John Loyer believes Butler is starting to become noticed around the league.
“He’s becoming more of a household name. He can really play on both ends of the floor. From Day 1 he got in the league, he was such a good competitor. He really guarded the ball and now he’s bought into their team concept of playing defense. He’s turned into a very, very good player. He’s got a very high ceiling and really, on both ends of the floor, he’s gotten better,” said Loyer, who took over for Chicago native Maurice Cheeks midway through the season. “He guards the ball very well. He’s got size, he’s got strength. He moves his feet very, very well laterally, so he’s toward the upper half [of NBA wing defenders].”
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Boozer quietly productive in limited role
Carlos Boozer, playing his now customary 24 minutes—the full first and third quarters—had an efficient evening, scoring 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds in the Bulls' 106-98 win Friday night over the Pistons.
“I thought he was real aggressive. I thought driving the ball was a big plus. He didn’t settle for all jump shots,” Thibodeau said of Boozer, who was the lone Bull to score the ball effectively in a poor opening period for the team as a whole. “He’s very good when he puts the ball on the floor and drives it like he did. So we needed those points. Eighteen points, 24 minutes, great production.”