DEERFIELD — While Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t specifically comment on a report about the organization bringing in free-agent sharpshooter Reggie Williams in for a pair of workouts — a source confirmed to CSNChicago.com that the swingman, released by the Houston Rockets before the regular season, has been in the Berto Center twice in the past week — he allowed that outside shooting is an area of need for the team.
“Yeah, and we always want to stay current on the players that are available. Gar (Forman, the Bulls general manager) and John (Paxson, the team’s executive vice president) are always exploring things, and that’s their job. We’re keeping tabs on everybody,” Thibodeau said. “The league has prioritized that, and I think that since the rules change, it has put much more of a premium on shooting because of what you’re allowed to do with your defense then.”
The Chicago Tribune first reported that Williams, who has the same representation as Bulls All-Star small forward Luol Deng, was in town.
Thibodeau pleased with Butler
Though Jimmy Butler hasn’t been shooting the ball well to begin the regular season, Thibodeau said he’s pleased with the play of the shooting guard, who is averaging 10.5 points per game on 39.6 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from three-point range.
“I am. He just has to play to his strengths. That’s defend, run the floor, move without the ball. I think he’s gotten some really good looks, and he’s going to make. He’s put a lot of time into his shooting. He’s a great finisher in transition. He’s great moving without the ball. I don’t want him to lose sight of the things he already does well,” the coach said. “To me, he’s playing sound basketball. He’s not forcing things. When the shot’s there, take and when it’s not, move it and make a play. But we count on him for a lot of other things as well. Jimmy can play well without shooting the ball well. His shot will be there in the end. He’s already shown us that. Just keep playing hard defense, stay tied together, run the floor, play with intensity. That’s who he is.”
Hinrich capable of filling in for Rose
Bulls big man Taj Gibson believes Derrick Rose’s latest injury, a sore right hamstring suffered in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s win over Cleveland at the United Center, won’t be a major issue, after talking to the former league MVP.
“He said he’s fine. I believe him,” Gibson said. “He just has to monitor his body, know what to do and what not to do. He’s just got to leave that to the training staff, really.”
However, if Rose is sidelined for a game or two, Gibson has faith that veteran Kirk Hinrich can get the job done with all of the intangibles he brings to the table.
“So much knowledge, so much patience, not shy of taking the big shot, and it’s great having him out there with the second unit because he just knows so much and he’s never panicking. He always gets guys in the right spots at the right times, always has his head up, always cheering guys up and that’s what you need,” Gibson explained. “I know if he has to step in for Derrick for a little while, that’s one of the guys we have that we’re looking forward to, but hopefully we’ll have Derrick to play and hope he can just stay healthy.
“If (Rose) can’t go someone will have to step up, just like we’ve always been doing in the past. It’s one of those things. Guys just have to be ready,” he continued. “It comes along with the NBA season, really. We’ve been going through this the last four years, three, four years now, and guys just got to be ready. We’ve got a lot of talent, especially young guys on the bench that just have to be ready. Getting a lot of good reps in practice (Wednesday), just have to step up.”
Schedule doesn’t faze Thibodeau
The Bulls’ first set of back-to-back games arrives this weekend, as they will travel to Toronto for a Friday-night tilt, then come back to Chicago for a Saturday-evening game against the Pacers, all of which occurs following a three-day break after Monday’s victory over Cleveland at the United Center.
“Sometimes the schedule is going against you, and sometimes it’s in your favor. I think the fact we have three days, which is a little unusual, is good. You want to maximize getting work and rest in and preparing. It was an opportunity for us to get some extra practice in, which we did. Derrick needed rest, so it was good for him,” Thibodeau said. “There’s no real rhyme or reason. Whatever the schedule is, in the end you know you’re playing 82. Sometimes you’re in a stretch of five in seven. And then you might have a couple of weeks with two or three games. It all balances out in the end.”
Bulls' bench making progress
Gibson, the team’s top reserve, believes that the Bulls’ bench is gradually finding its niche.
“It’s kind of grown into a unit that knows it has to come in and provide strong defense, bright sparks. Lately, the bench has been coming in and playing consistent D, giving them a spark late, especially after those early games we lost in Miami, we lost in Indiana. The bench has been coming alive, bringing some defense into the game and that’s good. That’s what we need,” he said of the second unit. “We have young guys that really haven’t gotten a shot just yet. We have a lot of talent, especially in our young guys that are still waiting for an opportunity to get out there and provide some help for us, but it’s a long season. We still have to get out the kinks, but it’s exciting that guys can learn. It’s all about learning and getting better.”