LAS VEGAS — Bulls summer-league head coach Adrian Griffin, an assistant on Tom Thibodeau’s staff during the regular season, works with the team’s wing players, making second-year swingman Tony Snell’s progress even more satisfying to him.
Snell followed up his game-high 27-point effort Saturday against the Clippers with a 23-point outing in Sunday’s win over the Nuggets.
“Tony, he’s been our solid guy that gets us a bucket when we need it. I put him on (Nuggets guard Gary) Harris tonight, and I thought he did a solid job on him. But Tony’s continuing to get better and improving, so it’s good to see him be rewarded for all the hard work that he’s put in the past months,” Griffin said. “I always say the confidence comes just from the work you put in, and that’s one thing that Tony has been doing all summer, starting from last season. He’s just constantly in the gym, constantly in the weight room, trying to get bigger, work on his game, and it’s paying off for him. But thing I always say about the NBA is that game is over with and you’ve got to get ready for the next game, and we want to see how he does over the long haul. But so far, so good.”
Griffin praises second-round pick Bairstow, NBA veteran Thomas
Griffin was also enthusiastic about the play of the Bulls’ two starting big men, second-round draft pick Cameron Bairstow and Lance Thomas, an NBA veteran who has experience with multiple teams, despite neither player putting up gaudy statistics.
“I always say if you just play hard, good things happen, and he’s one of those hard-nosed guys, tough guys. I just see him battling on the boards. Sometimes he’s giving up a couple inches, but I think his toughness and his mental toughness are going to help him stay in the league,” Griffin said of Bairstow.
About Thomas, the coach added, “As a coach in the summer league, you’re just ecstatic to have a guy with NBA experience. With three years in the NBA, in the summer league, it’s like he’s a veteran, a 10-year veteran. So he calms us down, and he’s such a professional. So it’s good to have him around, so the younger guys can see what a pro is like.”
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Job interviews useful for Griffin
Griffin interviewed for head-coaching openings in Cleveland and Utah this summer, and though he didn’t land either position, he’s widely considered a future head coach around the NBA. He believes the experiences, including interviewing for head jobs in Philadelphia and Detroit last offseason, will benefit him moving forward.
“Just constantly trying to improve and get feedback on where I need to improve as a coach. That’s the good thing that comes out of getting the interviews. You’re always tweaking and trying to change your philosophy for the better,” Griffin explained to CSNChicago.com. “But at the end of the day, working for Tom and being part of the Bulls organization has helped my growth as a coach insurmountably. So I just appreciate being a part of the Bulls organization, and the rest will come.”
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Hinrich re-signing, Mirotic deal get positive reviews
It was learned Sunday that veteran floor general Kirk Hinrich re-signed with the Bulls, and 2011 first-round draft pick Nikola Mirotic announced via Twitter that he will play in Chicago next season. Along with the addition of free-agent big man Pau Gasol, Griffin was excited about the Bulls’ roster possibilities.
“I’m looking forward to this season. It seems like we’ll have Pau and Mirotic from the reports I’ve read. So our team is going to take on a little bit of a different dynamic. It’s exciting,” Griffin told CSNChicago.com. “I think we’re very versatile now. If you look at a lineup with Pau and Joakim, with that length, we should be able to protect the paint, and obviously, I’m a big fan of Kirk, what he brings to the table. He’s always been like our quiet MVP. Goes about his work hard, blue-collar worker. Really doesn’t always get the credit due to him, but the staff and the organization knows what he brings to our team, so it’s good to have him back and it’ll be exciting to see how Mirotic does. He brings some versatility to us with his skill makeup. So he’s a very talented guy, and I think under Tom’s system, he’s going to fit in perfectly.”
Rookie forward Doug McDermott chimed in: “I think it’s great. Got an Iowa boy to look up to in Kirk, so I think that’s great. He’s a great veteran, been in the league for a while. So I think that will be awesome. The guy over in Spain (Mirotic), I’ve heard he’s an unbelievable player, too. So a lot of good things happening with the roster.”