DEERFIELD — Back like he never left, Ronnie Brewer officially made his expected return to the Bulls at Monday’s practice, which followed the organization’s announcement that he was signed for the remainder of the season.
“We’re excited to have him back. I thought he did a great job for us the last time we had him. He’s a good pro. He stays ready. He’s a good fit in terms of character and experience,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after the team’s session at the Berto Center. “We needed another body, and we felt that he could pick things up quickly because he had been here before. And he did a great job when he was here before. I think he has the respect of his teammates. We know he’ll be ready, and if we need him, we’re not going to be afraid to throw him in there.
“We’ll see how it unfolds. He brings energy, defense, moves well without the ball. He’s been in the system before and has played well with a number of guys that we do have,” the coach went on to explain, when asked about Brewer’s potential role. “He fits well in terms of five-man offense and five-man defense. That’s one of his strengths, his ability to play within the team system. We think that’s a good fit and the fact that he’s been around. He’s been in playoff games before. Whatever role you ask him to play, he embraces. If he’s not playing, he’ll be a great teammate on the bench. He’ll provide energy. He’ll make sure the guys out there have an understanding of what we’re doing. He’ll communicate well. He’ll tell people what he sees. If he has to play, the fact that he has played very well with Carlos (Boozer) in the past, the fact he has played well with Joakim (Noah) in the past, the fact he has played well with Taj (Gibson) in the past makes him a good fit.
“I think it’s a big plus. He has the characteristics that we look for — high character, smart — and he plays for the team. It’s good insurance to have.”
Brewer himself appeared pleased to be back in his old stomping grounds.
“I’m very excited to be playing for Thibs. He’s a tough coach, and I know his accolades. I play hard, try and hustle, and that’s the type of players he likes. I’m just glad to be back with some of my old teammates,” he said. “Thibs knows what kinds of players he likes. A player that is going to go out there and give 110 percent, hustle every play and try to do the little things to win. I never needed the ball a lot on offense, and I try to play as hard as I can on defense. I felt like if I do that I can help this team out.
“You never know who you’re going to match up with, and I feel like Thibs knew I knew the style of play, the plays that they run, the defensive sets and how they want people to play. You can say that they wanted me to match up with certain people, but you never know who you’re going to play in the playoffs. Teams don’t lose intentionally, teams don’t try to throw games, especially Thibs. He’s going to play hard every night, and whoever we match up with, that’s who we match with. And that’s who I’m going to try to guard and play my style,” the veteran swingman continued. “When I came up to work out, I guess the word kind of got out. Some guys were hitting me, seeing if I was up here working out. Nothing was solid yet, so I couldn’t be like, ‘Yeah, I am and I’m going to be on the team,’ because I hadn’t signed yet. So worked out, went well, they brought me in. So it was good to go in the locker room and see the smile on Booz’s face and Joakim, Jimmy (Butler), be able to see D-Rose, Taj. And I knew some of the other guys from around the league, so it was good to meet those guys and be on the same team as them.”
Thibodeau didn’t rule out the possibility that the Bulls, who now have 13 players on the roster, including Derrick Rose, after essentially swapping waived rookie Erik Murphy for Brewer, could add another player or two before the postseason. Another familiar face, journeyman point guard Mike James, is reportedly a consideration after playing for the team earlier this season on 10-day contracts.
“Gar and John are looking at people. If something makes sense and it’s a good fit for us, we’ll add. We’re in an unusual situation with our roster. We’re always looking,” the coach explained.