Bulls backup point guard D.J. Augustin missed Monday night's game against the Magic at the United Center due to personal reasons, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Fan favorite Jimmer Fredette, who is more of a combo guard than a traditional floor general, and 38-year-old veteran journeyman Mike James are the likeliest players to spell starting point guard Kirk Hinrich in Augustin's absence.
Meanwhile, the coach was pleased about the organization's latest acquisition, big man Greg Smith, who was signed earlier Monday.
"We’re excited that he’s with us. When he was healthy, he played very well. We feel we’re fortunate to have been able to pick him up," Thibodeau said of the 6-foot-10, 250-pound 23-year-old, who only played 11 games, mostly due to knee issues, for Houston this season before being waived last week.
Thibodeau expressed regret about the player the Bulls waived Monday to acquire Smith — who is inactive Monday — forward Tornike "Toko" Shengeila, who was well-liked by his teammates for his work ethic.
"I hated to let Toko go. He did a great job for us. He was a team guy, lot of spirit and energy every day. You need that.," the coach said.
Smith, while he isn't eligible for the postseason because he was still on a NBA roster as of March 1, could factor into the Bulls' future plans, whether as a trade chip or as a serviceable backup to All-Star center Joakim Noah, a role the strong, athletic Fresno State product performed admirably last season behind ex-Bull Omer Asik.
Speaking of the playoffs, Thibodeau predictably said that the Bulls wouldn't look ahead and try to position themselves for a more favorable postseason matchup.
"I think when you start doing that, you get into trouble. As I said before, oftentimes the regular season, there’s a lot of things that go into it. Sometimes the team you’re matched up with has some injuries or they’re in the midst of four in five. You just never know. The important thing is to go step by step, put all the necessary things that go into winning forward, concentrate on improvement. You’re not going to sneak around people. If you’re going to be successful, you have to go through people," Thibodeau explained. "I want us to play as well as we can down the stretch and whatever happens, happens. The important thing is for us to continue to strive for improvement, finish the season as strong as we can and go from there."
"The way we do the preparation is we have people, our advance scouts, working on it. Our video people are working on all the possibilities. You have to prepare for all the possibilities. So it’s not just one team That’s normal. Once it’s finalized, then we’ll lock into that team. As you head down the stretch, the good part is you’re usually going head to head with those teams that are possibilities anyway. So you have to prepare for them as you get ready to play them," he went on to say. "I’m just worried about tonight. We’ll address that tomorrow. I just go game by game."