Butler content with defensive-oriented role

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Butler content with defensive-oriented role

CLEVELAND Second-year Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler knows he hasnt fully established himself in the NBA yet. The organizations decision to pick up his third-year option, while a mere formality in league circles,was meaningful to him.
Thats exciting, just another opportunity to be here, do what I love around the teammates that I love, he told CSN Chicago.com prior to the teams Friday-morning shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena. The Bulls are a great organization. Im extremely blessed and my dreams still going. I just want to keep it going as long as it can.
For now, it appears Butler is locked into a spot in the rotation as the Bulls backup small forward, a job that doesnt come with a lot of extended minutes, given head coach Tom Thibodeaus habit of playing starter Luol Deng for approximately 40 minutes a night.
However, Thibodeau does like Butlers ability on the defensive end and on Wednesday nights season-opening win over Sacramento at the United Center, Butler was used as a situational offense-defense substitute to defend Kings go-to scorer Tyreke Evans.
They posed a number of problems because of the quickness that they had on the floor, particularly in the second half with Isaiah Thomas or Aaron Brooks, and Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans were out there together, Thibodeau explained. I thought Jimmy played hard and did a real solid job for us.
Whether its as a defensive specialist or otherwise, Butler relishes any opportunity to prove he deserves to be on the floor. Furthermore, after an outstanding summer, including a stellar outing at the NBAs summer league in Las Vegas back in July, he wants to show his offensive capabilities, though hes careful not to force the issue as a scorer.
I do like that defensive role. I feel like thats a big part of my game, a big part of what my team wants me to do, so as long as Im out there, Ive got to do whatever Thibs and my team wants me to do, Butler said. Just play simple basketball. Dont make anything too hard or put too much pressure on myself to do any one thing. Just take the offense as it comes and as it goes, if you have an open shot, take it. If you can get to the rim, if you can create for somebody else, do that.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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