Bulls' Johnson set for D-League stint

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Bulls' Johnson set for D-League stint

Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2011
Posted: 11:00 a.m. Updated: 3:34 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

As first reported by AOL Fanhouse, Bulls forward James Johnson is set to be assigned to the D-League's Iowa Energy Thursday, a source with knowledge of the situation tells CSNChicago.com. Johnson, a second-year player, requested the assignment, which will last 14 days, according to the source.

Assigning James to the D-League gives an opportunity to play an extended amount of minutes and will be good for his overall growth, Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement Thursday.

Johnson, a 6-foot-9 forward drafted 16th overall in 2009 NBA Draft, has seen action in 12 games this season and has averaged 3.5 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, with his last playing time in the team's Jan. 4 win over Toronto. As a rookie, the Wake Forest product averaged 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 65 games.

Although Johnson won acclaim for transforming his body in the offseason, he hasn't been able to crack first-year Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau's rotation and was reportedly on the trading block earlier this season. An extremely athletic player, Johnson views a stint with the team's D-League affiliatethe Bulls haven't assigned a player to the team since the 2007-08 seasonas an opportunity to at least gain experience, according to the aforementioned source.

Thibodeau positive about Johnson's assignment

Bullshead coach Tom Thibodeau shed more light into the organizationsdecision to assign second-year forward James Johnson to the IowaEnergy, the teams D-League affiliate.

James has done aterrific job. His attitudes been great, he worked extremely hard inpractice and we just felt because of the way things were going, hewasnt playing much, so we wanted to give him an opportunity to get himsome playing time, said Thibodeau. Games are different than practice,so I think it will be good for him.

I think hes made goodprogress, Thibodeau continued. Defensively, hes improving. Hesworked very hard on his shot and hes got to continue to do so. Theonly way you can get playing time is by playing. Right now, were setin our rotation and this is an opportunity for him to play in somegames.

Thibodeau referenced Johnsons chances to get minutes earlier in the Bulls seasonprior to power forward Carlos Boozers debutand how the situation has changed since then.

Theopportunity was there when Johnson was playing earlier. We had gottendown big in those games and we were looking for a change in energy andthat was basically the role that he was in. Luol Denghas played exceptionally well and he hasnt been hurt or anything, sothere just havent been a lot of minutes there, Thibodeau explained.It wasnt really anything that he did. There just werent minutes. Wehave Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Luol who are really playing that position and then weve moved C.J. Watson some to the two shooting guard, so if you look at the wing minutes, theres not a lot of them there.

Thibodeauadded that Johnson wasnt opposed to the assignment, while a sourcepreviously told CSNChicago.com that Johnson requested to play in theD-League.

It was probably a combination of both a teamdecision and Johnsons request, said Thibodeau. When guys do godown, its important that they want to go downyoure seeing more andmore teams use it that way, when guys arent getting playing time. Youlook at the schedule and if it makes sense to give a guy an opportunitywhere you get 30, 35 minutes to play.

He wanted to do it. Itwasnt a case of him not wanting to go and its not a punishment. Itsjust an opportunity for him to get some playing time and develop, headded. The main thing for me is I just want to see him play. I thinkhell play well and I think thatll give him some confidence. The mainthing is the playing time and the only way hell get it is to go downthere right now.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

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USA TODAY

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