Bulls react to Sloan's departure from Jazz

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Bulls react to Sloan's departure from Jazz

Friday, Feb. 11, 2011
2:28 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

NEW ORLEANSWith Thursdays announcement that longtime Jazz coach and former Bulls legend Jerry Sloan stepped down, the Bullswho beat Utah in Sloans final game Wednesdayhad plenty of reaction to the news after Fridays practice.

Its surprising, but I think hes earned the right to do what he chooses to do. He did an unbelievable job for such a long time and he stands for everything thats good about the game, the profession. You cant say enough. To be able to achieve what he did for such a long period of time and to be able to keep it at such a high level is a testament to how great he was as a coach, said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau after the Bulls practice Friday afternoon at the New Orleans Hornets practice facility in Westwego, La. It also reflects who he is. He coached a certain way and to me, I think all the great coaches are like that. He had beliefs about the game and thats the way his teams played year in, year out, night in, night out and thats why I also think he was so successful.

Hes an all-time great. He might even be the best and to do it like he did it for that long is incredible, he continued. His teams, they executed, they played hard, they played together, they played smart, they were hard to play against. I thought he got the most out of his team, year in and year out. During the course of the season, theres a lot of stuff that goes on and its all part of it. The things that he taught and he believed in, theyve withstood the test of time.

I was surprised and at the same time, I wish him the best of luck because he had a long career, a very successful career. I felt honored to be able to learn from him and play for him, and being around him during his time in the NBA. We lost a great coach, said Carlos Boozer. Hes just old school. He only asks one thing and thats play hard and play together.
WATCH: Jerry Sloan announces his resignation as head coach of Jazz

Thats what he taught us every day, he went on to say. I dont think anybody saw anything like this coming.

Reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer, who was drafted by the Jazz and played for them until the middle of last season, was also shocked.

I didnt see it coming. I would have thought he would have coached another five years, just because he was so passionate about the game. He enjoyed coming to work every day and he was such a fixture on the sideline that I couldnt imagine not seeing him over there, said Brewer Its going to be different, but I guess his time has passed and hes ready to move on. Its unfortunate that he went out like that. If hes happy, Im happy for him.

Randy Brown, who competed against Sloans Jazz teams as a playerwinning back-to-back championships over Utah in 1996-97 and 1997-98 with the Bullswas also saddened by the coachs departure.

Im totally shocked. Basketball lost a great person. Great competitor. The thing I remember about Jerry is all his teams played the way he played. They were all aggressive, they were tough, mean and theres always a place for a guy like that. it was a sad, sad day when he shut it down, Brown, a Chicago native, who is now the Bulls special assistant to the general manager, told CSNChicago.com. I just remember him and Norm Van Lier.

I didnt know too much about Jerry at the time, but I just remember he was a tough, tough guy. He and Norm made a great backcourt. That was the first No. 4 Id ever know. I always thought at some point, he would come back and coach the Bulls. Now, to see him leave the game is kind of sad.

WATCH: Up Close & Personal with Ronnie Brewer

Regarding reports that a conflict with Jazz All-Star point guard Deron Williamswhether it was the reported halftime confrontation or the coach tiring of management taking Williams side in team mattersSloans former players were skeptical.

I dont know the truth. Its speculation. Im not in the locker room, I wasnt there, so I really dont know how much to read into that, but its basketball. To me, when you have a team, its like a family atmosphere. As everybody knows, families argue, sometimes are dysfunctional and you have disagreements. You have that on every team, but at the end of the day, you have to be able to move on, set your differences apart, look forward and not in the past. If thats true, whats being said, then thats unfortunate that thats the reason that caused him to stop coaching. I think its a little more than that. I know D-Will, hes a good guy. I know the guys in that locker room, theyre good guys and I think they were more shocked and disappointed to see that happen, as well, opined Brewer. Theyre both competitors, they both want to win. You have that combination of two guys, sometimes you have disagreements. You see that on the court all the time. You see competitors that to win so bad, they get into it with their teammates or their coach. Not that theyre bad guys or dysfunctional teammates, theyre just fierce competitors and want to do anything possible to win the game.

Added Boozer: Whatever happened, happened in the locker room.

Im not in the locker room anymore. But Ill tell you this from my years being there, theres not one person. Nobody pushed Jerry out of coaching, he continued. I dont believe that Deron pushed him out. I dont believe that management pushed him out. Thats not what I believe, but Im not there, so I cant confirm or deny any of that. All I know is that when I was there, he ran it. Me not being there, I cant speculate on what happened this season.

Thibodeau concurred: I think its all speculation. With Jerry, theres nothing that he hasnt been through. What he said is him being totally honest. He said it was time to move on and thats what he did. You dont let one disagreementif that happenedI think you look at his entire body of work. For so many years, hes been able to handle everything thats come his way and hes handled it with a lot of dignity and a lot of class, and maybe he just wanted a break.

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He always said he would know when its time and thats what he did. I respect him.

Hired as acting head coach (not the dreaded interim label) to fill in for Sloan is longtime Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin, who also played for the organization and has been considered a candidate for various head-coaching vacancies around the league the past few offseasons.

Hes a great guy. Hes paid his dues and I think its reflective of their organization, too. that organization has stood for all the thingsand I think Jerry helped instill those things, as did Frank Laydenand its been a lot of continuity for a long time. When you look at it, thats also a big part of why theyre so successful. It went from Frank Layden to Jerry, said Thibodeau, who coached Corbin, a former DePaul star, with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Hes a great guy, great teacher, great communicator and I think the fact that he played in their system and he worked under Jerry, I think is going to be a great asset for him. It helps if youve worked under a great coach and I think hes going to benefit from that. Hes part of that family, so I think itll be a seamless transition for them.

Chimed in Brewer: If he didnt get the Utah job, it was only a matter of time before he got a coaching job in this league anyway.

His time was coming soon. Im just happy for him. He knows the players, he knows that system, the fans know him and hes well respected, so Im happy to see that thats the person they had to replace Coach Sloan. I know hell do a good job.

While Thibodeau indicated Sloan may be simply taking a break from coaching, Boozer believes the Hall of Famer is done.

Coach, hes the type of man where if he gives you his word, thats it, so if he says hes retired, that means hes not coming back.

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.

It sure sounds like Jimmy Butler regrets being labeled as the face of the Bulls franchise

It sure sounds like Jimmy Butler regrets being labeled as the face of the Bulls franchise

Jimmy Butler didn't come close to following in his trainer's footsteps, but Mr. G. Buckets Unplugged still proved enlightening.

Following a wild Thursday, Butler hopped on the phone Friday afternoon from Paris to chat with Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times about the deal that sent the former face of the Bulls to rejoin Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota.

Butler wanted to be labeled as the face of the franchise, but his comments seem to reflect the old adage "be careful what you wish for."

"It doesn't mean a damn thing. I guess being called the face of an organization isn't as good as I thought. We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me. So let me be just a player for the Timberwolves, man. That's all I want to do. I just want to be winning games, do what I can for my respective organization and let them realize what I'm trying to do.

"Whatever they want to call me... face... I don't even want to get into that anymore. Whose team is it? All that means nothing. You know what I've learned? Face of the team, eventually, you're going to see the back of his head as he's leaving town, so no thanks."

Whoa.

Butler also spoke about trying to block out all the trade rumors while on vacation in France:

"I mean, I had so many people telling me what could possibly happen, but I just got to the point where I stopped paying attention to it. 

"It's crazy because it reminds you of what a business this is. You can't get mad at anybody. I'm not mad - I'm not. I just don't like the way some things were handled, but it's OK."

Butler doesn't have to be the sole face of the franchise in Minnesota on a team that has two of the top homegrown young stars in the game in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

The big red button was pressed and Jimmy Butler was ejected from the Chicago Bulls’ present and future as they finally made the decision to rebuild after two years of resisting.

Trading Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the ability to draft Lauri Markkanen represents the Bulls committing to the draft lottery and fully going in on the Fred Hoiberg experience for the foreseeable future, as the prospect of trying to improve through shrewd moves in the East while also facing the likelihood of Butler commanding a $200 million contract wasn’t palatable to their pocketbook or their sensibilities.

On one hand, making a decision — any decision — can be applauded on some levels after years of their relationship with Butler being complicated at best. But the idea of rebuilding and the application of it are often two separate ideals, because the evaluation of a rebuild can often be as murky as the land the Bulls just left.

“What we’ve done tonight is set a direction,” Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said. “We’ve gone to the past where we make the playoffs, but not at the level we wanted to. You know in this league, success is not determined that way. We’ve decided to make the change and rebuild this roster.”

“We’re gonna remain patient and disciplined. The development of our young players is important. The coaching staff has done a phenomenal job. We’re gonna continue down that path. We’re not gonna throw huge money at people.”

The Bulls aren’t exclusive to this territory, the land in which they’ve inhibited for the last couple seasons, which makes the Butler trade about more than one thing.

Not equal parts but part basketball, part fiscal, part narrative and finally, masking some mistakes that have been made over the years but are not as easily rectified. Trading Butler seemed to be the easiest vessel used as an elixir to wash away missteps. Trading a star in Butler is also the easiest way to get heat off a coach or front office in today’s NBA, because few franchises like to make wholesale changes midstream or early in it.

Trading Butler — along with shipping their second-round pick in a box marked for the Bay Area — was also financial, considering many felt if he made it through the tumultuous evening that he would finish his career as a Bull, raking in a hefty sum of cash on the back end.

It’s because of these factors that the evaluation of this trade and subsequently, a painful rebuild, cannot be in a vacuum. (Note: No rebuild is painless, it’s the size of the migraine a team can endure that determines the type of aspirin necessary).

Just taking a look at the players the Bulls got back in the Butler trade illustrates the gray area they’ve now immersed themselves into. The Bulls fell in love with Dunn before he came to the NBA, and aren’t as bothered by him being a 23-year old second-year player who struggled mightily in his rookie year.

Zach LaVine is an explosive athlete who can put up 20 every night — when he’s on the floor. Recovering from an ACL injury is no given, as evidenced by a young phenom who once graced the United Center hardwood before his body betrayed him.

And Lauri Markkanen is a rookie with promise, but nobody can make any promises on what type of career he’ll have, or if he’ll fulfill that promise with this franchise in the requisite time.

“There’s always risk in anything,” Paxson said. “But here’s a guy that’s 22 years old and averages 20 a game (LaVine). He can score the basketball, he can run. He can shoot the basketball. He shot over 40 percent from three. That’s an area we’re deficient in. Markkanen shot over 40 from three in college. Again, it’s an area where we’re deficient. It’s trying to find the type of player that fits the way that we want to play going forward.”

[RELATED: Jimmy Butler bids emotional farewell to Chicago]

General Manager Gar Forman stated after the announcement of the trade that the Bulls would have to hit on their next few draft picks to stop this rebuild from being elongated, but even then there’s no guarantee.

The Sacramento Kings drafted a rookie of the year, then two future max contract players in the same year, followed by another player who’ll command close to max money very soon. But nobody remembers Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside and Isaiah Thomas leading the Kings from the wilderness and into glory, unless recent memory has been scrubbed away from everyone.

Inconsistencies in organizational structure combined with multiple coaching changes and an inability to develop the right young players kept the Kings on the dais of the draft lottery every April.

The Timberwolves, heck, nobody could say they missed when selecting LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns and getting Andrew Wiggins in a trade for Kevin Love. It’s because it takes more than the right draft picks, or in the Sacramento Kings’ case, the right infrastructure and environment, to foster an atmosphere of winning.

The Bulls were ready, despite their claims that this was a decision that came across their table right before the draft, because common sense has to be applied. No team makes knee-jerk, franchise-altering decisions that will have reverberations for years to come on the whim of a trade offer from Tom Thibodeau. This was likely decided when the Bulls went out with a whimper in the first-round after shocking the NBA world in the first two games against the Boston Celtics, when their fortunes changed on the trifle of Rajon Rondo’s broken wrist.

It was decided that Hoiberg, the man who endured chants calling for his firing in the second half of the decisive Game 6 loss, needed to have the right type of roster to be accurately judged as a successful hire or failure, and Butler couldn’t be part of those plans.

And just as Hoiberg has been dealt an uneven hand, Butler wasn’t given the type of roster that would accurately judge how he could flourish as a leader, max player and face of the franchise — and probably had less time to show one way or the other relative to his coach.

The longer Butler stayed, the more empowered he would become as his individual accomplishments would rack up because of the dedication he applied to game, the drive he had to place himself in the upper echelon of NBA players.

The better Butler got, the more pressure Hoiberg would be under to mix and match his roster and to foster a relationship with Butler he might’ve been ill-suited to fix. The better Butler got, the more pressure the front office would be under to maximize a prime it didn’t see coming, a prime they can’t truly figure when there’s an expiration date on given Butler’s unlikely rise to stardom.

So getting rid of Butler was the solution and the Bulls have now chosen their path, definitively and with confidence. Emerging from a ball of confusion to parts unknown, from one land of uncertainty to another.