Bulls unhappy with end of trip, but happy to be home

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Bulls unhappy with end of trip, but happy to be home

BOSTON -- Derrick Roses Monday appointment with a back specialist aside, on paper, all seems well with the Bulls these days. Sure, they didnt close out their nine-game road trip the way they would have liked after losing Sunday to the Celtics, but a 6-3 record is nothing to complain about.

Right? Wrong, if you ask them.

Those three losses that we had, its not something we like. We wish we could go back, play them again and win them all, but the challenge for us now is to go back home and take care of our home court, said Carlos Boozer. We wish we didnt lose one of them, man. We feel like we could be undefeated and to have the six, seven losses that we have, its tough because we feel like we should have won every one of them.

Concurred Rose: I think we did badly, man. We were 6-3. For us, thats not good. We did kind of badly on this trip. Hopefully the next trip that we have, we play well and our record is better than this one.

Joakim Noah agreed: 6-3, its OK, but its not great. For what were trying to do, were not happy with 6-3.

Left unsaid was the fact that the three opponents the Bulls lost to -- Miami, Philadelphia and Boston -- were the three toughest of the trip. While beating Central Division rival Milwaukee, a pre-Linsanity Knicks team and the murderers row of Washington, New Orleans, Charlotte and New Jersey could be considered taking care of business and avoiding letdowns, it isnt exactly a resume booster.

Youve got to play well on the road. You cant judge anything now. You judge it at the end. When you go in and you play a quality opponent on the road, every team is capable of beating you. Youve got to do the same things to win, argued Tom Thibodeau. You could lose to anybody in this league. I dont look at it the way you guys do. I look at it totally different.

I thought we hung tough, I thought we got good bench play out of a number of guys. The starters played well, but we still could have done a lot better, continued the coach in evaluating the trip. Some things we did well, some things we need to improve upon, so theres good and bad, but wed like to have the opportunity to have some practice time, where we can work on improving in all areas and were looking forward to that.

Luol Deng put a positive spin on it: It was a great road trip. We want to win every game. At the same time, we got to spend a lot of time together off the court. It kind of helped us. But a lot of games, we came out and played great. We wanted to end it better. Even though we didnt play great tonight, we still gave ourselves a chance to win the game and it came down to right at the end.

After more than two weeks of living out of suitcases, the Bulls return to the Windy City and begin a slate of home games that lasts until the All-Star break.

Were looking forward to it. We wish we went back off of a win, but itll be good to be back in Chicago, said Boozer. I dont think were far from where we want to be. I think were right there, but it would be good to get healthy a little bit and get some of the guys that were missing back. It would be great, but itll be good to be back in Chicago, get some home-cooked meals, sleep in our own beds and play some home games at the UC.

Rose chimed in: I cant wait, just to be in the UC again. I know our fans are going to come out and support us. Its going to be fun, exciting and its going to be some good games.

Deng, who played Sunday with a heavy bandage on his left wrist, has personal reasons to be happy to play at the United Center again after more than two weeks away from the West Side.

The injury and being out, then getting on the road and playing on the road, Im not going to lie to you: Im looking forward to going home and playing at home, said Deng. Honestly, its always good to be home. Its always good to play in front of your fans, but its the NBA. Whatever your schedule is like, it doesnt really matter. You have a tough schedule early or tough schedule late, it really doesnt matter. Youve just got to focus on your next game. I think its a lot of things going on -- All-Star, all that, game, youre playing this, youre playing that -- all that, youve got to put all that aside and just focus on the next game.

Above all, Thibodeau expects his squad to keep its foot on the gas, no matter the quality of opponents (not that he thinks any foe is weak, of course) for not only the home stand, but for the remainder of the Bulls schedule, which is regarded as significantly easier, in terms of travel, opposition and off days.

Weve got to be ready when we go home, thats the big thing. We cant look back. Everybodys going to say, Your schedule changes, its going to be easy, and its not going to be easy, he said. You cant look ahead, you cant look behind. Youve just got to stare at that next one. The next ones Sacramento. Weve got to be ready for it.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Simeon beats rival Morgan Park for city championship

Former Northwestern football player Torri Stuckey now focuses on helping others

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

NEW ORLEANS — Every All-Star isn’t created equal, even by the slimmest of margins as the best 24 NBA players take their turn on the midseason stage.

So Jimmy Butler being announced among the first five as an All-Star starter had to represent some form of validation, now that he’s not a novice at the whole experience and he’s able to go through the motions of the hectic weekend without breaking much of a sweat.

But despite being a three-time All-Star and routinely mentioned as one of the game’s top 15 players or even top 10, he can’t shake the trade rumors that have seemed to follow him since this time last season.

As he finished up his All-Star experience at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, clarity was nowhere to be found—although heading to some tropical island for a couple days to actually unwind with clear water and warm air seemed to be the best therapy if he’s stressed by the uncertainty of the next few days.

“What’s Thursday? Oh, trade deadline,” Butler said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don’t worry about it. It don’t bother or scare me none.”

“Hopefully I’m not going to get traded but I don’t know. I don’t control that. Control what I can control, like going on vacation.”

Surely it has to be frustrating for a guy who’s elevated his game yet again, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bulls in 51 games. But he refuses to let it damper his All-Star spirits, playing with some of the best players in the world and a few guys he calls friends, like DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.

“Not for me,” said Butler of the potential stress. “Not saying I’m untradeable but I don’t think about that. If I’m not in a Bulls uniform, I’ll give you a hug and say goodbye to you.”

Moments after Butler made his statement in the media room, the floodgates opened for the trade market as fellow Olympian DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for what seemed to be mere fodder, pennies on the dollar for the most talented center in the NBA.

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While Cousins is far more of a handful than Butler could be, the trade almost signals a consistent truth that always bears repeating—that short of a select few, anybody can be traded.

Even a franchise altering talent like Cousins, who was traded to the city he was physically in for All-Star weekend, and included in the package of players was a guy who hit him in the groin last week (Buddy Hield), resulting in a Cousins outburst and ejection.

Butler has made his name with the Bulls, although not necessarily on the All-Star stage, a player who values defense and doesn’t have as much flash as some of the game’s shinier players.

With a six-point outing in 20 minutes, Butler was an on-court afterthought despite being a starter for the first time.

“Six? Should’ve gone for eight,” he sarcastically deadpanned.

In a relatively jovial mood through the weekend, Butler joked about the talk surrounding him and tried to brush it off as mere chatter as opposed to the franchise not seeing enough in him to make a firm commitment for the long-term, as the Boston Celtics are always hovering.

League sources expect the Celtics to engage the Bulls in conversations for the next few days, but nobody has a great feel for what either side is truly looking for.

But as Butler insisted, he’s only controlling what he can control, which is making himself a fixture for All-Star games to come as opposed to some of the first-timers who don’t know if they’ll get back here again.

“I think I got two underneath my belt,” Butler said. “I know what they’re feeling the first time, It’s so surreal like maybe I do belong here. That’s how I was thinking. Now it’s how do I get here every year? I think that’s the fun part, that’s the challenge. A lot of those guys have done it 10-plus years, hopefully I’m one.”

The only question seems to be, which uniform will it be in because the crazy season has begun.