Butler addition looming as Bulls trip continues

398388.jpg

Butler addition looming as Bulls trip continues

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Posted: 10:04 AM Updated: 3:45 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

ATLANTAAccording to his agent, swingman Rasual Butler will sign with the Bulls once he clears waivers, CSNChicago.com has learned.

Andy Miller, Butler's agent, told CSNChicago.com, "We intend on signing with Chicago when he clears waivers," via text message Wednesday morning.

Butler, a 6-foot-7 sharpshooter, confirmed to CSNChicago.com that he was bought out of his contract by the Los Angeles Clippers late Sunday evening.

Butler, who averaged five points per game in 41 contests for the Clippers this season, is expected to clear waivers Wednesday. Butler averaged a career-high 11.9 points per game for the Clippers last season.

When asked about the potential acquisition, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau told CSNChicago.com, I have nothing to say until it gets done, prior to the Bulls morning shootaround at Philips Arena.

Thibodeau added: Hes been a good player in the league for a while.

One individual familiar with Chicagos personnel, former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, thinks Butler could be a solid addition to the team.

Rasual is one of the top shooters in the league, Hinrich, who was recently traded to the Hawks, who host his former team Wednesday night, told CSNChicago.com. Hes had a solid career and I think he would help a lot, if he comes in there. Hes a very confident shooter, so I think that would help them.

(Read Aggrey's "Starting Five" for more info on what Hinrich has to say about his former team.)

While Butler would be unlikely to immediately supplant any player in Thibodeaus rotation, his outside-shooting prowess would give them an additional weapon for the seasons stretch run and more importantly, the playoffs.

Although his numbers were down for the youth-oriented Clippers this season, Butler would potentially give the Bulls another capable perimeter shooter to battle defensive-minded teams in the postseason who are focused on clogging the lane against the penetration of All-Star point guard and MVP front-runner Derrick Rose, as well as Chicagos size on the interior.

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.

Fast Break Morning Update: Bulls blow out Pistons

Fast Break Morning Update: Bulls blow out Pistons

 

 

Bulls beat lifeless Pistons

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

David DeJesus Q&A: New CSN Cubs analyst on retirement, Anthony Rizzo and Joe Maddon

How the White Sox and Tim Anderson came to their creative contract extension

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs

Cubs remember Dallas Green's impact on Wrigley Field

Prospect Zack Burdi's focus in White Sox camp: 'Act like you belong'

BearsTalk Podcast: The three best defensive choices for Bears' first-round pick

Bulls center Robin Lopez slapped with one-game suspension after fight

Bulls beat lifeless Pistons

Bulls beat lifeless Pistons

The Pistons looked to the worst possible matchup on the worst night of the season for the Bulls, as they were light at the center position and facing Andre Drummond, a man who has given the Bulls the business during their better days.

But the Pistons seemed to be the best opponent on the second night of a back-to-back, as they seemed dispirited and dead-legged, with the Bulls taking full advantage in their 117-95 win at the United Center Wednesday night.

The win ties the two rivals with 34-38 records, looking on the outside in at the Eastern Conference playoff race with 10 games left.

Both came into the game smarting from road losses the night before, with the Pistons falling to the lowly Brooklyn Nets at the buzzer in Brooklyn and the Bulls losing a 15-point fourth quarter lead to the Raptors, dropping the contest in overtime.

Nikola Mirotic scored a season-high 28 points in 38 minutes, hitting 12 of 15 shots while Jimmy Butler scored was perfect on his six shots, scoring 16 with 12 assists and five rebounds in 33 minutes, as the Bulls shot 59 percent from the field.

"I was proud of the guys, the way they bounced back after last night's disappointment," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We talked before the game about how well we played for the majority of the game last night besides the last five minutes."

There would be no such suspense on this night, as the Pistons offered little resistance and seemed to be a bit lifeless for most of the evening, despite the prodding from coach Stan Van Gundy.

"We've got 10 games to go, but I don't see a lot of life in us," said Van Gundy in a statement that could've been attributed to Hoiberg if he was given some truth serum after some disappointing losses this season.

But the tables were turned for once, in the most unlikely of ways as the Bulls own the tiebreaker over the Pistons with a better division record at the moment.

With Robin Lopez out with a suspension stemming from Tuesday's swing-and-miss exercise with Serge Ibaka and Cristiano Felicio being out with a lower back injury, Drummond was expected to dominate, already having three 20-20 games against the Bulls on his ledger.

He grabbed 17 rebounds but only scored eight points as the Pistons shot 44 percent from the field.

Joffrey Lauvergne took his turn in the starting lineup, performing admirably with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes and keeping Drummond occupied, his best game since being traded to Chicago at the deadline.

"Joff plays incredibly hard, he listens," Butler said. "The big dude (Drummond) missed a lot of shots he normally makes. I think that's all you can play about that. Joff played hard, he did what he was supposed to do."

[Buy Bulls tickets]

The Pistons' only signs of life came from Stanley Johnson (12 points) and Jon Leuer (13 points), who came off the bench in the late first quarter and early second to bring the game to a two-point margin before the half at 55-53.

But the Bulls took the fight from the Pistons early in the second half and made their separation in the third quarter with a decisive 32-20 run, as Nikola Mirotic scored 12 in the period and Butler adding seven.

Mirotic, if it carries over, could point to this game as the one that turned his season around at the right time. He was aggressive against Tobias Harris and hit four triples as the Bulls were nine of 20 from long range, proving they didn't have a hangover from their heartbreaker the night before.

"I thought he let the game come to him," Hoiberg said. "He didn't take forced shots. When you have good, crisp ball movement, you're going to get open looks."

Even without their lane cloggers, the Bulls lived in the paint, taking a 21-point lead due to scoring 48 points in the paint and moving the ball to the tune of 28 assists on their first 37 field goals.

"We needed to step up, especially guarding Drummond inside," Mirotic said.  "Offensively, we played great. Thirty-six assists."

Considering where Mirotic was a couple weeks ago, out of the rotation and nowhere near top of mind when it came to who would help the Bulls find themselves, it's somewhat gratifying.

"It's exciting when you do something well," Mirotic said. "But I've always been very positive about everything. When they told me I would be out of the rotation, I was the first guy coming in, working out and being positive with my teammates."

Unlike the fourth quarter against the Raptors, the Bulls didn't have to worry about a late surge as the Pistons rested their regulars relatively early, waiving the white flag as the Bulls shot close to 60 percent.

Rajon Rondo added nine assists of his own as he was the only starter who didn't reach double figures in scoring.

He didn't need to, as the game served as a confidence-builder for Mirotic, Bobby Portis and Lauvergne, the man who started in Lopez's stead.

Although giving up plenty in size and skill to Drummond, he pulled him to the perimeter and even found gold inside to score 17 with seven rebounds in his best performance as a Bull since being involved in the trade involving Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott at the deadline.

If the Bulls play like this every night before April 12, they could find their way to the postseason, but if they played like this before tonight, a playoff spot would've already been assured.