Carmelo: Chicago is a top three NBA destination

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Carmelo: Chicago is a top three NBA destination

Monday, Nov. 8, 2010
3:09 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Give Carmelo Anthony credit. He didn't completely duck the issue. Surrounded by a swarm of local media Monday morning after Denver's shootaround at Moody Bible Institute, the Nuggets superstar deftly handled questions about his future with his present team, as well as his thoughts on Chicago.

"Maybe if I was a free agent, I would let my mind wander, but I can't do that right now, so I've got to focus on being a Nugget, playing Nuggets basketball. It wouldn't be right if I let my mind wander and think about if I was here in Chicago," said Anthony after the Nuggets shootaround Monday at Moody Bible Institute. "Of course, it's one of the top cities. You want to know a number? Top three."

"Anybody--I don't want to say this the wrong way--but anybody would love to play with a guy like Derrick Rose. A young point guard--young star--gets the ball up and down the court, who's improved his game every year," he added. "You've got a young big man in Joakim Noah. You've got Carlos Boozer, who right now is hurt. But they've got a good team right now."

"They're playing fast. They're playing good right now. I know they've got Boozer hurt; he's supposed to be coming back soon. Derrick Rose is having an outstanding start of the season right now. I'm sure they're excited to be playing for Coach Tom Thibodeau."

Most obviously missing in that equation is Anthony's opinion of Luol Deng, who just happens to play the same position. Anthony characterized Deng as a "hard worker" and a "defender," but a combination of logic and reading between the lines would give the impression that he wouldn't expect Deng to be a member of the Bulls if Chicago became his new residence.

"I am on the opposing team, so I'm pretty sure they won't cheer for me too much, but we'll see. I'm not looking forward to that, though," said Anthony about his prediction on how the United Center crowd receives him Monday evening. "I'm not a real big egotistical type of guy, but it's always good to know that people want you and people would love for you to represent their city, so that was a plus to all the rumors and all the talk that's going on this summer, to know that a city and the fans in that city would want me to represent that."

With the start Denver has gotten off to this season and a positive vibe around the team--no doubt aided by the return to the sidelines of head coach George Karl after his second bout with cancer--Anthony didn't want too much focus to be on his personal situation instead of the team.

"Once I'm inside these walls, it's all about basketball...anything that's being said outside these walls, it is what it is," said Anthony. "Of course what MJ brought to the city, just the city itself--being a big city--the fans out here and just the historic value of basketball here."

"I'm not even thinking about business right now. I'm all about basketball right now, at this very moment," continued Anthony, who indicated that he'd give more consideration to signing the three-year, 65-million contract extension Denver offered if the Nuggets were contenders once again. "Once I came in for media day and sat the team down and told them, 'look, regardless of what's being said, we're here to play basketball. we're going to focus on what's going on right now, which is winning basketball games,' I think everybody locked in after that."

"I wanted to let them know that regardless of what's being said out there, I'm with you guys right now."

For Denver head coach George Karl's part, he's treating his star player no differently than before. With his return to health--Karl is noticeably slimmer, but no less charismatic--he plans to try to get Denver back to the contending ways they experienced two seasons ago, when they put a significant scare into the eventual champion Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. If that occurs, Anthony would have to be a big reason.

"Anthony has been great. I only deal with him basically about basketball. He's had a great camp, he's worked hard. He probably isn't 100 percent on having good practices, but he's been pretty close," said Karl. "You see him play in the games--we're 4-2 with a lot of injuries--so, when you have injuries, the responsibility of winning a game falls on your big-time players a lot more."

A source familiar with Anthony's situation--as well as last season's similar circus surrounding LeBron James--confirmed to CSNChicago.com that not only is Anthony handling the constant speculation better than James did, but he's focused on the Nuggets achieving as much team success while he remains in Denver, however long that happens to be.

"He's a load. He scores so many different ways. That's what I think makes him so hard to guard. He can really shoot the ball, he's very effective in the pick-and-roll, he can post up, he's unselfish, he's very dangerous in transition. He just puts a lot of pressure on your defense," said Thibodeau about Anthony after Sunday's Bulls practice. "For every 100 trades that gets talked about, one happens--maybe not even one--so it's all part of the business. I don't think you even worry about it. You always hear different things. Trades are part of the game. Just focus on what you need to do here."

While they may or may not ever join sides, it seems that both Thibodeau and Anthony have similar-minded approaches to the speculation engulfing the superstar's situation.

"I want the team to do well, so that's why I go out there and do what I've got to do, get everybody on the same page so we can win basketball games. I think my attitude would be totally different if I was here and we were 0-6 right now," said Anthony. "I'm in a good state right now. We're winning basketball games and I'm happy."

Still, he can't stop a city's collective mind from wandering.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

The earrings were gleaming from Jimmy Butler’s ears, as he was his usual-disarming self with a playful smile and wink during his question-and-answer session with the Chicago media.

At a point, he took a deep breath as he looked around the Advocate Center with some of his new teammates walking around, some of whom had to carry nameplates because they weren’t recognizable faces in this new setting.

And because new faces are in town, it means two things: some faces left town and for Butler’s sake, the new ones will only know him as “Jimmy Butler, All-Star”, not the guy who was a late first-round pick, not the player who couldn’t get off the bench.

Butler didn’t bring up his comfort level, but when asked, he didn’t deny things appear to be a bit easier this time around.

“Does it make me feel more comfortable? I mean, to an extent, yeah, because then you can never say how you may have think that I’ve changed,” Butler said.

Butler’s ascension rubbed some the wrong way last season, and it’s been spoken about ad nauseam, whether it was true or not. But the moment of honesty wasn’t so much a shot at Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah, who departed for the Knicks in various forms; however it was an admission to his level of security, one that perhaps can lead to a more peaceful existence with all the core pieces.

The one way he’s always lead and will always speak to, is by example and work ethic. It’s one that turned him into an All-Star and Olympian.

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“I think everybody that’s on this roster now just knows how hard that I’ve worked to get to this spot that I’m at,” Butler said. “They’ve seen it. They’ve witnessed it. All they’ve been around for me is this point of my career. I don’t know if it sounds bad. But I think that all these guys look at, ‘If Jimmy works like that and if I work like that, I’ll be in the same position that he’s in.’ I’ll be more than happy to let you have that position because I think hard work can get you anywhere that you want to get to.”

So with that, Butler volunteered himself to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, to be the sacrificial lamb of wrath if need be. Easy to say if he doesn’t actually believe Hoiberg is capable of going from nice guy to madman at a moment’s notice but Butler laid it out for the record.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”

The additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo add championship receipts to a locker room that needs it, considering the Bulls want to play their young pieces. Wade and Rondo, the Bulls privately believe, will help Butler deal with everything that comes with a new role of leadership — and by proxy, Butler’s relationship and expectations of Hoiberg.

“He was put in a position last year he wasn't familiar with and I think we'll see growth from it,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “The great thing about Jimmy is you know he comes in each and every day and gives 100 percent. He gets better every year and I think we'll continue to see that growth in his game and him as a person. I think that experience with USA basketball was real positive for him.”

Whether the trio lives up to the “Three Alphas” nickname remains to be seen, but after having a locker room with too many low-pitched voices, perhaps the change in pace — any change in pace — will be a welcome one for Butler.

“The Alpha thing, I think we’ll be just fine. Everybody is going to have something to say,” he said. “As long as everybody is listening and is willing to take some criticism if you’re doing something wrong, just like if you’re doing something right I’m going to tell you, there’s good and bad in everything you do. At the end of the day, as long as we win games, it won’t matter.”

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

 

Much was made of the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg dynamic last year.

As the duo head into Year 2 together with a very different Bulls roster, Jimmy Butler was very clear about one thing he wants out of his coach this season.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example,’” Butler said during the team’s media day on Monday. “I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing because if Doug (McDermott) or Tony (Snell) or whoever it may be, if watching coach talk to me like that he’s going to be like ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ So that’s what I try to remind him everyday. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else, but I want that. I need that.”

Butler’s show of confidence in his coach didn’t stop at his belief that Hoiberg could follow through on Butler’s desire to be coached hard. The All-Star believes Hoiberg has improved as a coach heading into his second year on the job.

“It was his first year last year and I think he studied himself and us and the way we were up and down in so many areas of the game last year,” Butler said. “He’s trying to correct it. That’s just like anybody going into the offseason. He didn’t just not work. He studied and got better at what he needed to get better at. I think he’s ready moving forward.”