Deng another game-time decision

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Deng another game-time decision

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesnt have any plans to rush back Luol Deng from a nagging hamstring injury, even if it means the All-Star reserve misses his own bobblehead night.
I didnt realize that, Thibodeau said laughing when told of Dengs bobblehead. Yeah, thats why were bringing him back.
Thibodeau did, however, seem more optimistic about Dengs chances to play tonight at home against the Bobcats, calling him a true game-time decision. Deng, who was named an All-Star last Thursday, has missed the last five games and the Bulls have taken a cautious approach to his return.
Thibodeau said Deng participated a little bit more in this mornings team shoot-around that the Berto Center, and that hes gotten better every day since aggravating the injury Jan. 18 in Boston.
Swingman Jimmy Butler may have hinted at a potential return tonight for Deng.
I feel great. Glad to have Luol back. Were just gonna keep rolling, same role coming off the bench and just try to keep winning games, he said. I hope he does (play) because hes a big part of our team and we want him out there.
When Deng does make his eventual return to the lineup, Butler knows it will relegate him back to the bench. But the second-year forward said he will continue to have an effect on games, and that his recent stretch in the starting lineup has helped his confidence moving forward.
I feel like when an opportunity presents itself you have to take it, Butler said. (Starting) gave me a lot more confidence in knowing what I can do and having my teammates believe in me more on both ends of the floor. So I feel like it was a definite confidence boost.
Butler has put together the best stretch of his career in the last 10 days, averaging 14.2 points 8.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in more than 45 minutes the last five contests. The Bulls are 3-2 in that span, and Butlers emergence as a capable scorer and stout defender has helped the Bulls replace the league leader in minutes per game.
Like Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli before him Robinson has started five games in place of Kirk Hinrich; Belinelli started 12 games in Rip Hamiltons absence the Chicago reserves are proving to Thibodeau they can step up when their name is called.
We always do whats best for the team. You guys make it sound like its a new revelation. Jimmys played well and its what we expect of our bench, Thibodeau said, and when you look at it deeper, when Marco stepped in he did a great job. So we feel very good about our bench and when someone is out we expect that next person to step up.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Gar Forman defends Jimmy Butler trade

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AP

Bulls Talk Podcast: Gar Forman defends Jimmy Butler trade

On the latest Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Vincent Goodwill recap the Bulls' busy NBA Draft and the decision to trade Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. 

Bulls general manager Gar Forman joins the panel for an exclusive interview. He breaks down why the organization decided to move the three-time All-Star. 

Click here to Bulls Talk Podcast.

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

The Bulls entered rebuild mode on Thursday night after they dealt Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They acquired a pair of guards in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick which they used to select Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen.

But the Bulls opted not to continue adding youth to their roster when they sold their second-round pick, No. 38 overall, to the Golden State Warriors. That pick was Oregon power forward Jordan Bell, who many considered a late first-round prospect.

The move was perplexing for a team that hours earlier had traded away its franchise player to start a youth movement. But VP John Paxson said after the draft that the decision to move the pick was based on team depth, hinting at a significant move the Bulls will make in free agency.

"We had some wings on our board that we had targeted that were the only way we were going to keep that (No. 38) pick, and they went before us. And drafting Lauri (Markkanen), and the fact that we have, Niko’s a restricted free agent we intend to bring back, Bobby Portis, we didn’t want to add another big and that’s really all that was left on our board."

Both Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have said since the season ended that Mirotic, who will become a restricted free agent on July 1, is part of their future plans. The Bulls will be able to match any contract that another team offers Mirotic, and they intend to keep the 26-year-old in Chicago. After Butler's departure, Mirotic is now the longest tenured member of the Bulls. He's been with the team for three seasons.

The wings Paxson may have been referring to include Miami's Devon Reed (32nd overall to Phoenix), Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu (33rd overall to Orlando) or SMU's Semi Ojeleye (Boston, 37th overall). Point guards Juwan Evans (Oklahoma State) and Sterling Brown (SMU) were still on the board and potential options, but the Bulls were set on looking for wing help after receiving point guard Kris Dunn and shooting guard Zach LaVine in the Butler trade.

The Bulls frontcourt depth looks filled, as Cristiano Felicio is expected to return behind Brook Lopez. Mirotic, Portis, Markkanen and Joffrey Lauvergne should make up the power forward depth chart. Opting against using the 38th pick, which Golden State bought for a whopping $3.5 million, also leaves the Bulls with room to add a 13th player in the fall.

"It keeps us at 12 roster spots and gives us real flexibility for our roster," Paxson said. "So we didn’t just want to use up a roster spot on a player that we probably wouldn’t have kept."