Patience preached by Boozer's Bulls teammates

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Patience preached by Boozer's Bulls teammates

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
2:02 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Patience is a virtue. In the case of Carlos Boozer's Bulls debut, nobody understands that better than current and former teammates Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.

"Well, its going to be a little different this time because before, he was coming into a system he already knew inside and out, and theres a little new stuff here," Korver told CSNChicago.com after Wednesday night's loss to the Magic. "Its one thing to see and watch in a game, but to be out there doing it is different. Hes a pretty smart basketball player, so hopefully hell it wont take too long."

"Its not a certain timetable. Any athlete or some people that cover the game know that basketballs a game of rhythm, so the sooner you can pick it up, the sooner you can get in the flow," added Brewer, who played with Boozer in Utah from 2006-07 until last season, when he was dealt to Memphis at the trade deadline. "With him, its a whole new city, whole new system, teammates. You watch them play, but youve got to get used to being on the court, playing at game speed and competing at a high level like he does, facing great talents night in and night out."

It's no secret that Boozer's tenure in Utah was riddled with injuries, as he missed significant time in three of his six seasons (missing 138 regular-season games) with the Jazz. Boozer's 2004-05 campaign was curtailed after 51 games and he only played in 33 games in the subsequent 2005-06 after returning to the lineup in the middle of the season, so perhaps his last injury-plagued season in Salt Lake City best illustrates what the Bulls can expect.

Boozer went out of the Jazz lineup on Nov. 19, 2008, and returned on Feb. 23, 2009, following arthroscopic knee surgery. In his first game back, he recorded two points and five rebounds, not dissimilar to Wednesday's five-point, two-rebound outing.

His next few games showed gradual improvement--12 points and four boards on Feb. 25, six and five on Feb. 28, 10 and nine on March 1--before a breakout performance on March 4, 2009, his fifth game back, when he notched a more Boozer-like 20 points and 17 rebounds.

"You never know with him. Hes a top-tier player in the league, so next game he might have his rhythm back. It might be a week, it might be two weeks, it might be three weeks," Brewer told CSNChicago.com. "Hes a high-talent guy. Even though hes been working hard off the floor, I still think youve got to get your legs back, your conditioning back and your rhythm shooting the ball, and when that comes back, I think youll know the answer about the timetable because hell be a 20-and-10 guy again.

"From Boozs standpoint, he wants to come in and kind of fit in. At the same time, hes got people expecting him to put up big numbers. Its a bit of a tricky thing to do, but the biggest thing is to get comfortable as fast as you can. Thats going to happen through practice and watching film," said Korver, who was traded to Utah from Philadelphia midway through the 2007-08 season. "His first game back was Orlandothats going to be a tough matchup for anyone, regardlessand thats your first basketball game in two months. Its been a long time since he played in a game, so that plus the fact that hes had a broken hand."

Although Boozer claimed his conditioning was fine, he admitted to reporters the difference between practice speed and game speed caught him by surprise. In addition, as his teammates mentioned, learning a new system will take an adjustment and even though by all accounts he's been a diligent pupil during his absence, he appeared to be a step behind on both ends--in fairness, the entire squad seemed out of sync, possibly due to trying to accommodate Boozer and vice versa--during certain points of the Orlando loss.

"Booz, hes hard on himself and he expects great things. He told me, I feel like I need to go out there and score 20 points and 10 rebounds every game, and I was like, Booz, I know youre capable of doing that and youre that type of player, but youve got to take it one game at a time, one possession at a time and try to make positive plays whether its on the offensive end or the defensive end,'" revealed Brewer. "Overall, as a whole, we didnt play well as a team and that puts a lot of pressure on him, his first game back because we kind of put ourselves in a hole quick. I think everybody was kind of pressing their game to make something happen, try to get a 20-point play on one play and you cant do that in basketball. Were going to get better, were going to work on it in practice and I think hes going to get better, as well."

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.

Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

Nikola Mirotic reflects on pump fakes, maddening March, future in Chicago

If there's a more maddening player in the Eastern Conference than Nikola Mirotic, that player's psychologist should be getting paid double considering Bulls fans have been talking to themselves about Mirotic so much over the past three years.

And as they've reached no conclusion on Mirotic, along with many other sage minds, only one thing is for certain: March is his month.

Meaning it's the month where it becomes maddening to watch him play and probably equally as maddening for his teammates who've watched his inconsistencies for the better part of four months or so.

Averaging 16.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 41 career March games, it's the only full month where Mirotic averages in double figures for his career—meaning there's a lot of inconsistencies to wade through to get to the proverbial pot of gold.

In 2014-15, he emerged as the NBA's best fourth-quarter scorer that month when the Bulls were without both Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Last season, he came back fresh after an appendectomy took a big chunk of his year.

This year, there's no big macro reason. He's just playing definitively, making quick movements and it's paying off as his two best scoring games took place within a four-day span (28 against both Detroit and Milwaukee).

"Right now, you see I'm shooting without hesitation," Mirotic said to CSNChicago.com. "Just catch and shooting. It's a great feeling."

No word on whether Mirotic hears the fans in the arena or the twitterverse screaming for him to ditch the pump fake that he actually admits it got in his head, but this season has been a roller coaster of the most dramatic kind, as the Bulls are still vying for playoff positioning with eight games remaining in the regular season.

"Sometimes, especially when I'm reading you guys (media), Niko pump fake, pump fake," Mirotic said with a smile. "Okay, no more pump fakes, just fire that ball. I'm laughing because you guys are (right)…that's true. You guys want me to shoot. It doesn't look good when you pump fake every time you have a wide-open shot."

Being penciled in as a training camp starter due to the need for floor spacing, Taj Gibson quickly outplayed Mirotic for the power forward spot. Then Mirotic's up and down, down and up, season began.

Kind of like his pump fake that often drew more defensive attention for it's predictability than effectiveness, stability has been hard to find for a player many have been waiting on since the day he was drafted in 2011.

"I know the defenses are ready for my pump fake so now just like, shoot the ball," Mirotic said. "I've been spending a lot of hours working on my shot before practice, after practice, trying to catch the feeling."

Better late than never or too late?

That's the question surrounding Mirotic and he knows it, being aware of his status as a restricted free-agent-to-be, along with his trade value a month ago being so low, the Bulls could only get a future second-round pick for him from teams.

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With the Bulls having so many questions going into the future, who knows if they want to go through the up-and-down, down-and-up cycle with a talented player yet again, with a big-time financial commitment.

In a sense, Mirotic knows he's left plenty on the table as far as his play through the years and seems to be content with playing with a sense of freedom as the season concludes, whether he's back with the Bulls or not for next year and beyond.

"I just wanna leave a good impression for the Bulls," Mirotic said. "Whatever decision they make. It's been a pleasure. A lot of people dream to be here, I was one of those guys when I was in Europe. I was really like, I wanna go there and play for the Bulls. The history they have. For me, it's a dream come true. Whatever decision they make, I make, whatever. I don't know. The years here have been great. I know it's been up and down. It's been a pleasure and I just wanna finish right."

Jimmy Butler puts Benny the Bull on blast after draining trick shot

Jimmy Butler puts Benny the Bull on blast after draining trick shot

We have definitive proof Jimmy Butler can do anything on a basketball court.

And now, if Benny the Bull is ever injured, the Bulls have a backup in house.

Butler mimicked Benny's half-court, behind the back shot at practice Tuesday morning and called it before he even nailed it.

The Bulls All-Star then walked off the court, talking smack to Benny in the process (though Benny was nowhere to be seen in the video). 

"Benny F. Bull."