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.

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

Bulls have emerged from a ball of confusion to parts unknown

The big red button was pressed and Jimmy Butler was ejected from the Chicago Bulls’ present and future as they finally made the decision to rebuild after two years of resisting.

Trading Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the ability to draft Lauri Markkanen represents the Bulls committing to the draft lottery and fully going in on the Fred Hoiberg experience for the foreseeable future, as the prospect of trying to improve through shrewd moves in the East while also facing the likelihood of Butler commanding a $200 million contract wasn’t palatable to their pocketbook or their sensibilities.

On one hand, making a decision — any decision — can be applauded on some levels after years of their relationship with Butler being complicated at best. But the idea of rebuilding and the application of it are often two separate ideals, because the evaluation of a rebuild can often be as murky as the land the Bulls just left.

“What we’ve done tonight is set a direction,” Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson said. “We’ve gone to the past where we make the playoffs, but not at the level we wanted to. You know in this league, success is not determined that way. We’ve decided to make the change and rebuild this roster.”

“We’re gonna remain patient and disciplined. The development of our young players is important. The coaching staff has done a phenomenal job. We’re gonna continue down that path. We’re not gonna throw huge money at people.”

The Bulls aren’t exclusive to this territory, the land in which they’ve inhibited for the last couple seasons, which makes the Butler trade about more than one thing.

Not equal parts but part basketball, part fiscal, part narrative and finally, masking some mistakes that have been made over the years but are not as easily rectified. Trading Butler seemed to be the easiest vessel used as an elixir to wash away missteps. Trading a star in Butler is also the easiest way to get heat off a coach or front office in today’s NBA, because few franchises like to make wholesale changes midstream or early in it.

Trading Butler — along with shipping their second-round pick in a box marked for the Bay Area — was also financial, considering many felt if he made it through the tumultuous evening that he would finish his career as a Bull, raking in a hefty sum of cash on the back end.

It’s because of these factors that the evaluation of this trade and subsequently, a painful rebuild, cannot be in a vacuum. (Note: No rebuild is painless, it’s the size of the migraine a team can endure that determines the type of aspirin necessary).

Just taking a look at the players the Bulls got back in the Butler trade illustrates the gray area they’ve now immersed themselves into. The Bulls fell in love with Dunn before he came to the NBA, and aren’t as bothered by him being a 23-year old second-year player who struggled mightily in his rookie year.

Zach LaVine is an explosive athlete who can put up 20 every night — when he’s on the floor. Recovering from an ACL injury is no given, as evidenced by a young phenom who once graced the United Center hardwood before his body betrayed him.

And Lauri Markkanen is a rookie with promise, but nobody can make any promises on what type of career he’ll have, or if he’ll fulfill that promise with this franchise in the requisite time.

“There’s always risk in anything,” Paxson said. “But here’s a guy that’s 22 years old and averages 20 a game (LaVine). He can score the basketball, he can run. He can shoot the basketball. He shot over 40 percent from three. That’s an area we’re deficient in. Markkanen shot over 40 from three in college. Again, it’s an area where we’re deficient. It’s trying to find the type of player that fits the way that we want to play going forward.”

[RELATED: Jimmy Butler bids emotional farewell to Chicago]

General Manager Gar Forman stated after the announcement of the trade that the Bulls would have to hit on their next few draft picks to stop this rebuild from being elongated, but even then there’s no guarantee.

The Sacramento Kings drafted a rookie of the year, then two future max contract players in the same year, followed by another player who’ll command close to max money very soon. But nobody remembers Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside and Isaiah Thomas leading the Kings from the wilderness and into glory, unless recent memory has been scrubbed away from everyone.

Inconsistencies in organizational structure combined with multiple coaching changes and an inability to develop the right young players kept the Kings on the dais of the draft lottery every April.

The Timberwolves, heck, nobody could say they missed when selecting LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns and getting Andrew Wiggins in a trade for Kevin Love. It’s because it takes more than the right draft picks, or in the Sacramento Kings’ case, the right infrastructure and environment, to foster an atmosphere of winning.

The Bulls were ready, despite their claims that this was a decision that came across their table right before the draft, because common sense has to be applied. No team makes knee-jerk, franchise-altering decisions that will have reverberations for years to come on the whim of a trade offer from Tom Thibodeau. This was likely decided when the Bulls went out with a whimper in the first-round after shocking the NBA world in the first two games against the Boston Celtics, when their fortunes changed on the trifle of Rajon Rondo’s broken wrist.

It was decided that Hoiberg, the man who endured chants calling for his firing in the second half of the decisive Game 6 loss, needed to have the right type of roster to be accurately judged as a successful hire or failure, and Butler couldn’t be part of those plans.

And just as Hoiberg has been dealt an uneven hand, Butler wasn’t given the type of roster that would accurately judge how he could flourish as a leader, max player and face of the franchise — and probably had less time to show one way or the other relative to his coach.

The longer Butler stayed, the more empowered he would become as his individual accomplishments would rack up because of the dedication he applied to game, the drive he had to place himself in the upper echelon of NBA players.

The better Butler got, the more pressure Hoiberg would be under to mix and match his roster and to foster a relationship with Butler he might’ve been ill-suited to fix. The better Butler got, the more pressure the front office would be under to maximize a prime it didn’t see coming, a prime they can’t truly figure when there’s an expiration date on given Butler’s unlikely rise to stardom.

So getting rid of Butler was the solution and the Bulls have now chosen their path, definitively and with confidence. Emerging from a ball of confusion to parts unknown, from one land of uncertainty to another.

Watch some of new Bull Zach LaVine's best dunks

Watch some of new Bull Zach LaVine's best dunks

Zach LaVine quickly made a name for himself as a prolific, epic dunker.

The recently acquired Bull won both the 2015 and 2016 Slam Dunk Contests and has plenty of awe-inspiring in-game dunks as well.

The video above has a few of LaVine's best efforts.

His signature dunks in the dunk contests were the 2015 dazzler when he caught the ball from behind the backboard and went through his legs before slamming it and the through the legs from just inside the free throw line dunk in 2016.

For in-game dunks, the time he posterized Alex Len in November was an instant-classic. It's not everyday a 7-footer gets dismissed with such authority.

Of course, LaVine's ability to dunk at this prodigious level is in question after he tore his ACL this past season. If LaVine can come back to anywhere near full strength, look for some impressive highlights from the former dunk champ in a Bulls uniform.