Sam: Adding a player could disrupt Bulls chemistry

Sam: Adding a player could disrupt Bulls chemistry

Monday, Feb. 28, 2011
10:47 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam

With rumors swirling about the Bulls potentially acquiring sharpshooter Rasual Butleras previously reported, confirmed late Sunday that the swingman received a buyout from the Los Angeles ClippersDerrick Rose discussed how an additional player could affect the teams chemistry.

That would be something that when they get hereif they get here, if someone comes herewell just have to see if it affects the teams chemistry, but I really dont know how it would be right now. I think that we have a good team right now. I think our chemistry is fine, the guys that we have are great and Im fine with the people we have right now, said Rose.

The All-Star point guard strongly believes the current squad is a championship-caliber team. Definitely. Theres no point in us even being here practicing if we didnt think we could win a championship. I think that we have a good team. I think that we have good guys on the team that are winners, that are basketball players, that just want to play ball and win. As for Thibodeau, he was non-committal about the speculation.

I havent heard anything about it, said the coach. If they Bulls general manager Gar Forman and vice president John Paxson get close on something, theyll let me know, but like Ive said all along, I love the team we have; I love the guys we have.

If the Bulls were to acquire Butler, the 6-foot-7 swingman would provide them with an additional shooter to spread the defense against teams like the Celtics and Heat, who may be more apt to pack the lane to defend against Roses penetration and Chicagos size. At the same time, Butler would join an already-crowded legion of wing players, as Thibodeau has shown hes comfortable with Keith Bogans as a starter, meaning that since Ronnie Brewers defense is another Thibs priority, Kyle Korver would be the most likely candidate to see a reduction in playing time.

Carlos Boozer spoke about the teams last losslast week in Torontoand how the Bulls have adjusted since then. We learned our lesson in Toronto after the break. We had that five-day breakAll-Star breakcame back and lost that game in Toronto, a team that on paper, we should have beat, but we took them lightly and got kicked in the butt.. Opined Joakim Noah: You know what? Torontosometimes people talk about recordsbut they have a lot of talent. It was my first game back, the first game after the All-Star break. We definitely had a letdown, so you have to learn from our mistakes and its all about experiences and getting better.

In the locker room, Rose muttered to himself about missing free throws, shots in general and being out of rhythm. When queried about it later he responded, Ive just got to get back. Im still putting up my regular numbers, but just getting back, playing in rhythm. But were winning. I could care less about that. He cited the All-Star break as the primary cause. Going four days without really shooting or playing, I think that could throw off anybodys rhythm.

Brian Scalabrine commented on the fan support the Bulls receivednot uncommon at road games as of lateas well as the crowd cheering for him personally. We were in the building tonight, right? A lot of Chicago fans. A lot of MVP chants. It was nice, Scalabrine quipped to The Scalabrine chants were strong tonight. I mean, I cant say anything about that. Thanks for coming out, thanks for supporting the Washington Wizards.

Rose, the recipient of M-V-P chants throughout the game, also discussed the now-familiar aspect of away games. Its crazy, but Im loving it right now, said Rose. Coming into every arena and everybodys cheering it. When asked who got more support between he and Scalabrine, however, the MVP frontrunner answered, Scal. He got some M-V-P cheers, too. Scal gets that everywhere. Hes a good teammate and Im fortunate to have him on my team.

Bulls shooting guard Keith Bogans, a Washington, D.C. area native, has played in several cities during his professional career, but being on a contender makes a ticket to one of his games even more of a prized commodity these days. Its always good to come home and win the way we did today. It gives me bragging rights when I come home in the summer, Bogans told Everybody wants to come to the games, so I just keep it to a minimumimmediate family and a few friendsall that 30 and 40 tickets, Im not doing that anymore.

Gibson limped off the court on two separate occasions, but Thibodeau wasnt concerned. Taj is fine. I think he tweaked his ankle a little bit, but he said he was fine. He went back in.

Rose sympathized with fellow former No. 1 overall draft pick John Wall, also a John Calipari protg. Its definitely hard, just playing through it, said Rose of the Wizards rookie.

His numbers are good, definitely for a rookie and I know that its tough, going from winning all those games, then coming here, not being mentioned with some of the best teams in the NBA. Its tough, man, but hes playing well. Continued Rose: Roses rookie season was a learning experience. This year it is, too, but my rookie year, everything was new. You had to come in, learn how your teammates are, learn an NBA system. It takes a long time to do that and it was hell my rookie year. It was hell, but when you come in, youve got to have a little confidence yourself because guys will take advantage of you if you come in and you dont know what youre doing or it seems like you dont know what youre doing.

Its tough in this league, Ill say, with people that dont have confidence, especially at my position because thats whats going on right now. Its like a point guard league and every night, youve got to be able to come out here and compete against the best Im more comfortable. I think that guys like Keith and everybody, Kurt, made me more comfortable at my position, teaching me certain things on pick-and-rolls, things on plays to put us in a position to win and I have a lot of confidence right now, especially when I play and it has a lot to do with them and the coaching staffI can only imagine what hes going through. Our record wasnt anything like his. We barely got in the playoffs.

Rose also discussed the Bulls current status and postseason possibilities. You have to look at what Miami and Boston are doing. Were in the same little group, where everybodys comparing us and it wouldnt be bad to get that No. 1 spot, said Rose. Teams like the 76ers, Indiana, Charlotte, all those teams are playing good right now, trying to get that spot into the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoffsthe Bucks are right thereknowing that you can play one of those teams, you think about it a little bit.

Saunders holds both the Bulls and Rose in high regard, placing the team in rare air atop the Eastern Conference and Rose in a category of his own. I have them in the top three. I think its them and Miami and Boston, and Orlando, as far as right there, too. I think the big thing is how those guys blend together, now that they have them all and whether over the long haul, their perimeter shooting is going to be enough when they go against Boston and teams that really pack it in, said the Wizards coach. Rose is probably the most improved player in the league, how hes played. I think hes given more to their team than anybody in the league. If I had a vote for MVP, thats the guy that Id pick.

Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at: @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is'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.

Preview: Bulls take on Hawks in preseason tilt on CSN

Preview: Bulls take on Hawks in preseason tilt on CSN

The Bulls battle the Hawks on Thursday night in a preseason game in Omaha, Neb. Catch all the action on CSN, with coverage starting at 7 p.m. Former Creighton Bluejays Doug McDermott (Bulls) and Kyle Korver (Hawks) are expected to play considerable minutes in front of their former fans.

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Tough rotation choices facing Fred Hoiberg as Bulls' opener approaches

Tough rotation choices facing Fred Hoiberg as Bulls' opener approaches

With opening night against the Celtics coming soon, Fred Hoiberg and his staff are dealing with some difficult choices in forming a consistent rotation for the opening weeks of the season.

Injuries are one factor complicating the situation, with top draft pick Denzel Valentine sidelined since the first preseason game because of a sprained ankle and Nikola Mirotic tweaking his back against the Hornets on Monday night.

And then there’s the trade the Bulls completed Monday that brought in former NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams from Milwaukee in exchange for forgotten reserve Tony Snell. There’s no question Carter-Williams brings a much-needed dimension with his ability to provide quality defense at the 1, 2 and 3 positions. The Bulls were hoping Snell could be the guy to provide perimeter defense when Jimmy Butler is on the bench, but Snell wasn’t able to handle the physical nature of the NBA game. It was curious to hear Bucks coach Jason Kidd immediately anoint Snell as the likely starter at shooting guard in Milwaukee, but as Carter-Williams found out, Kidd has been known to sour on players very quickly.

After missing almost all of training camp, it will be interesting to see how quickly Carter-Williams takes on a major role with the Bulls. The minutes MCW plays will likely keep Valentine on the bench, and the Bulls were extremely high on the former Michigan State star, both at the draft and heading into camp. Both players are about the same size with the ability to play multiple positions. Valentine is clearly the better shooter, with Carter-Williams the better defender.

So, how will Hoiberg use the two lanky swingmen, and what will that mean for the playing prospects of backup guards Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant and Spencer Dinwiddie?

My prediction early on is Carter-Williams will get the first crack at the backup point guard spot behind Rajon Rondo, using his 6-foot-6 length to direct the offense and get the ball to shooters like Mirotic and Doug McDermott, with either Butler or Dwyane Wade in the lineup as a second facilitator. Valentine will probably get limited minutes early as the backup shooting guard, with Canaan also used in that role if the Bulls are looking to come from behind with his quick-strike 3-point shooting ability.

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The obvious losers in the MCW trade are Grant and Dinwiddie. The Bulls were pretty excited about acquiring Grant in the Derrick Rose trade with the Knicks since they had a lot of interest in the former Notre Dame lead guard going into the 2015 draft. Grant has played well at times during the preseason but doesn’t have the play-making ability or long-range shooting skills of some of the other candidates for backup guard minutes. It’s a similar story for Dinwiddie, who shined in some of the early preseason games with Valentine out but could be in danger of losing his roster spot after the acquisition of Carter-Williams.

The other major rotation issue for Hoiberg and his staff involves how to get playing time for young bigs Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio. Portis has the higher pedigree as a 2015 first-round draft pick and former Southeastern Conference Player of the Year at Arkansas. He’s also a solid threat from the 3-point line and is capable of scoring points in bunches.

Felicio is a more explosive athlete than Portis and seems a lot more comfortable playing the backup center position behind Robin Lopez. The native Brazilian is quick off his feet and seems to give the team a lift whenever he takes the court, either with a put-back slam or blocked shot. The question for Hoiberg is: How do you find playing time for Lopez, Taj Gibson, Mirotic, Portis and Felicio at the center and power forward spots? Clearly one of those players will be left out, which means either Portis or Felicio could wind up heading to Hoffman Estates to log some minutes with the D-League Windy City Bulls.

If Hoiberg goes with a full 10-player rotation to start the season, it should look something like this: Butler, Wade, Rondo, Lopez and Gibson start the game, with McDermott and MCW likely the first players off the bench. Mirotic, Felicio and either Valentine or Canaan will round out the second unit.

Quality depth is always a good thing in professional sports, and John Paxson and Gar Forman have done an excellent job of giving the coaching staff a variety of options to attack opposing teams. But developing a consistent rotation, where all the players know their roles can be just as important, and that will be a storyline to watch throughout the season.

For more on Carter-Williams and the Bulls’ rotation issues, check out our latest Bulls Talk Podcast. Kendall Gill and Vincent Goodwill join me for some spirited NBA conversation.