The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Cavs

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Cavs

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010
12:38 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
1. Bulls center Joakim Noah concurred with his coach's opinion about Wednesday's game.

"The Bulls are just trying to get a win. It's an important game for us. They're still in our division and they're very capable. They have a lot of offensive firepower and they're very well-coached. We've just got to come with the right energy and the right focus," Noah told before the team's shootaround Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena. "The goal is always the same. It's to try to win a basketball game. That's what we're here to do and we've got to come with the right mindset and get ready to play."

2. Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer spent his first two NBA seasons in Cleveland after the Cavaliers selected him in the second round of the 2002 NBA Draft. Prior to Wednesday's shootaround, Boozer spoke to about his favorite memories of his experience in Cleveland.

"Just getting drafted. Sitting there and got that phone call from Cleveland that they were going to draft me. I actually played for Bulls reserve point guard John's Lucas III dad former NBA player and coach John Lucas. That's how I know 'Luke' so good. His dad drafted me and I had chance to come here and get to the NBA, so I've always got great memories here and a great level of respect for the organization," said Boozer. "I wanted to prove to everybody that passed me up in the first round that I was good enough to be at this level and I still wear that chip on my shoulder today, to be honest with you. I was proud that the Cavs drafted me. They gave me an opportunity to get down, so for me, I took the pride every night to prove that I was good enough to be here."

3. Thibodeau's opposing coach in the matchup, Byron Scott, has a reputation for turning moribund squads around as a head coach.

"To me, he's an excellent coach. He prepares his team well, they always play hard, they play unselfishly and they'll get better as the season goes along," said Thibodeau of Magic Johnson's former backcourt mate with the Showtime-era Lakers, who took the lowly New Jersey Nets to two NBA Finals with Jason Kidd at point guard and briefly made the New Orleans Hornets a Western Conference contender with Chris Paul running the show.
4. Thibodeau highlighted third-year power forward Hickson as a player to be watched carefully.

"He's got great quickness at his position, so his reaction to the ball is excellent. He can face up, he can drive the ball hard, he's got a good low-post game, get to the jump hook. If he gets deep post position on you, he can hurt you and he's quick -- he can out-quick people -- so you've got to be down and ready on the catch. He's getting better and better as a young player," said Thibodeau. Averaging 11.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his first season as a full-time starter -- he started in Shaquille O'Neal's absence and prior to Cleveland's trade deadline acquisition of Antawn Jamison, but was demoted prior to the playoffs, a questionable move since the Cavs' front office was loath to include him in a potential trade for Amar'e Stoudemire -- Hickson is regarded as the team's player with the best long-term potential, although his rebounding and defense has been criticized by new coach Scott.

5. Don't forget to follow me 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.

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NEW ORLEANS—The trade talk is swirling and unavoidable, as it’ll be a topic of discussion through All-Star weekend as Jimmy Butler enters his third All-Star weekend and first as a starter.

Certainly not the only one who has to deal with such a thing, as Carmelo Anthony has a bigger mess on his hands with the Knicks and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins is always mentioned as being in the periphery of changing addresses.

In his true politically-correct mode, Butler couldn’t decide if the constant trade talk was a compliment, a distraction or none of the above.

“I don’t know. I think that as long as somebody is reading, talking about something it makes for a great story,” Butler said at All-Star availability in New Orleans Friday afternoon. “I don’t know if I deserve to be traded? I don’t know. It’s not my job. It’s my job to play basketball to the best of my abilities.”

He took slight umbrage to the notion that the Bulls were a better team when Butler got there and before he emerged as an All-Star player compared to them hovering around .500 for the last two seasons.

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“So I should get worse and the team will be better?” he queried.

But there is a big school of thought that the return on a Butler trade will be better for the Bulls in the long run, as if he’s holding the development of the franchise back with his play.

The Boston Celtics are Butler’s biggest suitor but certainly haven’t put all their resources to the center of the table, leaving Butler dangling in a sense. A reporter who worked for the Celtics brought up the emergence of Isaiah Thomas, the NBA’s leading scorer, and called Thomas “a teammate” of Butler’s.

Knowing how the comment would be taken if it wasn’t corrected, Butler said Thomas was his teammate “this weekend” and not trying to speak any speculation into existence.

Although he spoke glowingly of Thomas when prompted, he wasn’t going to give any conversation any more real estate than necessary. He hears enough trade talk on the regular and it’s hard for even the best person to tune it out.

“I don’t pay attention to it. Obviously it comes up. Control what you can control,” Butler said. “You can’t control what people write, what people think should happen. Majority of the time, it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it does, majority of the time it doesn’t.”