Thibodeau named Coach of the Month for April

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Thibodeau named Coach of the Month for April

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Posted: 2:20 p.m. Updated: 6:00 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

For the second consecutive month, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was named the Eastern Conferences coach of the month.

That means we have a good team, so Im excited about that, Thibodeau, who tied Paul Westphals record for most regular-season wins for a first-year NBA head coach with 62 after Wednesday's home victory over New Jersey, said after Thursdays practice at the Berto Center.

Thibodeau is keeping up his usual practice of not being affected by any outside influences, as reflected to his reaction when queried about Pacers' leading scorer Danny Grangers comments about the Bulls not having many options beyond All-Star point guard Derrick Rose. Rose was gone by the time reporters were allowed on the practice floor; another engagement, a campaign rally with President Barack Obama Thursday evening, took precedence.

I dont concern myself with what Danny Granger says, said Thibodeau. If you need something like that to get motivated for the playoffs, somethings wrong with you.

Thibodeau led the Bulls to an 8-0 record in their truncated April slate, part of the teams nine-game season-ending winning streak as they prepare for Saturdays playoff opener against Indiana. Along with the NBA Coach of the Year award favorite, who guided Chicago to the leagues best overall record, resulting in home-court advantage throughout the postseason for the Bulls, Portlands Nate McMillan was honored in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, Thibodeau revealed that Bulls head trainer Fred Tedeschi cleared Ronnie Brewer to play in Saturday afternoons Game 1 after the swingman sat out Wednesday due to the sprained thumb he suffered Tuesday in New York.

Today was a light day. We just tried to prepare for Indiana, but I came early, got some shots up. I handed the ball a little bit, said Brewer. Its a little sore, but youve got to play through pain and thats what I tend to do.

Its playoff basketball and I wasnt going to miss it for anything, added the Bulls leader in steals. Come Game 1, youll see me diving on the floor, still trying to get in the passing lanes, working the baseline, doing the things that Ive done the entire year and if theres anything I can do this year to help this team, Im willing to do it.

Brewer joked about the amount of detail Thibodeau put into the scouting report for the Pacers, Chicgos first-round opponent.

If you all could see the playbook that we had at the beginning of the year, its the same thickness and thats just for one team, he quipped, adding that he was excited about Thibodeaus intense preparation.

Its like college, all-your-classes thick, so it was pretty funny when I saw it, he continued. I guess were going to be hitting our books tonight.

Turning serious, Brewer discussed how the Bulls would handle being the hunted after virtually floating under the radar for much of the season.

Were going to get everyones best shot. Were going to have a bullseye on our eye and our front, if you want to put it like that, explained Brewer. We won games because of the preparation that we had in practice and leading up to the games.

The fact that the Bulls will be playing the only Central Division team that defeated them all season will be a motivating factoralthough Brewer also insisted Grangers opinion didnt matter to the teamwith the ever-focused squad.

Were trying to make history here and going undefeated in our division would have been huge for us, said Brewer. We still remember that game and were still holding a chip on our shoulder.

Catch the Bulls' playoff opener against the Pacers on Saturday on Comcast SportsNet with coverage starting at 11:30 a.m.

Fred Hoiberg, Jimmy Butler rave about Rajon Rondo's voice, basketball IQ

Fred Hoiberg, Jimmy Butler rave about Rajon Rondo's voice, basketball IQ

With one Bulls practice in the books and one more to go in the night session, it was evident from the primary parties that Rajon Rondo has earned instant trust and credibility with his play.

Or more pointedly, his brain and his mouth.

“He’s got the best voice on the team,” head coach Fred Hoiberg said. “When you have point guard out there who can get you into something and talk the way he does, that sets the tone for everybody.”

Apparently the ultra-intelligent point guard has been a galvanizing force since the team starting convening last month for informal workouts, as Hoiberg believes Rondo has grasped his system instantly and brought some of the younger teammates along.

“The biggest thing that I’ve been most impressed with with Rajon is the minute he stepped on this floor when he got back here in August is he pulled everybody together,” Hoiberg said. “If you have a guy not only offensively getting you into something but defensively making sure guys are pointing and talking and making sure guys are pointing and talking and getting back and matched up in transition, that’s where it starts. He’s been here. He’s been great. He’s a guy who you can watch film with in September before we got rolling here in camp. He got us off to a great start.”

Needing Rondo to be vocal will be a plus for Hoiberg considering the coach’s soft-spoken approach, and those two being on one accord will be a key considering Rondo’s history with coaches over time.

Rondo’s intelligence, which most consider to be genius-like, has already come in handy and will help with the perimeter adjustment of fitting himself, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade together.

“Like I always say, when you put good basketball players out there on the floor you just go,” Butler said. “Everything just falls into place, falls into line. You don’t have to worry about too much of anything. And with him he’s an incredible leader. He just wants everybody to be successful. He’s going to put you in position to be just that.”

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Rondo has led the league in assists three times and his career 8.7 assists-per-game average is third among active players behind Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers) and John Wall (Washington Wizards).

“He has been around the league a long time,” Hoiberg said. “He studies the league. If he sees a small guy guarding Jimmy, he’s going to find a way to get him the ball on the block. The more you can have those guys recognizing things on the floor---if Robin Lopez is coming down and I have to yell, ‘Get the ball to Robin’ then we have issues -- and Rondo obviously will be a big help with that.”

So yeah, he’ll have the ball in his hands plenty.

“He’s super-smart. He really sees things before they even develop out there on the basketball floor, so it makes everybody’s job a lot easier," Butler said. "And not only is he leading the team on offense, but he’s constantly talking on defense, so he’s letting everybody know where they have to be. Wade’s the same way, so he makes everybody’s job easier as well, and you learn from that, so you just follow suit for the most part.’’

Butler joked that there will often be times where a Rondo pass zigs while he’ll be zagging early in camp while chemistry is developing, saying “I’m sorry, Rajon, because you’re going to definitely get a turnover from me one game,” and that he won’t be opposed to Rondo getting on him or anybody else in the meantime.

“I’m good with that,” Butler said. “I’ll challenge him right back if I see something that he’s not doing correctly. I want him to hold me accountable, me hold him accountable, everybody holding everybody accountable, because then everybody is going to learn from their mistakes and not to it again.”

Stan Bowman mum on Artemi Panarin contract talks

Stan Bowman mum on Artemi Panarin contract talks

In July, when asked how contract talks were going with star forward Artemi Panarin, general manager Stan Bowman said he wouldn’t negotiate through the media.

He reiterated that on Tuesday.

“Obviously Artemi's a big part of our team. We're excited for the season he had. We're looking forward to him building on that as well. Then the negotiations will be what they are between his agent and myself,” I respect Tom [Lynn, Panarin’s agent]. He's a very knowledgeable guy, and Artemi put a lot of faith in him. And Tom and I will work to get something done.”

Panarin is entering the final year of his current contract and is coming off a monster rookie season in which he recorded 77 points and took home the Calder Trophy. Panarin took home plenty of bonus money thanks to that season, too.

The 24-year-old could certainly command a hefty price, which would once again be a major concern to the cash-strapped Blackhawks. The salary cap is at $73 million for this season, a small increase from 2015-16 ($71.4 million). Factor in another likely small increase next season and the large contracts the Blackhawks are already doling out – Brent Seabrook’s eight-year deal with a cap hit of $6.875 kicks in this season – and could Panarin be another one that gets away?

But Bowman remains optimistic.

“We're always confident,” he said. “You go into a negotiation expecting to get a deal done. That's the way I've been in the past and that's the way I am now.”