Chicago Bulls

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.

If the Bulls buy out Dwyane Wade, the Heat seem like they'd welcome him back

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USA TODAY

If the Bulls buy out Dwyane Wade, the Heat seem like they'd welcome him back

The Bulls are in complete rebuild mode, and that means they have little use for 35-year-old Dwyane Wade.

ESPN's Nick Friedell reported last week that it's a matter of when - not if - the Bulls will buy out Wade. The future Hall of Famer is due $24 million this upcoming season, but how much Wade receives in a potential buyout could hold things up in the short-term.

The question then becomes: where would Wade land after he passes through waivers and becomes a free agent?

A potential destination is joining good friend LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Wade could also consider going back to the Miami Heat, where he spent the first 13 years of his NBA career.

And if he did, budding star Hassan Whiteside says the team would welcome back Wade with open arms.

"It'd be great," Whiteside told the Sun Sentinel. "It's a three-time NBA champion coming back, coming in and really helping a team out. It would be great."

Stay tuned, but it seems like a Wade-to-Miami reunion is a real possibility.

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

2018 draft class is loaded at the top

Quietly, you can bet Bulls' front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman had a little celebration after hearing that prep star Marvin Bagley III was going to graduate from high school early and enroll at Duke for the 2017-18 season, making him eligible for the 2018 draft.

Bagley, a 6'11 power forward from Los Angeles, is being compared to longtime NBA star Chris Bosh, right down to his smooth left-handed shooting touch. Bagley averaged 24.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and two blocked shots during his junior season for Sierra Canyon H.S. He's also fared well against NBA competition at the highly-regarded Drew League in L.A. this summer. Bagley’s physical tools are off the charts, and you can count on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski preparing him well for life in the NBA.

Most NBA scouts and execs expect the No. 1 overall pick to come down to either Bagley or Michael Porter Jr., who will play his one season of college basketball at Missouri. The 6'10 Porter averaged an amazing 34.8 points and 13.8 rebounds last season against Seattle high school competition. He's considered a more dynamic scorer than Bagley with more range on his jump shot. Some scouts believe he could quickly develop into one of the league's elite players with Kevin Durant-type length and shooting ability at the small forward position.

International swingman Luka Doncic is also highly coveted by NBA teams. The 6'8 swingman has excellent shooting range, and is also capable of creating his own shot with outstanding ball-handling ability. Forget the stereotype of European players being mechanical and unable to compete athletically, Doncic is capable of being an 18-20 point scorer in the NBA and should go in the top five next June. He's considered one of the best international prospects in the last decade.

Two 7-footers also will hear their names called early on draft night 2018. University of Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton averaged 19.8 points and 12 rebounds in high school last season, while Texas freshman center Mohamed Bomba has an incredible 7-foot-9 wingspan. Sure, the NBA has moved away from the traditional low post center, but teams are still looking to acquire agile big men like Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. Depending on how they fare against top level college competition, Ayton and Bomba could round out the top five.

Other names to watch in the lottery portion of next year's draft include Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams, Michigan State's forward duo of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., and the latest one-and-dones from John Calipari's Kentucky program, center Nick Richards and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

In case you missed it, ESPN released its preseason win total expectations for the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, and the Bulls were dead last with a projected record of 26-56. Now, I'm not sure a team with veterans Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez and the three young players acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota will be quite that bad, but if you're going to rebuild, the idea is to get the best draft pick possible, and the Bulls appear to be on course for a top-five selection depending on how the lottery falls.

If the Bulls are able to land an elite talent like Porter Jr., Bagley III or Doncic in the draft, then use their $40-50 million in cap space to land a couple of quality free agents, the rebuild might not be as painful as some fans are fearing.

Last dance for LeBron in Cleveland?

Well-connected NBA writer Chris Sheridan dropped this bomb on Twitter Wednesday, quoting an NBA source, "This will be LeBron's final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair." Don’t forget, Sheridan was the first national writer to report James was going to leave Miami to go back to Cleveland in 2014, so his reports definitely warrant a little extra attention.

Okay, we've already heard countless rumors about James planning to join the Lakers after next season. He's built a mansion in Brentwood, is close with Magic Johnson and will be able to bring another superstar with him to L.A. like Paul George or Russell Westbrook. Plus, the Lakers have a number of talented young players in place like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. and a promising coach in Luke Walton.

Add in the likelihood Kyrie Irving will be traded before training camp opens and LeBron's long-standing poor relationship with Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert, and you have the perfect formula for another James' free agent decision next July. Although, I'm not sure why LeBron would want to go West, where Golden State is positioned to dominate the league for another five seasons, with strong challengers like the Rockets and Spurs still in place. 

But if we've learned anything from watching James over the years, he's clearly a man who wants to align the odds in his favor. So don't rule out anything when it comes to James' free agent decision. If the Cavs make a home run trade for Irving, maybe LeBron decided to plays out his career in his home state. If not, look for him to find a team with the cap space to bring in another top star to run with him.

Back in 2010, the Bulls carved out the cap space to add two max contract stars, but lost out to Pat Riley in Miami. This time around they won't be on James' July travel itinerary.

One thing we know for sure. Where LeBron plays in 2018 will be the number one story throughout the NBA season.