Thibs dismisses Coach of Year talk, touts Rose

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Thibs dismisses Coach of Year talk, touts Rose

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 10:37 a.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was interviewed on Comcast SportsNet's "The Dan Patrick Show" Wednesday morning and while he backed away from NBA Coach of the Year talk, he did proclaim--at least initially--the Bulls to be the best team in the Eastern Conference.

When asked by Patrick, the show's host, Thibodeau calmly replied, "I believe we're there now."

However, it seemed that the first-year Bulls head coach was merely referring to the team's record, as Tuesday night's home win over Washington--the team's seventh consecutive victory and 12th straight at the United Center--gave the Bulls sole possession of first place in the East.

"I don't know if we're the best team. Our record says right now we are," Thibodeau later said. "There's a lot of work to be done and we're not complete."

READ: Short-handed Bulls nab sole possession of first

The ever-diligent strategist quipped to Patrick that he does "a little bit" of worrying, dismissed any premature Coach of the Year praise by stating, "I don't even want to think about stuff like that."

Thibodeau's answer was similar when he was asked about any added pressure after the recent statements of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan that team could win four and six NBA titles, respectively.

"We don't worry about any of that stuff. We don't want to skip any steps," the coach responded. "If you do the right things every day...the results will take care of themselves."

He was a bit more expansive when discussing the development of league MVP frontrunner Derrick Rose's game.

"He's been great all year from the start," praised Thibodeau. "What you see in the game is what you see in practice."

"He works on all aspects of his game," he continued. "He's challenged himself to be a great complete player."

"This season, he's taken it to another level because he's taken it upon himself to lift the other players on his team."

Patrick, who struggled with the pronunciation of Thibodeau's last name--as most do with "Thibs"--also queried the coach about the "goofy" side of Bulls center Joakim Noah, who missed Tuesday's win due to illness.

WATCH: Sam & Sam, Aggrey talks with Bulls.com's Sam Smith

"He's a character," said Thibodeau, who added the last time Noah made him laugh was "the last time I saw him."

"He's had a tough year with the injuries and now he's sick, but he's done a great job for us."

Thibodeau also discussed his tutelage under Boston head coach Doc Rivers and the prospect of facing the Celtics in the postseason.

"I've been very fortunate to be under a lot of my great coaches in my career," said Thibodeau. "The experience in Boston was great for me because it was at a championship level."

"I think once you get to the playoffs, you're not going to get around people; you have to go through them," he continued. "If we face them, we face them and we'll look forward to it."

"They've changed quite a bit. "It's not the same team...but they're going to be a tough opponent for anybody."

READ: Bulls bench playing major role in recent success

Patrick, who compared Thibodeau's speaking voice to "a young Phil Jackson," also asked Thibodeau about his involvement with last summer's recruitment of LeBron James.

"Helping the Bulls acquire James never came up in the hiring process; Thibodeau and James are represented by the same agency," said Thibodeau. "To me, they all earned the right to be free agents and choose wherever they want to go."

"It worked out well for us," he added. "I don't think anybody could direct LeBron and tell him where he wanted to go."

Thibodeau was also asked about the Bulls' early-season trade discussions regarding Carmelo Anthony.

"I know our management team had conversations, but that didn't work out either," he said. "I'm happy with the group of guys that we have."

The coach did, however, rebut Patrick's point that Anthony would have been a bad fit because of the perception that he's a poor defender.

"Listen, great players can fit in anywhere," Thibodeau noted. "Sometimes players can change."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com'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.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks win, Jimmy Butler starts All-Star Game

Here are some of Sunday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

What Joe Maddon wants to see next from Javier Baez

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

Fire score five goals for fourth preseason win

Simeon beats rival Morgan Park for city championship

Former Northwestern football player Torri Stuckey now focuses on helping others

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

Jimmy Butler: 'Hopefully I’m not going to get traded'

NEW ORLEANS — Every All-Star isn’t created equal, even by the slimmest of margins as the best 24 NBA players take their turn on the midseason stage.

So Jimmy Butler being announced among the first five as an All-Star starter had to represent some form of validation, now that he’s not a novice at the whole experience and he’s able to go through the motions of the hectic weekend without breaking much of a sweat.

But despite being a three-time All-Star and routinely mentioned as one of the game’s top 15 players or even top 10, he can’t shake the trade rumors that have seemed to follow him since this time last season.

As he finished up his All-Star experience at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, clarity was nowhere to be found—although heading to some tropical island for a couple days to actually unwind with clear water and warm air seemed to be the best therapy if he’s stressed by the uncertainty of the next few days.

“What’s Thursday? Oh, trade deadline,” Butler said. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don’t worry about it. It don’t bother or scare me none.”

“Hopefully I’m not going to get traded but I don’t know. I don’t control that. Control what I can control, like going on vacation.”

Surely it has to be frustrating for a guy who’s elevated his game yet again, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals for the Bulls in 51 games. But he refuses to let it damper his All-Star spirits, playing with some of the best players in the world and a few guys he calls friends, like DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Durant.

“Not for me,” said Butler of the potential stress. “Not saying I’m untradeable but I don’t think about that. If I’m not in a Bulls uniform, I’ll give you a hug and say goodbye to you.”

Moments after Butler made his statement in the media room, the floodgates opened for the trade market as fellow Olympian DeMarcus Cousins was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans for what seemed to be mere fodder, pennies on the dollar for the most talented center in the NBA.

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

While Cousins is far more of a handful than Butler could be, the trade almost signals a consistent truth that always bears repeating—that short of a select few, anybody can be traded.

Even a franchise altering talent like Cousins, who was traded to the city he was physically in for All-Star weekend, and included in the package of players was a guy who hit him in the groin last week (Buddy Hield), resulting in a Cousins outburst and ejection.

Butler has made his name with the Bulls, although not necessarily on the All-Star stage, a player who values defense and doesn’t have as much flash as some of the game’s shinier players.

With a six-point outing in 20 minutes, Butler was an on-court afterthought despite being a starter for the first time.

“Six? Should’ve gone for eight,” he sarcastically deadpanned.

In a relatively jovial mood through the weekend, Butler joked about the talk surrounding him and tried to brush it off as mere chatter as opposed to the franchise not seeing enough in him to make a firm commitment for the long-term, as the Boston Celtics are always hovering.

League sources expect the Celtics to engage the Bulls in conversations for the next few days, but nobody has a great feel for what either side is truly looking for.

But as Butler insisted, he’s only controlling what he can control, which is making himself a fixture for All-Star games to come as opposed to some of the first-timers who don’t know if they’ll get back here again.

“I think I got two underneath my belt,” Butler said. “I know what they’re feeling the first time, It’s so surreal like maybe I do belong here. That’s how I was thinking. Now it’s how do I get here every year? I think that’s the fun part, that’s the challenge. A lot of those guys have done it 10-plus years, hopefully I’m one.”

The only question seems to be, which uniform will it be in because the crazy season has begun.