'Other' Hornets rookie Rivers has ties to Thibodeau, Chicago

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'Other' Hornets rookie Rivers has ties to Thibodeau, Chicago

If nothing else can be said about Tom Thibodeau, the man is consistent. Prior to the Bulls loss Saturday night to the Hornets, the coach was asked if hed take it easy on New Orleans rookie Austin Rivers, the son of his friend and former boss, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.

Shoot, Thibodeau responded, dragging out the word with a wry smile creeping onto his face. Hes a very gifted player and actually, his floor game has been very, very impressive. Hes dangerous with the ball, gives them a second guy that can break you down off the pick-and-roll.

Hes a great kid, the coach continued. In Boston, he was around the team a lot and he had a lot of confidence and poise, and very comfortable being on the floor against pros, even when he was in high school. So, hes been around the pro game his whole life. I think hes going to be a terrific player.

The younger Rivers was considered a top high-school prospect from an early age, then went on to have a lead role at Duke in his lone college season before being picked by the Hornets in the lottery. Despite being overshadowed by top overall pick Anthony Davis, the scoring combo guard has attracted plenty of attention.

Doc starred for Proviso East High School in nearby Maywood, Ill., before going to Marquette, then having a stellar NBA career and moving on to the coaching ranks. While Austin was raised in Orlando, where Doc coached the Magic, he still has plenty of ties to Chicago, just like teammate and Windy City native Davis, who missed Saturdays contest after suffering a concussion Friday.

It was amazing. I was here a couple years ago, for the McDonalds high school All-American game and Ive just been around here all my life because this is where my familys fromI had like eight relatives in the stands tonightso it was good to come out here and play well, and more importantly, get a win. This was a back-to-back game, on the road versus the Bulls. That shows what were capable of and how good we can be, Rivers said afterwards. Its tough, but we dont have Eric Gordon, the Hornets injured shooting guard, who was on the bench in street clothes after visiting a Chicago knee specialist or Ant. When you dont have two guys like that with you, it makes it tough.

I knew it was going to be tough and every point that I got tonight was tough. I had to work for it, continued the rookie, who scored nine points against Thibodeaus defense, something hes watched from afar for years. I thought we won the game today with our defense. To hold the Bulls, who execute really good in Chicago, to 82 points, thats pretty good.

Its getting better and better. If you look at my first game to my second game to tonight, I think Im getting better and better, and Ill continue to do that just because Ill be smarter. Its been a blast, he went on to say. For us to hold the Bulls to 82 points in Chicago off a back-to-back game, it shows our defensive capability and when we play that way, our offense will always be fine. We could be having an off night, but if we play defense like that, we still can win.

Its an adjustment and tonight I didnt shoot it my bestI havent shot the ball well, but its only been three games.

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.