Chicago Sun-Times

September 2008 Archives

No looking back for Del Negro

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New Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro is not much interested in what went on through last season, an often soap opera-like 33-49 campaign which cost head coach Scott Skiles and Jim Boylan, the ensuing interim head coach, their jobs.
``I don't want to judge what things happened in the past,'' Del Negro said. ``To me, it's irrelevent. What's relevent to me is how [the players] are responding now; what they're mindset is and what they're focus is now.''
Too often last season players became focused more on individual stats and minutes rather than team goals and wins.
``I think we have good character guys on this team,'' Del Negro said. ``Obviously, it's a long season. There's a lot of adversity that happens. I have faith in not only our younger guys, but our veteran guys to step up and take ownership and not let those things happen and even become an issue. That's my job and I won't stand for that. The players know that. They're going to work hard and play hard, or they won't be out there.''
Del Negro down-played what was his first ever practice as a head coach at any level Tuesday when he opened the Bulls training camp.
``Not really,'' Del Negro said when asked if he stopped to consider the moment. ``To me it's basketball. I have a lot of confidence in my staff. We've prepared really well. We're organized. We have a lot of experience and I'm going to use those guys. I thought it went well for a first practice, but it is a first practice. So let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's a lot of work to do. Guys know it and we'll monitor different injuries and different conditions we have. Hopefully, we'll stay fairly healthy in training camp and keep on building.''

Gordon vows not to be a problem

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Personally, I think Ben Gordon will be making a huge mistake if he passes on the long-term deal the Bulls have offered him (believed to be approaching $58 million over six years) to sign the one-year, $6.4 million qualifying offer, but the fifth-year guard made it clear Monday night that he won't be a problem regardless of whether he gets the kind of contract he believes he deserves.

The deadline for Gordon to accept the qualifying offer is Wednesday, so he said he will wait until then before making a final decision.

Since he is unsigned, Gordon could have skipped Monday night's media day and Tuesday's two practice sessions. But he showed up at the Berto Center Monday night and said he will be at both practices Tuesday.

Of course, Gordon could sign either deal in time to get on the court for the first practice, but since the sides are still talking, he believes it prudent to wait.

"That's pretty much the deadline I've set for myself," he said. "That's when I plan on making my decision. I'll wait until Wednesday."

When it was suggested that some believe he might cause problems if he doesn't get the deal he wants, Gordon seemed a bit offended.

"Why would anybody get that impression?" he said. "One of the things I've learned in the NBA is that you can't control what anybody thinks. All I can do is continue to be professional, and that's why I'm here today, that's why I'll be in practice tomorrow with all my teammates, even if I'm not going to practice.
"The people who really understand me see what kind of a person I am."

Noah ready to go

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In the summer before his rookie season, Joakim Noah was prevented from lifting weights by a shoulder injury. But this summer, he was able to return to the weight room and said his focus was on getting stronger.

"Yeah, definitely, knowing that I was going to play more at the center position this year," he said. "I put on 10 pounds and lifted a lot of weights."

Although Noah said he was excited to get started when the Bulls begin training camp on Tuesday, he wasn't willing to announce any goals for this season.

"I don't want to put too many expectations on myself," he said. "I just need to work hard and try to affect winning. That's all I want to expect from myself: work hard and affect winning."

Carol Slezak caught up with Dwyane Wade recently, and here's what Wade said about Ben Gordon.

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