Chicago Sun-Times

October 2010 Archives

Portland a big test for Bulls

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The Bulls were able to survive a horrid first half to rally for victory against the Detroit Pistons in the home opener on Saturday, but they'll have to have a more consistent effort to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

The Blazers are off to a 3-0 start and are a talented team with Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby and Andre Miller leading the way.

"They have everything," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of the Blazers. "They have good size upfront, Camby is a great defensive player and he anchors their defense, Roy is a do-everything type of guard, and then when you look at a guy like Andre Miller, he's very problematic at the point because of things he can do."

Bulls healthy; Pistons to miss Bynum

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With the exception of Carlos Boozer (broken hand), the Bulls will have all players available for tonight's home opener against the Detroit Pistons at the United Center.

The starting lineup will be the same as opening night with Derrick Rose and Keith Bogans in the backcourt, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson at forward and Joakim Noah at center. The big question is which reserves coach Tom Thibodeau. Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Kurt Thomas are locks. Omer Asik may not see any action if the Pistons go small for much of the game as expected.

Detroit will be without backup point guard Will Bynum, who has a hamstring injury.

Boozer can't wait to return

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The reality of starting the season on the sidelines hit Carlos Boozer this morning as the Bulls arrived for shootaround at the Oklahoma City Arena in advance of tonight's opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Boozer, of course, suffered a broken right hand in a home accident during the first week of training camp and still is roughly a month away from being able to return to the court.

"It's one of those things where it was a great summer, a lot of excitement for our team and not to be able to celebrate with my team and open against Oklahoma City is gonna be tough," Boozer said. "But I'll do a good job of being a good coach, a good teammate, a good cheerleader and I'm looking forward to seeing us play. I think we have a lot of character and we'll show a lot of it tonight."

The injury required surgery and Boozer is scheduled to get the cast removed next week. At that point, he'll begin a rehabilitation program and the process of making it back to the court.

No target date has been established just yet, but Boozer said getting the cast removed is a significant step in his mind.

"Absolutely," he said. "Right now, I've just been changing the colors of the cast. I get it cut off on Tuesday. I'm excited about that. Then they'll take the pins out, put it in a soft cast for four or five days and then I can start attacking my rehab. I'll work my butt off doing my rehab so I can get back.

"The one thing I've been able to do is stay in shape. I've been able to lift and do conditioning and all that kind of stuff. I just haven't been able to do anything with my hand."

Van Gundy to call Thibodeau debut

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- As coach of the visiting team, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can expect a rude welcome when he makes his head-coaching debut tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oklahoma City Arena.

But Thibodeau can expect a much warmer reception on the national broadcast of the game on ESPN from analyst Jeff Van Gundy. Thibodeau worked as an assistant under Van Gundy with the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.

"He's been a mentor, a friend, all of those things," Thibodeau said of Van Gundy. "It's great to have him here."

On the morning of his debut, Thibodeau seemed calm before the Bulls' shootaround.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "We have a great group, we're working hard and this will be a great test for us."

A few Bulls predictions

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On the eve of the Bulls' regular-season opener, here are my predictions about what will happen this season:

WINS -- 48
If Carlos Boozer was healthy at the start, my number would be around 52, but I think the Bulls will drop a few more games early as Boozer misses the toughest stretch of the schedule.

The Bulls will battle the Milwaukee Bucks for the top spot in the division and I believe the Bulls will finish a couple of games ahead of the Bucks.

The top three teams (in no specific order) will be the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. The Bulls should be able to be the best of the second-tier teams, battling the Bucks and Atlanta Hawks for the last home-court advantage spot.

PLAYOFFS -- Second round
If the Bulls finish fourth, I see them advancing to the second round, but that's as far as they get. They're just not ready to compete with the Celtics, Heat and Magic right now.

I also predict that Derrick Rose will be an All-Star for a second straight season, but he will be the Bulls' only representative for the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

Noah returns to practice

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After sitting out four days and the final two preseason games, Bulls center Joakim Noah was back at practice on Sunday. He did admit that being mostly inactive did affect his conditioning.

"[His conditioning is] not great, but it's OK," Noah said. "I got through it. I'm not 100 percent, but I'm feeling better and we've got a couple of days, so I'm very excited for the season to start."

With the return of Noah, coach Tom Thibodeau had a full compliment of players - minus Carlos Boozer (broken hand) -- for the first time in over a week. Kyle Korver (sore left ankle) and Taj Gibson (sore right heel) also practiced on Sunday.

Korver back; Noah still out

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Kyle Korver, who missed Wednesday's game at Toronto with a cyst in his left ankle, will return tonight when the Bulls host the Indiana Pacers in the preseason finale. But center Joakim Noah will miss his second straight with the flu.

"He's feeling a lot better, so hopefully it won't be a problem," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of Noah. "But I am concerned that he's missing games."

Bulls trim roster to 13

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The Bulls trimmed their roster to 13 on Thursday by waiving John Lucas III, former Illinois star Roger Powell and Kyle Weaver.

The Bulls waiving both Lucas and Weaver was a bit of a surprise because they were battling for the third point guard spot behind Derrick Rose and C.J. Watson. Look for the Bulls to keep an eye on the waiver wire over the next few days and possibly grab a point guard as other teams trim their rosters.

Bulls hope to get Korver, Noah back Friday

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The Bulls didn't practice Thursday, but Kyle Korver did worked out and reported improvement in his tender left ankle. If he doesn't experience any problems at the morning shootaround, Korver is hoping to play when the Bulls conclude the preseason against the Indiana Pacers at the United Center.

Center Joakim Noah, who also didn't play Wednesday at Toronto with flu-like symptoms, didn't attend the team's Tipoff Luncheon Thursday at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, but coach Tom Thibodeau is hopeful Noah will feel well enough to play against the Pacers.

Noah, Korver out vs. Raptors

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TORONTO -- Kyle Korver (sore left ankle) and Joakim Noah (flu) won't play tonight when the Bulls play the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.

Korver has missed the previous two days of practice because of a cyst that caused the soreness.

Noah said he has been feeling ill for a while and things worsened. Rookie Omir Asik will start at center in Noah's place.

Korver, Bogans sit out practice

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Kyle Korver sat out practice Tuesday with a cyst on his left ankle and Keith Bogans missed about half of the workout with tightness in his back.

Both players will travel with the team to Toronto and it won't be decided until just before game-time Wednesday night if either will play against the Raptors.

Bogans has been starting at shooting guard throughout the preseason. If he's not able to go, Ronnie Brewer will start.

Gibson returns to practice

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Taj Gibson returned to practice Monday feeling no ill effects from the sore right heel that caused him to miss two games over the weekend.

"I'm feeling good," he said afterward. "The training staff was making sure I don't re-aggravate it, so they made me sit out those last two games.

"I practiced pretty hard today after a tough loss to the Magic. I just want to help the team. We have a long schedule ahead of us. I'm just happy to be back."

Barring any setbacks, Gibson will play in the Bulls' final two preseason games this week, Wednesday at Toronto and Friday against the Indiana Pacers at the United Center.

Gibson to sit out vs. Mavs

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Taj Gibson won't play tonight when the Bulls host the Dallas Mavericks because of a sore right heel. Gibson has been starting at power forward in the absence of Carlos Boozer.

Without Gibson, the Bulls will start their Twin Towers tandem upfront, with Joakim Noah shifting to power forward and rookie Omer Asik starting at center.

Brewer still doing fine

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After playing 10 minutes Tuesday night in his first action in the preseason, swingman Ronnie Brewer is experiencing no problems with his right hamstring.

"Each day, we're just gonna see how he's doing," coach Tom Thibodeau said following Thursday's practice session. "He practiced well today, he's not having any discomfort, so we'll increase his workload each day."

Thibodeau said if Brewer continues to have no issues his minutes will increase for Friday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks in the United Center.

Boozer: Report of investigation 'completely false'

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Just like coach Tom Thibodeau the day before, Carlos Boozer was dismissive of a New York Daily News report over the weekend saying the Bulls were looking into whether the power forward really broke his right hand by tripping over a bag in his home.

"Completely false, completely false," Boozer said Tuesday. "The guy was trying to create a story out of no story. Horrible reporting. Obviously, you want to get your facts right before you decide to write something that's not true.

"Horrible report and my Bulls are behind me and my teammates are behind me. For me, it's disgusting when a reporter writes something that's not true."

Bulls not investigating Boozer

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There was a report out of New York on Sunday saying that the Bulls are investigating whether Carlos Boozer really broke his right hand by tripping over a bag in his home on Oct. 2.

According to a team source, there is no investigation.

"From what I understand, there's nothing to it," coach Tom Thibodeau said of the report. "I spoke to [general manager] Gar [Forman on Sunday]. The team's not looking into anything. He tripped over a bag and he got hurt. It's a non-issue."

To be honest, there's no way the team could investigate the matter. If Boozer didn't injure himself in the manner he said and was alone at home when it happened, who exactly would the team interview.

If he did it in public, news of the incident would have leaked out by now.

Return of Capt. Kirk strange for Rose

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The Bulls return home Friday night for their first home game of the preseason, and they'll be a familiar face on the opposing team as Kirk Hinrich, now of the Washington Wizards, faces his former team for the first time since being traded back in June.

"Kirky, it's going to be strange going against him," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said. "He was a guy when I first came in put me under his wing, showed me a lot of things and was a good vet to me. For me to go against him, it's gonna be kind of weird, but it's the NBA."

Light moment at start of Bulls-Mavs game

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On the Mavericks' first offensive possession Thursday night, the Bulls' Taj Gibson was called for a foul, which caused coach Tom Thibodeau to get up and voice his displeasure.

Referee Monty McCutchen turned around and said: "At least say hello as a head coach first before you start yelling. Congratulations. Now you can start yelling."

Bulls waive Richard

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The Bulls trimmed the roster to 16 Wednesday by waiving forward Chris Richard.

With the team's front-court depth, their simply isn't room for Richard on the roster that will enter the regular season. By cutting him now, there's a chance he can hook on with another team.

"Right now, we're trying to pare down," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Because we have so many new guys, we want to get more reps for the guys who are here. [Richard] did a fine job and was professional. We wish him well."

Noah a happy camper

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As you might suspect, center Joakim Noah was all smiles Monday as he talked about the five-year, $60 million he signed that morning.

"It's very exciting," Noah said following practice at the Berto Center. "I'm very happy that I'm gonna be here for a while. I feel like the Bulls definitely did me right, but I promise I'm gonna give 150 percent every time I'm out there.

"I understand that with a lot of money comes a lot of responsibility. I'm excited for the challenge."

The fact that the two sides were able to get a deal done four weeks before the deadline is a testament to each side's faith in each other.

"It's always very weird when negotiations are going on, but I feel like I understand there's a [new] CBA going on next year, the collective bargaining agreement, so not a lot of players from my class got contract extensions," Noah said. "I feel like they did it because they like me and I'm pretty happy about it."

Noah's deal, which works out to $12 million a year, is roughly $20 million below a maximum contract, but he doesn't feel as if he left money on the table.

"When people put numbers like that in front of you, it's very hard to say, 'No,'" Noah said. "You have to keep things in perspective a little bit. Some people are telling you, 'No, don't take it,' but at the end of the day, I think I made the right decision."

Bogans to start at SG vs. Bucks

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With Ronnie Brewer not playing in the Bulls' preseason opener at Milwaukee Tuesday night, coach Tom Thibodeau announced that veteran Keith Bogans will start at shooting guard.

The move is a bit of a surprise because Brewer and Kyle Korver are believed to be battling for the starting spot at shooting guard.

"Keith, right now, has been working more with the first unit, so I want to take a look at that," Thibodeau said. "We're gonna look at different combinations and figure it out as we go along."

Bulls, Noah agree on 5-year extension

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Bulls general manager Gar Forman announced Sunday night that the team has reached an agreement on a five-year contract extension with center Joakim Noah. No terms were released but a source said the total value of the deal is in the $60 million to $65 million range.

Because Noah, 25, is entering the final year of his rookie contract, the Bulls had until the end of this month to get a deal done. The extension will kick in during the 2011-2012 season and means he won't become a restricted free agent next summer. He will make just over $3.1 million this season.

Boozer out 8 weeks

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The Bulls announced today that Carlos Boozer sustained a fracture on in his right hand on Saturday and will undergo surgery. He is expected to be sidelined eight weeks.

The injury occurred on Saturday when the Bulls didn't practice. The team didn't release any details of how it happened, but a source said Boozer told the team he tripped over a bag at his house.

If Boozer is sidelined eight weeks, he would miss all of the preseason and the first month of the regular season.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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