Chicago Sun-Times

October 2012 Archives

thibodeau_allen1_300.jpgThe criticism with the NBA the past five years was too many hugs and sleepovers between players on opposing teams.

Whether it was Clippers guard Chris Paul having out-of-town players staying at his pad or LeBron James having Kevin Durant as a workout partner last summer, the days of the "Bad Boys'' mauling Michael Jordan and the Bulls seemed long gone. Reggie Miller and the Knicks? A distant memory.

That was until Tuesday night, when the Celtics and Heat displayed a complete disdain for one another in the Miami win. And Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau loved every minute of it.

"I love competition,'' Thibodeau said. "Like fierce competitors. To me, I'll watch those games all day.

"When you get two quality opponents going at each other, there's nothing better than that. Whether it's low scoring, high scoring, medium scoring, you love to see fierce competitors.''

Thibodeau was an assistant coach for the Celtics in their 2008 championship run, and was asked about Heat guard Ray Allen getting the cold shoulder from Kevin Garnett before Tuesday's game, when Allen tried to offer up some pleasantries to his former team.

"Interesting, not surprising,'' Thibodeau said. "Those guys have a long history. They won a championship together, knew each other since high school. I'm sure they'll work things out.''

4869c7_thibs_11052010.jpgIt's reveal time for the Bulls in tonight's regular-season opener against Sacramento, and as head coach Tom Thibodeau insisted after Wednesday afternoon's shootaround, he doesn't expect the questions about his team to stop anytime soon.

"I think each game reveals something to you, and it doesn't stop, we want to keep evolving as the season goes along, so you're going to learn more about how guys function together, what gives us our best chance, so that never ends,'' Thibodeau said. "You're constantly studying and evaluating your team, and each game tells you the things you're doing well and the things you're not doing well.

"For us, I don't want us to change what we're doing. I want us to concentrate on improvement, I think we have an understanding of what we have to do to be successful, and I want to make sure we're moving in that direction every day.''

They will move in that direction with Kirk Hinrich starting at the point against the Kings, with the point guard over his sore right groin injury that kept him out of the final preseason game on Friday. And there are no limitations on him from a minutes standpoint, either.

"No, he's been fine the last two days in practice, so he's good,'' Thibodeau said.

As far as Taj Gibson and the midnight deadline for him to get a contract extension worked out, the situation is still deemed fluid, with both sides hoping to get something done in order to make sure that Gibson is not a restricted free agent at the end of the year.

Tom Thibodeau was coy in discussing star Derrick Rose's role will be during games while he rehabs his injured knee.

The coach did not dismiss the idea of Rose sitting on the bench during games or travelling with the team. But he did emphasize his chief concern is Rose's rehab.

Guard Kirk Hinrich participated in all of Monday's practice after nursing a strained right groin for most of the week.

The veteran seemed confident he'll be able to play in Wendesday's regular-season opener against the Sacramento Kings at the United Center.

chi_u_hinrich01jr_400.jpgTom Thibodeau called the right groin injury to Kirk Hinrich more of a "tweak'' than a concern, but then again, the Bulls coach always likes to leave a cloud of mystery hovering over the details of player injuries.

Either way, Hinrich was on the court Wednesday, shooting around in what was more of a watching film practice than a run-up-and down grind.

"Yeah, just a tweak,'' Thibodeau said of the injury that forced his starting point guard to miss the entire second half of the win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

"He should be OK,'' the coach continued. "He just tweaked it, so we'll see. He said he felt better.''

As for the Friday preseason game, Thibodeau said Hinrich was a "game-time decision.''

Beyond that with the regular season set to start next Wednesday?

"I'm thinking about tomorrow,'' Thibodeau added. "He's better today than he was yesterday. We'll see where he is tomorrow.''

Teammate Rip Hamilton hopes that where Hinrich is tomorrow is letting the injury heal, rather than feeling pressured to get back and possibly further damaging the groin. Hamilton knows about groin injuries, missing 10 games with one last season, and having to battle with it longer than that.

"It's tough because you want to be careful with it,'' Hamilton said. "A groin can linger. You just want to jump on it as quickly as possible. And the one thing was good with him was he didn't come back and play the second half. Sometimes your adrenaline will allow you to say, 'Nah, I don't want to sit down. I'll figure it out at the end of the game.' And I think that's what most players do.

"They did a great job of jumping on it early and saying, 'Let's get it right.' Hopefully that will get him right.''

tom_thibodeau_7_crop_340x234.jpgBulls coach Tom Thibodeau is yet to meet Lovie Smith, but that didn't stop Thibodeau from praising the Bears head coach and the 5-1 start by his team after beating Detroit 13-7 on Monday Night Football.

"I love the way they're playing,'' Thibodeau said on Tuesday. "They were great last year, they're great this year. I don't know much about football, but I enjoy watching them play.''

That also led to the topic of the hit Jay Cutler took at the hands of Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and while Taj Gibson referred to Suh as a "beast,'' Thibodeau focused on the toughness of Cutler to return to the game.

"Shoot, he's a heck of a quarterback, I know that,'' Thibodeau said. "Their team has a lot of toughness. They're having a great year.''

Considering the defense displayed by the Bears this season, it's easy to see why the defensive-minded Thibodeau would have that appreciation. Asked if he was ready to compare the Bulls defense to what is on display at Soldier Field this season, Thibodeau said without hesitation, "Shoot, we've got a long way to go.''

RoseRubio.jpgIt would have been nice if Bulls star Derrick Rose and Minnesota up-and-comer Ricky Rubio would have been able to sit and discuss the business of being point guards in the Association when they got together early Friday evening.

Instead, it was simply a meeting of the knees.

Rubio tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament last March, and is still spending most of his time in street clothes, while Rose tore his left ACL in the first round of the playoffs against Philadelphia, and seems to be ahead of Rubio as far as a recovery timetable.

That was much of the talk between the two.

"It's tough,'' Rubio said. "It's a tough injury. You are like six, eight, nine months without playing your favorite sport. Sometimes it's just playing basketball where you forget about everything and you just enjoy it. I just wish him a healthy recovery.''

Rose has been shooting around since the summer, and shooting jumpshots since early September. Rubio is still about two weeks away from getting into the gym and shooting jumpers.

"Every player is different,'' Rubio added. "Every recovery is different. We don't have to look at somebody else to see when one can come back. You just take your time. But working hard to come back.''

xin_39202061516489531978027.jpgBulls guard Nate Robinson knew there was fallout coming.

And Tom Thibodeau admitted on Thursday that it came.

It was in the Tuesday win over Milwaukee in which Robinson went for the flash, throwing a second quarter pass off the backboard for Jimmy Butler to dunk on a breakaway.

Robinson said afterward that he knew Thibodeau wasn't happy with the play, and he expected to get the call into the principal's office for it even thought he insisted, 'I ain't going to do it again.''

According to Thibodeau, no, Robinson won't.

"Yeah, we talked about it,'' Thibodeau said. "The thing ... I'll say this, obviously I didn't like the play. I like the unselfishness, though, and I told him that. I liked the fact that he saw Jimmy coming down and he wanted to drop it off to him and let him score the ball. Other than that play, I thought he did a lot of good things for us. I just want him to channel that the right way. I want him to make winning basketball plays, and I want that to be first and foremost, and I think it's important to respect the game.''

As far as the idea Robinson, who had 24 points and 13 assists in that win, had that flashy plays get the energy of the team going? That's a hard sell to Thibodeau.

"The plays that are uniting and inspire your team are winning plays,'' Thibodeau said. "I thought he made a lot of winning plays in the game. The intention was right, he was unselfish. He saw Jimmy coming, but just turn around, drop it off and let him lay it in.''

kirk_hinrich_2.jpgPoint guard Kirk Hinrich will miss tonight's game against Milwaukee, sidelined with a right thumb injury. That means that Nate Robinson gets the starting nod for the 1-2 Bulls in their fourth game of the preseason.

Robinson, who can use the jumpstart considering his inconsistent play, will start along side Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah.

dengDM2407_468x619.jpgYou got to love Tom Thibodeau.

Fourth preseason game, and the Bulls head coach is still sitting on the starting lineup for tonight's game like it's national security.

"We'll see,'' Thibodeau said at the Tuesday afternoon shoot-around. "Still toying around with some things. We've got some guys that are nicked up a little bit, but we'll see. I want to get a look at some different guys tonight, too.''

Both Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng, who missed Saturday's game in Minnesota, are back, but back-up center Kyrylo Fesenko is still sick and missed a second consecutive day of practice with the team.

Deng will be on full display against the Bucks, with Thibodeau now looking to get him into the mix with the second unit. Deng has been used as the anchor for that unit the past two seasons, playing the two, three and four spots in the past.

We're still looking at different combinations and we'll see how it unfolds,'' Thibodeau added. "I want to get a look at Luol with the second unit. A big part of our second unit is Luol, and when that group has Luol in it they'll function better.''

joakim-noah-hair-out.jpgJoakim Noah was back to practice with the Bulls for Tuesday morning's shoot-around, and according to head coach Tom Thibodeau, will now start tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies in their first preseason game at the United Center.

Noah had missed three days of practices for what the team called personal reasons, but on Monday, the Bulls big man used his Twitter account to explain that his grandmother had passed away and that's why he put basketball on the backburner.

"Thank you to everybody who sent their respect to my grandmother. Really appreciate the love. I started playing basketball because of her,'' Noah wrote in the tweet.

Thibodeau had veteran center Nazr Mohammed ready to start against the Grizzlies, but those plans have now changed with Noah's return.

That means the starting five will look like this: Noah, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Rip Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich.

270px-Luol_Deng_Wizards.jpgOne improvement the Bulls want to make offensively this season?

Being more of a running team, more fast break. That could very well be on display Tuesday night, as the Bulls host Memphis at the United Center for their preseason debut.

Magic Johnson's legendary "Showtime'' teams need not lose any sleep, however.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau is all for fast-break points, but it's about easy baskets any way his offense can get them. There's still a defense-first, everything-else-secondary mentality.

"You want to be well-balanced,'' Thibodeau admitted. "That's what you strive for. And there are a number of ways in which you get easy baskets. The obvious one is the fast break, but the second shot is an easy basket, cuts are another easy way, off post feeds, things of that nature, but you have to be well-rounded.

"I'm more concerned with the type of shots that we're getting. The best teams in this league are not going to give you the easy-scoring opportunities off the quick break. Most teams are sending three guys back, so when you have defenders back you have to flow into secondary action. We're trying to read that better and hopefully we can get into a flow.''

How often there is a running of the Bulls will also depend on the personnel on the floor. If Thibodeau is using a lineup with Luol Deng and Taj Gibson as wing players, the message is simple.

"He wants us the wings to be able to take off and run,'' Deng said. "We look for the early shot and if it's there we'll take it, if not we'll run the offense.''

Rose playing recruiter

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derrick-rose-chicago.jpgDerrick Rose had always insisted that playing recruiter for top free agents was not in his make-up.
That changed for the Bulls All-Star point guard this offseason, when Rose admittedly went after Kirk Hinrich.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau not only appreciated that, but also said it was further evidence of the maturation Rose has taken.
"I think it's important,'' Thibodeau said of Rose reaching out like he did. "They've been friends for a long time. They have a lot of respect for each other. Derrick, his leadership, has really grown. He's gotten more comfortable. He's been here a long time now, so I think he felt it was the natural thing to do.''
It wasn't last season, when Rose insisted that he would not play recruiter when Dwight Howard was rumored to be on the Bulls' radar.
Stars recruiting stars has been a much-hyped trend as of late, but Thibodeau said it's been going on for a long time. Long before the Miami Heat made it popular.
"I think it's always been like that,'' Thibodeau said. "I think that's always been a big part of the NBA.''
As far as when Rose can start playing along side Hinrich, Bulls GM Gar Forman was a guest on ESPN 1000 Thursday, and reiterated that he felt Rose would be back at some point this season from his ACL surgery.
"He's doing great, and he's right on schedule," Forman said. "He's attacked this rehab and has been very focused, and we're really pleased with where he is right now.
"But it's a process and it's a long process. It's still too early to pinpoint an exact time when he'll be back, but everything as of right now is right on schedule, and he's doing terrific.''

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