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Bulls pick up contract options

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The Bulls have picked up the options for the 2009-10 season for forward Tyrus Thomas, guard Thabo Sefolosha and forward/center Joakim Noah.

In two seasons with Chicago, Thomas (6-9, 215) has appeared in 146 games (31 starts) and averaged 6.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 1.01 bpg in 15.7 mpg; he has shot .443 from the field and .673 from the line. Thomas was drafted in the first round (fourth overall) by Portland in NBA Draft 2006 and was traded to the Bulls, along with Viktor Khryapa, for the draft rights to LaMarcus Aldridge.

Sefolosha (6-7, 215) has played in 140 games (26 starts) the last two years for the Bulls and posted averages of 5.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.4 apg in 16.5 mpg and shot .427 from the field, .338 from behind the arc and .658 from the line. Sefolosha was selected in the first round (13th overall) by Philadelphia in NBA Draft 2006 and was traded to the Bulls in a draft-day deal for the draft rights to Rodney Carney and cash considerations.

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.''

Rose's right knee keeps him out Wednesday

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The Bulls decided Derrick Rose's sore right knee was reason enough to keep the rookie out of the lineup for the third summer league game in Orlando.
Rose left the win over Indiana Tuesday with 7:58 remaining after he ``jammed'' his knee.
``It's fine,'' Rose said after that game. ``When I made my last layup, I jump-stopped a little bit and I landed a little hard. But I should be all right. I would like to play all the games. They'd have to sit me out.''
The injury is not considered serious. But Bulls officials wanted to take a conservative approach, so he sat out against the host Orlando Magic. Rose may play Thursday. JamesOn Curry started for Rose Wednesday.

Rose debuts in Bulls summer league opener

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The summer league debut of Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley drew a capacity crowd of NBA coaches, scouts, and media here at the RDV Sportsplex. The matchup of Rose, taken by the Bulls with the first overall pick in the draft last month, and Beasley, who went to the Miami Heat with the second pick, made for the main event as the middle of three games in this first day of the Orlando Pro Summer League.
Rose, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Demetris Nichols, and Keith Langford started for the Bulls. Thomas guarded Beasley to start. Rose was short on his first shot, a midrange jumper. The Bulls trailed, 7-0, until Langford drove through the Heat zone for a layup with 6:53 left in the 10-minute first quarter.
Rose ran what was a ragged offense early--to be expected after just four days of organized practice--and scored his first points when he finished a give-and-go on the Bulls’ next possession.
For perspective, the last time this summer league drew as much media attention was 2003, when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade made their debuts. Of course, James and Wade were so big that their first game was moved to the Orlando Magic’s home arena, where 15,000 fans watched the two budding superstars. These summer league games, the Bulls will play five in as many days, are not open to the public.
Rose was initially defended by Mario Chalmers, the 6-1, 190-pound guard from Kansas. Rose played the first six minutes and 15 seconds, when Vinny Del Negro, making his coaching debut with the Bulls, replaced him with JamesOn Curry. Del Negro’s presence on the bench was also unusual for a summer league game since most veteran head coaches choose to watch their teams from the scorer’s table. Yet, Del Negro knows this is a valuable learning experience for him and he had Bernie Bickerstaff and Del Harris, his veteran assistants, on either side.
Rose was on the bench to start the second quarter and assistant coach Bob Ociepka shared some notes with the rookie point guard. Rose checked back into the game for Curry with 7:46 left in the second quarter. Rose started a fastbreak with a rebound and left a drop pass to Will Daniels, an undrafted forward from Rhode Island, who failed to finish with 3:51 left in the first half. Daniels was not the only open man that couldn’t take advantage of a pass by Rose in the second quarter. Nichols came up empty on consecutive jumpers before halftime, when the Bulls trailed, 46-34.
Beasley, who was playing with a fractured sternum sustained in a practice last week, spent most of the second quarter on the bench.

Rose to meet with Miami Heat

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The Miami Heat brass will travel to Los Angeles to conduct a workout with Derrick Rose Saturday. Rose was in Chicago Wednesday and Thursday to workout for the Bulls, the team that has the top pick in the NBA draft Thursday. Miami owns the second overall pick. The Bulls will be among the teams present when O.J. Mayo has a predraft workout Saturday in Chicago.

BULLS SET TO NAME COLLINS COACH

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Barring any last-minute hiccups, the Bulls are expected to introduce Doug Collins as their next head coach at a midweek press conference. The team may make an announcement Collins is on board as early as Tuesday and hold a formal press as early as Wednesday.
Sources told the Sun-Times Thursday that Collins would be the Bulls next coach. Contrary to a published report Saturday, Bulls general manager John Paxson never intended to talk to another veteran coach about the job over the weekend.

Bulls general manager John Paxson schedule of interviews with head coaching candidates continues today.
Paxson met with former DePaul star and current four-year Utah Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin Wednesday night.
Dwyane Casey, the former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach, was at the Berto Center to talk with Paxson Thursday. Casey could also land on the staff of new Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle, should he not get the Bulls job.
Paxson plans on hosting Jeff Hornacek today. Hornacek interviewed Phoenix GM Steve Kerr Thursday to talk about becoming the Suns next head coach. Corbin is due to meet with Kerr Friday.
Paxson also will meet with Chuck Person, a current assistant withe Sacramento Kings, perhaps as early as Saturday.
A source confirmed Paxson traveled to Los Angeles earlier in the week and met with Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis.
Both the Bulls and Suns are expected to ask for permission to talk to Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau. The Celtics do not want teams talking with Thibodeau during the Celtics playoff run.
Paxson has said he will hold more interviews with candidates when he is in Orlando next week for the league's pre-draft camp. The Bulls are interested in talking with Eric Snow, currently under contract as a player with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

D'Antoni takes Knicks job

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After a Friday meeting with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, Mike D'Antoni has decided Saturday to take what is a reported four-year, $24 million deal to become the next head coach of the New York Knicks.

The Chicago Bulls announced today the hiring of Chuck Swirsky to handle the radio play-by-play duties for Chicago Bulls broadcasts on ESPN 1000 (WMVP-AM) beginning with the 2008-09 season. In this role, Swirsky will be teamed with Bill Wennington who will continue handling the color commentary. Wennington has served as the team’s radio analyst for the past five seasons.
Longtime Chicago Bulls radio play-by-play announcer Neil Funk will now become the voice of the Bulls on its television broadcasts. He replaces Tom Dore on Comcast SportsNet and Wayne Laravee on WGN-TV and WCIU-TV. Funk has been the voice of Bulls radio since 1991. Funk will be paired with Stacey King on all local telecasts. King has been a color commentator with the team for the past two seasons.
Swirsky joins the Bulls from the Toronto Raptors where he most recently served as the team’s television play-by-play announcer for seven seasons. Prior to that, he called the action for the Raptors radio broadcasts for three seasons.
``I am honored, humbled and appreciative to the Chicago Bulls as I return to a world class city and look forward to being a part of the Bulls organization and the Chicagoland community,” Swirsky said. “I want to thank Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and Toronto fans for ten great years of support and encouragement.”
Swirsky brings more than 20 years of broadcasting experience to the airwaves including stints with University of Michigan basketball and DePaul University. He also served as sports director for WJR-AM in Detroit where he anchored the pre-game and post-game shows for the Detroit Red Wings and the University of Michigan football team.
Swirsky rose to prominence while serving as the sports director for WGN-AM in Chicago from 1982 to 1994. He was the host of the Chicago Bears Radio Network for 10 years and held similar responsibilities for the Chicago Cubs Radio Network for 12 seasons. He was also the Bulls public address announcer from 1980 to 1983. At WGN, Swirsky called the action for the Chicago Sting of the NASL and extended into television as a play-by-play announcer for Northwestern University football for three seasons.
``We are most excited to announce that we are bringing Chuck Swirsky back to Chicago where his career began,” said Steve Schanwald, Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Bulls. “Chuck is one of the most respected play-by-play announcers in the NBA and I know our fans will enjoy his exciting style of calling a game.”
The Bulls also announced that longtime broadcaster Johnny “Red” Kerr will serve as the host of the Bulls local home telecasts and appear during Bulls pre-game and halftime shows to provide commentary and analysis. His role with the organization will also include appearing at various events around the Chicagoland area as a Bulls Goodwill Ambassador.
Kerr will be honored during the 2008-09 season on a date to be determined for his 36 years of service to the Bulls. In recognition of his contribution to the organization, a sculpture of Kerr will be commissioned and permanently placed on display in the United Center.

Bulls set to talk to Johnson

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The Bulls are believed to be among the three teams which have reportedly already contacted Avery Johnson, who was fired Wednesday as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. ``Anyone with a track record will be considered,'' a source close to the Bulls search said when asked about the team's interest in Johnson. Johnson, who has three years worth $12 million left on his Dallas contract--has indicated he may take a season off and collect the $4 million the Mavs would owe him before getting back on an NBA bench.
Mike D'Antoni would be added to the Bulls' list of candidates as the next head coach should a meeting Friday between he and Phoenix Suns brass--including GM Steve Kerr and owner Robert Sraver--lead to a parting of the ways. Kerr has declined to give permission to teams seeking to talk with D'Antoni. Kerr said he would like D'Antoni to return--the coach has two years left on his contract worth $8.5 million--if the two men can resolve the differences which arose between them this season. D'Antoni reportedly is the Mavs' No. 1 candidate should he leave the Suns.
Rick Carlisle, who was the first candidate Paxson interviewed, reportedly met Wednesday with New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh to talk about their head coaching vacancy.
Also, as expected, Jim Boylan will be an assistant on Scott Skiles' staff in Milwaukee. Boylan was promoted from assitant to interim head coach of the Bulls after Skiles was fired on Christmas Eve.


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