Thursday, February 20, 2014
Content with roster, Bulls stand pat
By Nick Friedell
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Thursday's trade deadline passed without the Chicago Bulls making a deal.
Joakim Noah credits D.J. Augustin with helping Noah make the All-Star team this season.
Their lack of movement shouldn't come as a surprise after Bulls executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman said last week that they did not expect to make a trade.
The organization is happy with the way the team has righted itself after losing Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury and trading forward Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers in early January.
Veterans Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich were the names many focused on during trade speculation, but neither ever felt as if they would be leaving Chicago. Forman and Paxson never gave the impression that any deal was particularly close.
The Bulls are confident that they can make a push in the playoffs much the way they did last season. Veteran guard D.J. Augustin, claimed off waivers from the Toronto Raptors in December, has helped stabilize the Bulls' offense.
Joakim Noah admitted after Wednesday night's win that he wouldn't have made his second straight All-Star Game without Augustin's help.
"It's changed everything," Noah said. "It changed our team. We were really down in the dumps. D.J. came in, and he's a great scoring punch for us. He makes easy offense for other guys. For me personally, I don't think I would have made an All-Star Game if it wasn't for D.J. He's a quiet guy, but he's a good dude, man. He's a good dude, and he helps this ballclub a lot."
Coach Tom Thibodeau is hopeful that his team can stay healthy and focus on the last two months of the regular season now that the deadline has passed.
"The challenge of this league is there's always something that you're dealing with," Thibodeau said after Thursday's practice. "And it's how effectively can you deal with it and eliminate any distractions. You start off the season and guys are trying to establish where they are in the rotation. Then you have the trade deadline, everyone talks about the speculation and of all the trades that are going to happen. Then you have the All-Star break, then you have coming off the All-Star break, then you have the trade deadline.
"And it's easy to get sidetracked in this league, so the challenge is to build the right habits, to stay locked in, to prioritize your routine and how you stay focused. There's things that you can't control so you don't worry about them. I think if you stay focused on chasing excellence, you'll be fine. Don't get sidetracked with all the other stuff you have no control over. Just get ready for the next opponent and concentrate on the team's improvement."