Chicago Bulls: Ronnie Brewer
1. Which is most likely to happen: Joakim Noah wins defensive player of the year, Taj Gibson wins sixth man of the year or Tom Thibodeau wins coach of the year?
Nick Friedell, ESPNChicago.com Bulls writer: All three have a good shot to happen, but I'd go with Noah as the defensive player of the year in this group. He has earned a lot of respect throughout the league for the way he has led the Bulls on and off the floor this season. He is the linchpin of Thibodeau's stout defense and the player from which the rest of his teammates take their cues. Noah isn't going to win the MVP award, but this would be a nice consolation prize for him.
Jamal Crawford for the award and then, starting next season, graduates to a full-time starter.
Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com columnist: Jo as DOY. That's easy. Not that Taj and Tom don't deserve those respective awards, but the NBA has to find a way to make up for not giving JoNo the MVP when "technically" he might be more deserving of it than anyone else in the league.
2. Will the Bulls be worn out in the playoffs like they were in years past?
Friedell: While nobody ever really knows how a team will perform in the playoffs, my guess is that the Bulls won't hit the wall as hard as they did in years past. Aside from his use of Jimmy Butler, Thibodeau has made a concerted effort to pull back on some of the heavy minutes guys such as Noah and Kirk Hinrich played, when healthy, last season. Those little bits of extra rest should help over the course of the postseason. What will be interesting is to see just how much, if at all, Thibodeau uses his bench -- besides contributors such as D.J. Augustin and Taj Gibson.
Jackson: There's a great possibility in that. To the degree that if it happens, no one should be surprised. But unlike in years past, they've had a considerable amount of time to deal with the setbacks they've had to face. Mentally that doesn't exhaust you the way it does when major players unexpectedly go down and at this time of year (Derrick Rose in 2012, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich in 2013) or when expectations are high with hope and prayers of an MVP's return that never happens. This year, as worn out as they have the right to be after what they've done during the regular season, they are better prepared to mentally fight through it than they have been in the past.
3. Will Ronnie Brewer jump Tony Snell in the rotation?
Greenberg: If he's in game shape, yes. Snell's a much better long-range shooter, but he's not Kyle Korver quite yet. He's still learning how to play on auto-pilot, as in without thinking on the floor, just reacting. I think Snell can be a very good pro, but Brewer's got that veteran split-second edge. If Brewer can show he can give Thibodeau 8-10 worry-free minutes, he'll get the call before Snell in the playoffs.
Jackson: Probably once the playoffs start, especially if the Bulls get to the second round. I'm not saying that Snell can't handle the playoff stage, but coaches shrink their benches in April, May and June, and usually vets with playoff experience get the nod over rookies that aren't superstars. Plus, Brewer was brought in to be, and is going to be, a glue guy for this team. He will be a utility player who is going to be asked to do a little bit of everything whenever he is on the court or when the Bulls are in need of something to fill a void. Snell is probably going to be asked to do only one or two things: score and cover for Butler if he gets in foul trouble. By that theory alone, Brewer will probably interrupt the rotation and Snell will be the one who suffers.
He was excited to be back with his teammates in a place where he had had success a few years earlier under Tom Thibodeau. He was proud of the fact his professional career could continue after being waived by the Houston Rockets earlier in the season. Most of all, he was pleased he was back with the Bulls.
Brewer enjoyed the camaraderie within the Bulls locker room, being a member of the "Bench Mob," and he fit into the fabric of the locker room with ease. His happy-go-lucky personality made him a popular teammate and friend to his peers. Problem for him was that he struggled in the 2011-2012 season down the stretch and fell out of Thibodeau's rotation. After the season, he landed with the New York Knicks and had some success before falling out of the rotation there. Then he was traded to Oklahoma City and rarely played there.
He started this season in Houston but couldn't find a regular spot in the rotation.
All those trials and tribulations made Monday's announcement even sweeter. From a broader perspective, it also reinforces just how strong the Bulls' culture has become under Thibodeau and the front office. Executives Gar Forman and John Paxson identify talented players who can handle Thibodeau's aggressive style and then he molds them into a winner.
It is an impressive feat that the trio, along with Thibodeau's assistant coaches, have accomplished over the past four years. They have created the type of winning culture in which players thrive. Thibodeau has always referred to the San Antonio Spurs as being the "gold standard" of the NBA, a team whose players know their roles and does their job on a regular basis. Slowly but surely, the Bulls have created a Spurs-like model.
While they may not have the type of Hall of Fame talent -- or recent championships -- that the Spurs possess, they do have the type of culture that has put San Antonio on an elite level for the past 15 years. Brewer's signing is the latest example of that. He was signed in large part because he knows exactly what is expected of him, and he plays the type of defense that Thibodeau expects.
"I think it's a big plus," Thibodeau said. "He has the characteristics that we look for -- high character, smart, and he plays for the team. It's good insurance to have."
It's good insurance for players such as Brewer as well. As long as they keep themselves in solid shape, they know they'll always have a shot to get back on Thibodeau's roster. It's the reason a veteran such as Mike James has had several stints with the Bulls in the past few years. It's not easy to earn Thibodeau's trust, but once a player does, they know they're always going to get an extra look from the demanding coach.
Thibodeau has built up a locker room based on accountability over the past four years, and his players respect him for that. That's why it didn't surprise Brewer that teammates such as Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler have improved since the last time he was around them on a day-to-day basis.
"That's part of the league and that speaks wonders of this organization," Brewer said. "They put the work in to get better day in and day out, and Thibs holds his coaches accountable and the coaches hold the players accountable. And you can tell those guys have been working on their game, and they're getting better and it shows on the court."
What also shows is that the togetherness and loyalty that Thibodeau breeds in his locker room never really fades away after players leave Chicago. It's why players still keep in touch and still joke around with each other even after they start playing for different teams. For an example, check out the Twitter/Instagram back and forth between Rip Hamilton, Nate Robinson and Noah during Saturday night's Final Four. Playing in the NBA is one thing, but playing -- and thriving -- on a Thibodeau team is another.
The players know how much hard work Thibodeau expects from them, and generally they look back on their team fondly when they have to leave. That hard work brings them closer together because they know it's not something they always sees throughout the NBA.
Brewer has been missing that feeling for the last two years, and that's why he so happy to get it back on Monday.
A former key member of the old Bench Mob is excited about his second chance to wear a Bulls uniform and is looking forward to helping his team in the playoffs.
They're happy to have him back, too. Brewer, who will wear No. 11, played for the Bulls from 2010 to 2012 and was a respected member of the locker room. While coach Tom Thibodeau isn't sure how much Brewer will play, he is glad to have him back in the fold.
"We’re excited to have him back," Thibodeau said. "I thought he did a great job for us the last time we had him. He’s a good pro. He stays ready. He’s a good fit in terms of character and experience."
Brewer's arrival became possible once rookie Erik Murphy was waived last week. Brewer admitted that he wasn't sure if things would work out so he could return to Chicago, but he is relieved they did. He says he's been working out for a month since being waived by the Houston Rockets earlier this year. He played in 22 games this season with Houston, averaging 0.3 points and 6.9 minutes a game.
“Just working out," Brewer said of how he's spent his time recently. "Patiently waiting for a team to pick me up. The Bulls contacted me and it was kind of a blessing. They’re in a good position and I feel like I can help the team out."
Thibodeau believes Brewer will be able to help, as well.
"We needed another body," Thibodeau said. "And we felt that he could pick things up quickly because he had been here before. And he did a great job when he was before. I think he has the respect of his teammates. We know he’ll be ready. And if we need him, we’re not going to be afraid to throw him in there."
Bulls forward Taj Gibson said last week that he would like to see Brewer back with the Bulls.
"If you get Ronnie, it would be even better because he's familiar with the whole team. He's been to the Eastern Conference finals with us," Gibson said. "He's been [through] a lot with us, and that's our guy."
With 13 players now on the roster, Thibodeau acknowledged that Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson may look to add another player or two for the postseason. Veteran point guard Mike James remains a possibility. James has had several stints with the Bulls over the last few seasons.
"Gar and John are looking at people," Thibodeau said. "If something makes sense and it’s a good fit for us, we’ll add. We’re in an unusual situation with our roster. We’re always looking."
"That's probably a question for [Bulls executives] Gar [Forman] and John [Paxson]," Thibodeau said after Friday's shootaround. "We're just concerned about the guys we do have. We feel good about our depth; just keep preparing, concentrate on improving."
Thibodeau did not want to confirm whether Brewer worked out for the Bulls -- or what Brewer brought when he did play for Thibodeau in Chicago a couple years ago -- referring those questions to Forman and Paxson. But he did shine a little light on why the decision to waive Murphy was made this late in the season.
"It's more in terms of roster flexibility," Thibodeau said. "From my standpoint, Murph did a great job for us. He's a young guy, he worked incredibly hard each and every day. A great spirit. And I think he has a bright future. Unfortunately, this is part of the NBA; things like this do happen. And we just have to concentrate on the guys we do have, get ready for the game tonight."
Brewer's former Bulls teammates would love to see him back in the locker room. He was a popular presence during his two-year stint in Chicago.
"Whoever they pick up will be great," Bulls forward Taj Gibson said. "But if you get Ronnie it would be even better because he's familiar with the whole team, he's been to the Eastern Conference finals with us. He's been [through] a lot with us and that's our guy. "
Brewer, who played with the Bulls for two seasons from 2010-12, was waived by the Houston Rockets after they tried unsuccessfully to deal him by the trade deadline in February. A seven-year veteran, the 6-foot-7 Brewer has bounced around since leaving the Bulls, playing for the New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston. He played in 22 games this season with the Rockets, averaging 0.3 points and 6.9 minutes a game.
Gibson feels bad for Murphy, a second-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft, because he knows how much effort the rookie put into the season.
"It sucks because you got to lose a great guy in Erik Murphy," Gibson said. "A guy that comes in every day, busts his tail, never complains, doesn't take one day off. In my opinion, never took a day off. Great rookie. It sucks because in this league there's a lot of guys that really don't go as hard as him. It just sucks."
"A smart, tough player," Thibodeau said of Brewer. "A great teammate. (He'll) do whatever you ask him to do, can guard multiple positions, can really pass the ball, can feed the post, moves extremely well without the ball and he'll fill any role you ask him to fill."
Brewer is just glad to get a new opportunity somewhere. He had fallen out of the rotation in New York and is excited about the possibilities with the Thunder. He definitely misses being in Chicago, though.
Brewer played two seasons for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and was a key member of the “Bench Mob.” After last season, Bulls management decided not to pick up Brewer's option. He later signed with the Knicks.
“If you get caught up in feelings in the NBA, you’re going to have an up-and-down life,” Brewer said prior to Saturday’s game. “It’s part of the business, part of the game.
“I wish we could have kept it together. It was fun out there, great atmosphere here when we had the ‘Bench Mob’ going. There’s a time everything has to come to an end.”
There was one aspect of playing for the Bulls that Brewer didn’t reminisce about.
“I know I don’t miss Thibs’ practices, for sure,” said Brewer, who said he keeps in touch with his former teammates and coaches. “But the city was great, the fans were great, my teammates were amazing. I don’t really have anything negative to say about Chicago. My time here was great. I’m looking forward to playing (Saturday) and should be a really good game.”
Brewer was a key part to the Bulls’ success, and now the Knicks are benefitting from his play. He’s been a starter all season and has averaged 6.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 18 games.
“Ronnie's big time,” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said. “Defensively, he's another smart player we have on the court, another guy who knows how to play the game. He plays games within the game -- a lot of times we're feeding off of him on the defensive end, too.”
And just like last season, Brewer is again with a team that stands atop the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have built a 14-4 record to start the year and are 1 ½ games up on the Miami Heat. The Bulls, who are 10-8, are four games back of New York.
Brewer thought there were a number of similarities between the past Bulls teams and the current Knicks. He did laugh when someone asked if he was the reason both teams won.
“Not at all,” Brewer said. “I’ve been fortunate to play with some really great guys here. The common denominator -- Thibs is a great coach, (Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s) a great coach. You have a MVP candidate in (Derrick Rose), Carmelo (Anthony).
“Tyson’s (Chandler) playing really great defense, Joakim’s (Noah) playing really great defense, Luol Deng’s playing really great defense. It’s a number of things similar on both teams, but it’s the same solution. You defend, you rebound, low turnovers, you’re going to be in a lot of NBA games.”
Brewer said he still keeps a close eye on the Bulls and believes they are still a top team even without Rose.
“I don’t think they had the start they wanted, but that happens when you have a revamped roster,” Brewer said. “But with Thibs coaching the team, you knew sooner or later they were going to click, start defending liked they needed to, rebounding and just get the chemistry back going again
“They’re still a dangerous team with or without (Rose). I can’t say you want to face them without Derrick Rose because they’re still a dangerous team.”
The Bulls may not be smiling during Saturday night's game against the New York Knicks -- they're fourth game in five nights, this one against the Eastern Conference leaders who spent Friday night in Chicago -- but they are all looking forward to being around their former teammate.
"It's just going to be good to see him," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. "We've been talking the whole season. He's been playing great for them, starting, obviously doing the same thing he always does, trying to do a good job locking up the other (team's) best perimeter player. I'm sure he'll be on Lu (Luol Deng) a lot (Saturday), but (he's) having a great season. I look forward to seeing my brother, man."
So does Taj Gibson. The Bulls forward knows Brewer is enjoying his time in New York City and is looking forward to the reunion.
"We're real close," Gibson said. "That was my guy. That was one of the guys I hung out with a lot on this team, so I'm happy for him being on another good team, a playoff-bound team, and he's playing great."
Gibson realizes Brewer is in a better position this season because of his starting role with the Knicks, but like the rest of the Bulls' holdovers from last season, he misses Brewer's presence in the locker room. The Knicks swingman wasn't always the most consistent scorer, but he always played solid defense and was a positive force off the floor to many of his teammates.
CHICAGO -- Gar Forman sat at the podium after the Bulls drafted Marquis Teague late in June and uttered a statement has already started to haunt him amongst fans. Forman, one half of Chicago’s basketball brain-trust, stated the team would be making "basketball decisions, not financial ones," as it pertained to free agency this summer.
Given the organization's recent decisions and its lack of enthusiasm regarding going deep into the luxury tax, Forman's statement falls flat for fans.
The truth is that pretty much every decision the Bulls have made this summer, and the decisions they'll make in the coming weeks, all are financially based. It's the way of life when you're running a business, and make no mistake, the Chicago Bulls are just that.
Jerry Reinsdorf has made a ton of money while owning the Bulls. The United Center is filled every night and the Bulls are one of the profitable, and recognizable franchises in the world. That's the issue with a large portion of the fan base right now. Reinsdorf has more than enough money to cover any luxury tax hit, but the organization has clearly made it a point to make financial decisions, not basketball ones in the past few weeks. Recently traded guard Kyle Korver admitted as much after he was dealt.
"What do you do?" Korver said last week on ESPN 1000. "You learn this is a business and teams are going to make business decisions and that's all right ... I knew it was going to come down to dollars. I'm not really going to take it personally because I don't think (the trade) is because of my play, so they traded me or something like that, I think it was a dollars decision and I understand that."
Former Bulls guard C.J. Watson echoed that sentiment in recent weeks. He acknowledged that much of his talks between the Bulls’ front office revolved around the luxury tax. Couple this with the fact that NBA capologist Larry Coon said on Wednesday night on ESPN 1000 that he has been hearing that the Bulls don't want to go into the tax at all.
What's so bad about Hinrich?: Plenty of Bulls fans are questioning the organization's decision to re-sign Kirk Hinrich, but I don't understand why. Yes, Hinrich has missed 28 games over the past two seasons, and he isn't the same player who came to Chicago from Kansas in 2003, but he is a solid veteran who can help bridge the gap with Derrick Rose out for a large chunk of next season. He can also play shooting guard if needed and has worked well with Rose in the past. He will fit in well into Tom Thibodeau's system and into the locker room culture.
Were there better options on the market? Sure. But given the Bulls' cap situation, and their hesitation to go deep into the luxury tax, Hinrich should fit well as long as he can stay on the floor. The cold reality for Bulls fans is that whether it was Hinrich or somebody else, there wasn't a guard out there on the market that the Bulls had a reasonable chance at who could push them past the Heat this season.
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CHICAGO -- When trying to decipher what the Bulls' plan will be as they head into free agency early Sunday morning, one must first understand what is already in place as far as both personnel and financial figures are concerned. When broken down into individual parts the decisions that face Bulls' executives Gar Forman and John Paxson are easier to understand.
This is the group Forman and Paxson intend to build around heading into next year.
Derrick Rose: The superstar guard will be rehabbing his knee well into the season, but the organization likes the way his program is going. The team is hoping to have him back around the All-Star break or soon thereafter. The will be the first year of Rose's max deal he signed before last season.
Joakim Noah: The 27-year-old center continues to rehab the ankle injury he suffered during the playoffs, but he still expects to play in the Olympics for Team France and should be ready to go for the start of training camp. He will be in the second year of a $60 million dollar deal.
Carlos Boozer:The veteran forward has not lived up to his contract in his first two years in Chicago (in fairness, even if was putting up 20 and 10 every night it would be hard to live up to that bloated deal), but he will be counted on early in the season to score without Rose on the floor.
Luol Deng: Much has been made of Deng's decision to play in the Olympics. Most within the organization were resigned to the fact he would have to have surgery to fix a torn ligament in his wrist, but Tom Thibodeau went on “Waddle & Silvy” on ESPN 1000 Friday morning and said that he expected Deng to be ready for training camp. If that's the case, that is a huge emotional boost for the Bulls. Deng has two years and almost $28 million left on his deal.
Rip Hamilton: The veteran shooting guard struggled to stay on the floor all of last season because of various injuries. Given his track record the last few years, it will be hard to expect him to stay healthy for an 82 game season. He has another guaranteed year on his deal at $5 million.
Taj Gibson: One of the Bulls' most consistent players, Gibson is in the last year of his rookie deal; he is already in the early stages of talks about an extension. The Bulls hope to keep him around for a while.
Jimmy Butler: The second-year forward figures to see a lot more playing time this year. He is still in his rookie contract and will be a bargain for the Bulls if he can produce.
Marquis Teague: The newest Bull won't be expected to produce much early, but Thibodeau has stated he will let the 19 year old earn his playing time, especially with Rose out for a majority of the year.
The possible returnee
There's only one name in this group because it's the only one Forman seems insistent on keeping at this point.
Omer Asik: Forman has repeatedly stated that one of the Bulls' top priorities this summer in re-signing Asik. The young center regressed offensively this past season, but he is still regarded as one of the best defenders on the team. He will be a restricted free agent beginning on Sunday. The Houston Chronicle reported on Saturday that Asik will be one of Houston's primary targets. The most a team can offer the big man in the first year of a new deal would be $5 million and a small increase in the second year. A team could really make it hurt is in years three and four of the deal, however. Re-signing Asik would put the Bulls right up against the luxury-tax threshold. While Forman has been consistent in saying the Bulls would make basketball decisions, not financial ones, the organization will do what it can to avoid going too deep into the tax.
The question marks: These players are likely on the way out because of their salaries, or because the Bulls are looking for an upgrade.
Kyle Korver:The long-range bomber improved defensively this season, but he hasn't been as consistent from beyond the arc as the Bulls would have liked. Given the financial constraints the Bulls are trying to impose on themselves, it's a stretch to think they would bring him back for $5 million. There aren't many pure shooters out on the market, though.
C.J. Watson: Even with Teague in the fold, the Bulls need to sign at least one more point guard with Rose on the mend. They have a $3.2 million option on Watson, but his inconsistencies in the playoffs, combined with his price tag, may have booked him a ticket out of town.
John Lucas III The diminutive, determined point guard wants to come back to Chicago and was well liked because of his work ethic, but the Bulls will likely look to upgrade before making a final decision on him. He is an unrestricted free agent who could get a raise.
Ronnie Brewer: With Butler in the fold, the Bulls feel they have a younger, cheaper option who can replace Brewer on the roster. Thibodeau always liked Brewer's work ethic and approach but the swingman appears to be on his way out.
The potential targets:
This is where things get fuzzy for Forman and Paxson. The moves they make in free agency are contingent upon the moves they do or don't with the current roster.
For argument's sake, let's say they match an offer for Asik at $5 million coming into this season and decide not to bring back, Korver, Brewer, Watson or Lucas. That means they're still hovering close to the luxury-tax threshold, which is expected to be around $70.3 million, according to ESPN capologist Larry Coon.
With Asik in the fold, the Bulls would have nine players under contract after signing Teague. That also means they'll need to sign at least three more players to fill out the roster. Those players would have to come cheaply. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the options the Bulls may look at heading into Sunday.
Kirk Hinrich: This is the man plenty of Bulls fans want to see back in the United Center. He would fit in well with what Thibodeau has built and would help bridge the gap until Rose returns. The reunion sounds nice on paper. The reality is that Hinrich, who made $8 million last season in Atlanta, would likely have to take a pay cut of between $5-6 million to return. If he's willing to do that, the Bulls would be happy to have him.
Andre Miller: He falls into the same boat as Hinrich. The Bulls would love to have him, but he made almost $8 million last season as well. It's doubtful he'd be willing to take that much of a pay cut next season for a team that doesn't appear to be built for a title this year.
Jonny Flynn: The former Syracuse star has struggled early in his NBA career, but he is still young and has listed the Bulls as a potential landing spot, according to ESPNLA.com. He would come cheaply and play alongside Rose when he returns.
Delonte West: The veteran guard comes with plenty of baggage, but he has been in the league long enough to know what to expect and he would also come cheaply. He only made $1.2 million last year in Dallas.
Brandon Roy: Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday that Roy will meet with the Bulls this week and is one of the finalists for his services. The issues for the Bulls regarding the Roy are multi-faceted. Pending other moves, the most Forman would likely offer is in the $2-3 million range. Would Roy want to come to Chicago when he could make more elsewhere and may have a better shot to win a ring this season? Would the Bulls feel comfortable adding Roy and his chronic knee problems when they already have Hamilton on the roster?
Courtney Lee: He's been on the Bulls' radar for a while, and they could have had him a couple years ago if they were willing to part with Asik. If there isn't much of a market for Lee, who is a restricted free agent, the Bulls would likely be interested.
Danny Green: The Bulls would love to have the young forward in the fold, but as a restricted free agent, he figures to get a lot more than Chicago can offer.
Jamal Crawford: The former Bull did not have a solid season last year in Portland. Like the others on the list, if he was willing to take less money, the Bulls may be intrigued.
Shannon Brown: The Chicago native averaged 11 points a game last season in Phoenix. He was miffed a couple years ago when the Bulls didn't make a push to sign him. He would likely listen if Forman picked up the phone.
Maurice Evans: Evans is a veteran and made just over $1 million last season. He doesn't have the same athleticism he had early in his career, but he could come in and give Thibodeau spot minutes when needed while tutoring Butler.
Aside from deciding who they select at the end of the first round of the NBA Draft on June 28, which is a major decision on its own, let's take a look at some of the other decisions the Bulls' front office must make:
Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has stated publicly several times over the past few years that he would be willing to go into the luxury tax if it made sense, but that doesn't mean the organization wants to do it. When speaking to people within the organization, you get the sense that they are going to do everything they can to make sure they go as little into the tax as they have to. That means that if the Bulls decide to match any offer for restricted free agent center Omer Asik, which figures to come in around $5 million or so, the Bulls would have to pay even more to keep Watson, Korver and/or Brewer, all of whom don't have fully guaranteed deals next year, or in Watson's case a team option.
While Brewer has always figured to be the odd man out of that group because second-year swingman Jimmy Butler could step into that role, the reality is the Bulls may also decide not to bring back Korver or Watson because of financial concerns. Watson (and his $3.7 million option) figured to be a relative slam dunk because of his familiarity with the offense and the fact that Rose will likely be out several months next season, but the Bulls have not yet made a final decision on Watson and are definitely keeping their options open both in the draft and in free agency, hoping they can somehow find a cheaper option.
Position: Shooting guard. Age: 27. 2011-12 salary: $4,710,000.
Season recap: No player on the Bulls roster had higher highs and lower lows than Brewer. After Rip Hamilton got hurt early in the year, Brewer responded by playing the best basketball of his brief Bulls' tenure. He spent all last summer during the lockout working on his jumper and that extra work paid off as he shot the ball with plenty of confidence in Hamilton's absence. After a while, that confidence wore off and Brewer, who had been playing 35-40 minutes in some contests, suddenly struggled to find 15-20 minutes in some games and was replaced in the starting lineup by Kyle Korver even before Hamilton returned. Brewer's decline came to a breaking point in Game 3 of the playoffs when he was benched for the entire game by Tom Thibodeau.
Indiana Pacers, Brewer scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists. In the next three games after that he would combine for 24 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.
Season lowlight: It has to be Game 3 in the postseason. Brewer looked understandably frustrated as he sat over on the bench. To his credit, he never complained and continually stated that he was willing to help the team whenever his number was called. He ended up playing well in limited minutes the rest of the season but the benching is something he will certainly think about during the summer.
Notes: Brewer is one of the most well-liked players in the locker room. He has a laid-back style and an ability to get along with seemingly anybody. His biggest issue was that once he started playing starter's minutes in the beginning of the year he couldn't keep up the same level of play throughout the season. Thibodeau got frustrated by the fact that Brewer's shot had gone missing and the veteran guard's game never fully recovered.
Quote: "During the summer, all you have is time," Brewer said after a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in January. "I had a routine where I lifted weights, I tried to stretch. I tried to get my hamstrings strong so I was doing a lot of physical therapy. Then there were times where you had to work on your free throws. I hadn't been shooting the ball that well from there, which I've been trying to improve. Mid-range jump shots and then 3-point [shots]. It was a consistent routine that I tried to maintain at the University of Arkansas. So far it's been paying off for me."
What's next?: Brewer will continue to work on his game in Arkansas as he prepares for next season. The question becomes whether the Bulls will bring him back or not -- Brewer's contract is not fully guaranteed for next season so the Bulls could decide not to bring him back and give his minutes to Jimmy Butler, a younger and cheaper option. Brewer said after his exit interview that Gar Forman and John Paxson told him they would do anything they could to bring him back but his future in Chicago seems cloudy at this point.
FINAL GRADES: Regular Season: C. Postseason: C.
Brewer and Korver played almost three seasons together with the Utah Jazz before signing with the Bulls as free agents before the 2010-11 season.
With Jimmy Butler a more affordable option, Brewer figures to be the odd man out, but he hopes his run in Chicago doesn't end after two seasons.
"I liked the situation I was in with the Bulls," Brewer said. "I feel like we have a great team. The chemistry was bar none compared to the other teams I've been on. We've had a lot of success, we've won a lot of games in the regular season and had some kind of success in the playoffs. I think everybody's goal is to win a championship, and the Bulls, if we didn't have injuries this year, could have been right in the mix for that. I'd love to stay with the Bulls. The fans have treated me great, the city has treated me well, and it's a first-class organization so I'd like to stay there."
With Richard Hamilton injured for most of the regular season, Brewer was in and out of the starting lineup. He started 43 games after starting just once in his first season with the Bulls.
Brewer's role was reduced in the Bulls' first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers. He played 13 minutes in each of the first two games and didn't make it off the bench for Game 3. But he re-emerged in the final three games, including a big performance in a Game 5 victory when he had six points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes.
"It's tough. I talked with Thibs and the management, and it came to a point where Rip was playing pretty well and they wanted to extend his minutes," Brewer said. "Luol (Deng) had a couple of good games in there where they extended his minutes. When Kyle is in there knocking down shots they tend to play him more. Thibs always told me you've always got to be ready when your name is called, and you never know when your name is going to be called.
"When I didn't go into the game it just goes with the territory. I couldn't get down on myself and whenever he called my name I had to be ready to go in and play as hard as I possibly could."
Ronnie Brewer talks with 'Waddle & Silvy' about Tom Thibodeau's coaching style, if he thinks he'll be back with the Bulls next year and how he feels about the Miami Heat.
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