Chicago Bulls: Tom Thibodeau

Derrick Rose takes next step in Bulls win

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
11:36
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Taj Gibson spoke for the entire Chicago Bulls' organization Sunday night when he described what it was like to have Derrick Rose back on the floor to close out games as he did in a win over the Charlotte Hornets.

"It's a dope feeling," Gibson said. "We know who's going to take the shot. Either Pau [Gasol], Derrick. We got Joakim [Noah] making solid plays. We got guys that's back in the rotation, and even with Derrick, he's stepping in and taking that strong midrange when he needs to take it, and it showed tonight."

Rose's stats were solid against the Hornets, but out of his 27 minutes played, it was the final 7:22 that were most crucial. That's because that marked the first time in almost a year that Rose was on the floor to close out a game. While the former MVP has downplayed the significance of being on the floor late for preseason games, it's clear his teammates and coaches were thrilled to see him back in the pressurized, late-game saddle on Sunday. They know they need him out there late and were happy to see his stabilizing presence on the floor as the final minutes wound down.
[+] EnlargeRose
AP Photo/Paul BeatyDerrick Rose was on the floor in the fourth quarter Sunday -- a welcome sight for fans, teammates and coaches alike.

"I think it's a positive thing," Gasol said. "It's great that we can have him down the stretch. He also gets used to playing those minutes where every decision is important. So, yeah, it's nice to have him on the floor."

Rose still has a lot of rust in his game. It's noticeable on his drives to the rim and in some of his shots, and it will likely take months before he consistently feels like himself again with the ball. But the mental aspect of Rose's return is huge for both him and his teammates, and even if Rose isn't the same player he once was (right now), he's still a talented point guard who can create space -- and shots -- for his teammates. His ability to cut into traffic makes his teammates feel better about their chances.

That's why head coach Tom Thibodeau has to be pleased with what he saw Sunday. It was the best all-around performance his team has had in the preseason, and it ended the way he's hoping many games this season do -- with the ball in Rose's hands as the contest is coming to a close.

"The intensity's different," Thibodeau said of the fourth quarter. "The defense is different. You have to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the team, understand how they're defending you, what you can take advantage of, what the openings are. Who are they rotating to? How far off are they? And then you want to make them pay. Usually for a player like that, any time you put two [defenders] on him, there's somebody open. And he's got to have the ability to read that and make that decision quickly. I think that comes back by being out there."

Rose took another small but important step in his latest comeback Sunday. He closed out a game with the rest of the starters (minus the injured Jimmy Butler) and remembered what it was like to take pressure-packed shots -- and make them. Thibodeau has said many times the past few months that the best thing Rose can do to knock the rust off is play.

Although Rose's confidence is still a work in progress, the confidence his presence breeds in those around him can't be overstated. The Bulls are hoping a lot more nights in the future end like Sunday did -- with Rose on the floor and a victory in hand.

Thibs ready to shift into regular-season mode

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
12:31
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Derrick RoseGary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Bulls are still monitoring Derrick Rose's minutes as the end of the preseason draws near.


CHICAGO -- By coach Tom Thibodeau’s timetable, the last of the Chicago Bulls' preseason games will take place Sunday night at the United Center against the Charlotte Hornets.

Sure, two more unofficial games remain before the team’s season opener at New York on Oct. 29, but Thibodeau will treat Monday’s contest at Cleveland and Friday’s tilt against Minnesota as if it were the real thing.

“The last two, you sort of narrow it down to get more toward your rotation,” Thibodeau said after shootaround Sunday morning. “But usually, the first five or six (games) you’re trying to get a look at different combinations and different people, that sort of thing.”

While that means minutes for key players -- especially starters -- are expanding, point guard Derrick Rose remains a unique situation. He still isn’t playing key fourth-quarter minutes as evidenced by the fact that he was on the bench when the Bulls rallied for a victory Thursday against Charlotte.

But there are also limited chances to get Rose's minutes to where they need to be.

“Yeah, to me, (with) his injury, he is different,” Thibodeau said. “He’s been out for basically 2 years. We just have to continue to be patient. He’s feeling better and better, so that’s a good sign, and he’ll be fine.”

Rose played 21 minutes Thursday, but every other starter played more, including workhorse Jimmy Butler, who played 31 minutes and still hit the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. In fact, two reserves -- Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich -- played more minutes than Rose, while Tony Snell matched the former MVP’s playing time.

“Just keep building,” Thibodeau said when asked if Rose will get more fourth-quarter minutes soon. “We’re not fixated on, ‘Is it 21 minutes, is it 28 minutes, is it ...?’ Just keep building. Just keep moving forward. I think that’s the best way to approach it. We want him to make sure he feels good about it and we’re going to go from there.”

Perhaps as big of a concern for the Bulls is that they are running out of time to get into a flow among so many new faces that include Aaron Brooks, Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic.

“There is always jelling to do; it’s basketball,” Joakim Noah said. “You need to build that chemistry and I think it’s going to keep getting better and better.

“Every time you step on the court, every time you step together as a team it’s good ... if you put the work in.”

Asked about Thibodeau’s tactic early in training camp to ramp up preparation because the team wasn’t where it needed to be, Noah gave a crooked smile.

“It doesn’t matter; right now that’s not my focus,” Noah said. “My focus is just being as ready as possible as possible for the regular season and taking it day-by-day. I’m excited. I think we have a very good group, guys who work hard, guys who are focused on the right things, so I think it’s going to be great.”

Healthy Bulls await official starting five

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
12:17
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The run of relative good health has continued for the Chicago Bulls, despite coach Tom Thibodeau’s intense preseason regimen.

The latest scare came in practice Saturday when forward Nikola Mirotic took a finger to the eye, but he participated in shootaround Sunday and is expected to play his full complement of minutes in Sunday night's matchup with the Charlotte Hornets.

[+] EnlargeDoug McDermott
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesDoug McDermott has spent time in the starting lineup during the preseason.
Forward Mike Dunleavy twice has been slowed by a sore knee and did not play Thursday, but Thibodeau did not list the veteran among the ailing Sunday morning. Even Joakim Noah said he is rounding into form after being slowed early in training camp.

“Yeah, I feel a lot better than I did two weeks ago,” Noah said. “It’s a work in progress, but overall I’m very happy. I have no swelling in my knee and I can keep building.”

Thibodeau already has taken away a planned off-day for the team this preseason and put his squad through a two-hour practice that afternoon instead. And while extra practice time gets his team closer to where he wants it to be, a heavy workload at this time of the year can also expose the roster to injury.

Instead, the Bulls have ended up with the best of both worlds: good health and extra court time in order to mesh four newcomers -- Aaron Brooks, Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott and Mirotic -- into the mix with returning players.

The rookie McDermott started in Thursday’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks, but Thibodeau has not named the Creighton product as one of the five that will take the court when the season begins Oct. 29 at New York.

“There are still (things to be determined), because you haven’t seen guys play together for an extended period of time,” Thibodeau said after shootaround Sunday morning. “But yeah, the guys who have been here before, you have an idea of what they can do together because they have been here, but there are a lot of new guys.

“You have the two rookies, you have Aaron, you have Pau. That’s a lot. We have to be ready. When that first game comes, everyone’s game has to be sharp. You have to be on top of it. There are no shortcuts in preparation. There are not. I have never seen that before. The work has to be done.”

Bulls' closer role important to Gasol

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
2:53
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Pau Gasol would take it personally if he wasn’t on the floor to close out games for the Chicago Bulls.

“That’s not a good sign,” Gasol said after practice Saturday. “That’s not a good sign when you’re put in that position because a coach doesn’t rely on you to deliver in those minutes. So, basically he doesn't trust you. He trusts somebody else to do that job. So, it’s not a good sign for you.”

Gasol said he has never been on the bench on a consistent basis late in games, and it was something he talked to the Bulls about before joining the team. Carlos Boozer was the Bulls' starting power forward last season, but he wasn’t often the power forward that closed out games for them.

“Obviously I’d like to be on the floor when the game is on the line,” Gasol said. “That’s what I’ve been getting paid for my entire career. That’s what I want to continue to do.”

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Saturday he hasn’t determined how he will close out games yet. One of his objectives is still to see how everyone meshes together in those late minutes.

“I haven’t seen everyone, so that’s hard to make that decision,” Thibodeau said. “You have a pretty good idea. You want to see them together. That’s the big thing. To see what works best, how they can be utilized. That’s still a work in progress. We want to get a look at that.

“Whatever you have to do, whatever makes the most sense for your team, that’s what you’re going to do. And we’ll see. I know Derrick [Rose] and Joakim [Noah] have finished games for us before. Joakim and Taj [Gibson] have obviously finished a lot of games for us. Now I want to see Pau. I want to see him out there with those guys to see how it all fits. Maybe it is game by game. You don’t know. They have to be out there to make that determination. We have to get a look at it.”

Thibodeau thought Gasol’s game has varied throughout the preseason, but he was pleased overall with what Gasol can provide the Bulls.

“Some good, some bad, some in the middle,” Thibodeau said of Gasol’s play. “He’s been around a long time. He’s learning his teammates. His teammates are learning him. But I like his overall play. He’s just a good player. He plays both sides of the ball, the length, the shot blocking at the rim are huge for us. And offensively, he can score different ways. He can shoot. He can post. I like his passing. I just think his passing makes everyone better. That’s important.”

Gasol thought he could fine-tune a few areas, but was happy with his performance so far. He also reported his body felt good.

“Right now, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to do out there,” Gasol said. “Try to get a little more into the flow of the game, try to get a little more rhythm, establish myself a little more, but so far just getting a feel for the game. As for my minutes on the floor, it’s been positive for the team as far as what I’ve seen in the plus/minuses after every single game.”

Rose could see increased time vs. Hornets

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
2:36
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose could take the next step in his return and have his minutes increased in the team’s sixth preseason game Sunday, coach Tom Thibodeau said on Saturday.

Rose hasn’t played more than 22 minutes in any of the Bulls’ first five preseason games. The Bulls have three preseason games remaining. They play the Charlotte Hornets in Chicago on Sunday.

“I want to see how it unfolds in terms of where he is, where we are in the game,” Thibodeau said after practice Saturday. “Ideally, he plays more. I think he’s ready for that. I want to see it first. I want to make sure.”

Rose cut himself off after 21 minutes in the Bulls’ last preseason game Thursday. Rose said then he wasn’t concerned about not playing a larger workload yet.

"I think my body is going to hold up," Rose said Thursday. "I think I worked too hard. I'm not worried about minutes. I could care less about them. Just trying to be patient and do exactly what they tell me to do.”

Thibodeau said Saturday the priority was how Rose’s body was feeling, but Rose’s minutes were also important to him.

“Everything is important,” Thibodeau said. “I want to feel him good. That’s the biggest thing. The only way he’s going to shake the rust off is by playing. But we’ll see. We’ll see how it unfolds. I think the next game will be good, will be a good test for him.”

Dunleavy back: Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy is expected to play Sunday after missing the last two games with left knee soreness, Thibodeau said.


CHICAGO -- The most intriguing moment of Thursday night's game did not come when Jimmy Butler drained a winning 3 at the buzzer over some Atlanta Hawks bench players. It came with 6 minutes, 7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when Butler came to the scorer's table to check back into the game with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.

That instance was a lot more important than a meaningless preseason win because of who was not with Butler, Noah and Gasol when they went to check in: Derrick Rose.

After saying since training camp opened that players need to learn how to play with Rose again, coach Tom Thibodeau decided to leave his star on the bench when he brought back the rest of the core of his starting unit. After the game, the veteran coach brushed the decision aside, saying he expected Rose to play in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls' final three preseason games.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Gary Dineen/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose is being dutifully patient with playing time and wasn't concerned about limiting his availability late in Thursday's tilt. "Just when the time is right, it's right," he said.
"[He's] still not comfortable yet, but he's getting there," Thibodeau said of Rose. "Just want him to be ready when he does go in there. He's close, though. He's close."

But he's feeling fine?

"He said to [Bulls athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka] that he was done," Thibodeau said. "He was going pretty hard in the third. So [we'll] wait another game, see [how he's feeling], make sure."

The patient approach is a prudent one when it comes to Rose's status. The Bulls should go to extreme lengths given Rose's recent health history to make sure he is comfortable when he's on the floor, especially in just the fifth preseason game of a long NBA season.

But that Thibodeau didn't go back to Rose -- and that Rose didn't sound too concerned about not being in for the stretch run -- is telling. If nothing else, it shows a distinct change in philosophy from player and coach.

During Rose's last four preseason games a year ago, the former MVP averaged almost 32 minutes per game. He played down the stretch in games and became accustomed to taking pressure shots again. He wanted to be back on the floor all the time to show the rest of the world, and himself, he could still play at a high level.

A year later, Rose, at least outwardly, seems content to allow the preseason to play out at a slower pace, appreciating the long grind of a new basketball campaign.

"I think my body is going to hold up," Rose said. "I think I worked too hard. I'm not worried about minutes. I could care less about them. Just trying to be patient and do exactly what they tell me to do."

Rose always has been a people pleaser, but he seems intent on listening to himself, and his body, more than ever. That's what makes the present situation a little trickier this time around for Thibodeau and the Bulls.

The coach has voiced his displeasure several times about the medical restrictions being placed Rose and Noah during the preseason. But on the night Noah took another step in his progression by coming back into the game in the fourth quarter, Rose sat quietly on the end of the bench watching the action.

Should fans be worried because Rose didn't come back, or should they be excited that he is taking a different approach to his latest comeback?

Rose said he would like to have been in the game late, but he knows there will be more to play for in the future. He said he didn't talk to Tanaka about the 20-minute runs he's been getting in the preseason. It just kind of happened.

"I would [like to be out there], but at the same time be patient," Rose said. "It's no rush at all. Knowing how hard I worked, I'm not worried about it. Just when the time is right, it's right."

If Rose isn't worried about his playing time, should the rest of us be? It's an interesting quandary for the entire organization.

On one hand, Thibodeau has said all summer that in order for Rose to find his rhythm again, he must play. On the other, Thibodeau doesn't want to upset his star player and risk putting him into a situation he's not ready for right now.

Maybe Thursday's decision not to come back into the game will be insignificant over time as Rose eases his way back into playing after so much time off. But in the short term, the Bulls know they must play together in order to find the consistency that has eluded them throughout much of the preseason.

"We just have a lot of work to do," Noah said. "And yeah, continuity's important. Right now we're in a situation where we got to find the right balance. We've got guys coming back from injuries; that's a reality. And continuity is very important as well, so we got to find the right balance.

“It's not pointing fingers at anybody. We just got to find ways as a team to make this work, and I know we will."

Nobody is blaming Rose for his decision to sit a few extra minutes Thursday night. His teammates and coaches all want what's best for him in the long term, and they know they can't win a championship without him. After all, championships aren't won in October.

But the seeds of a championship run are planted now.

The confidence that has defined Rose's game has to be built up again.

In order to do that, the former MVP has to trust his body can withstand all the minutes coming his way. He'll get plenty of chances in the near future to prove he does.

Rose doesn't share Thibodeau's panic mode

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
4:08
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Unlike his coach Tom Thibodeau, Derrick Rose is not anywhere near hitting the preparation panic button as Chicago Bulls preseason hits its second week.

Thibodeau continues to put his team through a heavy workload, concerned that a squad with a number of new players is nowhere near ready to start the 2014-15 season, which kicks off Oct. 29 at New York against the Knicks.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
AP Photo/Jeff HaynesDerrick Rose says he doesn't have to rush his shots because the Bulls have a veteran team.
Rose knows there's work to be done; he just doesn't seem stressed about it. Does he think the preparation hasn't been good enough, as his coach has suggested?

"Not at all," said Rose, who proclaimed that he feels good as the season approaches. "Everybody has their own opinion. As a coach, I think his standards are going to be high, very high, just knowing who he is individually. For the team, all we can do is come in here and get better every day, get the most out of every day and try to get better individually."

Most Bulls players are used to Thibodeau's routine by now. Whether or not they agree with their coach's style, the key is that they are willing to go along with it.

"No, I'm numb to it now. I'm used to it," Rose said. "Like today, we didn't even speak about it. We know what we have to do. It's only one goal, and we can't let anything get in the way of that goal."

Thibodeau's intensity, though, doesn't seem to be a scare tactic. He has been practicing what he preaches, meticulously breaking down game film, even though there have been just four preseason games. When he runs out of game film to break down, there is always a recent practice to parse.

"I watch every day; I watch what happens in practice, and I watch what happens in the games," Thibodeau said after Tuesday's workout. "If our standards are going to be high, we have to improve and put the work into it. And you have to do that each day. Each guy is being asked to do a lot, to put everything you have into each day. That's the only way you can build a special type of team. You can't shortcut your way through this. It doesn't work."

When it comes to Rose, Thibodeau won't sugarcoat it. The offense has been impressive. It's the defense, though, that gives the coach pause.

"He's got to do a lot better, [but] he's not the only one," Thibodeau said. "We're asking all our players to play strongly on both sides of the ball. It can't work unless everyone is tied together. We have to get everyone tied together and used to playing together. They have to bring the proper intensity each day.

"Every game reveals where you are. That's not to say there aren't good things being done. You have to strive to be a 48-minute team. The only way that's going to happen is if you're in great shape."

Rose sounds confident he will be ready to give his coach what he is looking for.

"I'm just picking and choosing when to use my talents," Rose said. "I'm picking and choosing during the games. I think my IQ for the game has gotten a little bit higher. Of course I need to stop with the turnovers, but I'm just trying to pick and choose when to attack and when to hold back and let the team play the game."

While Rose has been aggressive in attacking the basket early in the preseason, it's not necessarily the approach he plans on committing to once the season starts.

"I'm just trying to really take whatever they give me," he said. "If they're giving me the lane some, I'm just trying to mix it up. I'm shooting some jump shots and get the nerves out and continuing to play aggressive. Last night we played a decent game, came back and got a nice victory. We're just trying to keep it going. We've won two games, and we're just trying to win more to get in a better groove for the team."

Despite just a handful of games to his credit over the past two seasons, what Rose mostly is concentrating on is his patience. He has been pleased with his balance of looking for his own shots while trying to facilitate others'.

"I'm not rushing anything, not forcing anything, just letting the game come to me through the offense," Rose said. "I think it's because we have a veteran team that I don't have to rush my shots. My shots are going to come through the offense, so I just have to take my time and really play team basketball."

The players seem to get what their coach wants, even though the coach himself hasn't been completely satisfied with the work so far.

"We're coming together pretty good," Rose said. "Guys still have to learn when to shoot the ball. Like [Nikola Mirotic] and Doug [McDermott], they just have to get nerves out, but this is their first year of playing in NBA games.

"They just have to get used to the speed because it is a faster speed. You have to think a little bit more, think about the sets, think about what you're going to run the next time down, think about how guys are closing down on you. It's a whole bunch of elements with playing in the NBA game, and you just have to get used to it."

In a way, Rose is getting used to it all over again. He played 21 minutes in Monday's 110-90 victory over the Denver Nuggets, two days after playing 22 minutes in a victory at Milwaukee. He played just 14 minutes in each of the Bulls' first two preseason games.

Continuing his low-stress theme, Rose isn't concerned about building himself up to regular-season minutes just yet.

"I don't know. I'm just going to listen to what they're telling me, and whatever they're telling me is what I'm going to do," Rose said. "I believe in the staff that we have here. I'm just listening to whatever they have to tell me. I think I'm fine. I'm not worried about that at all."

Pau Gasol sits with back tightness

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
3:17
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- New Chicago Bulls big man Pau Gasol missed practice Tuesday with tightness in his back, but his injury was not deemed to be serious.

Gasol
The 34-year-old veteran, who was signed as a free agent this offseason, did play 24 minutes as the starting power forward in Monday night’s 110-90 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Gasol had nine points, four rebounds and four blocked shots.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has put his team through a heavy schedule in the preseason, saying he hasn’t been satisfied with the overall performance. Thibodeau expressed concern Tuesday that the regular season is just two weeks away and he doesn’t want his team thinking it can just flip the switch when games count for real.

“I don’t want them to fool themselves,” Thibodeau said. “To me, the big thing is understanding what goes into winning and how you practice and prepare and the work that’s necessary to put into it to get yourself in great shape. You need to prepare yourself to play four games in five days, to play a long season, to have an edge, to understand what goes into winning, why you win and why you lose, to build the proper habits. That’s something you do every day.

“When you shortcut that process -- I’ve been around a long time -- I know it doesn’t work. I’ve tried to make that clear. When you watch film, it tells you a lot. For the team to function well, everyone has to do their part.”

The Bulls have been relatively injury-free in camp, and that includes point guard Derrick Rose, who is trying to return from a second consecutive knee injury.

Thibodeau gets defensive regarding injuries

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
9:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Tom ThibodeauAP Photo/Jeff Haynes"Just don't play him, he won't get hurt," is how Tom Thibodeau described his approach to injury.
CHICAGO -- Tom Thibodeau coaches every second of every game as if it were his last. The Chicago Bulls coach expects the same intensity from his players. He believes he knows how to pace a team after spending more than two decades on an NBA sideline. He doesn't believe in resting players unless they are injured -- and as he has said many times over the years, there is a difference between being hurt and being injured. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise the veteran coach bristled before Monday's game when the topic of injuries came up.

"The only way you can guarantee a guy not getting hurt is don't play him," Thibodeau said. "Don't practice him. Don't play him. Don't play him in the preseason. Don't play him in the regular season. Just don't play him. He won't get hurt."

After dealing with Derrick Rose's various injuries over the past three seasons, Thibodeau has empathy for what other coaches are going through with the rash of injuries that has struck the NBA this preseason, but he knows those setbacks are "just part of the game."

"[Kevin] Durant [injured his foot] in practice from what I've read," Thibodeau continued. "[Injuries] happen at different times. So usually, if it's a broken bone, it's probably the result of a collision. It's body-on body contact. It's physical out there."

Thibodeau wasn't done. He referenced the team he has repeatedly called the "gold standard" of the NBA to back up his point about being able to give players more minutes.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
David Banks/USA TODAY SportsDerrick Rose had 15 points, five assists and five rebounds in just less than 21 minutes against Denver.
"As I said, there's different approaches," he said. "You look at San Antonio, they played late and obviously, they won it. But when I'm looking at their box scores, I watched a little bit of their game, I think it's a strong message what they're saying right now. They're preparing themselves to defend their championship. And so in order to get that away from them, you're going to have to wrestle it away from them. They ain't just going to give it away. And so, I think your mindset has to be right.

"They say [Tim] Duncan never leaves the gym. When you look at great players, that's usually when you read about guys who have achieved something great. It's usually them getting past adversity, them making great effort and their readiness to accept the challenge. I think you need a great commitment from your team if you want to do something special. That commitment has to start at the beginning, and it has to remain throughout."

Thibodeau was noncommittal on whether he has seen that commitment from this Bulls team during the early part of this season, but it's apparent from his recent answers he is frustrated by the medical restrictions being placed on Rose and Bulls center Joakim Noah. Each played 20 minutes, 33 seconds in Monday night's victory over the Denver Nuggets. Noah seems to understand why Thibodeau has been more mercurial than usual.

"He's always pushing buttons, and I think it's a good thing," Noah said after the game. "There's nothing comfortable about what we do, and as soon as you get comfortable, you get your ass kicked, so I think he's just trying to make sure we stay on edge and keep working hard. I think that if we do that he knows that we'll have a shot to do something good, so we just got to keep fighting, keep getting better."

Shaw's theory: Nuggets coach Brian Shaw has an interesting theory of his own on why more players seem to be getting hurt than in the past.

"I still have this premise that it goes back to kind of this generation of player and all the AAU games that they play," Shaw said. "In high school and before high school -- coming up when my generation of players played, and even before me -- you kind of played basketball and when basketball season was over you were done. You went on in and played baseball, and the next season you played football. So you use different muscles. Now, you have club teams and AAU teams and whatever that are playing ball all year round. You don't give those muscles any time off, any time to relax. That's just my own personal theory -- I think that has a lot to do with some of the injuries that we're seeing today."

Rose watch: Rose scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists Monday night in his 20:33 of action. Shaw believes Rose is on the right track as he works his way back from another knee injury.

"I saw some of their practices in the summer in Vegas, and it seemed to me as if he had all of his explosiveness back. I know a lot of times you come back from injury [and] the areas that you injured are stronger than they were before when you went out in the first place. But I also think that there's a period where, right away, everything looks good and then you kind of take a step back.

"The timing, just getting the rust out and all those things. But I fully expect for him to return to form. You see bursts of it here or there, and I think that with some of the acquisitions that the Bulls made, especially in particular Pau Gasol, it's going to help make things a little bit easier for him, and he doesn't have to do so much on the floor because Pau will make the game a little bit easier for him and everybody else out there."

Butler shines as Bulls bounce back

October, 13, 2014
Oct 13
11:24
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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BullsAP Photo/Jeff HaynesTeammates agree Jimmy Butler has been the top Bull in the preseason, though his coach wants more.
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler reclined comfortably in front of his locker late Monday night after the Chicago Bulls' impressive 110-90 comeback victory over the Denver Nuggets. Sam Hunt's country music blared from the speakers in his stall and he patiently fielded questions from a small group of reporters. Butler had just polished off the best game of the young preseason, going off for 21 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field, pulling down six rebounds and dishing out two assists.

As contract-extension talks linger ahead of an Oct. 31 deadline to get such deals done, Butler wore the look of a relaxed man as he spoke. He knows how much money is on the line, and he knows how important this preseason is for him and his teammates, but the Bulls swingman is trying not to let all the talk about his future go to his head.

"I'm from Tomball, [Texas]," Butler said. "I'm not even supposed to be in the NBA, let alone be a star player. I just want to be wanted. I just want to play hard. I just want to help win. End of story. Star player, role player, bench player, whatever it takes. Just let me win."

Butler's attitude reflects the exact type of player coach Tom Thibodeau wants on his team -- the type of guy who will do whatever it takes each night. That's why Butler's attitude toward Thibodeau's recent frustration regarding his team's play has been so interesting. In the past three preseason games, Butler has been the Bulls' most consistent player. While Thibodeau rants about his team's preparation and performance, Butler has been the voice saying everything would be OK.

But even after the Bulls came back from a 21-point, first-half deficit, Thibodeau seemed hell-bent on turning positives back into building blocks. Even as Butler appears to be taking the next step in his game, Thibodeau, as usual, is left wanting more.

"Jimmy's playing really well," Thibodeau said. "He came into camp in great shape. He's practicing extremely well. I'm pleased, very pleased with him offensively. Defensively, he's been good, but we all know he's capable of being great. I'm expecting him to set the tone for us defensively. He's one of our team leaders. We need to get an edge. We don't have an edge right now."

Thibodeau is expecting Butler to bring that edge each night this season, just as Luol Deng did before him. While Thibodeau continues to push Butler for more, his teammates can tell the 25-year-old has come in more focused than ever this season.

"Jimmy's been playing really well this preseason," Bulls forward Pau Gasol said. "It's been fun to play with him these few games, and I look forward to play more with him because he's a guy with a lot of potential. Very, very active, very athletic, powerful in his position, been shooting the ball well. Very complete. It's been fun so far."

The issue for Thibodeau is that, while Butler continues his solid play, the rest of his teammates are having problems putting great sequences together. Bulls center Joakim Noah knows the rust Thibodeau has talked about throughout the preseason isn't off yet.

"I think we're working to knock it off, that's for sure," Noah said. "I think everybody's working hard. I think the mindset is good, and, yeah, there's definitely rust."

As Noah spoke, he caught a glimpse of Butler, who was headed to the shower.

"Jimmy doesn't have any rust. I'll tell you that," Noah said, as Butler inquired about what he was saying. "No rust. No rust for the Jimbo."

Butler's play has caught a lot of people's attention early in the preseason. He's more aggressive on both ends and looks as if he is more comfortable in the offense. While the rest of his team searches for an identity, Butler seems to have found his.

"I think there's a lot more to come," Butler said. "Still a lot that we can get better on, as you can probably tell from Thibs' reactions in the first half. But that's what practice is for, that's what film is for, so we're going to get back to it."

That's exactly what Thibodeau wants to hear. In a season filled with expectations, it's been Butler who is exceeding them more than anyone else right now.

Despite win, Thibs still 'concerned'

October, 11, 2014
Oct 11
11:52
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Derrick RoseAP Photo/Darren HauckDerrick Rose scored 16 points Saturday to 11 for fellow Simeon alum Jabari Parker, right.

MILWAUKEE -- On the surface, Saturday night should have been a good one for the Chicago Bulls. They won for the first time in three preseason games, 91-85 over the Milwaukee Bucks. Derrick Rose played 22 minutes, the most time he's seen all preseason, scored 16 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. Joakim Noah played almost 24 minutes, the most he's played all preseason, and scored 10 points. Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler closed out the game, combining for 38 points and 18 rebounds, and held things down for their team down the stretch. Even rookie Doug McDermott played solidly in his first professional start, in place of Mike Dunleavy (sore knee).

Despite the victory and the performances, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was not pleased after the game. He wanted his team to show him more, and he continues to sound disappointed by its play over the past week.

"You're going to win some, you're going to lose some," Thibodeau said. "Obviously, you want to want to win a lot more than you lose. But I am very concerned about whether we're making the necessary preparations to win. Whether you're putting the work in that's necessary to win. I know what goes into winning and you have to do that every day. You can't skip that. You're not going to rest your way to success. You got to get sharp and you got to get sharp fast. It's a long season and you've got to prepare to play a long season."

Thibodeau has always been a hard man for his team to please. He wants his players always to reach for much more. He wants perfection on a daily basis, but what's more attainable in his world is effort. It's clear from Thibodeau's comments that he doesn't feel his team is putting in the kind of effort it needs right now into preparing for the season. As somebody who has been with Thibodeau during all five years of his tenure, Bulls power forward Taj Gibson seems to understand where his domineering coach is coming from.

"Right now it's training camp," Gibson said. "Right now you can't tap us on the back right away. We're still trying to learn. We're still trying to get better. We got a young group of guys, an extremely talented group of guys, and we're just trying to figure it out. A lot of expectations, a lot of stuff's going to come at us right away. We got a lot of teams that are going to come at us and we can't slouch. I love [Thibs'] mentality, how he's pushing us."

The players can sense that Thibodeau is a little tighter than usual. They understand that expectations, with a healthy Rose back in the fold, are higher than they have been in recent memory. Fans want another championship and they want one this season. That's why Saturday's game, despite the outcome, is another reminder that the players had better be ready to tighten things up a lot more before the Oct. 29 regular season opener at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.

"Just extra effort," McDermott said of what Thibodeau wants. "Not giving up on plays, getting back on defense. I think he's just a perfectionist. And he wants everyone to be in the right spot and I think we did a lot better job of that tonight."

Gibson knows better. The veteran used an example of a team that didn't live up to expectations recently, an example Thibodeau has surely discussed with his own team.

"You see how Brooklyn was last year," Gibson said. "So much expectation and they were scratching and clawing to get in [the playoffs]. We understand that we got a lot of things in front of us and we're pushing. We got a lot of things we got to correct from defense to offense. I think we're good, though. I think guys are hungry and we want to push it and keep working. But everybody's just got to push a little bit harder."

That's exactly the way the veteran coach wants his team to think. His message couldn't have been clearer Saturday night. He wants the Bulls to get back on track quickly because he knows that everybody will be gunning for them this season.

"The decisions as to who is going to play is going to be based on performance," Thibodeau said. "If your game's not sharp I'm going to the next guy. So that's the way it's going to be."

Rose: It will be 'weird' to face Jabari

October, 11, 2014
Oct 11
1:51
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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Jabari Parker, Derrick RoseGetty ImagesSimeon Career Academy alums Jabari Parker and Derrick Rose will meet for the first time as pros.
MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose is excited about facing fellow Simeon Career Academy alum, and Milwaukee Bucks rookie, Jabari Parker, for the first time as a professional Saturday night, but Rose admits that it's going to be a "weird" experience.

"It's going to be weird at first," Rose told ESPNChicago.com after Saturday's shootaround. "I've never been on the court with him. But at the same time, it should be exciting. I haven't seen none of their games, I haven't seen him play in a long time because I just haven't been watching film like that or I haven't been watching games like that -- and I'm excited, man. Just to go at it, see what he learned, and really just to play against him."

Rose acknowledges that he will be feeling a lot of pride Saturday as two of Simeon's most famous alums square off. It's not often that two players from the same high school make it to such a high level in professional basketball.

"It's a lot of pride," Rose said. "Especially when it comes to just knowing what he's trying to accomplish. He's trying to be great and I'm trying to, too. And coming from the same background, we kind of got the same discipline. We take basketball very serious. We don't get sidetracked, it seems like he's not sidetracked by anything else outside of basketball. It seems like he's focused, so I'm just happy to see that he made it to this level and if anything, he should give the kids back at [Simeon] hope."

Parker shared Rose's sentiments.

"It will be something like a first," Parker said before the game. "It will be the first time in a while since I've been on the floor with him so it will be something nice."

Parker said he left a ticket for Simeon head coach Robert Smith so that the pair's high school coach could enjoy the action in person.

"Yeah, it's special to me and it's also special for my coach," Parker said. "He'll be there today, too. I hooked him up."

Rose, who was a freshman at Simeon the first time he encountered Parker, still remembers that initial meeting.

"He was still at grammar school," Rose said. "He came up to the school but he wasn't able to play with us at the time because I think I was on the sophomore team. My sophomore year, that's when he came and started playing with us."

While Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA history during the 2010-11 season, Parker was busy following in Rose's footsteps at Simeon -- leading his team to four consecutive state championships and earning a host of national awards in the process. Both Rose and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau are looking forward to seeing how Parker's game develops over time.

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Dunleavy (knee) out vs. Bucks

October, 11, 2014
Oct 11
12:30
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy will not play Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks because of left knee soreness. The veteran swingman did not sound too concerned that this injury would keep him out long.

"I'm OK, just a little preseason bump in the road," Dunleavy said after Saturday's shootaround. "Just a little soreness in my left knee. I'm not too concerned about it, but we'll see how it goes."

Rookie Doug McDermott will likely make his first professional start in Dunleavy's place.

"I expect to be back pretty quickly," Dunleavy said. "But you got to see how it all responds."

Derrick Rose (soreness) and Joakim Noah (knee) are expected to play against the Bucks. Rose sat out Thursday's practice to get an extra day of rest while Noah missed Tuesday's game against the Detroit Pistons as a planned rest day.

It's likely that both players will play around 15-20 minutes Saturday night, although Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau acknowledged that there are some medical limitations on several of his players as the preseason continues.

"We've got restrictions on a lot of guys," Thibodeau said.
CHICAGO -- The preseason schedule just started, while the regular season remains three weeks away and Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau felt it was the perfect time to set a hard-working tone.

Originally scheduled as an off day, Thibodeau put his team through a two-hour practice Wednesday after the team played preseason games Monday and Tuesday, with Tuesday night's game at Detroit going into overtime. Both of those games ended in Bulls defeats.

[+] EnlargeThibodeu
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports"It's always about putting the work in" with Tom Thibodeau, says Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy.
"A lot of things concern me, so it's good to get in the gym and practice," Thibodeau said, as most of the team remained for extra shooting in the Advocate Center, the team's new practice facility. "You're building. There's a lot of stuff you have to add and clean up and improve upon.

"You look at training camp as the whole month. So we try to do a little more in shootaround. A day like today, particularly the guys who haven't played a lot, it's important they get the right amount of work."

The Bulls have plenty of new faces in guys like Aaron Brooks and Paul Gasol, not to mention highly-regarded rookies such as Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. After solid debuts Monday, McDermott and Mirotic did not look as sharp in Tuesday's defeat at Detroit.

"Every practice for us is good," said Mirotic, who claimed he was not surprised by the additional practice time. "We need to be ready for the season. We have a lot of things to do to improve. So every day we need to do better practice to be a better team so we are really hungry. We want to be the best team. We are working good. We have a good atmosphere in the locker room, so we are really feeling good."

Thibodeau would not get into specifics about what he wants to improve upon. Asked if the team has been lacking, he responded with a terse, "It's got to be better."

Thibodeau can be as stern as NBA coaches get so his decision to take away a free day in training camp wasn't a total surprise.

"The thing is, obviously winning and losing is important any time you're keeping score," Thibodeau said, referring to preseason defeats. "What you're looking at more is, are you putting the proper amount of work into playing so the results will take care of themselves? You have to do the right things. I know what goes into winning. I've been in the league a long time. When you skip steps in this league, it's not going to be good."

Veteran Mike Dunleavy suggested that with games so close together at the start of the preseason schedule, individual game minutes were skewed. The Bulls don't play again until Saturday at Milwaukee.

"We're 0-2 right now with some good, some bad and some ugly," Dunleavy said. "We just need to sharpen up a few things on the offensive end, especially with some of our plays, make sure we're in the right spots, things like that. It's nice to come in and get that knocked out and have a couple of good practices before going to Milwaukee."

If the players had an issue with the extra day of practice, they didn't seem to show it on the court.

"Yeah, it was a good day today, a good day," Thibodeau said. "Concentration was good. If you practice well, you'll play well. It's that simple. You have to understand what goes into preparing yourself to practice. You can't just show up and roll in like it's no big deal. It is a big deal. That's how you get ready to play."

It's early, but Thibodeau seems to have gotten an important point across. His early intensity hardly is out of the ordinary.

"Man, it's the same, it's the same, it doesn't change with him," Dunleavy said. "He's pretty consistent in that regard, at least since I've been here. It's always about putting the work in. We have guys who are pretty good about that, continue to do that and get ready for that opener on [Oct.] 29."

Derrick Rose: It's all coming together

October, 8, 2014
Oct 8
9:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Derrick Rose continues to feel good about his progress as he makes his way back from knee surgery yet again. The former MVP said he had no soreness after playing in his second consecutive game against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, and he is confident in how his game is progressing.
[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose has played just 14 minutes in two games, but it's so far, so good for the Bulls star.

"It's all just coming to me," Rose said. "I wouldn't say there's one area that's better than another. It just takes playing. Going out there and actually getting game-time minutes under your belt. Practice is another thing. But when you're actually playing against and competing against another team, that's all I need."

As was the case in Monday's loss to the Washington Wizards, Rose played just 14 minutes in the first half. Although he didn't score a field goal, he showed the same aggression that was on display in Monday night's opener.

"I think I didn't hit a shot today, but I hit six free throws. I took eight and hit six," Rose said. "That's pretty good for me -- just seeing the ball go in. If I could have played the rest of the game, I know I would have been more aggressive. But just trying to be patient, stay patient and really take it one day at a time and get the most out of every day."

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau admitted there wasn't much to take from Rose's second game, but he did like that his point guard got to the free throw line.

"It's hard to tell. It's such a short amount of time," Thibodeau said of Rose's performance. "It's hard to build a rhythm like that. I thought [Monday] night was good. I don't know what you get out of tonight, what you learn or see. I'll look at the film and see how it looks, but you just got to continue to work and improve."

New Nate: On a night when the Bulls faced off against their former teammate and new Piston D.J. Augustin, his heir apparent on the Bulls roster took center stage. Aaron Brooks had 18 points and has quickly made an impression on Thibodeau.

"I love him," Thibodeau said. "He's got a lot of toughness to him. We need to have more practice time with him, as well. But the fact that he's an established pro, he comes in, he runs offense with the rookies, stays late, talks the game, thinks the game ... I think he's going to be a good fit for us."

Brooks, like former Bull Nate Robinson, has no fear when it comes to taking and making big shots and creating his own shot off the dribble. Like Augustin and Robinson before him, Brooks should be able to help Thibodeau a lot this season. Also like Robinson, Brooks is from Seattle.

The last word: "It's, I think, a little unusual to have a back-to-back this early in training camp. But as I told our players, I liked it because this is the NBA. There are times when the schedule is in your favor [and] times when it's not. You got to be able to handle both." -- Thibodeau on the preseason schedule.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
StealsJ. Butler 1.9
BlocksJ. Noah 1.5