Bulls assign Johnson to D-League

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- The Chicago Bulls announced on Thursday morning that they have assigned forward James Johnson to the NBA Development League. The second-year forward will play for the Iowa Energy, the Bulls' affiliate in the D-League.

"It's a tough decision, and James has done a terrific job," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "His attitude's been great. He's worked extremely hard in practice, and we just felt because of the way things were going, he wasn't playing much so we wanted to give him an opportunity to get some playing time. I think he's going to a very good team, and it will be an opportunity for him ... to get some playing time. Games are different than practice, so I think it will be good for him."

After showing flashes of improved play early in the season, Johnson has rarely played over the past two months. It was clear that he wasn't going to get much of a chance to break back into Tom Thibodeau's rotation this season. Johnson averaged 3.5 points and 2 rebounds this season. At just 23, he's still got a chance to get his game back on track, but his place at the end of the Bulls bench appears locked in place for the foreseeable future.

"He's done a lot of good things here the first half of the season," Thibodeau said. "His attitude and the way he's practiced has been excellent. The big thing is that when guys do go down [to the D-League] it's important that they want to go down because I think that if you go down with the wrong attitude -- the D-League is a very good league.

"And I think you're seeing more and more teams use it that way; when guys aren't getting playing time, you look at your schedule, where you are in the schedule, and if it makes sense to give a guy an opportunity to get into a situation where he can get 30-35 minutes to play. So we did that and he wanted to do it, so it wasn't the case of him not wanting to go. It's not a punishment, it's just an opportunity for him to get some playing time to develop."