Bulls

Ankle injury makes Gibson's status uncertain

Ankle injury makes Gibson's status uncertain

Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010
Updated 4:31 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

PHOENIX Just prior to Wednesdays tip-off, Bulls starting power forward Taj Gibson was ruled out for the teams thrilling double-overtime win over the Suns. Gibson suffered a right ankle injury previously misidentified as a foot injury, prompting initial concerns of Gibson further aggravating his plantar fasciitis issues from last season during Sundays team practice in Los Angeles.

After the Bulls win Wednesday, Gibson further clarified the issue.

Its my ankle. I thought it was my foot, but after MRIs, its my ankle. A lot of information, but Im fine, said Gibson, who scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Tuesdays loss to the Lakers, despite not practicing in the days leading up to the game. It was a little swollen. Im getting ready to play, hopefully getting ready to play Friday for the Bulls game against Denver.

I tried to play against the Suns, but its hard to pressure on it after guarding and playing 40 minutes last night. Its a little tough, just trying to scramble. I didnt want to hurt my team because I knew it would be tough on defense for me to switch lanes because its real painful, said Gibson, who confirmed to CSNChicago.com a Bulls officials text message that he wouldnt play against Phoenix as he was seated on the bench during his teammates pregame warmups. I didnt really panic. I just knew it was a long game. I wanted to get out there and compete, I just didnt want to hurt my team.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau concurred with Gibsons assessment that he could have played, but was sidelined more for precautionary measures and indicated the second-year forward would be a game-time decision for Fridays game against the Nuggets.

He probably could have played. We just want to make sure he gets the rest and hes fine. Another day off (Thursday) and hopefully hes ready to go against Denver, said Thibodeau. Its just like the other day Tuesday in Los Angeles. He comes to practice, he warms up, if it loosens up and it feels good, then he goes. If it doesnt loosen up and he thinks its a problem, then hes not going to go.

Said Gibson: Knowing me, Im going to go out there Friday.

Well see. Ill just listen to coach and listen to the Bulls team trainers, listen to Bulls team doctor Brian Cole he came in today just to see my foot. The positive thing is no tears, no ligament damage. He just said its bruise or something deep in the tissue. I just took a day off. They the Bulls medical staff just told me to relax and get ready for next week, he added. Weve got great trainers. Weve got a great coach; he understands minutes and stuff like that. Getting back to just getting ice and treatment tonight and tomorrow.

Reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer started in Gibsons place Wednesday, with starting small forward Luol Deng shifting over to power forward.

Slow start. In fairness to him, we didnt know Taj wasnt going to play until the last minute, Thibodeau said of Brewer. I dont know if he was ready to start, but hes been playing very well.

Second-year forward James Johnson, out of Thibodeaus regular rotation recently, perhaps gave himself some new life with his solid performance off the bench Wednesday, as well as his power forward build combined with perimeter skills.

Were looking for energy and James has actually been practicing very, very well and his approach has been great. He comes in, hes putting in a lot of extra time, so I have a lot of confidence in him, said Thibodeau. His athleticism really stood out. We were flatI thought he gave us a big lift. Hes a high-energy guy.

When Carlos went out, we were very confident that Taj would step up and hes done thatif Taj is out, the next guy steps up and he gets the job, he continued. We need everybody in that room. Everybodys going to get a chanceTaj was out, so were down a man and the next guy has to be ready to step up.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend

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USA TODAY

Reflective Jimmy Butler looks back on time in Chicago during All-Star weekend

LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Butler was absent from the scoresheet of the All-Star Game, unless you count a “DNP-Coaches’ Decision” as activity. Whether due to the All-Star festivities of the weekend or even the grinding minutes he plays under Tom Thibodeau, it wasn’t truly surprising to see him want to have a night off of sorts.

But what was mildly surprising was the reflection he displayed on Saturday at All-Star Media Day in reference to his time with the Chicago Bulls. Usually, Butler’s armor is up because of his feelings surrounding his draft-night departure.

“I learned a lot in Chicago,” Butler said. “Just all through the season and life in general. What to do, what not to do and how to adapt to any situation that you’ve been in. I’ve done that to the best of my abilities. I have a ways to go in that.”

It’s clear he’s still grasping the weight of his words as the best player on a team, or at least, the player whose words impact everything around him.

“A people pleaser? No, I just didn’t say much,” Butler said. “Now I just don’t care. I never talked whenever I was in the league at an early age. It really didn’t matter, nothing I did was gonna make or break us when it comes to losing a game. Now it does and I have a lot to say. Half the time it’s not the right time or right way to say it but it’s okay.”

Whether it was the battles with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg or the internal struggles in the Bulls’ locker room through his ascension from bench warmer to rotation player to impact player to now, a legitimate star, he’s modifying his approach—just a tad.

“I’ve never been the best player on my own team. I was in Tomball,” he joked, in reference to his beginnings in small town Texas. “I wasn’t in junior college. At Marquette I wasn’t. I’m probably not now. In Chicago I wasn’t. You just pick up on it, watch others and learn.”

He admitted to writing in a journal and reading self-help books now that he’s in Minnesota. The novel he’s reading now, “Faith, Forward, Future” is authored by Chad Veach, a Los Angeles pastor and the subtitle of the book says “Moving past your disappointments, delays and destructive thinking.”

Whether he started the book following a slow start with the Timberwolves in November, where his nightly numbers looked like one of a high-level role player, he took some self-evaluation before leading the charge since, playing like an MVP candidate with 25.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 49 percent shooting since the start of December.

“It’s relatively new. Yeah, basketball is still basketball but it’s hard when somebody else is coming in and roles change overnight,” Butler said. “You gotta see where you fit in with the group. At the end of the day you gotta win. I didn’t feel the way I was playing was our best opportunity to win games.”

Bringing along the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, with Towns being a fellow All-Star for the first time, has been a process.

“I’ve never actually had to be a leader,” Butler said. “I just always done what I was supposed to do, didn’t say much and played hard. Now you know, everybody wants to call someone a leader.”

He disputes taking a softer hand, especially as Towns and Wiggins seem to struggle with sustaining concentration at critical moments. The Timberwolves won’t be able to make those mistakes during the playoffs, but he’s being more selective with his words.

“I’m not soft,” he said. “If I see something wrong, I speak on it. If you don’t like it, oh well. You’ll get over it.”

One thing he could take a bird’s eye view of was the aftermath of LeBron James and Kevin Durant’s comments to the “Uninterrupted”, where they were criticized by cable news hosts for speaking out against President Donald Trump.

No stranger to criticism, Butler would likely have the same approach if he dipped his toes into that arena.

“I like it. You got the right to say what you want and you speak on what you think is right,” Butler said. “Good for them. And they are magnified in a very big way. They embrace it and they’re doing the right thing, I’m all for it.”

And if the day comes where he doesn’t stick to sports, Butler’s directness and lack of diplomacy would certainly cause an interesting reaction.

“I don’t care. Whatever I believe in, I believe in,” Butler said. “Everybody else does it. You see everybody on Twitter and the Internet doing it and saying what they want to say. We just have a different job than the person to our left and right.”

Well, not quite a warm and fuzzy Jimmy Butler.

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

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AP

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”