Bulls

Bulls: Jimmy Butler named finalist for Team USA's 2016 Olympic basketball roster

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Bulls: Jimmy Butler named finalist for Team USA's 2016 Olympic basketball roster

Jimmy Butler has been named one of the 30 finalists for Team USA's Olympic men's basketball roster, which will eventually be cut to 12 players this summer.

Butler, the league's most improved player a year ago, has taken his game to another level in his fifth NBA season, averaging 22.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists in a league-high 38.2 minutes per game.

[RELATED: Butler makes big impression in front of USA's Colangelo]

Butler joined Team USA's basketball camp in Las Vegas this past summer after signing a five-year max deal with the Bulls.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Butler is the only member of the Bulls named a finalist. Derrick Rose played for Team USA in the 2014 FIBA World Championships but was not named a finalist.

Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is an assistant for the team under Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. The 2016 Olympic Games begin Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Bulls have not had a player compete for Team USA in the Olympics since Scottie Pippen in 1996.

In the 2012 Olympics the Bulls had Luol Deng (Great Britain) compete.

Pau Gasol will compete for Spain's national team in Rio, though he is likely to opt out of his Bulls contract after this season.

The finalists, along with Butler, are: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge, Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, Mike Conley, DeMarcus Cousins, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Kevin Durant, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Paul George, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Gordon Hayward, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, John Wall and Russell Westbrook.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: