Hoiberg, Bulls excited about addition of 'versatile' Carter-Williams

Hoiberg, Bulls excited about addition of 'versatile' Carter-Williams

The Bulls officially consummated their trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, acquiring point guard Michael Carter-Williams for Tony Snell Monday morning, in a deal that was agreed upon late Saturday night.

Carter-Williams, the 2013-14 Rookie of the Year in Philadelphia before being traded to Milwaukee in the 2014-15 season, is expected to be the primary backup point guard to starter Rajon Rondo once he takes his physical later Monday afternoon.

He won't be available for Monday's preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets, but could play later in the week as the Bulls head to Omaha, Nebraska.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is excited about the possibilities of having another playmaker in the backcourt, and not so much concerned about his lack of shooting (Carter-Williams shot 27.3 percent from deep last year).

“I think he’s a versatile basketball player,” Hoiberg said. “He’s shown he can get into the ball and defend full court. His numbers speak for itself on what he can do on the floor as a scorer, averaging over 14 and a half points for his career. Also a very good rebounder and passer with good vision, averaging six rebounds and six assists for his career. Just excited to get him, a long and athletic guard that can play multiple positions.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Playing Carter-Williams as a facilitator for the second unit with players like Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic and Denzel Valentine as shooters could be his greatest offensive value, as the Bulls can put him on the block to create double-teams to create open shots.

Ideally, Snell was supposed to fill that role for the Bulls as a secondary perimeter defender but couldn’t find his footing or a fit with his spotty play. He struggled all last season and didn’t seem to be a fit with the new pieces the Bulls acquired over the summer.

“It’s tough because they become family,” said Taj Gibson, who talked to Snell Sunday night and said Snell was happy someone wanted him. “There have been a lot of ups and downs, been in a lot of hostile situations with them. So it’s always tough but it’s the business part of it. It never gets easy but you have to just wish them well knowing they’re going to a better situation to help their game and just keep pushing forward.”

Gibson remembers Carter-Williams from the Bulls-Bucks playoff series in 2015 and said Carter-Williams defended Derrick Rose “extremely well” in the six-game tilt, so he can see how Carter-Williams can fit in defensively.

“He’s a talented young player,” said Gibson, while agreeing with the assertion Carter-Williams can get under opponents’ skin with his style. “He’s a point that can really handle the ball and get guys open looks. He can guard.

“Because he’s long, he’s really taller than most point guards plus he’s aggressive as far as rebounding the ball on the offensive end and he’s going to being a lot of toughness to the team.”

Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg


Jimmy Butler's injury produced memories for Zach LaVine, Fred Hoiberg

MINNEAPOLIS — That feeling of having your knee buckle out of nowhere, Zach LaVine is all-too familiar with it.

That feeling of being on the sidelines and watching Jimmy Butler’s knee give out, Fred Hoiberg has been there, too.

Different perspectives, and different reactions but Butler’s knee injury produced a sick feeling to many who watched it Friday night. Butler turned to pivot in the Timberwolves’ game against the Houston Rockets and immediately collapsed on the floor, having to be carried off.

LaVine tore his ACL in Detroit over a year ago, while it was revealed Butler suffered a right meniscus injury. But it looked all the same and LaVine understood the uncertainty Butler must’ve been feeling before the MRI revealed it wasn’t an ACL injury.

“It’s scary,” LaVine said following morning shootaround at the Target Center Saturday afternoon. “I wish him the best. You don’t want to see that happen to anybody. Especially a player of his caliber and what he’s done for the team.”

When LaVine injured his ACL, he actually played a few more minutes before being removed and going to the locker room. The time between being evaluated by doctors and them coming back feels like a lifetime.

“It’s scary. You know you hurt yourself, you don’t know how bad,” LaVine said. “You think you’re good, you’re a tough minded person trying to get through it.”

“I saw him on the ground trying to get up, (Rockets guard) Chris Paul made him sit down. Jimmy’s a tough dude. Thoughts and prayers going out to him.”

Butler and LaVine were the centerpieces of the draft day trade involving the Bulls and Timberwolves. With Butler suffering the injury the night before playing his former team a second time, the timing produced a bunch of memories.

In Hoiberg’s first year with the Bulls, Butler went down in a somewhat similar manner in Denver, a non-contact injury. It looked just as bad, and Butler was taken off the floor in a wheelchair.

Thankfully it was a right knee strain that cost him several weeks but it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Considering the minutes he’s played over the last few years, Hoiberg was asked if Butler pushes himself too hard to be on the floor.

“Jimmy he wants to be out there,” Hoiberg said. “I remember the first year in Denver, he went down with what looked to be a serious injury. Thankfully he was back on the floor after 15-16 games.”

Actually, Butler missed 11 consecutive games before coming back for a nationally-televised game against the Rockets, playing 34 minutes in a Bulls win and missing the next three games for recovery.

“We really worried when he went down but it wasn’t something that ended his season,” Hoiberg said. “Jimmy’s a worker. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve seen. It’s a huge reason for the type of player he is, that work ethic to make him one of the elite players in the league.”

With Bulls-Timberwolves looming, Jimmy Butler is diagnosed with meniscus injury


With Bulls-Timberwolves looming, Jimmy Butler is diagnosed with meniscus injury

Jimmy Butler won't be facing the Bulls a second time this season.

Butler suffered a non-contact knee injury on Friday night in Houston. The initial X-ray only revealed he didn't have any broken bones, but the MRI had to wait until Saturday.

The Timberwolves announced that the MRI revealed a meniscus injury in Butler's right knee. There is not yet word on how long the All-Star guard will be out of action, but if it wasn't already assumed that he wouldn't play against the Bulls, it's now certain.

Avoiding the ACL tear means avoiding the worse case scenario, but this is likely still going to cause Butler to miss a significant amount of time with about a quarter of the regular season remaining.

The Bulls take on the Timberwolves on Saturday night. Butler dropped 38 points at the United Center in his return to Chicago exactly two weeks ago, but the Bulls won 114-113.

Butler posted on Instagram a reaction to the injury.

Saturday's game will be the returns of Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to Minnesota after they went the other direction in the Butler trade on draft night last June.