Bulls

Schanowski: Is Thibodeau hiring linked to LeBron?

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Schanowski: Is Thibodeau hiring linked to LeBron?

Sunday, June 6, 2010
7:11 PM

By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

What do you think of the Bulls decision to hire Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau to a three-year, 6.5 million dollar contract to be their next head coach? Please post your comments in the section below, or send me an e-mail with your thoughts.

Personally, Im fine with the hire. Thibodeau is a veteran of 18 years as an assistant coach in the NBA, and his teams have finished in the top ten in defensive statistics in 15 of those seasons. Hes worked with some excellent head coaches, including Jeff Van Gundy and Doc Rivers. No, he doesnt have any head coaching experience, other than one season at his alma mater, Salem State, but hes certainly paid his dues. Talk to any player or coach whos worked with him, and they praise his tireless work ethic and defensive expertise. They also talk about how well he relates to players, and an underrated sense of humor. All of those qualities will serve him well in Chicago.

The other factor that bears watching is Thibodeaus relationship with the Creative Artists Agency, which also represents LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Noted NBA talent broker William Wesley, a.k.a. Worldwide Wes, is a newly certified coachs agent with C.A.A. And, Wes is telling everyone who wants to hear that LeBron is leaning towards signing with the Bulls when the free agent period arrives on July 1st.

Maybe its just a coincidence that John Paxson and Gar Forman jumped on a plane and traveled out to Los Angles on the day before the start of the Finals to interview Thibodeau. But given the fact they had permission to speak with him for some time and didnt seem to be in any hurry, the sudden trip to L.A. suggests that just maybe they got a tip from LeBrons team that hiring Thibodeau would be a positive in their bid to recruit James. Dont underestimate the influence of LeBrons closest advisors in how the final decision plays out. If LeBron decides to pull the plug on his Cavs career, hes looking for the ideal situation to win championships. And, if Thibodeaus defensive expertise, combined with the young nucleus of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson makes the Bulls more attractive to LeBron, then getting the coach wrapped up early was the right thing for the Bulls to do.

Also, did you watch the interview LeBron did with Larry King last week? LeBron might have said Cleveland has the edge in retaining his services, but he sure didnt look like a man who was planning to stay when talking about the upcoming free agent recruiting period. James said he couldnt wait until July 1st , and wishes it was already here. He was smiling from ear to ear when he talked about being the ring-leader for the greatest class of free agents the NBA has ever seen. He also talked about wanting to go to a team that gave him the best chance to win multiple championships, and that hardly describes the situation in Cleveland.

The Cavs did make a couple of moves to appease LeBron by firing head coach Mike Brown and General Manager Danny Ferry. Assistant G.M. Chris Grant was promoted to replace Ferry, and no doubt the Cavs will give LeBron veto power over all personnel moves if hes willing to stay. And, dont be surprised to hear the name of Kentucky coach John Calipari as a possible replacement for Brown. Calipari is tight with LeBron, and it might be the last desperate move the Cavs can make to keep the two-time M.V.P. in Cleveland.

Bottom line, the pursuit of James and the rest of the free agent class is already underway. The Bulls fired the first salvo with their hiring of Thibodeau, and you can count on a lot of trades during draft night June 24th as teams try to get their payrolls and rosters in order to do some serious free agent shopping. Well keep you updated every step of the way.

Bulls continue stockpiling young point guards

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USA TODAY

Bulls continue stockpiling young point guards

Point Guard of the Future Part VIII? 

The Bulls added another guard to their already-claustrophobic backcourt on Monday, claiming Kay Felder off free agency waivers, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania. 

Felder, 22, was dealt alongside Richard Jefferson from the Cavaliers to the Hawks on Saturday before being immediately waived.

The Bulls then decided to take a flyer on the Oakland University product because why the heck not? Barring some type of NBA miracle, the Bulls are on a season-long march to the lottery, so adding another young player can't hurt. Even if Felder is now the fifth point guard, joining Cameron Payne, Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono and Jerian Grant, on the squad. 

In 42 games with the Cavs last season, Felder averaged four points and 1.4 assists in just over nine minutes. He was drafted with the hope that he could further his NCAA reputation as a scorer. However, he connected on just 39 percent from the field during his rookie season. He's also undersized -- like Nate Robinson-Isaiah Thomas Undersized -- lowering his ceiling as a defender. 

Whether he can find a niche as a second-unit heat check guy remains to be seen, but with Kris Dunn expected to miss a few weeks, it gives Fred Hoiberg another option at the very least. He's also former NBA All-Star Steve Smith's cousin, should you believe in the power of basketball families. 

In a corresponding move, the Bulls waived Diamond Stone and preseason hero, Jarell Eddie. 

Observations from the Bulls' preseason finale loss to the Raptors

Observations from the Bulls' preseason finale loss to the Raptors

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Justin Holiday shines again

It's pretty evident who the leader of the Bulls is through the preseason. Whether he wanted it or not - and it seems like he did - Justin Holiday is the go-to man in Chicago. He finished his impressive presason with a 17-point outing against the Raptors, including 6-for-12 shooting, four 3-pointers, a steal and a block in 28 minutes. He even added four assists, showing some playmaking to go along with his scoring. He finishes the preseason averaging 17.2 points on 44 percent shooting, 57 percent (!!) from deep and 1.6 steals. He and LaVine will be fun to watch together on the wing.

Lauri Markkanen's jumper stays confident

Lauri Markkanen's NBA career got off to a rough start. But he's more than righted the ship. Gone is the 1-for-9 performance in his first outing, and in is the 11-for-21 he shot in his final two games. That included 7-for-12 from deep, and he even added seven rebounds on Friday against Toronto. Markkanen has plenty of weight to put on before he can hang inside - Toronto's tough interior pushed him around quite a bit in his 29 minutes - but this was another step in the right direction for Markkanen, whose back issues seemed non-existent.

Jerian Grant flirts with a triple-double

Jerian Grant was likely to earn the starting point guard job out of training camp even if Kris Dunn didn't get injured, and tonight would have solidified it. Grant had 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in 27 efficient minutes. Though Kyle Lowry had his way (17 points in 26 minutes) that was more or less to be expected. But Grant was confident stepping into his shot, played aggressive on defense (two steals, two fouls) and found plenty of open shooters. The Bulls may struggle this season, but Fred Hoiberg has to be happy starting a backcourt of Grant and Holiday.

Bobby Portis: Some good, some really bad

Bobby Portis has had a not-so-great preseason, so it was nice to see him score 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting and grab four rebounds in his preseason finale. Then again, he played 18 minutes and somehow committed eight turnovers. Between losing balls in traffic, errant passes and some head-scratching decisions, it was tough to call Portis' night a success. He should find time on the second unit, but he needs to show improvement in all areas, not just scoring.

Antonio Blakeney gives it one (nine) last shot(s)

It'd be nice to see a great story like Antonio Blakeney stick on the Bulls' roster, and he made sure he was remembered in his final preseason game. In 20 minutes he took nine shots, hitting three for nine points. He didn't record any other stat but three fouls in his time on the floor, and was a -21 as the Raptors rode away with the win in the fourth quarter. But we're putting him here because there's a chance he can make the Bulls' roster, especially with LaVine out and Zipser potentially needing to miss time.