Bulls

Gibson opens up about contract situation

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Gibson opens up about contract situation

James Harden, the Thunder guard, NBAs reigning Sixth Man of the Year (though he started Tuesday night) and Olympic gold medalist, wanted no part of the question. After being bombarded since the beginning of training camp about his own looming deadline for a long-term contract extension, he understandably didnt feel right commenting about former Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) rival Taj Gibsons similar situation.

He works hard, said Harden, answering generically. Hes a great player on a great team. Hes done a great job these last couple of years.

In the home locker room at the United Center, Gibson was much more forthcoming about his fellow upper-echelon reserve and fourth-year pro, even dropping his guard about his own situation.

Ive known James since he was 14 years old, since he was in California playing AAU, so to see both of us in this situation now, its great. If you look at it, you have an opportunity to better yourself, better your family for a long time to come, Gibson told CSNChicago.com. But youve just got to be patient. I talked to him at the USA Basketball trials in Las Vegas, where Harden played with Olympic team and Gibson was a member of the Select team and hes not really thinking about it too much.

When youre in this situation, a lot of people are more focused on it than you. You just have to let it slide off your shoulders. Joakim Noah was talking about to me about it a couple of days ago, but I always just shrug it off. I really dont even think about it, he continued. When you think about it, it kind of takes you away from the basketball aspect of it. But you really cant do anything about it, except worry about what you can take care of and thats the court work. Your agent and the GM has to worry about that.

Serge Ibaka, Hardens teammate and like Gibson, one of the top young defensive power forwards in the NBA, got his extension during the offseason, a major reason the Thunder still havent come to terms with Harden. When asked about his Bulls counterpart, the native of the Congo (via Spain), spoke freely about his admiration for Gibson.

Hes tough, man. He brings some energy, he can rebound, he runs the floor, he can shoot the ball, he plays defense. You dont have a lot of big guys that come off the bench and do the kind of stuff he does, said Ibaka. A player like Taj, any team would take him and I just wish him good luck. I know he will keep working to get better and better.

Tuesday wasnt one of Gibsons better preseason outings, but even in a game where his impact wasnt shown in the box score, just willing to be physical mattered in a game like the Bulls win over the short-handed Thunder. Ibaka and Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins were embroiled in a hoops battle royale with Bulls starting big men Noah and Carlos Boozer, in particular, all night long.

They played well. Theyre good players and yeah, theyre competitive, said Noah. It had a regular-season feel to it and I felt like we played pretty hard. It just feels good to get that competitive feeling back.

I think its just more about us, more than anything right now. Its just more about coming out with the right mindset. I think we did that today, which was pretty good and we competed. We competed hard we got better as a group. Weve just got to keep fighting, get better this last week of the preseason and get ready for the home opener, he added, before cryptically commenting on Perkins, his nemesis in the epic Bulls-Celtics 2009 first-round playoff series. Its been going on a long time. Its been going on a long time.

Countered Ibaka: Its basketball. Thats why I love it. Me and Perk, we love itthose two guys Boozer and Noah, theyre really tough.

Added Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau: You have to win a lot of different ways, so we have to be able to play physical and win, and not allow that to take away from what were trying to get accomplished out there. So, I think we can play that way. Theyre tough. Ive coached Perkins. I know how good he is defensively. Hasheem Thabeet, I thought, was very good for them. Ibaka was great. Theyve got a tough frontline.

Like Gibson, backup center Nazr Mohammed has had better days during the Bulls exhibition campaign. However, that doesnt mean he wasnt missed by his old team, as Thunder players and coaches showed the veteran, now playing for his hometown squad, plenty of love after the contest.

Nazr, first of all, hes a professional, a good guy. Hes the kind of guy, if you have him on the team, youll be happy. He works hard, hes a good example and I think hell a lot on this team the Bulls, especially coming off the bench, said Ibaka. He helped me become a better professional. Every time I did something, a mistake or whatever, hed help me.

Chimed in Brooks: He was a big part of our success. That guys a true professional. He works every day. Ive been around players, they work when the light is on, but hes always working, always putting in extra time in the weight room, in the cardio room, on the practice floor. Hes somebody that you want your young players to be around and he can still play. He had some good games for us. He didnt play much in the playoffs, but he was a big part of our success the last two years. Just his work ethic, the professionalism and his ability to rebound, and play defense and make a shot.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls dance with Warriors

Is there any better way to break in your new Black Friday television than Bulls-Warriors tonight? We think not. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live, and the game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports app

Here are three things to keep your eye on: 

1. Not the score. Let's be honest: the Bulls probably won't sneak out a win at the Oracle. In fact, ESPN's matchup predictor only gives Fred Hoiberg's young squad a 2.9 percent chance to come up victorious. UIC has three times better odds against juggernaut Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Sunday, in case you needed some context.  

With the talent gap in mind, though, it will be important for the Bulls to come out with high energy. The Warriors will likely take the contest lightly in the first half, so starting off strong reflects well on the coaching staff and starters. Stay within 10 points by the half, and that's considered a massive triumph. 

2. Lauri Markkanen vs. Draymond Green? Assuming the Dubs start out with Green on Markkanen, this will be rookie's biggest test of the season. Green is an elite defender, capable of wrecking gameplans from the tip. He's physical, quick and athletic. 

Markkanen is coming off two duds on the West Coast trip, but his aggressiveness hasn't wavered. It'll be important for him to continue to attack even with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year hounding him. 

3. Steph, KD and Klay doin' work. The Bulls offense hasn't exactly been a thing of beauty through the first 16 games. Their offensive rating is a brutal 94.4, ranked last in the NBA. Golden State, on the other hand, sits at the top with a rating of 113.1. 

Take some time to admire the skills of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson because when it comes to working cohesively on offense, they've set the gold standard. 

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.