Bulls

After meeting Sunday, Hoiberg, Butler address 'elephant in the room'

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After meeting Sunday, Hoiberg, Butler address 'elephant in the room'

Jimmy Butler couldn't ignore what he called “the elephant in the room” when he walked into the Advocate Center for Bulls shootaround after his comments about wanting Fred Hoiberg to coach the team harder. And neither could the Bulls’ coach.

“I had a great talk with Jimmy yesterday,” Hoiberg said. “We met for over an hour in my office and talked a lot of things out and I think came out in a better place. Sometimes, in a situation like what happened, you can become a better team and a better leader.”

Hoiberg admitted ever-so-slightly there are improvements he can make to his style, even though the team hasn’t fully bought in to his strongest suit, the fast-moving offensive scheme.

“Are there some things I can do better? Sure. Are there some things that all of us can do better? Absolutely,” Hoiberg said. “Are there some things I need to demand probably a little bit more? Sure. But it’s something where I thought we made a lot of progress as a team. It’s getting back to those things we demanded leading into that win streak.”

[MORE BULLS: As Jimmy Butler finds his voice, time for Fred Hoiberg to do the same]

For his part, Butler didn’t regret his comments about Hoiberg but said they came from a place of emotion after two losses in a 24-hour span: a four-overtime loss to Detroit coupled with a dead-legged showing in New York against the Knicks, which prompted his display of frustration afterward.

“I put a lot of it on myself now because I got to lead better,” Butler said. “Can’t allow stuff to happen. Yeah, we lost one I wanted to have at home against Detroit, and then the way that we lost in New York, so you got raw emotion right there.”

After Butler and Hoiberg mutually agreed on the team plane to meet Sunday afternoon, Butler also had to talk with some of his teammates before the morning shootaround.

He said it “opened some eyes” for his teammates considering he did it in such a bold and public manner.

“Because people know when they’re doing things they’re not supposed to be doing,” Butler said. “So hopefully that’s changed. We addressed it in the media, Fred had, so I think it will all turn around for the better.”

[MORE BULLS: NBA Power Rankings: The league's other best team]

He admits it’s a learning curve for himself, as he earned a max contract this summer with his strong play but never found himself in a position as a team leader. So while a first-year coach is taking steps about learning his team, Butler is taking steps about developing his own style as a leader.

“Tell you the truth, I had more things to say to people individually,” Butler said. “Fred did majority of talking when we were in the film room earlier. But I think when I walked in this building, everybody knew what was going on. I explained my opinion and what I'm gonna do to change things here. Everybody accepted what I had to say.”

It’s been said Butler hasn’t been as accepting of Hoiberg’s offensive style and that he’s broken off plays, so when Butler was asked who should Hoiberg start coaching harder, he pointed the finger squarely at his chest.

“Me. Truthfully, I mean that. Myself,” he said. “I think if you can set an example out of me, the way that I’m playing right now at a high level, that will make it easier for guys to take criticism on this floor, on this team. And then if they see me react like a child and pout and whine, then it gives them reason to do so. But I’m not going to do that, so it won’t give them a reason to do that.”

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Butler denied it had anything to do with some of the lethargic play that occurred last season with previous coach Tom Thibodeau, and it only came out due to the two-game losing streak that dropped the Bulls to 15-10.

“Nope. It goes back to what I always said, if we would've won that game in New York, it wouldn't have never happened,” Butler said. “But because we lost and I was pissed and frustrated, that's what you got.”

“If we run off 20 games in a row, it was a good thing. Winning takes care of everything. If we win, that's good, it needed to happen. If we lose, uh-oh, you know what I mean? At the same time I think it's good. Everybody knows what they have to do what they're supposed to do. Everybody's a leader and gotta bring their best every day.”

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.