Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg had just concluded his media session on Sunday afternoon after practice when he learned of Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders’ death, one of Hoiberg’s NBA mentors.
Hoiberg, who played his final two years in Minnesota under Saunders and was formerly president of basketball operations there, was still processing the news when he graciously spoke with reporters again.
“I just … little bit of shock right now,” Hoiberg said. “Flip played a huge part in my life from everything from bringing me in and giving me a chance to taking a lot of the philosophy that he had. He’s a great mentor, he’s a great leader. … That’s the thing. Riding home on a plane, win or lose, Flip was always upbeat, talking to you, he’d come back and sit down and see how you’re feeling, especially during struggles.
"He’s a fatherly figure, such a caring individual. It’s just awful how this whole thing went down.”
Saunders, 60, had been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but doctors had earlier described it as “very treatable and curable.”
“He’s a great basketball man,” Hoiberg added. “He accomplished some really special things with the Timberwolves. … There’s not one person that you could talk to to get to say one bad thing about Flip Saunders.”
Antonio Blakeney's past 12 months have landed him a permanent spot on the Bulls, according to Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania.
The signing comes as little surprise for a number of reasons, beginning with Blakeney's play.
He was named the G-League Rookie of the Year after averaging 32.0 points per game for the Windy City Bulls last season. He then fared well alonside Wendell Carter Jr. in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 21.0 points on 40 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in five games.
Blakeney, playing on a two-way contract, had a cup of coffee with the Bulls in 2017, averaging 7.9 points on 37 percent shooting in 19 games. He scored a career-high 16 points on two different occasions.
He'll likely take the spot left vacant by wing David Nwaba, a player whose qualifying offer from the Bulls was rescinded in order to free up more cap space to sign Jabari Parker.
Blakeney will battle with Denzel Valentine, Justin Holiday and Chandler Hutchison for minutes on the second unit.
Chicago basketball is a brotherhood. Jabari Parker made that much clear during his introductory press conference on Wednesday at the United Center atrium.
When asked by a reporter about what the Chicago native and Simeon alum thought about the "rise and fall" of Derrick Rose's NBA career, Parker took a hard stance defending the former league MVP.
"Derrick had no lows. He didn't, because he still maintained. Derrick is a legend, no matter. I don't like how you explained that," Parker said.
"Injuries is a part of life. Everybody has an injury, either athletics or normal life. But Derrick is one of the best players to ever play the game and one of the best icons in Chicago. So, he accomplished his duty already."
Parker and Rose have more than just Simeon basketball and a Chicago upbringing in common. Both suffered multiple knee injuries early in their careers - Rose's infamous ACL tear in the 2012 playoffs and subsequent MCL tears; Parker tore his ACL in both his rookie and third NBA seasons with the Bucks. - and battled back through them.
And now they both have ties to the Bulls.
Last week Parker agreed to a two-year, $40 million deal with his hometown team. He'll join a young core including Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Wendell Carter Jr. as the Bulls enter Year 2 of their rebuild.
Parker wasn't the only one to stick up for Rose.