Bulls players have 'no regrets' after airing grievances, front office disappointed with distraction

Bulls players have 'no regrets' after airing grievances, front office disappointed with distraction

No backing down, no regrets from the main participants of the latest merry-go-round of Bulls drama.

Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo each spoke to the media after being fined by the Bulls, according to Rondo. Each gave strong statements about the state of affairs in the last 48 hours and after criticism from Rondo, Wade and Butler said they would have no issues having a working relationship after Rondo's pointed Instagram post Thursday afternoon.

The Bulls had a team meeting before morning shootaround Friday, where apparently all grievances were aired, and the meeting was attended by GM Gar Forman and VP John Paxson.

"Good meeting. Grown men talking to grown men," Wade said. "(Forman) has a role and a position and he didn't like the way the way things were said and done. He decided to put a halt to that and hold us accountable."

Forman said in his statement that the public statements were unacceptable, without taking questions from the media.

"We were extremely disappointed that several players chose to speak out after our last game," Forman said. "Every team has issues and it's our strong belief that when you have issues or critical comments that you keep those issues or critical comments in house, that it is not shared through you (media) guys, that it is not shared through social media.

"It's now how we want to operate; it is totally unacceptable, and we made it very clear to the players that were involved that it's unacceptable."

[Scalabrine: Rajon Rondo is 100 percent right]

Wade said he accepted whatever punishment management came down with, but reiterated he has no issues with anyone in the locker room.

"I can't speak for everybody. (But) I have no ill intentions or hard feelings for anyone," Wade said. "I want everyone to succeed in this locker room, this year and beyond, in this game."

Wade seemed more than comfortable in his own skin in addressing his comments and standing as a leader on this team.

"Like I always tell everybody, if I get in front of you guys 10 times, I may not get it right 10 out of 10," Wade said. "But for the most part, I try to say the things that I feel and I try to be truthful. I can always live with that. When you're a leader, certain things you do and say aren't always going to be the popular thing in the locker room. You have to understand this. 

"That's why some guys don't want to be leaders. Some guys want to be in the middle of the pack so they can be liked. As a leader, sometimes you can't be liked. It's the harsh truth and harsh reality. I'm probably not liked in this locker room today. I'm OK with that."

Rondo took aim to Wade's leadership style and the fact he doesn't practice all the time, indirectly comparing Wade to the players who ushered him in with the Boston Celtics in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Wade coolly replied, "I'm 35. I'm not practicing every day."

"I have a professional relationship with anybody who I need to and I have to," Wade said of Rondo. "I have no problem. I've been a big supporter with Rondo out in the public eye with what he's been dealing with and being taken out of the starting lineup and how he's handled it. I have no issues, no problems with Rondo at all."

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

All three, along with Fred Hoiberg taking questions and Forman issuing a statement without taking questions, addressed the events in differing detail.

"We met with all of them this morning," Hoiberg said. "We went in that room and hashed a lot of things out, and we're going to move forward from this. A lot of things were handled from within, and we're going to leave it that way."

Butler, who found himself in the eye of a storm last year after saying Hoiberg should coach the team harder, didn't seem to mind the attention, even claiming he thrives on controversy.

"I'm sorry but I like controversy," Butler said. "I like it. Butting heads. At the end of the day we're all we got anyways so you gotta go out and battle with the guys that's around here. That's that."

As for Rondo, Butler said, "I'm gonna come in here every day. Your opinion is your opinion. I'm gonna still come out and go to war with you. I don't have anything negative to say to him. You spoke your mind, I spoke my mind, move on."

Rondo felt he was speaking for the unheard, the young players who don't have a voice but were criticized by Wade and Butler, to varying degrees.

"I said what I said. People can take it how they want to," Rondo said. "I made a statement. I wasn't angry, it wasn't a rant. Just my thoughts."

When asked if he was sticking up for the young guys, Rondo said, "Yes, absolutely. I wasn't trying to be the bad guy or talk down to anyone, but the young guys, some who didn't have a voice or a certain platform, I wanted to speak freely and say what I thought. I have a great relationship with a lot of them, pretty much all of them, and they got it out today.''

Rondo took affront to the notion the young players don't work as hard on their games, noting that through his benching, they're in the Advocate Center trying to get better.

"Certain comments were made and I just felt like I needed to make a statement for my team," Rondo said. "One thing I loved about this team that was different from the past the last couple years of my career, was that when I got here the young guys were in the gym. 

"I love to comeback myself at night, but when I came back there were seven or eight guys here getting their work in. I disagree with the comment about the work ethic. Like guys want to win, guys take their job very seriously. And they're young, so they needed to be guided the right way."

To a man, each of them felt like the strong words could be productive in the long run even though the drama in the moment has added some unwanted attention in the eyes of the front office, started by Wade and Butler's comments following Wednesday's loss to Atlanta, capped off by Rondo's elaborative and even scathing Instagram post Thursday afternoon where he criticized the leadership on the floor.

Rondo intimated Butler and Wade have influence on the coaching staff, which Butler didn't necessarily deny.

"I don't think like that. I just play ball. Maybe? If I have a concern, I go to them," Butler said. "That don't mean he listens to me all the time, but I would hope that he takes my opinion into mind."

Options if the Bulls trade down: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura

Options if the Bulls trade down: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura

On draft night, there is a decent possibility that the Bulls front office looks at their draft board and collectively decide that they can get a player with No. 7 pick value later in the first round. They could be inclined to feel this way more than in most years due to the 2019 draft class being such a toss up after the top three picks. If the Bulls traded down in the draft, I am assuming they would be netting a valuable future first-round pick, likely with some minimal protections. In this series, we will be looking at prospects the Bulls could take should they trade down in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Rui Hachimura per The Stepien:

71 percent at the rim

44.2 percent on short midrange

47.6 percent on long midrange

52.1 percent on NBA 3s (12/23)

Boylen talked a ton this season about “toughness” being a key tenet of the new Bulls culture moving forward. The idea of that “toughness” didn’t translate on the court heavily, though the Bulls did improve slightly in rebound rate under Boylen.

From the time for Boylen took over, the Bulls ranked 14th in defensive rebound rate and 25th in total rebound rate, up from 16th and 28th respectively under Hoiberg. Those numbers are a bit of smoke-and-mirrors with all the factors at play this past (weird) Bulls season.

But Boylen did have a much heavier focus on generating points inside first, with the team ranking third in the league in points in the paint per game during his tenure. Rui Hachimura fits in extremely well with the idea of the Bulls punishing teams inside with low-post scoring depth, resulting in open looks on the perimeter.

Hachimura stands 6-feet-8-inches tall, 230 lbs., with a 7-foot-2-inch wingspan. He is a very physical player and utilizes his wingspan incredibly well in traffic. Hachimura posted a 17.4 percent defensive rebound rate over his three-years at Gonzaga. I mentioned above how Hachimura embraces contact and his career average of 7.5 free throw attempts per 40 minutes helps showcase his ability to be a wrecking ball in the paint.

He has the potential to excel as a small-ball center with the right personnel surrounding him. The fact that he can grab a defensive board and initiate the fastbreak makes him an even more valuable prospect. But when you consider that lineups with he and Markkanen as the two bigs on the floor would have five capable ball-handlers, the idea of Rui in Chicago becomes even more enticing.

Overall, Hachimura is a great prospect with a solid skill set that should allow him to be a decent scorer from day one, it all just depends on how much of an opportunity he gets.

The Bulls--as John Paxson has reiterated many, many times now--feel comfortable with the starters they have at the two, three, four and five positions, with point guard being their main area of weakness. While the Bulls don’t necessarily need another big, they do need to add productive players who are young. With Boylen’s emphasis on having multiple ball-handlers, driving the ball and points in the paint, Hachimura would be a logical selection, though No. 7 overall could be a bit of a reach for the 21-year old big.

His defense definitely has a long way to go--as with most NBA draft prospects--but Hachimura’s situation is unique since he literally had a language barrier to overcome when he first got to Gonzaga in 2017. The belief right now is that Hachimura is in a comfortable spot right now in terms of both speaking and understanding English, as reporting from Sam Vecine of the The Athletic (LINK is behind a paywall) and others has backed up.

With that being said, the Japanese forward still makes too many mistakes on the defensive end of the floor to be a surefire top 10 pick.

He is at his core an offensive-minded player, and as a result has not exactly developed much in the way of defensive intensity over the years. Hachimura averaged 0.6 steals per game and 0.5 blocks per game for his NCAA career.

For comparison’s sake, his steal and block rates are almost identical to Marvin Bagley III during his time at Duke. Bagley had a highly productive rookie season with the Kings--landing a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First-Team--but the Kings defense was still four points worse when he was on the floor per cleaningtheglass.com ($).

Despite having similar measurements to Bagley, I don’t believe that Hachimura posses quite the level of athleticism that Bagley does, making his path to becoming an above average defender that much harder.

Ultimately, if Hachimura’s awesome shooting numbers from NBA 3-point range (41.7 percent) on a small sample size (36 attempts) aren’t smoke-and-mirrors, he will greatly outplay his draft position. Hachimura shot 52.1 percent on his NBA range 3-pointers and also has a career 74.6 percent free throw percentage. Whether he was diving to the rim on pick-and-rolls with Lauri spacing the floor, or playing in a high/low offense with another big on the bench unit, there is a clear path to Hachimura being effective in Chicago. It would just take a ton of patience from the Bulls new-look coaching staff.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bulls need a point guard. The Bears Top 100 list continues


Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Bulls need a point guard. The Bears Top 100 list continues

0:00- Will Perdue drops by to talk hoops. What will the Bulls do this summer to address their point guard need?

7:00- The Bulls need a point guard. Derrick Rose is a free agent. Should they bring him back home?

11:30- Carman says the Bulls should consider trading for Lonzo Ball. Kap yells at him.

16:30- Will talks about this year's playoffs and if anybody will be the Warriors?

20:00- The Bears Top 100 list continues to dominate discussion. Chris makes the case for Jay Cutler to be higher. He gets yelled at.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: