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."

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again


Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

Lauri Markkanen has been making headlines this offseason, mostly for bulking up considerably, and making appearances around Chicago at Nike camps and Jabari Parker’s camp, but as the season nears, his on-the-court exploits are starting to come up as well. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated put Lauri Markkanen on their list of five breakout candidates for the 2018-19 season

SI writer Michael Shapiro had this to say about Markkanen:

Markkanen has all the tools to be a future All-Star, and it looks as though he has the mindset, too. He seemed to take his matchup with Porzingis personally in early January, demanding the ball down the stretch en route to a career-high 33 points in a road victory. The Bulls enter 2018-19 on the outside of the East playoff picture, but Chicago is now home to the NBA’s newest unicorn.

High praise indeed for Markkanen, and well-deserved praise considering that he finished with a usage rate lower with the Bulls than his college stint at Arizona, yet still was able to have an impact on the Bulls. Shapiro mentioned Markkanen’s burgeoning off-the-dribble game as the skill that most stood out, and speaks to the Finnish big man’s All-Star potential. 

While the 21-year-old’s threes lived up to the hype, it was his prowess of the bounce that made the biggest impression. Markkanen showed a deft handle and array of canny fakes in the post, adding a mean streak to boot. The Finnisher lived up to his nickname, unafraid of contact and eager to fight for position in the post. The stereotype of the soft European big man doesn’t apply here.

The numbers back this up. 

Among the Bulls top 10 players in drives per game last season, Markkanen finished second in field percentage (on drives) at 46.1 percent. If that numbers rises, or more likely, Markkanen drives to the basket more, his scoring total will increase. And when it came to finishing around the paint in general, he shot  67.6 percent on shots from zero-to-three feet, making him the third best in that range out of the Bulls top nine rotation players last season. Yet among the same group of players, Markkanen ranked sixth in shot attempts from zero-to-three feet. With the presence of Wendell Carter Jr., and another year of internal growth from Bobby Portis- bigs that can stretch the floor -Markkanen should be the recipient of more plays putting him in a position to score around the basket.

On a roster that will surely give big minutes to Parker, Kris Dunn, Carter, Chandler Hutchison and a working-his-way-back to form Zach LaVine, Markkanen may be surest 3-point shooter on the floor. This means defenses will key in on his outside shot. If players are routinely closing out hard on Markkanen- as they should -this will open up more driving opportunities for the nimble seven-footer. 

The third or fourth season is usually when young players take the leap from good to great, but Markkanen will be playing with the most talented group of teammates he has ever been surrounded with. How he handles playing with this group will go a long way towards establishing what kind of player he will be in the future, specifically if he is an All-Star caliber talent. On the 2018-19 Bulls, someone will have to hover around a 20 percent usage rate, making them a clear third-option, whoever that player is, his last name should not be Markkanen.