Bulls: Fred Hoiberg clarifies miscommunication issues with Bobby Portis, Michael Carter-Williams

Bulls: Fred Hoiberg clarifies miscommunication issues with Bobby Portis, Michael Carter-Williams

Like most young players finding their footing in the NBA, Bobby Portis has had his ups and downs through his first two seasons. Now playing the best basketball of his career, Portis spoke with reporters on Monday about some of those difficult stretches, including a one-day D-League assignment in early January.

Portis described the assignment as confusing, noting that he "didn’t understand why I had to go down. At the same time I knew it was all for a reason."

Three days later Michael Carter-Williams, who was available Saturday after missing four straight games with a knee injury, spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times and admitted he wasn’t sure what role he was returning to. As one of five point guards on the now-healthy 15-man roster, Carter-Williams said the point-guard rotation had him "a little confused.”

Neither of those comments sat well with head coach Fred Hoiberg, who said prior to Saturday’s game against the Clippers that both players are fully aware of their roles on the team. He showed some irritation in responding to both stories, clarifying that he had spoken with both Portis and Carter-Williams.

"Let me talk about Bobby first. He and I had a good conversation before he went down to the D-League (on Jan. 6). He knew exactly why he was going down there," Hoiberg said. "He and I talked about, after I saw something in the media last week, he said, 'Coach, I meant nothing about that. I don't know how that came across.' He and I had that discussion. We talked about sending him back to the D-League a second time but after sitting down and talking with him we decided against it because he was going back into the rotation quickly."

Portis scored 32 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Windy City Bulls' victory on Jan. 6. He had been a DNP-CD in seven of the previous nine games, and only played a combined 5 minutes in the other two contests. He didn't play Jan. 7 after returning to the team, but then appeared in the next seven games.

"With Bobby, he said, 'Coach, I promise you I meant nothing by that," Hoiberg reiterated. "I don't know if something was taken out of context or what it was."

Portis is now a mainstay in the rotation, taking over the starting power forward job after Taj Gibson was dealt at the trade deadline. In his last seven games he's averaged 12.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 23.0 minutes.

Carter-Williams had started seven of the previous eight games before the injury. Jerian Grant has started in his absence, with Rajon Rondo running the second unit. While Carter-Williams sat the Bulls acquired Cameron Payne from Oklahoma City. Isaiah Canaan hasn’t played signifncant minutes since Feb. 12 but remains healthy on the roster.

"I talked with Michael yesterday. Biggest thing we talked about because we've had two very good conversations the previous two days, I want to make sure we're clear on everything we've got going on right now. He said, 'Absolutely. We're 100 percent clear,'" Hoiberg said. "So again we've just got to keep trying to do the best we can communicating and hopefully we get the message across.

"Michael said basically that he repeated a question (to the reporter) and the word 'confused' came up, but he said that he does not have any confusion. So you talk to them about it, use it as a learning experience and hopefully it doesn't happen again."

Earlier in the year Rondo expressed frustration about not knowing why he had been taken out of the rotation when he was a DNP-CD for five games in December and January. Rondo has since rejoined the rotation, taking command of the second unit after beginning the year as the starting point guard.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Coby White was on fire in win over Knicks


Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Coby White was on fire in win over Knicks

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and Dave Watson react to Coby White’s record-breaking game and the Bulls win over the Knicks

0:45 - On Coby White’s unreal 4th quarter

4:45 - On Bulls fans chanting Coby’s name at the end of the game

6:00 - On Wendell Carter Jr. and another double-double

8:20 - Should Coby White be starting?

12:30 - Viewer comment on Hutchison’s role when Otto Porter returns

16:20 - If you could only choose one duo to keep: Zach/Lauri or Coby/Wendell?

19:20 - Viewer comment on a Otto Porter for D’Angelo Russell trade idea

22:00 - Viewer comment on Kris Dunn’s game

24:25 - Who should John Sabine’s new best friend be?

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

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Bulls Outsiders


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Coby White helps power Bulls past Knicks with scoring barrage for the ages

Coby White helps power Bulls past Knicks with scoring barrage for the ages

When North Carolina coach Roy Williams talked to Coby White pregame Tuesday, he sensed his former player was a bit down.

“I just told him to relax,” Williams said. “How many years is a talent like that going to play? A decade? Ten games doesn’t define him.”

White’s 11th NBA game, however, will live forever in his and Williams’ hearts.

White authored a shooting performance for the ages, sinking seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the Bulls’ much-needed 120-102 victory over the Knicks and scoring 23 of his game-high 27 points in the final period.

The Bulls and Knicks entered the fourth quarter tied. White became the youngest player in NBA history to make seven 3-pointers, set a franchise record for 3-pointers in a quarter and tied the franchise mark for 3-pointers in a half. He fell two 3-pointers shy of Klay Thompson’s NBA record for 3-pointers in a quarter.

And Williams, who joined the standing ovation and chants of “Coby! Coby!” that boomed throughout the United Center, soaked it all in.

“It was a blessing to have him come all the way out here during his season. That explains the type of relationship you have when you go to North Carolina,” White said. “Our relationship goes beyond basketball. I love him.”

A touching moment played out on the game broadcast as Williams crashed White’s postgame on-court interview to hug him. Asked by NBC Sports Chicago’s Leila Rahimi what he would say to Williams, White smiled.

“Coach, can you come to more games?” the rookie said.

Alas, Williams can’t. He’s a little busy coaching North Carolina.

But perhaps White’s magic can carry over and help extract him from a slump that produced 3-for-26 shooting from 3-point range over his previous five games. White sank 7 of 11 from beyond the arc overall against the Knicks, scoring 18 points in the game-changing 22-0 run. At one point, White sank three 3-pointers in 54 seconds.

“I told him, ‘I’ve had 20-point quarters and I’ve seen duels with big players. I’ve never seen somebody hit seven 3s in a quarter,’” Zach LaVine said. “I’ve been telling you guys from the get-go. Coby is special. He can score the ball. He got hot. I don’t know how many he had going into the 4th. But it seemed like he had 30 in the fourth. That was as impressive as any of the (fourth quarters) I’ve ever seen.”

This is the second time this season White has taken over a fourth quarter. He scored 11 fourth-quarter points in the road victory over Memphis.

“I thought the beauty in Coby’s game was he let it come to him,” coach Jim Boylen said. “But we found him and we honored what he was doing by keep feeding him. That group did a helluva job.”

Indeed, Ryan Arcidiacono finished with eight assists and one turnover and Kris Dunn posted 13 points with three steals as the oft maligned three-guard lineup came through. White’s performance just screamed the loudest.

“He’s a gamer and he’s a worker,” Boylen said. “It bothers him when he doesn’t play as well as he thinks he could play. He cares.”

That’s evident in White’s off-day routine, which hasn’t changed whether he’s playing well or not.

“Just stick to my craft and what got me here, which is working hard and getting up reps in the gym,” White said. “I know to shoot your way out of a slump, you gotta shoot the ball and stay confident. If you’re not confident, you’re never going to hit shots. I just try to stick to my plan. Get in the gym, get up extra shots and stay level-headed and confident.”

White said Williams told him “to be Coby and use a little more legs on my shot.” And as for where this scoring barrage ranked for the most prolific scorer in North Carolina high school history?

“That’s No. 1,” White said.