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.

The Palace of Auburn Hills demolished, site of many Bulls-Pistons battles

The Palace of Auburn Hills demolished, site of many Bulls-Pistons battles

It's the building in which the Bulls' dynasty took off.

It's also the building in which plenty of Bulls' heartbreak occurred.

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Yes, the Palace of Auburn Hills, located in Auburn Hills, Mich., met its demise Saturday morning. Workers imploded the grand building, which, as one of the first multipurpose arenas, served as an instructional blueprint for the Bulls and Blackhawks when they constructed the United Center. 


The Pistons played in the arena from 1988 to 2017, and won two championships while calling it home. Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has said many times over the years that then-Pistons owner Bill Davidson, who privately financed the arena, advised him and Bill Wirtz on its good and bad aspects before Reinsdorf and Wirtz teamed up to open the United Center in 1994.

Most everyone who went there simply called it “The Palace.” It's where the Pistons, led by Isiah Thomas, refused to shake the Bulls' hands as they swept them out of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals en route to the first of their six titles. It's also where Scottie Pippen suffered a migraine headache in a depressing Game 7 loss in the 1990 Eastern Conference finals.

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"They were always bullying people, and I remember at shootaround that morning we swept them, they were yelling at us to get off the floor when we still had 30 minutes left," former Bulls center and current TV analyst Stacey King told NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson when Johnson worked for the Chicago Tribune. "We were like, 'You're down 3-0! Scottie walked over with a fake broom and acted like he was sweeping the floor and said: 'You all are down. Get ready for the summer.' They were a prideful bunch. And I knew that hurt them."

King said these words before the Bulls' final game in The Palace on March 6, 2017. He also acknowledged when the Pistons Game 7 victory in 1990 — and what Michael Jordan did afterward.

"Michael said, 'We won't lose to them again in a playoff series.' And we didn't," King said. "But they were unbeatable here for a while. The fans, the energy in here with so much at stake between us, it was one of the most fun places to play. For a while, they were the bully and we were the kid they took the lunch money from."

The Pistons moved to the sparkling Little Caesars Arena, located in downtown Detroit, for the 2017-18 season.


2020 NBA Mock Draft roundup: Predictions for Bulls’ first-round pick

2020 NBA Mock Draft roundup: Predictions for Bulls’ first-round pick

Absent from the NBA’s season restart, and with organized offseason activities a question hanging in the air, the next tentpole for the Bulls to hone in on is the draft.

This year’s draft will be an especially important one for the organization. Entering Year 4 of a rebuild and under fresh front office leadership in Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, the direction the Bulls take with their impending top-10 choice will offer a window into the new regime’s thoughts on the roster and teams’ general standing.

Karnisovas, for his part, disputed the widely-accepted notion that this draft is a weak one at his end-of-season press conference with reporters. The Bulls own the seventh-best lottery odds (yet again), with a 7.5 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, and 32 percent odds of vaulting into the top four. They also own the Grizzlies’ second-round pick (No. 47) by way of some transaction minutia from the Tomas Satoransky sign-and-trade.

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“I like a lot of players that are in our range,” Karnisovas said. “I think we’ve done a lot of work studying. That’s why the excitement is coming from studying those players and interviewing them and looking at the video. So I think we’ll add a good player to our roster next year.”

Wherever the Bulls land, they’ll have a litany of possible needs to address. Though they invested the No. 7 overall pick in Coby White in 2019, the playmaking potential of lead guards LaMelo Ball or Killian Hayes might be too much to pass up if afforded an opportunity to snag them. On the wing, an area the Bulls are thin, do-it-all forward Deni Avdija and 3-and-D prototype Devin Vassell's stocks are rapidly rising, and Isaac Okoro has drawn Jimmy Butler comparisons for his game-wrecking potential on the defensive end. Onyeka Okongwu, Obi Toppin and James Wiseman intrigue in the frontcourt, as well.

All of which is to say, a lot can happen between now and October, when the draft is scheduled to be held. Which direction should the Bulls go? Here’s a roundup of the latest spate of Mock Drafts from across the interwebs:

Rob Dauster, NBC Sports

No. 7: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Gary Parrish, CBS Sports

No. 7: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn


No. 7: Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

No. 47: Elijah Hughes, F, Syracuse

Bryan Kalbrosky, USA Today

No. 8: Killian Hayes, G, Ulm

Matt Babcock, Babcock Hoops

No. 7: Killian Hayes, G, Ulm

No. 47: Paul Reed, F, Depaul


No. 7: Onyeka Okongwu, F/C, USC

No. 47: Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College (JUCO)

A. Sherrod Blakely, NBC Sports Boston

No. 7: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn

James Ham, NBC Sports Bay Area

No. 9: Killian Hayes, G, Ulm

And here’s NBC Sports Chicago’s latest Mock, which saw the Bulls select Okoro. Happy scouting.

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