Bulls: Hoiberg ignored Butler's pleas to start fourth quarter


Bulls: Hoiberg ignored Butler's pleas to start fourth quarter

BOSTON, MA — Jimmy Butler took awhile before meeting with the media after Wednesday’s loss to the Boston Celtics because of a pressing matter, a meeting of the minds of sorts.

It wasn’t with any of his teammates, but with his coach, Fred Hoiberg, who disregarded Butler’s suggestion that he stay in to start the fourth quarter as opposed to Hoiberg giving him a brief rest.

The opening minutes saw the Celtics take a 12-2 run to create some distance in what was a tie game to start the fourth, as Butler couldn’t get to the scorer’s table fast enough to get checked back in.

The damage had been done, and the 17 of Butler’s career-high 36 points all went for naught, prompting Butler to say “I don't give a damn about a career high. I want to win”.

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“I told Fred not to take me out at the beginning of the fourth,” Butler said. “I wanted to play. Because that's when we give up those leads. Nothing against my teammates, but if I'm out there and I get the energy going the right way, now take me out and let me rest. But the energy is going and flowing. I gotta start playing in the fourth quarter.”

Things fell apart almost immediately, even though Butler came in at the 9:15 mark with the score 83-77 and the Bulls still had several more empty possessions upon Butler’s re-entrance.

“I can handle an extra 45 seconds to a minute (of playing time),” Butler said. “Just let me get the energy going, get a stop here or there and get us going in the right direction.”

Butler is averaging 37.2 minutes per night and Wednesday was the front end of a road-home back-to-back as the Bulls will play the L.A. Clippers at the United Center, so it’s not as if Hoiberg is skimping Butler on the playing time.

But what’s clear is the Bulls’ margin for error — with Derrick Rose still dealing with the recovery from eye surgery, the Bulls being without veteran Mike Dunleavy and the team acclimating to Hoiberg’s new system — is very slim, if not downright nonexistent.

“It's very small. Very small,” Butler said somberly. “The people we have on this team are good at a lot of things and bad at some things, so you gotta cover that up. When you make a mistake, another team is gonna capitalize on that.

“We get a turnover and then we don't get back. 18 turnovers, 25 points? That can't happen. If you get a turnover, get back. Get the ball back. We can't just look and put our head down. Our margin for error is way too small.”

Butler’s reference to one-way players isn’t exactly off, and it places more of a pressure on him to hold things together while the team figures itself out. In the adjusting to Hoiberg’s system, Butler and many others have wondered if the Bulls en masse have forgotten what made this team formidable.

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“Yeah. I think sometimes we forget how hard we gotta play and guys let up and one guy does it, it's contagious,” Butler said. “We gotta go hard on both ends of the floor and not just worry about offense, to win these games we gotta learn to guard late in the game.”

Hoiberg has been harping on the pace of play as a main point while many like Butler and Rose have openly talked about defense being the calling card that will keep things afloat until the team settles.

“Looking at every guy on our roster, we're good. Really good,” Butler said. “But when we get out there and go to work, it's not saying that. That's why numbers don't mean anything in this damn league. We get caught up in that too many times, in the hype and freedom in our offense when we gotta get stops when our defense has to lead our offense.”

If it was an illustration on the Bulls’ dependence on Butler that Hoiberg hadn’t yet discovered, perhaps the loss can be a liftoff point to move forward.

“I've told him and that's what I was back there telling him about, it's a learning curve for him like it is for me,” Butler said. “But we gotta win games if we want to find ourselves in the postseason.

“It's not just on him, it's on us. He can do all the rah-rahing and talking he wants to do. He's not out there playing. it's on us to bring ourselves together. We're supposed to be a team full of leaders. We gotta win games. The coach don't win the games, the players do.”

Making of a Chicago legend: A look back at Jabari Parker's decorated Simeon career


Making of a Chicago legend: A look back at Jabari Parker's decorated Simeon career

From the moment Jabari Parker started his local basketball career, he's been a special talent who has produced at every level. Parker's signing with the Chicago Bulls this offseason brings back a lot of memories of his decorated four-year high school career at Simeon.

For Bulls fans who didn't follow Parker before Duke or the NBA, here's some of the notable moments from four years in the Public League.

As a freshman with the Wolverines, Parker was seen as one of three big incoming freshman in the area for the Class of 2013, along with forward Alex Foster and center Tommy Hamilton. Although all three players had the size and skill level to be varsity contributors, it was Parker who was special from his debut game.

Coming off the bench for a top-5 Simeon team against a top-10 Thornton team at Chicago State, Parker had 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting with two 3-pointers as the Wolverines went on to win in his first game in high school. Eventually becoming the first Wolverine freshman to start on varsity, Parker piled up high-major scholarship offers and national acclaim, as he was the team's second-leading scorer behind Brandon Spearman.

But Parker was hurt on the eve of the IHSA Class 4A state championship weekend and was on the bench injured as Simeon went on to surprisingly win the state title after some late-season slip-ups. Parker contributed heavily to Simeon winning the state title during his first season, however, as he was leading scorer in six games during that season.

During his sophomore season, Parker blossomed from a prospect into a full-blown star as Simeon once again captured a state title. By this point in his career, Parker was a consensus top-5 national high school prospect in his class as he regularly led a loaded Simeon team in scoring. Parker eventually averaged 15.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as he won ESPN High School 2011 Sophomore of the Year national honors, while also Simeon won a title at the prestigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament.

The summer of 2011 saw Parker become a contender for No. 1 in his class -- and regardless of class at the high school level -- as he dominated the summer circuit against his peers and older players.

Making the 2011 USA Basketball U16 team, Parker won MVP honors at the FIBA Americas U16 Tournament as the USA team captured a gold medal. Parker also had big performances at the Kevin Durant and LeBron James Skill Academies before winning the MVP at the Nike Global Challenge in August against mostly older players.

Before entering his junior season at Simeon, some national scouts believed Parker was the best prospect in either the junior or senior national classes. With Parker garnering so many accomplishments as an underclassman, he had a huge reputation already as Simeon was an established national powerhouse.

Parker helped the Wolverines capture a third straight state title, a city title and another title at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, as they went 33-1. Simeon didn't lose to an Illinois opponent Parker's junior year (they only lost to nationally ranked Findlay Prep) with Parker setting a school record of 40 points in only 21 minutes against Perspectives on Dec. 19. For his junior season, Parker put up 19.5 points, 8.9 rebounds per game as he became the first non-senior to win Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors.

Gatorade also declared Parker the national boys basketball Player of the Year for that high school season as he became only the fourth non-senior to win that award. Sports Illustrated put Parker on its cover and proclaimed him as the best high school basketball player since LeBron James.

Facing an enormous amount of pressure during his senior year, Simeon played a national schedule and went 30-3, winning a fourth consecutive IHSA state title with Parker as he put up 18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

Becoming the only player besides Sergio McClain to start on four straight IHSA state title teams, Parker secured back-to-back Mr. Basketball in Illinois honors while also making the McDonald's All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Hoop Summit. Parker played all over the country during his senior season, with nationally-televised games and packed crowds filled with fans.

Reclassifications and the emergence of other contenders, coupled with Parker's foot injury before his senior season, dropped Parker below the No. 1 ranking to end his high school career. But he still finished as a consensus top-5 prospect in the class who eventually rose to the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft in 2014.

Now that Parker has signed with the Bulls, he has a chance to resurrect his career in Chicago, the place where he had his most basketball success.

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

According to Bleacher Report, Wendell Carter Jr. would be taken fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies if the NBA were to redraft this year’s class based off of Summer League performances.

It may sound like a crazy concept (and it is), but Carter Jr. averaged the second most points, 14.6, through five July games in Las Vegas. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field while averaging 28.8 minutes in his glamorous first-stint with Chicago. Those numbers are even more striking if you consider Carter Jr.’s 42.9 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

Carter Jr., the real seventh overall pick of this year’s NBA Draft, looked like the all-around player the Bulls were hoping to get this offseason. He made his blocking abilities as a center known from the moment he stepped on the court in Summer League.

In their re-draft, Bleacher Report had Chicago using the No. 7 pick on the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, who was actually taken 36th overall in last month’s Draft.

Robinson, a center, averaged 13 points and 24.8 minutes per game over five Summer League contests. He was the best rebounder on his team with an average of 10.2 in the five games that the Knicks played.

The 20-year-old took the second most shots on the Knicks and had the highest field goal percentage at 67 percent, but Robinson did not have any three-point attempts.  What made his recent production seem even more surprising was the fact that the 7'1'' big man did not play a single minute of college basketball.

But would Robinson fit in the Bulls’ system?

Chicago has taken on an offense-first mentality, so Robinson would not be as great of a fit in the Bulls lineup as Carter Jr., but he would still be an impact player. He can be compared to the Bulls’ current center Robin Lopez, who averaged a similar amount of points per game (11.8 points in 26.4 minutes) last season as Robinson’s Summer League average (13 points in 24.8 minutes). And like Lopez, Robinson will likely be most effective around the basket and in the pick-and-roll.

Robinson would also have to learn the defensive concepts that a veteran like Lopez has mastered over his 10-year career.

Next season, the Bulls will have an exciting scoring trio of Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen and Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. And the fact that Carter Jr. is getting so much love in the national spotlight is yet another reason for Bulls fans to be excited about this upcoming season.