Bulls: Jimmy Butler gametime decision with flu Friday night


Bulls: Jimmy Butler gametime decision with flu Friday night

BOSTON — Jimmy Butler will most certainly be in Toronto for All-Star weekend, but his availability for Friday night’s game in Boston is in question as he’s suffering from flu-like symptoms and didn’t participate in the morning shootaround.

“Jimmy was at practice yesterday. Just kind of got it overnight,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “So (we’ll) see how he does throughout the day, get him rest obviously, fluids, and kind of see where things go.”

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Butler missed out being voted into the All-Star game as a starter by nearly 100,000 votes as Toronto’s Kyle Lowry was voted in by the fans for the second year in a row. Lowry and Miami’s Dwyane Wade will start at the guard spots along with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Butler actually finished fourth behind Wade, Lowry and Kyrie Irving in the voting.

Actually, Pau Gasol came within 360 votes of starting ahead of Carmelo Anthony with a late push, likely due to the international voting from his home of Spain.

“Jimmy Butler should be starting (over Wade),” said TNT’s Charles Barkley on the telecast that revealed the starters Thursday night. “He’s been terrific all year. He’s the best player on the Bulls. Other than LeBron James, he’s been the second best player in the Eastern Conference all year.”

Butler, who’s averaging 26.2 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds this month, will likely be voted in by the coaches for the second straight year.

“Jimmy I think is very deserving this year with the consistency he’s had with his play all year, being a two-way player,” Hoiberg said. “I think we’re confident that Jimmy will be in Toronto over All-Star Weekend, but it is great for our league. No doubt about it. Especially with it being Kobe’s last year. I think this could be a special one.”

Butler is averaging 22.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists on the season while leading the league in minutes. Derrick Rose finished seventh in voting for backcourt members, but said he didn’t pay much attention to it.

“All-Star is great, huge accomplishment, great accolade, great to have on your resume. But don’t define the player I am or someone is just because of All-Star game,” he said.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

Rose endorses Butler’s sure-fire candidacy for one of the seven reserve spots, but doesn’t think he’s done enough to go.

“Nah, not at all,” Rose said. “Just the year. I’ve missed too many games. That’s about it. I don’t care about what people think or say. It’s whatever they say. The only thing I can do is just keep working on my game and keep focusing on what I’ve been focusing on.”

And perhaps tired of the questions about his game, Rose went rhetorical when asked if he was the same player he once was. Rose is having his best scoring month, averaging 19 points on 49 percent shooting in 31.1 minutes. He scored 29 in the Bulls' 31-point loss to Golden State Wednesday

“You can’t see it? What you want me to say it? You can’t see it when I’m out there? I hope so,” he said. “Whenever I step on the floor, I just try to play my heart out. Try to play aggressive and win a game for one and with the team we’re on, I have to be more vocal as far as becoming a leader.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night


Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

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

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

'Underdog' Tyler Ulis will fit in just fine with these Bulls

It's been a whirlwind of a summer for point guard Tyler Ulis, but he finally feels like he's found a home. Literally.

The 5-foot-9 point guard was cut by the Suns in late June, latched on with a training camp invite by the Warriors and was subsequently waived on Friday. It was then that Ulis, working out in California, received a call from his agent. He had been claimed on waivers by the Chicago Bulls. His hometown Bulls.

"I grew up watching (the Bulls)," he said after his first practice on Tuesday. "Growing up in this city, you always want to be a Bull and you’re always willing and hoping that you’ll be here one day...I'm home now. It's a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to it."

Ulis is back in Chicago for the first time since he was breaking records for Marian Catholic High School. Ulis became a five-star recruit for the Spartans and in 2014 signed on as the next point guard in the long line of successful floor generals under John Calipari and Kentucky.

Ulis backed up the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, as a freshman but saw his role increase as a sophomore. He blossomed, earning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in the SEC. Only Anthony Davis had ever earned both honors in a single season.

He declared for the 2016 NBA Draft with hopes of becoming a first-round pick. But unlike the Calipari point guards before him, Ulis slipped all the way down to the second round before the Phoenix Suns scooped him up with the 34th pick.

"Honestly I really did think (the Bulls) were going to draft me," Ulis said on Tuesday when recalling the 2016 NBA Draft. The Bulls took Denzel Valentine with the 14th pick. "But I'm here now so that's all that matters."

In 132 games, Ulis averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists in 21.1 minutes. He started 58 of those games, and while his shooting left plenty to be desired he handled the offense well and brought that same pesky defense he showed off at Kentucky. It wasn't enough, even for the guard-deprived Suns. They released Ulis before free agency this summer - which ruffled the feathers of franchise guard Devin Booker - in a rather unexpected move.

"My Mom always taught me (to) never expect anything," Ulis said of his release from the Suns. "When you're on a losing team like that anything can happen. I feel like I showed I could play at this level but they went a different way."

The Suns' loss - they may resort to starting 38-year-old Jamal Crawford at point guard this year - could be the Bulls' gain. Expectations should be harnessed for Ulis, especially with him joining the roster this late in the preseason, but the Bulls, like Phoenix, have question marks at the point.

Kris Dunn is entrenched as the starter, but Cameron Payne struggled mightily in the preseason and Ryan Arcidiacono doesn't project as a contributor. That leaves an opening for Ulis to potentially fill on the second unit, and apparently he's making a statement early in practice.

"Tyler had a real good practice," Fred Hoiberg said. "I think I think he changes the pace when he’s out there on the floor. He picks up full-court, he gets up underneath you. He can make a shot. He’s got good vision and can make a play with the ball in his hand. So I was very impressed with his first workout."

Ulis is working on a 45-day two-way contract, so it's unknown how much he'll contribute. He could be shuttled back and forth between Chicago and the Windy City Bulls, but there's certainly an opportunity for him to stick. He'll be playing catch-up and learning on the go, but doing so in his hometown wth friends and family around him for support will work to his advantage.

"Being a smaller guard growing up in a big man’s sport, you get looked over. So I’m the underdog," he said. "And I feel like this team is an underdog, so we should all be excited to get the season started and prove people wrong."