Bulls' Jimmy Butler setting tone in camp with his play and his mouth


Bulls' Jimmy Butler setting tone in camp with his play and his mouth

Wake-up calls at 5 a.m. for summer workouts in San Diego forged camaraderie between Jimmy Butler and the visiting Doug McDermott, but it didn’t stop Butler from incessantly trash talking his teammate in Bulls practice, leading McDermott to believe Butler forgot whose side he’s ultimately on.

“It didn't feel like he was on our team for a second,” McDermott said. “Talking crap to all of us. That's just kind of the way he is. He has a completely different mindset. He really wants to win. It's been really obvious the first few days of practice.”

Whether it’s showing little to no mercy on poor McDermott on the defensive end or showing off even more improvement on the offensive end, Butler is making good on his word that his new maximum contract would only make him work harder as opposed to relaxing.

“I knew Jimmy was good (before). But he’s been awesome,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s so strong right now. He’s in great shape and another guy where the amount of work he put in in the summer is paying off.

“He’s probably in the best shape of anybody out here. He’s all over the floor, offensively, defensively. There aren’t a lot of two-way players in this league but he’s definitely one of them.”

[MORE BULLS: Joakim Noah wants another shot at pairing with Pau Gasol]

Who knows where Butler ranks in the hierarchy of two-way swingmen in the class of a healthy Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but it’s clear he’s not resting on the laurels of having two significant jumps in his game in the first four years.

It wasn’t long ago when the Bulls balked at giving Butler a nearly $50 million deal in camp this time last year, unsure of whether he could improve enough as a consistent offensive weapon.

But now, Hoiberg is openly stating he believes Butler has yet another leap to go, after last season’s leap that netted him an All-Star appearance and discussion among the league’s top 20 players.

“I think so. In talking to him, he wants to add to his game,” Hoiberg said. “Every offseason, he’s in here working on stepbacks, one-footers, runners. His 3-ball looks great right now. He’s such a well-rounded player. And when you have a guy who has that type of drive and desire and work ethic, he’ll continue to get better.” 

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Being impressive in the first couple days of training camp certainly differs from doing it when the lights are brightest, but Butler has made quite the impression on his coach and teammates.

McDermott came to San Diego to train with Butler for a couple weeks, under the watchful eye of Butler’s trainer, Chris Johnson. It appears to be another step in the maturation of a player now validated but not spoiled by stardom, becoming more vocal on an everyday basis.

“I know going into this camp he really talked a lot about that,” Hoiberg said. “With the amount of veteran guys we have, we should be able to lead by committee with this group. That’s something he wanted to do going into this camp.”

And even if it’s playing point guard, as Butler is wont to do, Hoiberg won’t set any limits on the player who came into camp clearly on a mission.

“He has the confidence,” Hoiberg said. “There’s no doubt about that. You can put him anywhere on the floor and he can make plays, make baskets. So, yeah, if he’s got that feeling, we do as well.”

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine gets no respect

NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Zach LaVine gets no respect

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, Dave Watson, and John Sabine react to the week in the NBA and ‘list’ season.

1:45 - On Sports Illustrated top 100 NBA players list and the Bulls players, LaVine disrespect

13:10 - Which recent draft class would have the best starting five?

22:30 - Would Iman Shumpert be a good fit for the Bulls?

32:55 - Matt Peck goes on a rant that involves Wade+Melo

34:45 - Dave gives his top 5 PG’s of all-time

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

NBA G League to introduce new, $100K prize tournament


NBA G League to introduce new, $100K prize tournament

The NBA G League is introducing a new tournament format for their premier showcase games, starting in the 2019-20 season. 

The 2019 NBA G League Winter Showcase will take place December 19-22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center and it will feature all 28 teams in the league, with the winning squad taking home a $100,000 prize. 

Under the re-brand, the NBA G League Winter Showcase will see the teams seeded No. 1 through 28, with the top four seeds receiving a bye and advancing straight to the Championship Bracket. The remaining 24 teams will get placed into six separate four-team brackets. All games played at the Winter Showcase will count against G League regular-season records.

For a league full of players fighting for NBA attention and ultimately, (NBA) dollars, the $100,000 prize is sure to add a decent amount of motivation. Last season more than 60 players received Gatorade call-ups (to the NBA) during or right after the showcase games. 

The Bulls know quite a bit about the talent that can be found at the NBA G League Winter Showcase.

Last season the Bulls signed guard Brandon Sampson to a Two-Way contract following a breakout performance at the 2018 G League Showcase for the Rio Grande Vipers.

Sampson averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists through 18 G League games for the Vipers before signing his Two-Way deal with the Bulls and gaining 214 minutes of NBA experience over 14 games. 

The new tournament format for the Winter Showcase will make for an exciting spectacle to for hardcore basketball fans and will add a great layer of intrigue to what is already the best in-season scouting event for NBA scouts interested in the G League.