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Bulls looking for a steal on summer league roster

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Bulls looking for a steal on summer league roster

LAS VEGAS Whether or not Adrian Griffins candidacy for the open head-coaching vacancy in Portland gains traction, one thing that can be said about his debut as the Bulls summer-league head coach is that, like his boss, his team showed resiliency.
The Bulls assistant coach, who interviewed with the Trail Blazers after arriving in Las Vegas for the NBA summer league, lost to the Celtics in the teams first game Tuesday night, but while play was ragged at times, the teams comeback was admirable.
However, in another similarity to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, Griffin doesnt believe in moral victories, stating: The first quarter was fine, but I think the second quarter got away from us. His protg, Jimmy Butlerthe only player with Bulls regular-season experience on the summer-league rosterfollowed suit, explaining: In the first half, we let them do whatever they wanted to doshoot open jumpers, not guarding the ball tough enoughand thats why they got up 20, but then when we started playing Chicago Bulls basketball, we cut it down to a pretty marginal lead.
Regardless, even aside from Butlers strong performance and first-round draft pick Marquis Teagues struggles, there was more to evaluate for a team that could have a handful of non-guaranteed training-camp invitees this fall with a chance to make the actual roster. For those players, their outings were being monitored by the likes of Thibodeau, Bulls general manager Gar Forman and team executive vice president John Paxson, all of whom were sitting in the stands at Cox Pavillion on the campus of UNLV.
Malcolm Thomas, an athletic power forward from San Diego State who had a cup of coffee with the Spurs last season, as well as excelling in the D-League in his first year out of college, was impressive. Thomas finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots on the evening, and played with boundless energy, something the Bulls could be in need of, as they continue to scour the free-agent market.
Malcolm Thomas is a very good player, Thibodeau told CSNChicago.com about the defensive-minded San Diego native, who teamed up with Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in college and would be a potential candidate if the Bulls search for additional big-man depth. Hes looking for an opportunity, played very well last year in the D-League, has a lot of energy. I think hes very capable.
Joining Thomas, Teague and Butler in the starting lineup was a true rookie, shooting guard Ramone Moore and while the Temple products numberseight points on 3-for-5 shootingarent exactly eye-opening, his smooth outside stroke and overall headiness showed maturity. The 6-foot-5 Philadelphia native also earned some praise from Thibodeau.
Hes skilled and hes a good player, he said. This will be a good test for him, so well see how he does.
As for Moore himself, he found himself matched up with a familiar face in Bostons Dionte Christmas, another Philadelphian and Temple product (in the interest of full disclosure, Temple is also the alma mater of this writer).
We already knew coming into the game what to expect in playing against each other, Moore said afterwards. Its a Temple thing. Its good to play against each other.
I just want to come in, do as much as I can. This is our first summer-league game, he continued. Weve been going pretty hard, just trying to prepare and everybody just wants to go out here, and show their talent. Ive been shooting the ball pretty well and working on it, and thats something I can bring to this team.
The final member of the Bulls starting quintet also has the most NBA experience.
After not playing in the league last season, Leon Poweironically, a former player for Boston, the team the Bulls lost to Tuesdayis on a comeback mission. After being plagued with knee injuries since his high school days, the undersized power forward hopes to give it another shot. His Bulls summer-league debut, however, wasnt stellar, as he appeared to be working the rust off.
Hes proven to be a very good NBA player. Unfortunately for him, hes had health issues, so the big thing is he has to prove to people that hes healthy, Thibodeau, who coached Powe with the Celtics, told CSNChicago.com. The fact that hes out here is a good sign and now he has to play well.
In addition to his experience, Powe has another advantage from his familiarity with Thibodeau, who implemented his defensive philosophy in Boston under Doc Rivers.
Got my body back where I want it, no knee brace, so everything is feeling good. Just happy to be back out there, Powe told CSNChicago.com. I know all the defensive schemes, most of the offense already. Ive only been here like three days. Its been going real well for me.

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

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USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

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USA TODAY

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

Finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference last season cost Stan Van Gundy his job as Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations. Van Gundy was replaced on the bench by 2017-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the conference semi-finals.

Casey’s job in Detroit is to find a way to develop the young players on the roster while getting the team to the playoffs. He has a pair of All-Star caliber players in the front court, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, along with highly-paid, erratic point guard Reggie Jackson.

Griffin has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Van Gundy decided to roll the dice at mid-season a year ago by trading Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley AND a 1st round pick to the Clippers for the former slam dunk champion in a desperate bid to save his job. The trade didn’t work out for Van Gundy, but it’s possible Griffin could enjoy a resurgence in Detroit this season.

The 29-year-old power forward scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the Pistons’ 103-100 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Drummond had a monster game with 24 points and 20 rebounds. As Bulls fans know all too well, Drummond has made the 20 rebound game commonplace when facing Fred Hoiberg’s squad in recent years.

As for Jackson, a severely sprained right ankle limited him to just 45 games last season, probably costing Detroit a chance to make the playoffs. The 8th year pro is lightning quick, with the ability to disrupt defenses by getting into the paint and challenging bigger defenders at the rim. Jackson scored 19 points in the season opener against Brooklyn, and he’ll be a problem for the Bulls Saturday night, especially if Kris Dunn is unavailable.

Casey is still trying to figure out how to use the rest of the roster Van Gundy built, with recent 1st round pick Henry Ellenson and former rotation player Jon Leuer getting DNP-CD’s against the Nets. Meanwhile, two other expected rotation players, small forward Stanley Johnson and swingman Reggie Bullock missed the opener because of injuries.

That left second year guard Luke Kennard and 2018 2nd round draft pick Bruce Brown as the other starters in game one, something that’s unlikely to continue once everyone’s healthy.

So, how do the Bulls even their record at 1-1 on Saturday? Here are my three keys:

1. Keep Drummond and Griffin off the offensive boards. This is much easier said than done. Drummond in particular is relentless going after missed shots, and his bulk will cause problems for 19 year old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Hoiberg hinted at possible line-up changes on Friday morning, which could include starting veteran Robin Lopez at center to battle Drummond inside. Griffin has turned into more of a jump shooter now and doesn’t have the multiple jump capability that characterized his early seasons in the NBA, but he’s still a threat to create 2nd shot opportunities.

2. Close out on three-point shooters. Of all the defensive issues for the Bulls in Philadelphia on Thursday, losing touch with shooters in transition was probably the most troublesome. Robert Covington seemed to be open at the three-point line throughout the game, and Bulls players struggled to handle cross-match situations. Kennard had one of the best games of his rookie season against the Bulls, and Jackson, Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are all capable of heating up from long distance.

3. Attack Detroit’s interior defense. The Bulls were at their best offensively in the first quarter against Philadelphia when they drove to the basket to set up easy scoring chances. Zach LaVine was getting to the rim at will in scoring 15 of his 30 points in the opening 12 minutes, and his penetration also set up Bobby Portis for open looks from the three-point line. Hopefully, Dunn will return to stabilize the point guard position and give the Bulls' first unit another shot creator so they can sustain their pace and scoring potential over four quarters.

Saturday’s home opener is definitely winnable against a Detroit team still finding its way under a new coaching staff. Better effort and attention to detail on the defensive end along with a fast-paced, drive and kick offensive attack should make for an exciting opening night at the United Center.

Make sure to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Kelly Crull and me for a special one hour edition of Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and the new My Teams app, followed by the play by play call with Neil Funk and Stacey King at 7 p.m. And, stay tuned after the final buzzer for reaction and analysis on an expanded edition of Bulls Postgame Live.