Bulls: Pau Gasol opens up about how to address team communication


Bulls: Pau Gasol opens up about how to address team communication

SACRAMENTO — To some, the Bulls are a mysterious bunch who can’t get it together, and losing nine of 13 games brings about plenty of theories as to why they’re so inconsistent.

Selfishness, agendas, worries have all been brought up, and Pau Gasol said they can all play a part in a team being as inconsistent as the Bulls are. The topic of a team meeting has been broached by the players from media, and count Gasol among those who believe it could be helpful.

Derrick Rose said he’s given it thought, but so far it hasn’t happened yet.

“I’m a fan of it, especially when things aren’t going ... you can put things on the table, discuss them as a group,” said Gasol after the team's morning shootaround at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, hours before their game against the Kings.

[MORE BULLS: Nikola Mirotic undergoes hematoma removal after appendectomy]

This isn’t the most vocal group of guys, so it would have to happen organically as opposed to someone like Gasol, Rose or Jimmy Butler gathering the team around to air out grievances.

“Yeah, or come from the top, come from the coaching staff or the leaders of the team where they say, ‘Hey, this can’t go on or we need to discuss this,'” Gasol said. “It’s just like companies when they have meetings to analyze and evaluate, ‘Hey, what are we doing guys? What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong? Let’s just talk about how we’re doing and how can we be better.’ I think that’s when things are really on the right path, when you approach all things like that.”

It seems like there’s a lot of things the players would need to discuss, though it could be as simple as this team not being as talented as many wanted to believe at the start of the season.

“What’s missing? That’s hard, hard to pinpoint,” Gasol said. “When you look at a situation there’s always an accumulation of factors. Some can be discussed, some are hard to discuss.

“At the end of the day we all have to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘Are we doing enough? Are we doing enough to contribute? Am I worrying about the right things? Am I worrying about the collective or am I just worried about what I do on the floor or the shots that I take, how much am I scoring, how much am I playing?”

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Gasol is one of the few with the championship currency along with current performance to say such things, even if his words aren’t directed to one teammate or another in particular.

It’s clear this team has issues aside from the injuries to the likes of vocal leader Joakim Noah and most recently Nikola Mirotic, whose status is unknown after the Bulls announced he’s still in the hospital after having a hematoma removal over the weekend.

Gasol isn’t willing to concede the injuries are the main reason for the Bulls stumbling to the middle of the Eastern Conference, currently fifth but a game and a half away from the eighth seed.

“All those (previously mentioned) things are the wrong approach to winning, so I think if we are able and capable of changing that approach individually and collectively, I think we’ll be in a better place,” Gasol said. “Yes, we have injuries that are substantial and important, but at the same time there are a lot of teams that go through injuries, and some teams have suffered more than others, but I think our issue is more of that maturity issue or that mental togetherness that we need to bring every single night.”

Gasol said the Bulls can improve, but nearly 50 games into the season it seems a little late to start developing.

“I mean habits are hard to break,” he said. “It doesn’t happen overnight, but you can build on them, you can build out of them. I think that’s a conscience effort that needs to happen, and it can happen. Once you put yourself to the side and you start putting the team first, and doing what’s best for the team.”

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut


Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.