Bulls

Bulls reflect on successful 4-3 circus trip

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Bulls reflect on successful 4-3 circus trip

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010
1:05 PM
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

With their successful 4-3 record over the course of the dreaded circus trip, the franchise's first winning record on the annual road swing since the 1997-98 campaign, the final year of the championship dynasty, one would imagine the Bulls are riding high, content with their success and experiencing burgeoning confidence with the imminent return of power forward Carlos Boozer on the horizon. Think again.

"You're looking at everything, so there's some things we're doing well, some things that we're below average in that we have to clean up, but we also want to keep adding to the foundation that we're building. So, there's a lot of work to be done," said Tom Thibodeau.

"Overall, I thought we played fairly well on the circus trip. We still have a lot of work to do and quite frankly, we don't want to look backwards; we want to look ahead and get ready for Orlando."

"I think we play hard, we're playing unselfishly. Our readiness to play, I'm still concerned about that. We're getting in holes to start games," the never-satisfied rookie head coach added. "In the NBA, you can find something every night, if you're looking for something what you'd like is to have the mental toughness and the belief that you can win under any circumstances. If you're doing the right things, you should have a chance to win."

Thibodeau's philosophy clearly has rubbed off on the team, which has displayed outstanding determination despite a disturbing tendency to have to make uphill climbs after allowing huge deficits even in the face of extreme fatigue, such as on the aforementioned West Coast trip.

"We feel like we let some games get away, truthfully. We felt like at San Antonio, we had a great opportunity to get a win. Denver, unfortunately, they knocked down a last-second shot," reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer told CSNChicago.com. "I wouldn't say we're satisfied, but we came into practice Monday working hard, trying to get better and we're getting back at it."

"I definitely could tell the Bulls were tired, but we're the type of team that's going to keep fighting throughout the whole game play defense toward the end of the Sacramento game but we can't dig ourselves a hole like that in the beginning because it takes too much energy out of us. Against a good team, they're not going to let us come back. Not to take anything away from them, but a veteran team, they wouldn't let us come back in the game," added Derrick Rose after Saturday's win to conclude the trip.

When told that this season's squad had accomplished something that hasn't been done since the days of Michael Jordan, Rose had a practical response.

"That's good, but it's still early in the season. If anything, I want you to say we were close to that team at the end of our season. Making it past the first round of the playoffs we're not looking ahead that far," added Rose. "We're just balling right now. We know that we've got a decent team and the coaching staff is doing great preparing for the games, Thibs is doing great in practice making sure we play hard every single time and we're holding ourselves accountable on the court, so I think that's a good thing."

Even though they're being tough self-critics, the Bulls are proud of their performance, setting the stage for them to enter December with a winning record and one of their key players in Boozer expected to make his debut soon.

"I'm excited. We've got a very good group of guys. We go on a road trip like that and take on some very good teams championship-level teams lost a couple of close games to those teams that we thought we had a chance to win in our opinion," observed Boozer, who had a courtside view for the entire trip and is arguably the team's biggest sideline cheerleader. "When we get back full force, we should be something to reckon with."

"I think a lot of people in the NBA overlook just your team getting along together off the court. I think a lot of the times, you put a bunch of individuals together just because of what they're capable of doing on the court. I just think our chemistry on and off the court has been unbelievable and this trip has been great for that," said Luol Deng. "Every team has things that they've got to correct. I'm not saying that's our only issue there's a lot of stuff we've got to correct but I really believe we're going to keep trying to make it better. We're going to keep working on it, keep working in practice and try to avoid that."

"Honestly, I think Coach did a good job of getting our mind off that the circus trip as a whole. In the past, it was just what everybody talked about and I think Coach did a good job this year. We took it one game at a time. It didn't feel like the circus trip; that wasn't our mindset. That's just the right way to attack it," continued the team's longest-tenured player. "Obviously everyone knows he's a great coach, but he really knows how to manage us. A great group of guys, but he knows when to make us work hard and when to step it up. It's just been a great trip, but now, we get back home and refocus."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

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USA TODAY

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

The Bulls and Bobby Portis were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension by today’s deadline, which will make the power forward a restricted free agent next offseason.

According to The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, Portis’ agent Mark Bartelstein and Gar Forman had “lengthy face-to-face negotiations” on Monday prior to the deadline. The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement.

The negotiations – and lack of a deal – come after a summer and training camp in which Portis continued to show progression. After beginning the preseason coming off the bench Portis quickly played his way into the starting lineup alongside rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Portis finished five preseason games averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 22.4 minutes.

Portis, the 22nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, has seen his role increase each of his three seasons. He made a jump last season in Year 3, averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.5 minutes. He was one of three players, including DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love, to average 21 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 3-pointers per 36 minutes.

Though the Bulls certainly had the room to sign Portis to an extension, there were obvious reasons on both sides to wait on a deal. For starters, the Bulls will still be able to match any deal Portis receives in free agency next July, much like what happened with Zach LaVine and the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls maintain their abundance of cap space for the 2019 offseason, when they’ll be able to offer a max contract to the top-tier free agents, and they get to see if Portis makes another jump.

For Portis, it’s a case of him betting on himself. If the Bulls came in with a number he wasn’t satisfied with – to help keep their max cap space – he now finds himself on a contract year playing for his next contract. Still only 23 years old, Portis should cash in in July.

Two players from Portis’ draft class were able to cash in. Pacers center Myles Turner signed a reported four-year, $80 million extension and Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal. Portis likely would have fallen somewhere in between those two deals had an agreement occurred.

The Bulls are hardly in an easy situation with Portis. Though they value the versatile power forward, Lauri Markkanen is entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future and the team just spent last year’s No. 7 overall pick on center Wendell Carter Jr. Portis realistically is stuck behind both those players, though he certainly has starting level NBA talent.