E'Twaun Moore's calm demeanor serving him well with opportunity


E'Twaun Moore's calm demeanor serving him well with opportunity

He speaks in a calm voice, with a measured tone that sounds like a soul singer from the 70’s addressing a crowd at an old-school concert.

No, there isn’t much that rattles E’Twaun Moore. Not the East Chicago, Indiana projects, or the fourth-quarter of a critical early game for his team.

Not even some kid prodigy named Derrick Rose as a middle-schooler, whom he played against in AAU ball back in the day.

“He told you about that? We played each other in middle school,” said a surprised Moore after playing a big part in the Bulls’ 102-97 win over the Charlotte Hornets Friday night.  “So we’re real familiar with one another. It was fun. We always had tough battles.”

Rose had high praise for his former childhood rival after Moore scored 11 points in 23 minutes on 5 of 6 shooting, including two straight baskets to start the fourth quarter after the Bulls were reeling on both ends, in danger of losing their second straight to the tough Hornets.

“He could be the point, I could be the 2. It’s funny, we used to play against each other when we were younger,” Rose said. “Now it’s weird, we used to have a lot of battles going against each other. I know his competitive spirit, I know why he’s here and he deserves every minute, every second he’s out there.”

[MORE: Bulls show some character in victory over Hornets]

Moore is the kind of player one would think Tom Thibodeau would’ve used in a variety of ways, but was often glued to the bench for more experienced players. Moore had one shining moment last season, when playing in Rose’s stead against Oklahoma City on national TV, hit a corner 3-pointer with seconds remaining that gave the Bulls an improbable win, introducing himself as someone with big-game calm and moxie.

After playing 12 pressure-packed fourth-quarter minutes, he was asked how did he manage to play so calm, given his relative lack of experiences at this level.

“That calm? Ummm, I don’t know,” he said. “That’s just me, my demeanor. I never get rattled. Even though I didn’t have those crazy experiences in the NBA, I had them in high school and college.”

A second-round pick for the Celtics in 2011, he was traded to Orlando after his rookie year and spent two years there, playing around 20 minutes a night and becoming a favorite of a couple executives who loved his toughness and versatility.

After signing as a free agent before last season, he found himself behind Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks on the bench hierarchy.

“It was tough, I didn’t know I wouldn’t play as much as I didn’t,” he said. “But I just kept coming in, working hard and staying focused.”

That focus turned into a summer of working out with the thought of being given a real chance to play, resulting in consistent playing time now and having his coach say it was critical to have him out there Friday.

“He gave us great minutes,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We had to have him out there because he was hitting his shots. At the end we wanted a little more size (defensively).”

Chasing around Nic Batum, Jeremy Lamb and Kemba Walker during the entire fourth quarter, he cemented himself as a legit option in such instances—long after earning the trust of his teammates.

“Surprising? No, I didn’t even think of it,” Moore said. “I just go out there and play and I guess coach feels confident in me to keep me out there. I gotta keep doing what I do and finish the game strong.”

Rose and Jimmy Butler liked having him out there late, as both a floor spacer, defender and shot creator.

“Three aggressive guards, to tell you the truth,” Butler said. “(We) knock down shots, get to the rim. Guys who play hard and guard. Down the stretch you need that. It came up big for us tonight.”

[BULLS: Dunleavy on the mend as he nears return to lineup]

And as for those old AAU battles with the now-teammate whose locker only separated by rookie Bobby Portis, there’s a slight glint in both players’ eyes, from equal parts amazement of getting to this level and reminiscing on the competition.

“How’d I play against him? Good,” said Moore, the one time his voice raised above a mild level. “We used to battle. I used to get him sometimes, he might have got me a couple times. We never knew we’d play here together.”

Said Rose: “He’s in the right place. He knows the game, a great teammate, a great dude. I’m just glad he has the opportunity he has now.”

And with more chances of playing, Moore is earning more than just the trust of his teammates.

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

The NBA preseason has finished and teams are finalizing their rosters before the beginning of the regular season.

For the Bulls, that meant claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers and signing him to a two-way contract.

The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported the move.

Ulis, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, was waived by the Warriors on Friday. He spent two years at Kentucky before getting drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2016.

In two years with the Suns, Ulis made 58 starts and played in 132 games. He averaged just over 7 points per game in both seasons. Last season, Ulis also averaged 4.4 assists per game against 1.8 turnovers in 23.4 minutes per game.

The Suns waived Ulis after the season and the Warriors signed him for the preseason. He averaged 3 points and 1.5 assists per game in four preseason games with the Warriors.

The two-way contract means Ulis could be spending more time with the Windy City Bulls than at the United Center on game days, but backup point guard is a question mark for the Bulls. Cam Payne looks like he will get first crack at the role behind Kris Dunn with Denzel Valentine injured. Ryan Arcidiacono just made the team and could also figure into point guard minutes.

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Cuts during the NBA preseason aren’t exactly as gut-wrenching and tension-filled as they are in the NFL. NBA teams cut from somewhere in the late teens down to 15, and the potential for two-way contracts exist for those players who don’t make the roster. But for Ryan Arcidiacono, Saturday was filled with angst as he waited for a call. It never came.

“I was thinking about it. It’s like Hard Knocks when you’re watching. You don’t want to get that phone call,” Arcidiacono said Sunday before practice. “I was just thinking to myself after the game (Friday), nobody said anything to me. I was talking to (assistant) Pete (Myers) and he said, ‘Just get outta here, man. I’ll see you at practice on Sunday.’ I was still a little nervous on Friday night. Saturday morning I felt better after I talked to my agent and everything became more official.”

It’s quite the journey for Arcidiacono, who spent time both with the Bulls and their G-League affiliate in Hoffman Estates last season. In 37 starts with the Windy City Bulls, Arcidiacono averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 assists in 39.6 minutes. His two longest stints in Chicago came in late January and at the end of the year, and that 24-game audition was enough for the Bulls to re-sign him in July.

Arcidiacono found more comfort this summer in Year 2 with the Bulls. Though his playing time in the preseason was limited he showed enough in camp to warrant a spot on the roster. It also helped that the Bulls find themselves thin at the point guard position behind Kris Dunn, with Cameron Payne struggling and Denzel Valentine on the mend with an ankle injury.

“I think last year really helped me with the two-way, getting acclimated with what Fred wants to do,” he said. “I think getting up and down with the G League. (Head coach) Charlie (Henry) really helped me a lot. Knowing our point guard situation, I just tried to be the hardest playing guy on the floor anytime I step on and the rest will take care of itself.”

It’s unknown whether Arcidiacono’s stint in Chicago will last. His contract will be guaranteed on January 10. He’s an important body for now with Lauri Markkanen out for the foreseeable future and Valentine still recovering from his own injury. But he’ll also have the opportunity to push Payne for that back-up role. Payne struggled much of the preseason, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 assists on just 25 percent shooting.

“Arci has done a lot of really good things,” Hoiberg said. “I liked the way he looked in the game the other night off the ball. Defensively, made some really good solid plays and again, when there’s an open man on the court Arci’s gonna find him.”

He won’t move the needle on the Bulls’ season, and his minutes will likely be minimal once the season begins. But for now it’s a great story of persistence that gives the Bulls another hard-working body in practice.”

“Whatever our team needs, that’s what they’ll get from me,” he said. “Whether that’s being a backup or the third point guard spot, I’m just here to compete and make our team better and hopefully get us some victories.”