Bulls

It's the Midwest's turn for exhibition games

532658.jpg

It's the Midwest's turn for exhibition games

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011
Posted: 2:54 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com Bulls Insider Follow @CSNBullsInsider
For all of the basketball being played these days, one would hardly know there's a lockout.

At this point during a normal offseason, most players are holed up in individual workouts in preparation for training camp, international players -- some of whom likely opted to participate for their national teams because of the work stoppage, not to mention Olympic qualification -- excluded. But even domestically, there have been a rash of pro-am exhibition games and as non-NBA American players begin to depart for their overseas jobs, NBA-only contests, as well as the anticipated Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas.

The majority of the high-profile events have been based on the East Coast, but the Midwest will finally get a taste of spotlight later this month. On Sept. 24, Indianapolis' Butler University will host an affair pitting the Indy Pro-Am against the Washington, D.C.-based Goodman League -- the same outfit that took on both the Los Angeles-based Drew League and a Baltimore-based "Melo League" squad featuring LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul -- last month, CSNChicago.com confirmed with Indy Pro-Am founder Carlos Knox.

Knox said he expects Indy Pro-Am participants such as Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph, former Butler star and Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward, Jazz first-round draft pick Alec Burks, Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, Pacers guard and Indianapolis native George Hill and Wizards draft pick Shelvin Mack, another recent Butler product, to participate. On the Goodman end, reigning two-time NBA scoring champion and Thunder superstar Kevin Durant, a Washington native, and Wizards star John Wall are the reported headliners.

Being that Indianapolis is only an approximately three-hour drive away, it might be the closest Chicago will get to a high-profile exhibition -- even without labor negotiations as of yet resolved, look for several of these events to crop up this month, before the official opening of NBA training camps officially open in October -- this offseason, for the time being.

Knox, whose league was quietly one of the better pro-am summer events in the country and featured NBA players (and was free to the public), let it be known that he's open to Bulls players engaging in regional pride -- putting aside a conference rivalry with the Pacers, let alone the heated first-round matchup last spring -- to suit up for Indianapolis. Given Derrick Rose's adamant stance about not playing in pro-am or summer-league games -- although he did take part in a barnstorming trip to the Philippines earlier this summer -- he's a longshot to play. Besides the high-flying league MVP, in your opinion, which Bulls players would fare best in a free-flowing, laissez-faire, decidedly un-Thibsesque streetball setting?

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.

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.
 
Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.” 
 
The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
 
Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.
 
“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”
 
Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne. 
 
He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.
 
“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”
 
After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.
 
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.
 
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”   

Bulls will open against Sixers without Kris Dunn

Bulls will open against Sixers without Kris Dunn

The Bulls faced a steep test opening their 2018-19 campaign against the Philadelphia 76ers.

That task won't become any easier with Kris Dunn missing the game for personal reasons, head coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters at shootaround on Thursday.

Dunn's exlusion opens up an opportunity for Cameron Payne, who will enter the starting lineup. Payne started 14 games for the Bulls last season, averaging 9.4 points and 5.6 assists in 26.5 minutes.

It also moves up Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis, both of whom will be active, in the rotation. Expect both to see at least some playing time, especially with Denzel Valentine also out while recovering from a sprained ankle suffered in training camp.

It could mean an even bigger evening for Sixers point guard Ben Simmons. The reigning Rookie of the Year posted 19 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists in Philly's season-opening loss to the Celtics on Tuesday.