Little by little, Hoiberg implementing his exhaustive offensive system


Little by little, Hoiberg implementing his exhaustive offensive system

LAS VEGAS — Hard to imagine how the Bulls’ offense will work judging by the pared-down and less-skilled version of summer league, but there are glimpses of what Fred Hoiberg’s system looks like.

When seeing Doug McDermott going through cross-action from the left block to the right free-throw extended to catch a pass in a triple-threat position (shoot, pass or drive), he won’t actually get opportunities like that if the Bulls are at full strength.

But Jimmy Butler will.

When Vander Blue goes from the wing behind a top-side screen on a back cut to the basket waiting on a lob pass, that won’t really be him come November — even if he finds a way to crack the Bulls’ roster.

[MORE: Bulls: McDermott seemingly starting from scratch in Summer League]

But Derrick Rose will certainly have those chances, assuming his athleticism doesn’t take some severe dip in one offseason.

The Hoiberg system — one based on movement, spacing and attacking — will look drastically different than what’s been seen over the past few seasons.

Multiple options, multiple reads, less rigidity.

By Hoiberg’s count, the Bulls had 39 uncontested shot attempts in their second summer league game, a 81-66 drubbing by the Toronto Raptors.

The Bulls will have more adept talent running Hoiberg’s sets while going against top-level defenses, to be fair. Missing all those open shots had to be a little disheartening for the new Bulls coach, considering a practice that was scheduled to run for less than an hour stretched near the two-hour range.

No, Hoiberg isn’t pulling off his best Tom Thibodeau impression.

[RELATED: New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has low-key opening in Summer League]

“A little cleanup session,” Hoiberg said. “Talked about a couple things we didn’t do defensively. Things we didn’t do well yesterday.”

“Our offense at times was very good. (Thirty-nine) uncontested shots. Got most when the ball was moving.”

The word that’s on the tip of Hoiberg’s tongue is “rhythm”, which the Bulls honestly displayed a lot of at times last season when en masse. But when it mattered most, the Bulls looked like their old selves in the playoffs, struggling to do anything in their decisive Game 6 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And while Hoiberg has only put in a fraction of what he’ll truly deploy when training camp convenes in October, he’s trying to find a decent balance of what he can do with the few pieces he has to work with — mainly in the three-day minicamp the team had leading into Summer League.

“Not much. Not much,” said Hoiberg when asked how much of his sets have been used now. “You can’t really overwhelm it at this. I probably put in a little too much to be honest with you. Just try to get them to ‘flow’. Didn’t run many set plays in. We’ve run a couple things for Doug.”

McDermott will be more shooter than creator when the time comes, but he’s at least learning different positions. Rookie Bobby Portis is getting a bit of a crash course in offensive philosophy.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

He had a shaky Game 2 after a sterling open to summer league, but picking up concepts will be perhaps his biggest victory this week regardless of the numbers.

“They have picked it up well,” Hoiberg said. “It’s different concepts for Bobby, when to roll, when to pop. When he sets a ball screen, not to move up to bunch up the spacing. But as far as picking up what we’re trying to put in, those three have been very good.”

The third is Cameron Bairstow, who’s been a crash-test dummy on the floor, picking up fouls and absorbing them seemingly on every possession. Grabbing 10 rebounds as an undersized center in this setup can only be viewed optimistically — especially if he’s picking up the small nuances of what will be a complicated offense.

“I really like Cam. He makes winning plays,” Hoiberg said. “The first game he took four shots. The two guys who got all the points were Doug and Portis and Cam was out there doing the dirty work, a lot of things that don’t show up in a box score. That’s what Cam does. That’s the type of kid he is. He just goes out there and makes winning plays. He picks things up well.”

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.