Lottery reality setting in for Bulls, Hoiberg: 'I have to be better'

Lottery reality setting in for Bulls, Hoiberg: 'I have to be better'

NEW ORLEANS—The finality has set in for the Chicago Bulls, as they begin the short wind-down to an offseason that will officially begin Wednesday night around 10 p.m.

Derrick Rose will miss the final two games, along with Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and E’Twaun Moore, players who won’t risk further injury in the face of the meaningless final two games this season

“Kinda speechless,” Rose said. “But at the same time, we put ourselves in this position and as men we have to deal with it.”

Missing the playoffs in his first year as coach is something Fred Hoiberg knows he’ll have to face head-on, especially considering the Bulls have been annual participants since 2009—the second-longest streak in the Eastern Conference next to the Atlanta Hawks.

“The first person I’m looking at in this whole situation is me. I have to be better,” Hoiberg said. “I have to get our guys to play more consistent basketball.”

“It’s incredibly disappointing to find ourselves in this position. Looking back on the season, a lot of things contributed to us being in the spot we’re in: not taking advantage of a favorable schedule, not closing out games when we had great opportunities to do that.”

[NBA BUZZ: Bulls failed their chemistry test in 2016]

Hoiberg has been in this situation before, when as a player with the Minnesota Timberwolves coming off a conference finals appearance in 2004, missed the playoffs in 2005. Head coach Flip Saunders was fired midseason that year and it started a downward spiral that led to the trade of former MVP Kevin Garnett in 2007 after three straight lottery appearances.

“There’s nothing worse than having high expectations and sitting around on the weekend and watching the NBA on ABC,” Hoiberg said. “It’s gonna be a painful offseason for a lot of us, especially me with the expectations that were there when I took over.”

Hoiberg disputed the expectations were too high considering how dependent the roster was on young players, but he hopes it’s a stepping stone for them and himself.

“I’m confident in my abilities. I’ve been in this league a long time,” he said. “I’ve been in this league 16 years, it’s a long time. My first as a coach. There’s things looking back I can do better and know I’ll do better. Learning opportunity for all of us. The guys are gonna be back in a Bulls uniform next year and all involved in the summer. Yeah, we’re gonna try to correct some things. It’ll be a big offseason for some of our guys and we’ll come back prepared.”

Beating up on the likes of the conference-leading Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors with a 7-1 mark is offset by losing three of four to the New York Knicks and being swept by the equally lottery-bound Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Obviously it’s disappointing,” said Jimmy Butler, who will play against the Pelicans. “Only thing you can say is you gotta learn from it. We know what we were capable of this season. It didn’t happen. It is what it is now.”

[MORE: Phil Jackson, '96 Bulls congratulate Warriors on 72 wins]

Butler caught a late flight Sunday night because of a family issue, an excused absence according to Hoiberg. By the time he landed in New Orleans, the Bulls’ playoff fate had already been decided and he seemed resigned to the fact he likely saw this coming with the team’s inconsistencies.

“Yeah but if you don’t play as hard as you’re supposed to, it don’t matter,” Butler said after being asked if this team had enough talent to win. “Everybody has talent or you wouldn’t be in this league. It’s about coming out and competing, playing as hard as you can.”

It’s the first time Butler will miss the postseason, along with Gibson and Rose, with the latter being drafted after the last lottery season in 2008.

“I’m still giving my all to the team. I still believe we can win a championship,” Rose said. “We let things slip too early and it followed us through the entire year. Next year we gotta come in and this should be fuel to go into the offseason and come into the season with revenge on our minds.”

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.

NBC Sports Chicago launches new show Bulls Outsiders

NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago launches new show Bulls Outsiders

Chicago, IL (October 15, 2018) – NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – has announced it will launch Bulls Outsiders, a brand new, live, multi-platform, fan-interactive Bulls program that will provide a fresh take on that evening’s game and much more from three non-conventional sports show hosts.  Bulls Outsiders will make its network debut after the Bulls 2018-19 road/season opener this Thursday, October 18 (approx. 10:00 PM CT) immediately following Bulls Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois on NBC Sports Chicago+, via live stream to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive, and -- on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago). NOTE: Bulls Outsiders will also re-air on the main NBC Sports Chicago channel on this night at 11:00 PM; the majority of airings will also air live on the main channel location.

Hosted by three, die-hard Bulls enthusiasts – Matt Peck (@Bulls_Peck), David Watson (@bawlsports), and John Sabine (@jsabine214) – Bulls Outsiders will provide viewers with the hottest takes, insightful analysis, and spirited commentary from the fans' perspective. This new half-hour program will immediately follow the network’s dedicated, season-long presentation of Bulls Postgame Live for all 82 Bulls games this season.  

In addition to the lively post-game discussion with the show’s hosts, Bulls Outsiders will also emphasize heavy viewer interaction via fan engagement on a number of the network’s social media platforms including Twitter (@NBCSBulls; fans urged to utilize the Twitter hashtag #BullsOutsiders in their posts) and Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), which will enable Bulls fans to directly interact with the show’s hosts via comments and questions pertaining to that particular evening’s game, the key topics presented to them that night, or anything else they want to discuss from a league-wide NBA perspective. 

“Our primary goal at NBC Sports Chicago is to super serve our fans and with the introduction of Bulls Outsiders to our multi-platform programming line-up, we are able to continue that mission with a fresh and fun new program that not only speaks to Bulls fans, but one that directly involves them in the dialogue,” said Kevin Cross, Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago. 

In preparation for the hiring of the program’s three primary hosts, NBC Sports Chicago reached out to a number of notable local (and vocal) die-hard Bulls fans who stood out among the vast Bulls social media community. Candidates who responded back with interest were simply asked to shoot a one-minute video on their phone and offer up their take on Chicago native/Simeon Career Academy H.S. grad Jabari Parker joining the Bulls via free agency.  From there, the initial two dozen candidates were narrowed down to eight, who were then all brought in for in-studio auditions. Following the lengthy on-camera process, Cross, along with Bulls content producer Kevin Anderson, finalized their decision and welcomed Peck, Watson, and Sabine to the NBC Sports Chicago family.  

“It was an intricate process in choosing our hosts, but there’s no doubt Matt, David, and John have a great chemistry and solid individual strengths,” added Cross. “I’m also excited about how Bulls Outsiders will take fan interactivity to a brand new level and I couldn’t be more pleased that we will be able to deliver this show to the passionate and undeniably-dedicated Bulls fan base.”

Please note the following Bulls Outsiders host bios:

Matt Peck - Podcast host/writer for ‘Locked On Bulls’

Age: 31

Hometown: Glen Ellyn, IL

Favorite Bull of all time: “MJ, obviously…but Rodman is a very close second.” 

Favorite Current Bull: Lauri Markkanen 

Favorite Bulls moments: 

1st place – “1997 NBA Finals Game 1. MJ hits the game-winner at the buzzer after Karl Malone misses 2 FTs...Mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays."

2nd place – “2011 Eastern Conference Finals Game 1…Bulls blow out the ‘Heatles.’ Taj destroys Dwyane Wade's soul. And has a FILTHY put back dunk late with the route on. The Madhouse goes insane. We all leave that night thinking we were about to win the title.” 

David Watson - Bulls writer/podcast host for BawlSports.com

Age: 39

Hometown: Chicago, IL                            

Favorite Bulls player of all-time: Michael Jordan

Favorite current Bulls player: Lauri Markkanen

Favorite Bulls moment: “Jordan Flu Game in ‘97…Noah dunk on Paul Pierce in ’09 first round Game 6 Triple OT…oh, and that Pippen dunk on Ewing in the ’94 playoffs.”

John Sabine - Actor, copywriter, and improviser…he has performed with The Second City IO and The Improvised Shakespeare Company.

Age: 34

Hometown: Originally from Dallas, TX…has lived in Chicago for the last 11 years

Favorite Bulls player of all-time: “Pippen or Rodman, it's probably Rodman. Is it weird it's Rodman?”

Favorite current Bulls player: “Lauri Markkanen, but really Bobby Portis. I want to be friends with Bobby Portis.” 

Favorite Bulls moment: “Jordan's return from baseball. As a kid I couldn't understand, I said "wait ...he just decided to not play and now he decided to play, but like he has a new number and he's still awesome...what?!’ or…either 2013 Round 1 Game 4 against the Nets 3OT, Nate Robinson. It was a Marvel Movie.” 

REMINDER: NBC Sports Chicago will carry the 2018-19 Bulls HOME OPENER on Saturday, October 20 (Bulls Pregame Live presented by Coors Light at 6:00 PM; Bulls vs. Pistons tip-off at 7:00 PM; Bulls Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois at approx. 9:30 PM, which will immediately be followed by Bulls Outsiders at approx. 10:00 PM).