PHILADELPHIA—The sluggish start to the Bulls’ season has left many scratching their heads in confusion, with everything from lineup changes to discussion about leadership being a point of discussion seven games into a long, seven-month journey.
No one player has been the proverbial “ass kicker” in the locker room, as it has turned into a leadership by committee situation, the one thing everybody is seemingly on the same page about.
“I think (Joakim Noah) has probably been the most vocal,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Pau (Gasol) with his experience. Jimmy (Butler) and Derrick (Rose) are guys who will talk when you get in. Taj (Gibson) has done a good job. Even Kirk (Hinrich) on the sidelines. Talking to (Mike) Dunleavy, he’s always telling me what he thinks and sees. It’s a group by committee. But your most vocal guy is Jo.”
Rose and Butler are in agreement on this not being that kind of team and even Noah bristles at the notion about him being the leader of this bunch. Rose is the most accomplished, Noah the most tenured and Butler the most consistent.
Those are likely the loudest voices in the room, the voices who should’ve been heard from after Saturday’s overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I mean we talk to each other. Every team is different. Every leader is different,” Rose said. “And they handle it in their own little way. I think with the team, I think we talked about it as far as making sure everyone is on the same page and making sure we give all our effort, I mean our best effort every night.”
If the two overtime games go in a different direction, losses to Minnesota and Detroit, the Bulls would be 6-1 and the narrative wouldn’t have anything to do with a perceived lack of leadership.
“To tell you the truth, if you win games nobody looks at it like that,” Butler said. “When you're losing, especially the way we've been losing, you've gotta blame it on something. I think it's more important to have team full of leaders, do their roles and do what's expected to do night in and out.”
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Whatever is said behind closed doors, Rose believes, should be between the players and not even the coaching staff. But even he is slightly hesitant to speak up considering he isn’t playing to his own standards and has plenty of catching up to do after missing all of training camp.
“I mean I would, yeah, but at the same time I’m dealing with my own problems too, so it’s all about finding that balance, and like I said getting everybody on the same page,” Rose said.
“It’s about catching up. These guys have been playing for a long time. When I was out I tend to just watch and see what’s going, and when you’re not playing you can’t voice your opinion like that. I don’t care who you are. With me being on the court, me getting back into a rhythm and just playing, I think that I should be able to voice my opinion a little bit more, and it’s slowly coming.”