Bulls

Rip to make Bulls debut as a spectator, will it end that way?

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Rip to make Bulls debut as a spectator, will it end that way?

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's just a preseason game, but Friday's matchup between the Bulls and the Pacers will feel like a full-course meal for basketball-starved NBA junkies. Obviously Bulls fans, with a mostly-intact squad returning from last season, are anxious to see whether head coach Tom Thibodeau plays new addition Rip Hamilton.

"We'll see after the shootaround. We're going to sit down. He had a good practice yesterday. We'll see how he feels and then we'll make a decision prior to the game," he said prior to Friday morning's shootaround at Conseco Fieldhouse. "Obviously Ronnie Brewer is going to start tonight. Ronnie's starting at 2. I also want to see Ronnie with the second unit. That group played extremely well together, so we're going to look at some different combinations."

Echoed Hamilton to CSNChicago.com: "Well, we're going to see. I've still got a lot to learn and things like that, so we're going to go out there to shootaround and see how we feel after."

As for Brewer, the selfless swingman told CSNChicago.com that he's willing to do whatever's best for the team.

"I've been working with the first group during training camp. I feel like I've been playing pretty well, but we're just trying to find chemistry," he said. "We had a long break from last year, with the addition of Rip, we're trying to work him in and allow him to learn the plays, and get used to everybody's strengths and weaknesses. It's been a minute since I've started a game, but I'm excited about it. I'll do my best to help any possible way, on offense or defense, or both."

Thibodeau plans to use his team's depth Friday, trying out different combinations, but although Brewer will be in the starting lineup, expect to see him rejoin his "Bench Mob" second-unit group at some point in the contest.

"I've said this before: I thought our bench was a great strength for our team last year. They had great chemistry together, they can execute, they can score in transition, they play great defense. I think they complement each other well, so I think it is a plus," said Thibodeau. "We're not going to play a normal rotation, per se, but they're going to play a good amount of minutes. We have to be ready on the 25th. You don't really know until you see what unfolds in the game either, so if we need to sub earlier, we'll sub earlier."

Additionally, the team's lone rookie, Marquette product Jimmy Butler, should see his first NBA action.

"I want to play Jimmy some, too. I want to see him in action," Thibodeau said about the 6-foot-7 wing. "I think he's learning how to be a pro. He's got a great demeanor. He's got an excellent attitude and approach to the game. He's got a lot to learn and he's moving in the right direction."

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.