Bulls

Thibodeau talks possible trade targets for Bulls

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Thibodeau talks possible trade targets for Bulls

MILWAUKEE - Prior to Wednesdays thrilling win over the Bucks, Tom Thibodeau was asked about one particular player and whether the Bulls would make a move to acquire him at the March 15th trade deadline.

Im not sure yet, he said. Were going to look at a lot of different options.

Vague, as expected. But who was Thibodeau talking about? Dwight Howard, who visits the United Center for Thursdays tilt against the Magic? For those panicking about Rip Hamiltons health status, maybe a shooting guard, such as Golden States Monta Ellis?

No and no. Thibodeau was talking about Mike James.

Its likely, unless another team snatches him up first, that the Bulls re-acquire the 36-year-old point guard later this month, along with a bargain-priced veteran backup big man. Something more significant is unlikely to occur.

When you study personnel, you also study the make-up of the players and can they fit in. Our managements going to study whats available and as I mentioned before, if we dont do anything, we feel very good about the people that we have, he said. Thibodeau and the Bulls front office talk every day. Their job is to study the league, field calls and often times, if you have a good team, you have good players, people want them, they call. That doesnt mean were going to do anything. We listen and if we think it can make the team better, well consider it. If not, were more than happy with the roster that we have. We feel very good about that.

That doesnt mean players on other teams, particularly title-starved veterans, dont covet an opportunity to play for the Bulls. Take Bucks swingman Stephen Jackson, a name bandied around in the past as a potential Bulls target.

At the present time, Jackson is wasting away on Milwaukees bench, the result of an ongoing feud with Bucks head coach Scott Skiles, ironically a former Bulls coach. Whether youre of the opinion that Jackson is a career malcontent or, as future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan would tell you the pair won a championship together in San Antonio hes one of the best teammates one could have, his talent is undeniable.

Who wouldnt want to play with Derrick Rose? Right up the street; it would be a great fit for me. I dont think anybody in the league would say they wouldnt want to do that, but me, at the end of the day, I just want to play. Ive been a competitor my whole career, Ive won everywhere Ive went, so at this point, I just want to get back on the court and do what I do best, wherever that is, Jackson told CSNChicago.com Wednesday morning. Im just here, working out every day, just waiting for my opportunity, so I can be ready, but thats always my goal, to win a championship and I know being on a team like that, it wouldnt be that hard.

Its been tough with me because Ive been in a situation where I havent been playing, a situation that doesnt fit me and the good thing about it is hopefully something happens in the next couple of weeks where I can get somewhere where I can play. At the end of the day, Im here supporting the team right now and just trying to stay professional until something changes, continued the versatile veteran. Ive heard a lot, but its kind of hard because teams dont really say too much to me, especially this organization, but Im just keeping my fingers crossed, just continuing to keep my body ready for when its time.

When asked about Jacksons situation, Thibodeau refused to take the bait, stating, Hes a talented player, but I have enough to worry about with our team.

Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, theres no evidence at least not from this writer that the Bulls are currently interested in Jackson. The organization has confidence in Hamilton returning from his latest injury, a fluke occurrence, and believe hes an excellent fit on and off the court, as well as possessing a postseason pedigree that can help them get over the hump, particularly because of his numerous playoff battles with Miami shooting-guard counterpart Dwyane Wade.

Injuries are part of the game. You have no control over that. You look at Milwaukee: center Andrew Bogut being out is significant. I think were fortunate, where we have a lot of depth. Ronnie had a great training camp and when we went into training camp, we didnt even know wed have Rip, said Thibodeau. Ronnies done a great job, both starting and coming off the bench. We have Kyle, Lu, Jimmy. We can play C.J., go small. Theres a lot of things that we can do. You deal with the things that happen as they come along and you have to respond to every challenge.

It comes down to, I think, in the end, the teams that are playing the best and are the healthiest, Thibodeau concluded. Whatever the circumstances are, you can always fit somebody in. They may not have a full understanding of everything, but you can design specific packages for those guys, when theyre in the game, and thats not uncommon. You deal with that throughout the course of the season, whether you bring in a guy for a 10-day contract or theres a trade made."

Since Thibodeau isnt a head coach with total control over personnel moves, he wisely left the door open for a transaction to happen, but the truth of it is, the current Bulls roster is probably the one hell finish the season coaching, give or take a few low-impact moves for depth purposes.

Additionally, while the team has won without Hamilton in the lineup, there wasnt a better available fit on the market when the Bulls acquired him in December - his perpetual-motion game allows the ball to remain in Derrick Rose's hands, yet he's an underrated playmaker, as well as defender, and gives the team the perimeter-shooting presence they so desired last season - so at least this season, its time to either stay on the ride and see where the team takes it or jump off the bandwagon right now.

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: LaVine turns in an All Star performance as the Bulls beat the Clippers

On this edition of the Bulls Outsiders podcast, See Red Fred joins Big Dave and Matt Peck. The guys talk about some big plays down the stretch by Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine. Plus a great defensive job by Kris Dunn on Paul George. (1:30) See Red Fred states his case for more playing time for Denzel Valentine. (4:00) Plus what's going to happen when Otto Porter and Chandler Hutchison come back. (8:00) The guys share some concerns about Coby White in the short term. (10:30) See Red Fred tells you about 3 players who have exceeded expectations this year. (13:00) Plus the guys debate whether Zach LaVine should compete in the dunk contest or 3 point competition. (18:00) They discuss the impact that Kris Dunn has had on the defensive end of the floor. (20:30) Plus See Red Fred lays out his blueprint for the Bulls to make the playoffs. (23:30) Plus the guys make a wager regarding the rest of the season. (25:00)
 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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Bulls down Clippers, post 1st victory over winning team with strong finish

Bulls down Clippers, post 1st victory over winning team with strong finish

Just over two hours before tipoff, in his first public comments since Media Day, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson talked about how Jim Boylen’s teaching and coaching hasn’t always translated from the practice floor and film room to games.

Could the Bulls’ first victory this season over a winning team be a step?

And don’t mention that the Clippers played without Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams in the Bulls’ 109-106 victory, secured on Zach LaVine’s three-point play with 2 seconds to play.

“Well, we didn’t have (Otto Porter Jr.) or Hutch (Chandler Hutchison) or (Daniel) Gafford,” Boylen said. “So we can ‘Yeah, but’ it a little bit too.”

Bravado aside, there’s stuff on which the Bulls can build here.

LaVine posted his sixth 30-point game and ended a week filled with closing misses with a game-winner in which he powered through a Montrezl Harrell foul on a nice misdirection play involving Kris Dunn. Lauri Markkanen tied his season-high with 17 rebounds while posting his third double-double of the season. Denzel Valentine, playing all but two seconds of the fourth, hit a huge tying 3-pointer in the final minute and scored a season-high 16 points. Thad Young tied his season-high with 17 points.

And Dunn was everywhere, relishing the challenge of guarding Paul George down the stretch and winning a crucial battle for a 50-50 ball that led to Valentine’s tying shot.

“That was a huge moment,” Boylen said.

So was Valentine closing a game.

“I just thought we needed some more shooting on the floor,” Boylen said. “We’ve wrestled with defensive lineups, offensive lineups. We try to mingle them a little bit. I just thought we needed someone to make a big shot. And he did.”

Valentine has now scored in double figures off the bench in five of six games.

“I’m very confident in my abilities,” Valentine said. “I was just waiting for the ball to come my way. Zach is our best player. So the ball’s going to be in his hands. But shoot, I’m ready for it. I love those moments. I love to make those shots.”

Dunn, who finished a plus-22, defended George as he missed a good look for a tying 3-pointer. George scored 10 points in just over 7 minutes in the fourth but missed all three attempts following Valentine’s tying shot.

“I love it,” Dunn said of guarding great players. “I know my niche on this team is to guard. And I take pride in that. It feels good to go against a big-time player and be able to get stops towards the end.”

Markkanen actually received credit for the rebound that Dunn kept alive to lead to Valentine’s tying shot, which Dunn said Markkanen teased him about. Dunn finished with nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals.

But his two biggest plays didn’t even crash the box score. He won the 50-50 ball to lead to Valentine’s tying shot and then confused the Clippers’ defense by slipping a screen on LaVine’s game-winner.

“I knew Zach was going to get downhill,” Dunn said. “Because once I did it, I saw Paul George look at me.”

LaVine couldn’t believe how much space he had to operate.

“I’ll take it,” he said. “Once I saw the lane open up, I think there were like 5 seconds left. We were trying to get the last shot. But once the lane opened up, I tried to get a one-on-one. He’s a tough dude. I knew I could attack his body.”

LaVine missed game-winning attempts on an isolation 3-pointer against the Warriors and over a double-team against the Raptors. His three-point play offered a dose of redemption for a player who is never afraid to fail.

“You’re not going to be perfect. As much as people are going to show more of the bad than the good, I’ve had a lot of good times in the clutch as well,” LaVine said. “I try to make the right play for us to win. And I did that tonight.”

For one night, matters were more positive. The Bulls closed out a game against a good team and received multiple contributions while doing so.

Heck, Boylen even downplayed Paxson’s vote of confidence.

“We understand what we’re trying to do. We’re in step on what we’re asking our guys to do and play like and work like and care like,” the coach said. “I’m thankful for it. But I wouldn’t expect anything less.”