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.

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

Wendell Carter Jr. gets early 'learning experience' against Embiid, Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Picture yourself at 19 years old.

Maybe you were in college. Maybe you hit the job market early.

What you likely weren’t doing was guarding one the NBA’s best centers in your first professional game.

That was the task charged to Wendell Carter Jr. in the Bulls’ 127-108 loss to the 76ers in the season opener at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday.

Carter Jr. was the seventh overall pick in the NBA draft after just one season at Duke. He earned the start in his NBA debut after an impressive preseason, but nothing could’ve prepared him for going up against Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” Carter Jr. said when asked if Embiid was as impressive as he thought he’d be. “He’s a phenomenal player. He’s one of, or the best, big man in the league. Very skilled, very poised. He knows his spots on the court.

“I didn’t go out there with my best effort. It’s just a learning experience for me.”

Carter Jr. had eight points, three rebounds, three assists and a block in 20 minutes. He also picked up four fouls, which the rookie attributed to the physicality and craftiness of Embiid.

But he did flash the impressive and varied skill set that made him a high pick and such a coveted prospect. He was also able to garner the praise of the Bulls’ veterans.

“Even though Wendell got in foul trouble he was still playing (Embiid) solid,” Zach LaVine, who scored a team-high 30 points, said. “That’s a tough first game right there. But he didn’t lack for confidence. Made him take some tough shots, but he’s going to make them. He’s that type of player.”

To his credit, Carter Jr. was candid about his performance. He admitted that his emotions ran the gamut from nervous to excited to happy.

In a season that will have its ups and downs as the young Bulls develop and learn, there will likely be more games like this against other elite NBA competition. It’ll be how Carter Jr. responds that will define his career.

“It’s the first game so I don’t want to put too much on myself,” Carter Jr. said. “It would be different if it was like the 50th game or 60th game. It’s the first game. We’re just going to move on from it. We’ve got our home opener on Saturday (vs. the Pistons). That’s where my mind is right now.”

See, he’s learning already.

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

Could Ryan Arcidiacono be in line for more minutes?

The Bulls backup point guard situation will be in dire straits all season, with no established veteran behind Kris Dunn. And although the front office has seemingly committed to Cameron Payne as the backup PG (for at least this season), Ryan Arcidiacono showed enough in the season opener to justify giving him meaningful plying time in the rotation. 

Here are the stat lines of Arcidiacono and Cameron Payne from the season opener in Philadelphia:

Arcidiacono: 8 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 from the 3-point line

Payne:           0 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound, 0-for-1 from the 3-point line

With so many capable ball handlers and score-first players on the Bulls, point and assist totals aren’t as important as the rebounds and 3-point attempts. To provide the necessary space needed for driving lanes, there has to be openings in the defense caused by defenders sticking close to player they believe are a threat to shoot.

And that is where the problem lies with Payne.

Ryan Arcidiacono—while by no means a dominant scorer—showed a willingness to attack off of the pick-and-roll, even showing off an impressive ball-fake:


Payne, despite coming into the league with the reputation of a scorer, has yet to be aggressive enough to make teams think twice about leaving him wide-open on the perimeter. And he is not one to attack the basket with purpose, averaging less than half a free throw per game for his career. Payne's general lack of aggressiveness when on the floor is often times made worse by his occasional poor post entry passes that seem predetermined:

Even if the above play was designed to get the ball to LaVine in the mid-post, Payne chooses a terrible time to make the pass. When he starts the motion to give the ball to LaVine, Ben Simmons is positioned in front of LaVine to force a tougher pass, as rookie Landry Shamet gambles over the backside to get the steal.

Had Payne chose to swing the ball around the perimeter, or give it to Bobby Ports and then get it back, he could have created an opening for the LaVine pass.

Obviously, the Bulls 19-point loss can’t be blamed on solely on Payne, the terrible defense was a group effort, as was the sometimes questionable shot selection. But with the defense already appearing to be perhaps one of the league's worst units, Fred Hoiberg would be wise to put Arcidiacono in more.

Hoiberg is in a crucial year where he needs to show that he can be the head coach of this team when they finally become competitive.

And for Hoiberg to show that type of growth as a coach, he needs to set the tone that minutes are earned not given, something he has already started with his moving of Jabari Parker to the bench. Payne only received 22 minutes, compared to 28 minutes for Arcidiacono, and it is tough to see that changing if things continue on like they did on Thursday night.