Chicago Bulls: Nikola Mirotic making strides

Nikola Mirotic is making history for the Chicago Bulls this season. He is breaking the norm of Tom Thibodeau’s reputation for minimally playing rookies during their first year in the league. Mirotic is playing on average 18.2 minutes per game. This is the most a rookie has played while under Tom Thibodeau in Chicago.
Thibs said this summer that he believes a championship team needs an eight man rotation. With Mirotic averaging almost 20 minutes per game, clearly he has made a huge impression on Thibodeau as Mirotic looks to be one of those three players coming off the bench for Chicago. Tom Thibodeau must know that Nikola Mirotic is one piece of the puzzle for the Chicago Bulls this season.
Mirotic’s minutes partially are derived from the Bull’s injury-plagued frontcourt this season. Pau Gasol has missed time due to injury and so has Joakim Noah. Taj Gibson has also missed significant time so he can heal his ankle injury. Not to mention fellow rookie Doug McDermott just had surgery on his knee and he is

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Butler, Mirotic lead Bulls over Grizzlies 103-97 (Yahoo Sports)

MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 19: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls shoots against Jon Leuer #30 of the Memphis Grizzlies on December 19, 2014 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Chicago rookie Nikola Mirotic left the locker room before the media could hear about his perfect shooting night from outside the arc.


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Chicago Bulls vs. Memphis Grizzlies 12/19/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Memphis Grizzlies looked to keep their recent hot streak rolling on Friday night, when they took on the Chicago Bulls. The Grizzlies had won six straight, but their balanced roster faced a tough test from the Bulls, who had won four of their last five. 

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Chicago Bulls vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

Fresh off consecutive wins over the Western Conference’s best team and the defending NBA champions, the Memphis Grizzlies look to continue their winning streak against the Chicago Bulls.

Within this past week, Memphis (21-4) toppled the Golden State Warriors 105-98 and outlasted the San Antonio Spurs 117-116 in triple overtime. Marc Gasol tallied 50 total points, while Zach Randolph reeled in 31 rebounds during the victories.

Chicago (16-9) is propelled by Jimmy Butler, who carried the team with 35 points, seven assists and four steals during a 103-97 victory over the New York Knicks Thursday night.

ESPN’s Nick Friedell notes Taj Gibson will not play Friday night. Derrick Rose is also out for the Bulls, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Lastly, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Memphis guard Tony Allen is sidelined.

Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and the matchup will be broadcast on CSN Chicago and TSOH. Bleacher Report will provide scoring updates and analysis. Please add your thoughts in the comments section.

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Bulls guard Jimmy Butler to Taylor Swift: ‘Come to Chicago and date yours truly’

Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 35 points to lead the undermanned Chicago Bulls to a 103-97 win over the New York Knicks Thursday night at United Center. But it was some comments he made before the game that may cause even more attention to be lavished upon the Bulls guard than his outstanding performance on…Read More
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Butler scores 35, Bulls beat Knicks 103-97 (Yahoo Sports)

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls drives against the New York Knicks on December 18, 2014 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

CHICAGO (AP) — In a game missing Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, it was Jimmy Butler who played like a star.


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Derrick Rose Injury: Updates on Bulls Star’s Illness and Return

Derrick Rose can now add “illness” to the list of things that have forced him to sit games this season.

The Chicago Bulls point guard is battling an illness and will be out against the New York Knicks on Thursday night, according to ESPNChicago.com’s Nick Friedell:

Rose’s history of missing games is well known by now. From 2011-12 through 2013-14, the former NBA MVP missed a total of 181 regular-season games.

Early in the 2014-15 NBA season, Rose sprained his left ankle in an eventual 114-108 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then came a hamstring injury in a Nov. 13 game against the Toronto Raptors. Neither of the two ailments was serious, but they both served as warnings for how quickly things can turn sour for the 26-year-old.

Having spent so much time off the court due to his inability to stay healthy, Rose has earned the label of “being soft.” He hit back at those critics in November, per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com:

Chicago fans will breathe easy knowing that Rose is only battling a bug and should be back after a few days. As Friedell mentioned, Jimmy Butler was sick recently, which didn’t stop the shooting guard from asking to stay on the court.

There’s no question that the Bulls will need a healthy Rose in order to be a serious threat to win the Eastern Conference. Last season’s fourth-place finish proves that Chicago can finish well without him, but an early-round exit seems likely if Rose isn’t on the floor.

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Bulls Rumors: Chicago Would Be Ideal Fit for Ray Allen

The Chicago Bulls drafted sharpshooter Doug McDermott with the hopes that he would develop into a Ray Allen-type of player from beyond the three-point line.

Now, they may get the actual thing.

Jordan Schultz of The Huffington Post passed along the latest rumor surrounding the future Hall of Famer:

Don’t expect a decision from Allen anytime soon if Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders is to be believed:

Allen can’t really go wrong with any of those choices.

Cleveland would give him the opportunity to reunite with LeBron James and drill three-pointers as defenders focus on James and Kevin Love, San Antonio would provide him the chance to play with the defending champs under the genius that is Gregg Popovich, and Golden State has the best record in the NBAWashington is 18-6 and looks like a long-term contender in the Eastern Conference.

However, Chicago represents an ideal situation for Allen, one that would prove beneficial for both the player and the team.

Depending on what Allen wants at the age of 39, he could either be a primary contributor for the Bulls at small forward or shooting guard or serve as a dependable role player at the same spot who puts less minutes on his knees every game by coming off the bench.

After all, Jimmy Butler is the iron man in Chicago. He is averaging 39.6 minutes per game and is versatile enough to guard anyone from a point guard to a power forward. As long as Butler is healthy and on the roster to play nearly every minute of every game, there is not a pressing need for Allen to play significant minutes if he doesn’t want to at his age.

That is especially the case since Kirk Hinrich can play shooting guard alongside Derrick Rose when Butler is at small forward.

However, if Allen does want to play a significant role (which would make sense if he decides to come back at 39), small forward depth is a pressing question for the Bulls. McDermott and Tony Snell have been underwhelming behind Mike Dunleavy Jr., and Allen would immediately bolster that rotation.

In fact, underwhelming is putting it kindly since McDermott is scoring 3.2 points a night and, most disappointingly, shooting 23 percent from three-point range. Snell is an afterthought in the rotation and is scoring two points a game. What’s more, McDermott is now injured, which opens up even more potential playing time for Allen if he so desires.

The Bulls have a hole at wing depth behind Butler and Dunleavy, who is playing 31 minutes a game himself at age 34, and Allen has to recognize the opportunity is in place to play a major role for a title contender.

There is also a level of comfort already for Allen when it comes to coach Tom Thibodeau because of their time together in Boston when Thibodeau was an assistant coach.

Allen is a veteran who has likely played in some locker rooms with great chemistry and some without it, and familiarity with the coach could go a long way toward impacting his decision.

Allen would also have the chance to be something of a mentor in Chicago. McDermott was brought in to shoot threes, and Allen could take the Creighton product under his wing for the remainder of the season and serve as a leader.

Thibodeau discussed Allen’s leadership, via Mike Singer of CSNChicago.com:

When we were in Boston, in 2008, that was a great practice team. They were unreal. Maybe the best practice team I was ever with. They had (Kevin) Garnett, who was incredible. But you also had (Paul) Pierce and Ray Allen, and they were great leaders. They worked at it every day and wouldn’t let anyone take a day off.

Even as a potential leader, Allen wouldn’t be asked to do more than what he is best at in Chicago either.

The Bulls already have the defending Defensive Player of the Year in Joakim Noah and one of the league’s best perimeter defenders in Butler. Allen will never be expected to guard the opponent’s best player, which can be physically grinding for a 25-year-old, let alone someone who is 39 with years of NBA miles on his legs.

Instead, he can simply drill three-pointers when Rose penetrates and forces the defense to collapse or when Noah and Pau Gasol find him from the high elbow. Shooting is still what Allen does best, and he is likely looking for a place with plenty of weapons around him that would open up some looks from deep.

Allen would have the flexibility in Chicago to either play a major part in the push toward the title or serve as a role player, depending on what would be ideal for him at this stage in his career. He would also have the chance to be a veteran leader and a direct mentor for a future sharpshooter in the league.

Most importantly, if Allen chose the Bulls, he would have the opportunity to drill threes for one of the NBA’s most dangerous championship contenders. 

That should ultimately matter more than anything else.

 

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Bulls Rumors: Ray Allen Would Greatly Bolster Chicago’s Title Hopes

Ray Allen has two NBA championship rings and clearly wants a third, if this rumor regarding the list of teams he is choosing from is to be believed, via Jordan Schultz of The Huffington Post:

Allen would be a boost for any team on that list, but the Chicago Bulls’ title hopes would greatly improve if they landed the sharp-shooter.

They may have to wait a while longer to make that a reality, as Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register: “I think in two or three weeks, he’ll start thinking about teams. I don’t think right now he is. I think he wants to get through the holidays. … I think he’s doing the right thing, honestly. He’s earned this right, to look at the teams and say, ‘I fit here,’ and jump if he wants to do that.”

If Allen decided that he fits in Chicago, the rest of the Eastern Conference will officially be on notice.

For one, it would keep Allen out of Cleveland and Washington. Considering the Cavaliers and Wizards may ultimately represent Chicago’s greatest threats in the Eastern Conference, that would be a win in itself.

On the actual floor, the first thing that stands out about Allen is his three-point shooting. This is particularly important for a Chicago team that was only shooting 36.5 percent from behind the three-point arc entering Monday’s game. What’s more, point guard Derrick Rose was at 30.5 percent, while shooting guard Jimmy Butler was at 29.1.  

Allen would get plenty of open looks just from how he would theoretically mesh with the Bulls’ personnel already in place. Rose has always been more of a penetrator throughout his career (even if he is shooting 5.5 three-pointers per game this season while he works his way back to full health) and can set Allen up by drawing extra defenders with his quickness and explosive first step.

There is also a strong interior game with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol and even Nikola Mirotic in Chicago, although Mirotic has ventured beyond the three-point line this season. Noah and Gasol are both known for their passing from the elbow and post, and any time an extra defender were to cheat down low, they would find Allen spotting up.

Allen has shot 40 percent from downtown over the course of his career and boasts a ridiculous 2,973 made three-point attempts. Somehow, Chicago would find some room in the rotation for that.

Allen also flashed his versatility in Miami last season when he was more than capable of playing some small forward. That is important for Chicago, because the small forward spot is something of a weakness if you prescribe to the theory that Mike Dunleavy, Doug McDermott and Tony Snell don’t make up a championship-level group at the position.

McDermott, who was supposed to be the three-point threat for the Bulls this season, is hurt, which opens up even a bigger hole to be filled.

Perhaps the best part of signing Allen in terms of championship hopes for Chicago, though, is that it would take away some of the minutes burden on Butler’s shoulders. He is the team’s best perimeter defender and is asked to play 40 minutes per game all while containing the opponent’s best player on the other end.

If and when the Bulls are locked up in a playoff series with the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors or Washington Wizards, Butler will be the one asked to guard LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan or Bradley Beal. The only way he will be able to do that effectively is by staying healthy and fresh through June.

Allen could spell Butler for extended stretches and keep No. 21 just a bit fresher before the playoffs.

Allen also brings a championship pedigree to the table, which should not be overlooked for a Chicago squad largely made up of players who have come close but never reached the NBA mountain top. Noah, Rose, Gibson and Butler, among others, have yet to win a ring, and adding a veteran leader like Allen could help in the huddle and locker room in the tense playoff moments that are sure to come. 

Allen will not shrink away from the spotlight in the most important games. Now the question is whether those important games will come with Chicago or some other team.

 

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Horford scores 21, leads Hawks past Bulls 93-86 (Yahoo Sports)

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 15: Jeff Teague #0 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at Philips Arena on December 15, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have shown they can beat up on the NBA’s weaker teams.


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