Jimmy Butler proves his worth as Bulls’ de facto star

Jimmy Butler didn’t get his contract extension last month but has carried the injured Bulls.

      
 

 

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NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding LA Lakers, Chicago Bulls and More

Injuries are an unfortunate part of sports, but they have hit some teams harder than others in the early going of the 2014-15 NBA season. As a result, rumors about free-agent pickups are circulating around the Association because of available roster spots.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls in particular are in need of some more healthy players, so it should come as no surprise that they are the teams in some of the most recent speculation. 

Read on to see the latest from Los Angeles and Chicago and some interesting developments in the fate of one of the top NBA draft prospects.

 

Los Angeles Lakers 

David Pick of Eurobasket provided an update on the Lakers:

Gal Mekel, Jordan Hamilton, Dwight Buycks, Quincy Miller, Tyrus Thomas and Roscoe Smith have all reportedly been called in for recent tryouts. There is everything from pass-first point guards to athletic forwards who can slash to the rim on that list, so it is difficult to pin down exactly what Los Angeles is looking for here.

The Lakers do have a disabled player exception thanks to the injury of Julius Randle and could land another one because Steve Nash is out.

Between season-ending injuries to both Randle and Nash and hamstring issues that have kept Ryan Kelly off the floor, the Lakers simply need healthy bodies. With so many players working out, it may take some time to evaluate which player to keep, if any. 

Of course, the Lakers have won two of three games, so perhaps the front office is seeing if the current roster comes together a bit with Nick Young healthy again before making any moves.

 

Chicago Bulls 

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune provided an update on the Bulls’ short-term plans:

Chicago plays the Utah Jazz on Monday as the next step in its current seven-game road trip. It is only November, but Derrick Rose has missed most of the season with various ailments, Pau Gasol has missed time with a calf injury, Taj Gibson is dealing with an injured ankle, and Kirk Hinrich is now out. 

With no Rose or Hinrich, the point guard duties fall on the shoulders of Aaron Brooks. While he has been an impressive player off the bench for the Bulls this season, it is asking a lot of Brooks to carry the majority of the load by himself.

The Bulls have dealt with injury issues for the past two years. A glass half-full approach would suggest that it’s better to have this spate of setbacks in November than closer to the playoffs, but it has become a worrisome pattern.

Some credit goes to Tom Thibodeau for directing his team into the playoffs recently at far less than 100 percent, but the Bulls are supposed to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference this season. The only way to do that is with healthy bodies, which may warrant a short-term roster move, as Johnson suggested.

 

Emmanuel Mudiay 

Emmanuel Mudiay originally gave a verbal commitment to SMU to play college basketball this season, but he decided to play professionally in China instead as a member of the Guangdong Tigers.

The 6’5” point guard is an athletic specimen who can blow past defenders off the dribble and hit from the outside. He is a potential top-five pick in the upcoming draft, which sparked rumors about his upcoming plans and anonymous quotes from front offices, via Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:

His fast start is enough to spark speculation from front offices that Mudiay will leave before the regular season ends in mid-February to keep him healthy and keep his Draft standing high — and keep him from the prying eyes of NBA scouts.

“They could,” an executive said of the decision to shut down that Mudiay‘s inner-circle may face. “They could for sure.”

Said an NBA general manager: “I could see, if his stock is raised, him saying, ‘I’m checking out.’ I could see that. Does he do it? I don’t know. But look what happened with [Dante] Exum last year. It didn’t really hurt him, did it? There’s an argument to be made that [Mudiay] doesn’t have to do anything.”

Dante Exum’s situation was a bit different because his high school career ended in Australia before working out during the second half of the 2013-14 NBA season.

For what it’s worth, Mudiay himself responded to these rumors, via Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv:

Emmanuel Mudiay denied reports he might leave China before their season ends in order to boost his NBA stock.

‘This is all rumors, it’s completely false,’ Mudiay told reporters in China, according to this report which was translated. ‘The media are the ones that like to come out with these things, but it’s not the reality.’

Mudiay’s talent is well-known, but scouts have picked apart other top-notch prospects in the past. Between that and the injury risk that comes with playing in China, it is not hard to see why speculation has popped up regarding Mudiay’s plans.

However, it’s hard to argue with a statement from Mudiay himself.

Regardless of whether he finishes the season in China or not, Mudiay is an elite talent who will hear his name called early on draft day. The only thing that really matters at this point in terms of his NBA future is staying healthy.

 

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Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler playing at All-Star level

Jimmy Butler was not supposed to be the Bull’s best player this season. So far he has been. Derrick Rose has made his second return back from season ending knee surgery, Pau Gasol was signed to add a more potent offense at the power forward position and Joakim Noah is coming off the best season of his career. Yet, Jimmy Butler has been the go to man for Chicago and is playing at an All-Star level.
He is averaging a career high and team high 20.4 points per game to go along with 1.5 steals, 3.6 assists, and 6.4 rebounds per game while averaging 40 minutes played per game which is second best in the NBA this season. Butler is coming up huge for the Bulls and is helping them win while Derrick Rose is sidelined with injuries.
Jimmy Butler has been leading the Bull’s offense this season averaging 20.4 points per contest.
Butler and Rose have only played together three times this season. Jimmy Buckets is producing at a high level on both sides of the court even while Rose isn’t playing. Once DRose gets back o

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Bulls Injury Update: Pau Gasol does on-court drills on Friday

The Chicago Bulls lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday by the score of 105-87. The Bulls were lead by Nikola Mirotic, who scored 24 points and hauled in 11 rebounds in 35 minutes off the bench. Even with the loss, the Bulls remain in first place in the Central Division with an 8-5 record. The Bulls played without Pau Gasol, who has missed the past three games with a calf injury. The good news is that Gasol was back on the court in practice on Friday.  Neon Tommy via Wikimedia CommonsGasol noted his progress on his official Twitter page.Today, great progress by being able to do some drills on the basketball floor. Getting closer to return! #SeeRed pic.twitter.com/OK0l8Qs7q8— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) November 21, 2014Rotoworld.com also added that Gasol could return in time for Monday’s game against the Jazz or Tuesday versus the Nuggets. The Bulss have struggled over their last couple games, so having Gasol back in the lineup in crucial to their success, particularly with Taj Gibson also dealing with

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Chicago Bulls vs. Portland Trail Blazers 11/21/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The red-hot Portland Trail Blazers looked to continue their recent run of success on Friday night when they took on the Chicago Bulls. The Blazers’ explosive offense and lockdown defense had carried them to five straight wins, but they faced a tough test from a dangerous Bulls squad, which had lost two of its last three. 

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Blazers have no trouble with short-handed Bulls

Chicago lost the game 105-87 and forward Taj Gibson to a sprained left ankle.

      
 

 

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Chicago Bulls’ Most Surprising Players of the Early Season

Everybody likes surprises.

It’s early, but there are a handful of Chicago Bulls players who are turning heads this season with their play on the court.

Tony Snell isn’t one of those guys, at least not yet. Following an up-and-down rookie campaign, the 6’7” New Mexico product was supposed to have a breakout sophomore year.

However, he hasn’t received much playing time (11.1 minutes per game) and is averaging 2.9 points on 35 percent shooting.   

Perhaps he can make a “Most Surprising Player” list at some other point in time.

Let’s look at five players who actually have been surprises for the Bulls.

 

All stats are from Basketball-Reference.com. and accurate as of Nov. 21, 2014.

Begin Slideshow

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Taj Gibson Injury Causes Chicago Bulls PF to Writhe in Pain

Chicago Bulls blue collar PF Taj Gibson was one of the bright spots during their game in Portland on Friday night. Then, the big man went down, writhing on the hardwood in pain.
Taj Gibson Injury Video

Gibson had seven points and five rebounds in 17 minutes when he landed on an opponent’s foot in the middle of the third quarter. Gibson turned his left ankle badly, and the Taj Gibson injury comes at a bad time in a familiar place for the Bulls.
It was almost exactly one year ago, sans a day, in Portland, that Derrick Rose tore his meniscus. While he sat out tonight, along with Kirk Hinrich and Pau Gasol, the bench was already thin.
Gibson has a left ankle sprain and will not return to the game against the Trailblazers.
 

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Taj Gibson Injury: Updates on Bulls Star’s Ankle and Return

Taj Gibson suffered an ankle injury during the Chicago Bulls’ Friday night loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Bulls provided the latest on the 29-year-old big man:

Twitter user @cjzero provides a photo of how the injury occurred: 

Sam Smith of Bulls.com weighs in on the injury:

Gibson is coming off the best season of his five-year career, averaging 13 points and 6.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes per game. He mostly came off the bench behind Carlos Boozer, but he played in all 82 games and consistently played great defense.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau praised his play late in games, via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Despite the addition of Pau Gasol in the offseason, Gibson knew he would have a major role in the rotation for a team expecting to be one of the top squads in the Eastern Conference. He explained before the year it did not matter whether he would come off the bench or start during the 2014-15 season, via Mark Strotman of CSN Chicago:

The way I attack the game, I really don’t care. I just go out and play, whatever minutes I get. And that’s kind of the player I am, that’s the luxury about having a player like me: I don’t care if I start, I don’t care if I come off the bench; you’re going to get production out of me. That’s the way I was taught and Coach Thibs is always schooling me on how it was in the old school, and I appreciate playing in the NBA. I just attack it.

He is a major factor when healthy, and the Bulls could end up struggling without him.

Joakim Noah and Gasol will handle the frontcourt work in the starting lineup, but the team will lack depth if Gibson is forced to miss an extended period of time. Look for veteran center Nazr Mohammed to get a bigger role along with rookie Nikola Mirotic. 

 

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Bulls Injury Update: Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, & Kirk Hinrich out for tonight’s game vs. Blazers

The reeling Chicago Bulls will be without one more player tonight as their annual Circus Trip continues. Guard Kirk Hinrich joins Derrick Rose & Pau Gasol on the sidelines for tonight’s game in Portland, per the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson.Hinrich, Gasol and Rose all out vs. Portland.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) November 21, 2014Hinrich is sitting out with a chest contusion, suffered in Thursday night’s loss to the Sacramento Kings after he took a charge from Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. Hinrich had x-rays after the game that came back negative, according to ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell.For Derrick Rose, tonight’s game marks the fourth straight contest he will sit out after suffering a strained left hamstring November 13th versus the Toronto Raptors. Pau Gasol has missed every game of the Circus Trip that began on Monday due to a strained left calf. Friedell says that Gasol was hopeful on Thursday he would be able to return quickly but is taking caution for the injury to fully heal

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