Butler comes as Bulls ready to go


Mar 4

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

Rasual Butler sat on the bench along the side of the court in the new Amway Arena in Orlando Friday morning after his first practice with the Bulls. It’s probably a place Butler will be getting accustomed to with his new team.

“I have to be honest with myself,” Butler told Chicago media. “These guys are 41-18. They’re already a good team. The guys in the rotation have earned their time in that rotation. I just have to fit in and work hard and see when my opportunity presents itself.”

It’s really no surprise. If the Bulls could not trade for a high level replacement shooting guard—and being required by the NBA to add a player to reach the league minimum 13—the Bulls were not likely to bring in someone who would step into the lineup, or perhaps even the rotation, at least for now.

That’s right. The Butler doesn’t get to do it yet.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

“Our rotation is not going to change unless there is an injury,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ll go by who we’re playing against. Everything is subject to change, (but) he’s got to get up to speed. He has to learn. He knows the league, which is a big advantage. I think he’ll get it quickly.

“I think he’s a good solid pro,” said Thibodeau. “I think he knows it could be a very good opportunity for him. You can never have enough shooting. And you never know how things play out. You can have an injury, foul trouble. But that’s the way it is right now. In the future things could be different.”

Which means, Thibodeau said, Butler will be listed as inactive and in regular clothes for Friday’s game against the Magic and likely the near future.

Still, Butler, the eight year NBA veteran waived by the Clippers, was hardly upset. In fact, he said he was well aware of all that and felt it was a “no brainer” for him to sign with the Bulls even as he had offers for at least as much money or more with other contending teams.

“I’m excited,” said Butler, who already was impressing with his professional attitude as he did with the Clippers when he was benched so the team could play its youngsters. “Everyone welcomed me with open arms. It’s been an easy transition so far. Coach Thibs is really intense, a focused type guy. He reminds me of when I started off in Miami playing for coach [Pat] Riley and coach Stan Van Gundy. So it’s familiar to me.

“I need to learn the plays and the defensive scheme,” agreed Butler. “I’ll come to work, practice hard and stay ready and be ready when the opportunity presents itself.”

Asked why he chose the Bulls when he might have seen more playing time elsewhere, Butler, his knees wrapped in bags of ice as he talked comfortably with reporters, didn’t hesitate.

“They’ve got arguably the best point guard in the league in Derrick Rose,” said Butler. “They have the best player in the league this year in Derrick Rose.”

See, they already like this guy.

“I know they had interest in me before,” said Butler. “Speaking with Gar Forman and coach Thibodeau it was a no brainer for me. I understand the direction this team is going in and how they view me as a basketball player. It was something I wanted to be a part of moving forward knowing they have an opportunity to do something special this year. Gar Forman and coach Thibs (told me) to come in and be professional and do the things I already do and let’s see how things work out.”

Though the immediate concern for the Bulls was how it all might work out with the big weekend series with Orlando and Miami starting Friday night, especially after the disappointing loss in Atlanta Wednesday.

The Magic is coming off a big, emotional comeback win in Miami Thursday night.

The way that works is if the Bulls win, they got the Magic letting down in the second of a back to back.  If the Bulls lose, then the Magic had gotten momentum from that win. We’ll know how to interpret that after Friday’s game.

Though there are some points of emphasis for the Bulls, and Thibodeau acknowledged that Friday morning.

Derrick Rose’s shooting has been off, 35 percent the last five games and 21 percent on threes.

“I wouldn’t overreact,” said Thibodeau. “He hasn’t made some shots he normally makes. He’s got to get to the (free throw) line a little bit more. We’re playing with low energy now, too. I want us to get the ball up quicker where we can get easier scoring opportunities.”

Which has been one of the two main areas I look for the Bulls to change Friday coming in against the Magic.

Despite the rebounding still being solid and getting turnovers, the Bulls haven’t been pushing the ball. Frankly, with limited shooting options on the perimeter, they need to run to get easier scores. They haven’t been. They also haven’t been going to Carlos Boozer as much.

Boozer is averaging just 15.5 points the last five games and fewer than 11 shots the last four. He has been getting doubled more, but Thibodeau did point out the Bulls aren’t following the offensive direction of reposting and not settling for a jump shot off a double team even if the shot is open.

“You’ve got to make the right decision,” said Thibodeau. “You don’t have to settle for the three. You can repost, drive. We have to have the balance.”

In other words, throw it in, if doubled, get it out and then look for either a return to the post, a drive or a three. But don’t just settle.

Look for the Bulls to be more patient Friday against the Magic to work into the post and to push the ball even after made baskets.

By the way, 78 degrees and sunny. Yes, the gratuitous Florida weather mention. There’s no reason not to have energy now.

What do you think? Leave a comment below: