Regardless of injuries, Thibodeau seeks consistency


Oct 21

As the Bulls entered the final week of this year’s preseason, the team was without Jimmy Butler (left knee contusion), Kirk Hinrich (concussion) and Joakim Noah (right groin strain) when it hosted the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.

Hinrich suffered a concussion during Friday’s victory over Indiana when he hit the back of his head on Erik Murphy’s knee.

“I’ve been doing tests every day,” said Hinrich following the team’s shootaround at the United Center. “I’m feeling much better and I hope to get back out there as soon as I’m allowed to.”

Hinrich (concussion) will miss Chicago's game Monday against Milwaukee, but the backup point guard said his condition has improved.

Hinrich (concussion) missed Chicago’s game Monday against Milwaukee, but the backup point guard said his condition has improved.

It’s not the first concussion for Hinrich, he said, having dealt with them in both college and the NBA previously.

“I feel fine, said Hinrich. “Just following the proper protocols.”

There is no target return date for Hinrich, who said he hopes to do some cardio work Monday night at the United Center.

One day after indications pointed to progress, Butler sat out of Monday’s shootaround.

While Thibodeau acknowledged Hinrich is getting better, when asked if Butler was improving, he said, “No, I don’t think so. He said he’s sore. He practiced [Sunday] and did everything, but he’s sore today.”

Shorthanded or not, Thibodeau sees a lot of room for improvement for the Bulls with only three exhibition games left before the team’s opener in Miami on. Oct. 29.

“Almost every aspect,” said Thibodeau. “I didn’t like the way we rebounded the ball [on Friday, when Indiana owned a 39-37 advantage]. I didn’t like our defense to start the game. I thought we held on to the ball offensively the second half. I thought we made quick decisions; the ball was moving and we got the ball up the floor quickly. But we’ve got to do it for 48 minutes. We can’t pick and choose and just do it when we feel like it. We’ve got to do it every day and we’ve got to do it all the time.”

While some might see it as a challenge to do those things with regular starters such as Butler and Noah out of the lineup, Thibodeau dismissed such notion.

“Nope,” he said, “whoever is here, that is who we go with. That’s the nature of an NBA season. Nazr [Mohammed] has done a good job. Mike Dunleavy has done a good job. So whoever we have, that’s who we’ll go with.”

Derrick Rose, coming off a 32-point, nine-assist performance in 31 minutes against Indiana, offered a similar mentality on the topic of developing chemistry without all of the regulars.

“It’s hard, but we can’t use it as an excuse,” said Rose. “We’ve still got to come out here and play these games and try to get better as team. They’re on the sidelines working. Kirk is getting back healthy. Joakim is good. It’s just waiting.”

Furthermore, Rose, said because the team’s core has been together for several years, he envisions a group that will quickly come together once everyone is healthy.

“We should be fine,” said Rose. “The guys, they know their jobs when they come in. Jimmy when he did play, his defense is what we need out of him. Joakim, his energy, and Kirk, he’s going to bring a solid game with running the team and knocking down open shots. So I think all the guys on the team know their roles; we’ve just got to get them out there.”


With the league deadline for team rosters to be finalized for opening day by 4 p.m. CT on Oct. 28, the Bulls will soon have a decision to make.

Guard Mike James, center Dexter Pittman and forward D.J. White are among the remaining free agents vying for Chicago’s 13th roster spot. All have seen limited action in the preseason, but James has appeared in four of Chicago’s five games, while Pittman has played twice and White once.

Thibodeau provided some insight on what factors the team will consider in making final cuts.

“The thing is, you’re looking at whatever your needs are going to be,” said Thibodeau. “I think sometimes it’s going to be a guy who can play multiple positions; that’ plays into it. How does a guy handle not playing? Does he come in every day and does he stay ready? Is he good in practice? And then if you throw him in there, does he bring energy and understand what he’s supposed to do?

“You’re looking to fill not only a need, but a role,” Thibodeau continued. “And we’ve been fortunate here in the last three years to have some really good guys that have stepped up to handle that when you look at guys like [Brian] Scalabrine, Kurt Thomas, John Lucas III… those guys did a terrific job for us.”

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