Boozer back at practice; may debut against Magic

Per KC Johnson:

"I felt I had a pretty good day of practice," Boozer said.
"My hand felt pretty good. There were a couple of times it got hit,
which was good to see how that felt. It was a little sore.

"But
my wrist is getting a lot stronger, which is important to me. When I
first started shooting, it would get really fatigued really fast because
it wasn't used to following through."

Boozer said -- and coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed -- it's his decision on when he returns.

"I'll know with how it reacts," Boozer said. "If the pain and the swelling isn't there, I'll play."

All associated with the Bulls expect a smooth transition.

"I've been going through the plays since I got my cast off about four
weeks ago," Boozer said. "I come here early, go through the plays with
coaches and some players. Now that I've had the handcuffs off, I've been
going through a lot more. So I'm very comfortable with the offense.

"(Chemistry with Derrick Rose) will be there the moment we step out
there together. I've been telling him that people are going to
double-team 'D' because he's dominating right now. As soon as they
double-team him, you try to move to the open area and let him make a
play. And then when you get the ball, you have to make the right play. I
think it will be really easy. I've been playing pick-and-roll for a
long time."

Reading through all of the Boozer stories and listening to the quotes on sports radio, it can largely be summed up like this:

1: Boozer practiced hard, with lots of energy, and didn't go through the
motions or play it safe.  He'll play against
the Magic as long as his wrist responds well the next couple days and
doesn't swell up and experience signs that the injury simply isn't ready yet.

2: Boozer expects to play normal minutes when he comes back, and Thibodeau expects the same thing.   They'll only ease him into the lineup if he's having pain or the injury doesn't respond well.

3: Boozer will start immediately and Taj will come off the bench.   Taj is expected to still play a lot of minutes.   Deng's minutes at the four (and total minutes) will drop.   While it wasn't explicitly said, best guess for other minutes going away are Omer Asik, Joakim Noah, and Keith Bogans (less playing small means less Bogans).

4: Boozer has been learning the offense while out by walking through the sets, watching practice, watching the games, talking to the coaching staff and feels that his transition to playing at a high level will be very fast.  He feels that chemistry with Rose will be immediate since he's been playing pick and roll basketball his whole life.

5: Boozer seems well liked by his teammates and everyone seems excited to have him back.

As a side note, Taj Gibson missed practice on Monday with his foot acting up.  Presumably, the pain from the pinched nerve he suffered a week ago hasn't subsided yet, or his continued play on it has not allowed it to heal. 

Obviously, if Gibson's sore, he'll probably sit out practice again today, but I don't think that necessarily means anything about his readiness to play.  Gibson's pushed through injuries frequently throughout his career.

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    Even if Boozer is in the lineup against Orlando you would think it would take a couple of games for him to begin playing at a high level. Hopefully we can all lay off the panic button for a few really tough games. The OKC game is where I'd like to see him start to get back to form. That'd be nice too since they're an up and coming team often compared to the Bulls and we can then see how the Bulls compare from the first game without Boozer to now. Poetic, almost like the start of another new season.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    All-Star level, sure.
    Quality starter level, I think he gives you that right out of the gate.

  • Not to sure I like setting the expectation as playing normal minutes. Don't mind him starting but given Taj has played well I don't think there's any rush to get him up the minute curve, working back with 10-20 minutes for a few games unless he's playing well is fine.

    That said I have faith Thibs will do the sensible thing and not overplay him if it turns out he's not in game shape.

  • Thanks for the update Doug! I hope Boozer feels good and can get in there and rest Taj so his foot feels better also use JJ & KK more and give Deng more rest! CJ showed what he can do in Derrick's absence in the Denver game so he needs to be ready to go when called on so Derrick doesn't play too many minutes!
    With Boozer back and if he doesn't hurt then we need to really manage the time of our starters and also start Brewer at SG.
    Brewer, KK, and Boozer obviously know each other well and I hope we start Brewer alongside Boozer to take advantage of his athletism and the chemistry they both already have from playing together!

  • I kind of felt like Boozer would try to play against the magic cause his statements have been too positive towards playing in that game. If his hand is feeling better then I say let him play so the team can get used to him in a real game situation. Let's get the team chemistry with Boozer going so we all can see what this team is like at full strength. Hopefully all will be good.

  • In that same piece, K.C. Johnson says that Taj's injury has the organization "concerned." Wheteher it's a pinched nerve or whatever it sounds like maybe Taj should take a couple of practices/games off to rest this and see if it get's better/doesn't dvelop into something more serious. Then again K.C. has been known for a flair for the dramatic, but I hope Taj if the pain is really bad gets a break.

    Also, after reading that S.I. piece(thanks to the guy who originally posted it)

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/lee_jenkins/11/24/taj.gibson.bulls/index.html

    on Taj, I just hope he's doing OK. Personally/emotionally that has to be very difficult for him. Maybe Derrick or one of the other Bulls should have him over regularly for a while or stay over for a while unless he's got a regular girlfriend to help him through this thing.

    As for Boozer I would think about eight minutes a half(1'st and 3rd period) would be about right to start with..? Hopefully he will be sharp and avoid a lot of banging right off/more pick and pop and rolling when he's open for an easy layin/dunk if available.

    If Taj is out for Orlando, I just hope the Bulls/Thibs don't succomb to the temtpation to overplay Booz. If we have to gut out a win or take the loss without two of our best players(and Taj to me on most nights has been one of our best) so be it. We know at full strength with Taj and/or Booz it'll be a different game next time against the Magic. And I'm not by any means conceding a loss, just saying be smart not emotional during this critical time.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Regarding your comment: "Maybe Derrick or one of the other Bulls should have him over regularly for a while or stay over for a while unless he's got a regular girlfriend to help him through this thing."

    Interesting insight RW, this last winter I had a horrible experience similar to Taj's, just not as repetitive. You are spot on with your suggestions, the worst thing for a person in that situation is time spent alone. As cliche as it sounds having a woman there can be a huge benefactor for returning to positive mental health. I will say one thing, speaking from recent experience, Taj isn't in good mental health at the moment, you just can't recover from something like that so fast, I feel for the guy and likewise hope his teammates aren't just making his situation a don't ask don't tell kind of thing. It should be a huge boost for him that he is on a positive team that seems bent on working hard for each other, I'm sure his time with the team, and on the court, are his only escape from those negative thoughts. This really has to make you respect what he's been able to accomplish on the court so far this season.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Agreed CSG. Have to respect Taj as a man and a player. Hopefully some of his teammates will embrace him off the court as well/spend some time hanging with him during this tough time. And he's had to gut it out through a myriad of injuries/pain. Bill Wennington said his plantar fasciitis lasted for over a year, and then one day just went away. I hope Taj's does the same, and his other injury heals up too. For his sake, and also the team's as we need him out there.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I really like Taj as a player & respect him immensely as a man.

    Hope we keep him in that Bulls uni.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I have to believe that they have embraced Taj during this tough time for him personally.

    Doug, I don't know if you are around the team enough to get an idea of which guys are friends and which guys are just teammates.

    Who do you sense that Taj hangs around with in Chicago, or is he a a bit of a loner. He seems like a quiet, even shy guy.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Amen. Also, I'm sure that road trip, struggles on the court early aside, really benefited him psycologically. Get away from home, see some new sights, return to SoCal, spend some more time with teammates & friends, concentrate on basketball....

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    But Thibs makeup is to always go full-bore for the win. haha. That's who he is.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    RoadWarrior,

    Some Bulls' BLOWOUTS would be nice. Then Taj could rest his feet.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    exactly, need to jump on teams with early defense, capatalize on offense.

    We gotta get some blowouts

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    There will be plenty of BLOWOUTS when the schedule isn't the TOUGHEST stretch IN THE NBA.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    Thanks for the link. Taj seems like a great guy as a human being, someone that the Bulls and the fans should be proud to have around for a long time.

    That is what makes it so hard to talk about him in trades, as he is one of the Bulls few tradable assets. It is easy to get rid of guys like Tyrus Thomas, Eddy Curry and even Ben Gordon, but a guy like Taj really fits the character of this team and contributes to making it one that you want to root for not just as basketball players.

    All of this is in sharp contrast to how I feel about Melo.

  • I think we will see Boozer on the court tomorrow cause i read that some fan asked him last week at the PHX gm when he'll play and he said one week, and tomorrow will be one week from that day. So i expect him to play tomorrow. Remember Kobe went all last season with that pinky injury, unless there's a difference between the two injurys, and it's not like it's a foot or knee injury so i expect his conditioning to be there. It would be nice though to have a PF with actual size out there for once in a million years.

  • I'm always shocked by how many people who claim to watch the games feel the need to channel their inner freak and claim the sky is falling when it comes to the bulls after one or two bad games.

  • Im sure the road trip was good for Taj not only in his good play other then the 2 game start to the trip but getting away on that road trip with the team was good for him & besides the talent on our team...the guys seem like they like each other and play as a team unlike Miami!

  • In reply to smiley:

    I'm amazed at how many times I write something, then scroll down to find almost the exact same sentiments. Looks like us die-hard Bulls fans are on the same wavelength ;)

  • I Agree. Taj is an important part of the froncourt of this Bulls team - with or without Boozer - and a legitimate NBA starter. Even with Boozer back Taj is still one of the Bulls top 5 players.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Everyone now slides into their proper roles. We get a PF starter who can command a double team, a backup who should be absolutely salivating at the chance to feast offensively & defensively on backup 4's, & Bogans should be now relegated to spot minutes at the 2....hopefully.

  • Off TOPIC... the Bulls management had better keep a close watch on Orlando cause there are reports that their management is willing to trade anyone on their roster but Howard, and are willing to take a step back in acquiring another impact player like Melo or CP3,therefore throwing their name into the rumor mill of wanting to trade for CP3, Carmelo, or Iguadola. I don't know how much they can do as far as trades go but it just seems strange that they already have a good team in place but are willing to trade everyone on their team except Howard. IMO they should've tried to make some deals over this past summer if they felt like the team that they have are not good enough to contend for a title. I do believe Howard's contract is coming up soon so they have to prove to him that they will be trying to improve their team in the near future. I just found it to be strange that they are willing to throw this information out there like that and they are 12 and 4 at the moment. Howard has said in the past that it's not a lock that he will resign with Orlando. Just sayin... it is something to be aware of cause the Bulls don't need another super team to be put together in the east cause eventually the Heat will put things together.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    While I'm pretty sure this wouldn't go down, here is one that could work from a financial standpoin (years left in parenthesis):
    To Orlando: Carmelo (2), CP3 (2), Spencer Hawes (1)
    To 76ers: Vince Carter (2), Gortat (4)
    To Denver: Iguodola 4), Okafor (4)
    To New Orleans: Jameer Nelson (2), Nene (2), Jason Kapono (1)

    Again, I doubt that such a trade would happen. However, to the point of what Orlando can do, there is some wiggle room assuming Vince Carter is included in any trade.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I really don't know what the Bulls can do about that though, or how they can benefit.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    You can't make it your business to worry about things that are beyond your control. If Orlando is serious about such a move, we don't have the pieces to match them, straight up.

  • I agree, and at least Boozer is coming in at the right time to save some of Taj's minutes.

    I just love how versatile our lineup will be now. If we need to match size with teams like the Lakers or Celtics we can play Noah & Asik together. If we need to go small, we can do that with Deng at the 4. Thibs mentioned Taj can play some at the same time as Booze. We can go offensive & have Korver at the 2 Booze at the 4, or defensive with Brewer at the 2 Gibson at the 4, esp if Booze is getting beat by the pick n roll. What ever a certain game dictates, or situation, we can adapt to, & we have the kind of team players that can buy into that, & maybe accept low minutes for a game here & there.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    and about Boozer's defense, I'm really looking for it to improve. It has become more of a focus for him over the last couple years, he is willing, and he also has a center in Noah that he has never really had before, someone who is one of the best help defenders in the NBA, who can watch is back, help him with rebounds, it will be huge. Also, Thibs helped turn Ray Allen & Paul Pierce into quality team defenders.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Players tend to come to the realization later in their careers that defense matters, and is necessary to win a championship. Just look at Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Lets hope Thibs can work his magic once again.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    How does a line up of C-Noah PF-Boozer SF-Taj SG-Deng PG-Rose sound for maybe a short few minute stretch each game sound? I know it has flaws but look, Taj can defend a handful of SFs in the league, and we know Deng defends SGs all the time anyways, and aside from Korver is our best 3 pt shooter. Hell insert Asik in for Boozer in that same lineup.. as you say the versatility is huge. I could see that lineup being used as a quick defensive stopper on tall teams.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I think that lineup can work for a few minutes like you say. Thibs said Booze & Gibson will play some together, so that either means Gibs at the 5 or the 3. I think Thibs will be very aware that barring playing through an injury, Taj needs to be rewarded with starters minutes. He needs to be accomodated for his play & attitude, so Thibs will look to get him out there in a variety of ways.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ChiRy:

    I like the idea of beating up on opponents with that kind of size and physicality.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    I think it might work because Noah is capable of defending most SFs on the perimeter reasonably well, making it a lot harder for the other team to exploit their speed advantage than it would be for the Bulls to use their size advantage.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    You might be wearing a Pistons jersey Ben, but you still play for us!!!

    Thank you Pistions for pushing the Magic tonight, Dwight played almost 40, a few more players played 30 as the game was close all the way into the 4th.

    Magic should be tired tomorrow, we're at home, big momentum with Booze coming back too...we got all the intangibles

  • Mitchell,

    Based on his radio interview with Waddle and Silvy, it sounds like Boston to me.

    It's hard to MAN-UP against Dwight Howard. He's a commits hard fouls.

    Ask DROSE.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I predict Asik fouls out in 8 minutes of play.

  • Taj at backup will be HUGE(not to mappify my comment).

    With the backups in I see us literally running the offense through Taj every play, if we can do that it wouldn't be too crazy for him to keep his averages to within a few points, and equal rebounding - his efficiency on the other hand could, maybe even should, actually go up. Taj has had some, not great, success with post moves on starting lineups this year; he should have great success with those same moves on lesser opponents.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    mappify, thats a good one.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Cheers..

  • I would really like for the Bulls to send a message to Howard. You don't mess with Rose. Don't have to injure him, but very early they need to hit him hard. Kirk Thomas should be activated for this one. The Bulls teams of the recent past have not been the type to get in guys faces, but they absolutely have to step up for D Rose, & Thomas is the enforcer.

    Also, forgot how the Magic ran up the score during the preseason, sure that won't sit well either. This game could easily have a playoff type atmosphere, might get a bit chippy.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    If Howard even touches Rose, I hope that the Bulls go goon squad on Howard and just hack the shit out of him to entire rest of the game.

    Nothing dirty or malicious, just foul him hard everytime he touches the ball, send him a message that will last a lifetime, I don't care if we win or lose the game as a result.

    Asik has 6 fouls, Thomas has 6, Taj has 6, Noah has 6, thats 6 shots per quarter just for starters. Hell, Bogans has no other use either.

    Howard already has his 2 strikes, if he does it again, there should be no mercy on the part of the Bulls.

  • He sure seems like a better guy and a better teammate than that pansy Bosh

  • he's a bad mamma-jamma!

    agreed about the mental toughness barometer

  • yep, & over the course of an 82 game schedule, we will see some teams packing it in . No one can match our intensity & heart through 82 games. Right now its early & (almost) everyone is trying, esp trying to match our reputation as a grimmy gritty team...won't last forever though.

  • fb_avatar

    DRose doesn't have to try dunking on Howard this year. That's what we have Brewer for!

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    I want DRose to dunk all over his egomaniacal ass!

    Has Brewer dunked on Howard before?

  • Even though he has been medically cleared by the team doctors, which I assume means that he is not at risk to rebreak or reinjure his hand, I would rather wait a few extra days to make sure that he no longer has any pain while playing, just to make sure that his hand is fully healed.

    the hand is a very complicated body part, he could injure it in another way if compensating for pain, which could cause season long complications.

    When Urlacher messed up his wrist in the first game of last season, they said he risked being a cripple for life if he didn't sit out the entire season and let it fully heal.

    I know that this was "just" a broken bone, but it is on the shooting hand of our 5 yr, $80 million man, so caution would indeed be the better part of valor.

  • good commentary here on LeBron:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-lebronspoelstra112910

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    explains how him & his buisness manager are throwing Spolestra under the bus in an attempt to deflect attention away from Lebron during the week in which he returns to Cleveland

    really paints the king & servant theme as well

  • You know how Bulls fans think SGs are always awful because they're not MJ? I get the feeling Utah fans are a bit the same with PFs not being Malone. Plus you had the Cleveland fans justifiably annoyed at him leaving, so the guy probably copped more bad press than he deserved.

    I think Boozer also realises he's getting older, this is his last big contract so there's no point being anything but a team player, if he wants to win anything it has to be with the Bulls.

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