Kirk Hinrich refused to speak with the media for the third straight time since injury his groin after practice yesterday, but according to K.C. Johnson's sources, he's likely good for the opener.
And little concern exists within the organization that his strained right groin will affect the Oct. 31 regular-season opener.
The Bulls also trimmed their roster down to the guaranteed contracts entering training camp. This comes as little surprise as the Bulls are working under a hard cap of 74.3 million and couldn't afford to sign any of the non guaranteed deals anyway.
On November 21st, Chicago will have enough room under the cap to sign one player to the veteran minimum, but unless there's an injury, it's unlikely they'll use u all their flexibility right out of the box as anyone signed for the 14th and final roster spot would be unlikely to play immediately.
Chicago's starters appear to have found their groove as preseason has gone on, and while the bench has struggled at times, Nate Robinson's improved play leaves fans with hope that the bench won't be completely lost. The biggest issues remains a back up to Rip Hamilton, and if Belinelli doesn't improve quickly, look for Jimmy Butler to play far more SG minutes than initially expected.
Butler's best fit is at SF, but Thibodeau has shown he'll go with what is effective so a shorter perimeter rotation that looks something like below is certainly in the realm of possibility of Belinelli can't get his act together.
PG: Kirk Hinrich 30, Nate Robinson 18
SG: Rip Hamilton 28, Jimmy Butler 14, Kirk Hinrich 6
SF: Luol Deng 38, Jimmy Butler 10
The Bulls actually have a log jam of players in the backcourt, so removing Belinelli from the rotation won't be much of a challenge if he can't get the job done and the rest of the roster is healthy.
Clock ticking down on Taj Gibson extension
Reports have generally been positive about the possibility of a Taj Gibson extension. Both K.C. Johnson and Aggrey Sam have reported talks were going in the right direction for something to get done before the start of the season. However, the trickles of positivity have generally slowed.
This is they type of situation which is likely to go down to the wire with both sides waiting until the last possible second to try and get the best deal possible then saying yes or no. For Taj, it's about security. He's the type of player who may not have a shot at a big deal next season if he struggles or has a significant injury. Nor has he earned all that much money on his present contract.
For Gibson, removing the risk of never getting that pay day is worth giving up some money for. However, at the same time, it could also easily be his only large pay day. Gibson entered the league at 24, and thus is much older than a typical player looking for his first extension.
At 27 years old now, Gibson will be 32 when he looks for his next contract assuming a four year extension is reached. Who knows where his game will be at in five years. He may be looking for another large deal or may be on his way out of the league. While he needs the security, he must also maximize his income.
The Bulls are in a tough position themselves. If they let Taj play out the regular season there's a good chance that a big man starved league will massively overpay him next off-season. By underpaying rookies and superstars, he league rules are set up so that guys in Gibson's position (non superstar, but non scrub) cash in truckloads of money in free agency as someone has to get the extra cash.
Some team with a hole at PF will look at Gibson as a starter and offer him eight figures if he has a quality season. The Bulls can ill afford to lose Gibson and know that if he's healthy and plays well that he'll cost far more next summer than he will now. Striking the correct balance between Gibson's risk and the Bulls risk will determine whether a deal gets done.