The latest Chicago Bulls training camp stories

The Bulls are a week into training camp, made it through their first preseason game, and are preparing for their second tonight. Here's the latest news going around the team.

Tom Thibodeau on bench mob 2.0

Tom Thibodeau remains unconcerned after bench mob 2.0 went -15 in the fourth quarter almost dropping the first preseason game. Concerns over lack of offense will run rampant until they prove themselves better, as the Bulls second unit struggled all night long and went 1-21 as a team in the fourth.

"We have a new group of guys and everybody is trying to show Coach what they can do," Mohammed said. "The rhythm wasn't quite there and also some fatigue. It's definitely something that can be corrected."

Thibodeau believes as much. And Robinson and Mohammed did score in double figures despite the fourth-quarter follies.

"There have been days where they have played extremely well and other days where they haven't played as well," Thibodeau said of the second unit. "The more they do it, the better and more familiar they will become with each other. They're capable of doing a lot better."

Kyrylo Fesenko getting serious?

K.C. Johnson with the interview on how Kyrylo Fesenko is trying to get serious.

"Don't get me wrong: I will never, ever stop joking. That's who I am," Fesenko said. "But now, I just understand more when to joke. When it's time to do hard work and when it's time to have fun.

"In that case, I really adore Coach Thibs (Tom Thibodeau). He's really hard on us. But when we have a water break, he's OK to crack a couple of jokes. It's pretty cool. I'm watching him and trying to absorb everything I can. A defensive-minded player and a defensive-minded coach, what could be better for me?"

"I have re-thought a lot of valuable values in my life," he said. "To have a chance to play for the legendary Bulls, the only team everybody knows in the Ukraine, is really a gift. I'm willing to go the extra mile, to do whatever it takes to make it.

"To this point, my career was preparation for something big. Maybe this will be my big year."
"He's a little bit more mature now," said Carlos Boozer, a teammate of his then. "He's still very athletic. Great locker room guy. Great sense of humor. Huge body. Very wide but moves well with his weight. He can help us."

"I have re-thought a lot of valuable values in my life," he said. "To have a chance to play for the legendary Bulls, the only team everybody knows in the Ukraine, is really a gift. I'm willing to go the extra mile, to do whatever it takes to make it.

"To this point, my career was preparation for something big. Maybe this will be my big year."

Maybe it's all tongue in cheek because the guy has a light locker room attitude, but it's not time to get serious after five seasons in the NBA. It's time to get serious in the summer camp before your first one starts.

Maybe it hit Fesenko that he's basically out of the NBA right now, and if he doesn't actually play considerably better his NBA life is over. Of course, he'll have a career waiting for him in Euroleague but with far less money available.

Either way, I think Fesenko can bring plenty of things the Bulls need as the fifth big man. They need another big body off the bench. He's reasonably athletic for his size, takes up a ton of space, and if nothing else can offer some hard fouls. He's still younger, has some potential, and isn't a total stiff.

The Bulls can't add him [or anyone else] to the roster until the end of November due to the hard cap. The early thought would be that Fesenko and Jaric would fight for that last spot, but quite frankly, I'm unconvinced the Bulls offer it to either as it would completely handicap them if they had an injury later on and needed to bring in a new player to fill a gap [say two PGs go down and you signed Fesenko or two big men go down and you signed Jaric].

My guess is that the flexibility to be able to pick up what they need down the line will trump any other decision they could make and leave that last roster spot open. Also, if the Bulls want to do anything at the trade deadline then they'll probably want at least a tiny bit of wiggle room salary wise to add salary even if it amounts to less than a million dollars.

If Carlos Boozer's bust potential isn't scary enough

Nick Friedell talked with Carlos Boozer about his off-season.

"I felt like the trainer I had before, things I was doing before wasn't getting me to be where I wanted to be at," Boozer said. "I wanted to switch it up a little bit. Ran into coach King. He was actually training my kids at the time. I loved what he was doing with them, a lot of fundamental work, which is great, a lot of footwork, jabbing, different things I thought that I need for my game.

"Sometimes when you play so long in the NBA, sometimes you forget some of the basic stuff, and he was able to re-teach me some of the basic stuff that helps my game a lot. It's simple, but it's super effective. ... I was in the gym a lot, in the lab a lot working on everything, man. Defense, offense, ball handing, shooting, rebounding, going to be a complete player."

"When I YouTubed his game to watch a little film, I realized he didn't have any fundamentals in his game," King said by phone. "He got away from all the basic stuff, so I went back to the basic basketball stuff.

"It's more about the money and not having fun (why NBA players forget the basics.) I think that's what it is. On his last day, he said I brought the kid out of him. It was going back to the basic stuff. He has a sense of urgency for this season, this upcoming season."

So let me get this trifecta of a disaster straight....

1: Carlos Boozer switched to work out with his kid's trainer.

2: The trainer used youtube to scout him.

3: His kid's trainer decided to work on fundamentals with Boozer.

No offense to the process but doesn't this sound like a guy in way over his head? It reads to me like Boozer found some guy who can't work on anything except fundamentals because he has little to no training experience with NBA athletes.

The fact that he's using youtube to break down Carlos's game scares the crap out of me. We couldn't get some NBA game film for the man?

Granted, all these off-season stories don't mean anything, and Carlos's game won't fall apart any more for working with this guy than the last guy, but it sure as heck isn't confidence building.

Jimmy Butler on his new role and first preseason game

The Bulls are counting on Butler to replace Ronnie Brewer. He's athletic, defends, and has the same role player mentality. Fans have lamented Brewer's lack of offense while cheering his outstanding defense and may get more of the same out of Butler. Mike McGraw discussed his role and first game with him.

“It was tough. Ronnie’s my guy, like a brother to me,” Butler said Thursday at the Berto Center. “He taught me a lot of different things, and I got to kind of mold my game after him a little bit. I don’t want to say I’m just like Ronnie, but I’m a lot like Ronnie.

“When I see him play, it’s like, ‘I’m athletic, I can guard, I can make the open shot. I can do what Ronnie does,’” Butler said. “I think that’s what made it so easy for me to catch on to everything. Because I’d look at him, see him out there doing it, and I’d try to do it.”

“I don’t think it was as much nervous as it was so anxious to do well,” he said. “I was moving extremely too fast. Watching on film, that’s not me. That’s not team basketball. That’s not the way that we play. That definitely can’t happen.”

“I think if I think too much about it, I’ll shoot like I shot last game,” he added. “I was out there trying to do way too much, and that’s not the game I have.

“I should never do that. When I don’t think about it, I’ll just play basketball and be OK.”

We'll see what Butler brings to the table over the rest of preseason. If Butler doesn't pan out then we'll be looking at a whole bunch of 40+ minute nights for Luol Deng or leaning heavily on Vladamir Radmanovic to fill in the gap.

For the long term health of the team, the Bulls are best off trying to keep Deng's minutes in the 36 range and having another SF fill in for the final 12 minutes a night. The Bulls could live with Butler playing poor offense if they get quality offense out of Robinson, Belinelli, Taj, and Mohammed or shift a good offensive starter in with the group.

Butler could easily fall back into a role of mop up offense where he's only taking controlled open jumpers, open layups/dunks off cuts, and scramble/loose ball plays where he catches the defense unaware. He may have been trying to bite off more than he can chew in game one, but the Bulls and Butler both need to get an idea of what he's capable of.

If he can step up and do more on offense then he should, if not reverting to a lesser role while still playing great defense likely still earns him those extra minutes. Unless Vladamir Radmanovic plays much better than expected, Butler should maintain his role as the primary bench SF.


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  • If there's a Bulls fan out there who wants Miss Gradenko(Fesenko) on the Bulls roster, well I don't know what to tell you. I was hoping Doug was being tongue in cheek regarding his interest in Kyrylo the Dungeon Keep(as somebody else hinted), but surely they will not tie up what little flexibility they have in this Herman Munster clone.

    While I have some doubts, I really hope they give Jimmy Butler 25 minutes or so, and run plays for him again i.e give him every chance possible to show if he has some offensive game. If he can at least hit some open jumpers or effectively drive off of curls - something.

    Like I said yesterday, I'd be interested to see what posters think about Jimmy Butler vs. Marquis Teague? As in if they had to bet who will end up being the most viable or valuable in the NBA? Answer C) Neither - is not an option.

    Jimmy Butler hit 21 free throws in a row or something along thise lines in summer league. In his sophomore season at Marquette he shot 50% from three albeit on just under one attempt per game. He also averaged 77% from the free throw line for his career. So, maybe he can grow into a Bowen light, a guy who can defend multiple wings well and hit the ocassional open three.

    As for Marquis Teague, sure he looked awful in summer league and in his short stint in his first NBA action. Still, his speed and athleticism are regarded as not NBA quality, but near elite NBA quality. A guy like that should be able to flat out break down defenses. While his shooting is suspect, he did give Kentucky scoring in the tourney, and is known as a guy who can finish through contact around the basket. And I felt like his presence was one of confidence(but not cocky) on the Bulls sideline during timeouts.

    I really hope Thibs and the Bulls org.. have it in mind to give J.B. and Marquis some serious minutes surrounded by the vets(though probably not on court at the same time). 25 Minutes a game each to see if these guys have anything they can legitimately offer an NBA offense(or the Bulls) this season. Cause we sure could use it.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I too would rather have my non-playing 15th man an Unproven Undrafted Rookie rather than a Veteran Scrub.

    Butler is not getting any plays run for him. He's a 2nd year, unproven, bench player.

    On the Bulls, I think Butler has the better chance of becoming the better/more valuable player than Teague and here's my reasoning:
    Butler right now will already get 20min per (Brewer's playing time). Next year, he could realistically be the starting SG. In 2 years, when Deng expires, he could realistically be the starting SF.

    Teague AT BEST, will always be Rose's backup. Is that going to be enough to show the rest of the league something so they pay him when he becomes a FA? I don't think so (this is why I disagreed with drafting a backup PG).

  • In reply to YouBlewwIt:

    Any undrafted rookie that's 7 foot 265-270 isn't going to be any good either. Fesenko has genuine skills, a good attitude, and the right price.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    To answer your question, I think Jimmy Butler will be more viable in the NBA than D-League Teague. I watched summer league play too and I honestly thought he was the worst player there. There was a reason Teague dropped to the Bulls when he was projected to go higher in the draft. The teams that gave him a try-out were obviously not impressed. I am still shocked GarPax drafted him with bringing him in for an look-see. I feel it will be best for the Bulls and Teague to send him to the D-League ASAP so that he can work on his game. Thibs will not give him any playing time and he needs to fill out physically as well to.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Should have said "without" bringing him in for a look-see.

  • Also, did anybody see the ridiculous drunken "Love Boat" photos of James Harden and Kevin Durant with literally a cadre of groupies aka ho's on Harden's 'white yacht party?' It was on a link on Bulls Confidential home page, but mysteriously vanished. Google Harden yacht party etc. if you want to see what $50 to a 100 million in guaranteed money will buy you.

    Honestly, you can stay single and date attractive, decent women who still want to have an affectionate relationship with you without hanging around a bunch of alc and druggie groupies strippers etc. If you have to rely on that or want to hang with that you're really socially somewhat undeveloped i.e pathetic IMO. And I know Mike and Scottie did some of this shit too, but it did not help them any I can guarantee you that. I hope there are at least some players who are not into this shit, and don't want to get drunk and or stoned on a semi nightly basis. Off season, party once a week or whatever, but after your 25 or so give up the stoneage and drunkeness.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    The Hoop Doctors googled has all the photos including a ridiculous Kevid Durant drunken one eyed classic. Even if you don't care what these guys do or even approve of it whatever, but hypocritically I have to admit they are funny especially the Durant one. Still, sad.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Are you honestly getting riled up by the fact that rich and famous celebs are rich and famous celebs?

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I don't like the drunk and high living but sadly that is society today. Keeping it to the Bulls, I don't see Deng or Butler getting involved much in that. Others, I don't have much hope for.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Man, I'd hate to be partying on a yacht with a bunch of women. That's horrible, arrest these men now for living the dream.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Hanging out with a bunch of obvious drunken and probably drug using ho's on a boat is 'living the dream.' Seriously Doug what are you 18?

  • The new bench mob should be ok on offense with Nate, Nazr and Marco being able to score. Jimmy Butler was trying to force things, he should stick to his strength of defense, rebounding, steals and scoring only when he's completely open. One thing I noticed is he always double pumps at the rim and gets his shot blocked......He should go up strong in one motion instead. If the new Bench mob continues to stink bomb, Thibodeau will have no choice but to play Deng with that group or at least overlap his minutes with that group for part of the time they are out there. Jimmy Butler will be ok but like a veteran will have to understand his role better and not try to do things he at.

    Boozer has basically become a one trick pony, if his midrange rainbow isn't going, he totally sucks out there since he doesn't do low post moves, doesn't get to the line and of course doesn't play a lick of defense. He should get that rainbow in midseason form so we'll just have to be patient. For the rest of the team, I really like the fast break uptempo mentality which I said was a big problem not having the last few years. I also like the fact they got to the line often which was another problem they had. We'll see if these trends continue. The poor 3 point shooting is a concern since the Bulls lost three excellent shooters in Korver, Watson and Lucas III. The Bulls were in the top 5 as a team when it came to 3 point shooting and was a big part of their game next to defense and rebounding. Hopefully they can get better there. I'm looking for a better showing from Boozer, Belinelli and Butler tonight.

  • 1) I just don't understand why guys like Fesenko and Scalabrine (not just because they're white), but every 13-15th man on the bench who are considered 'scrubs', if they're serious about being a real NBA player, dedicate 1 summer and completely reshape their bodies.

    Isn't this kind of the same syndrome normal people go throughout their lives? Instead of getting into the gym, the fat chubby kid tries to be the class clown so be liked.

    2) Let's forget about Boozer's trainer's lack of credibility for a minute here. How about the fact that Boozer has decided to take money out of his own pocket to pay for a 'trainer' to work on his OFFENSIVE fundamentals (let's not pretend like Boozer is working on defensive fundamentals)....instead of working on FREE defensive fundamentals via Thibs?

    3) Like Doug, I just don't see how some fans can say Butler is better than Brewer right now. It's just not true. Brewer, if not an elite defender, is on top of the list of the 2nd tier of elite defenders. Butler has his moments (vs. Melo), but those aren't consistent enough as Brewer had done.

    Butler obviously has a higher ceiling, but there's no guarantee he can reach that ceiling, and that's just where we're at right. Butler is probably pressing a bit right now knowing he basically has to replicate what Brewer did for us.

  • All I'll say for Boozer is that maybe he found that hidden gem of a trainer like they do in the movies (not likely). But he is taking steps on his own, which means he knows he needs to improve and is trying to do something about it.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    He fired his old trainer to work with this guy. It's not like he wasn't training before.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Based on what I saw of Boozer in game 1, his trainer should stick to working with Boozer's kids.

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    Yeah, because Boozer's kids have more potential. It'd be a good career-move for the trainer.

  • Thanks for the round-up, Doug. The "I hired my kid's trainer" Boozer story is pretty startling. The guy had "no fundamentals" in his game?? Well, give this no-name trainer some credit then! Boozer, after working with Thibs for two years, still doesn't have any fundamentals? That's a scary but true indictment.

    Hopefully he worked on his post game, as he can use his decent footwork and heft to get shots off. Just as long as we don't have to endure the hideous fadeaway 18-footers nearly every time he shoots ... and his leaner physique? Maybe that means he won't be a step slow every time on D. Yes, I'm being glass half-full.

    BTW, anybody see that Asik had 15 boards last night in about 28 minutes? And he patrolled the paint like he did so well for the Bulls? I'm going to miss that dude!

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