Bulls still don't seem to care about players health

Bulls still don't seem to care about players health

Jimmy Butler was limping badly in the locker room again. Coming off a 46 minute performance in a game the Bulls were losing by 20+ points for virtually the entire night, 30+ for a good chunk of it as well. It was never close, the Bulls never had a chance, and yet here is Jimmy Butler trotted out to play 46 minutes with a bad wheel.

It’s commendable that Butler wants to fight through the injuries. It’s commendable that he wants to keep going. Where the **** is the common sense with the rest of the organization to put a stop to this?

I don’t think it’s a problem that Thibodeau plays a healthy player 40+ minutes over and over again. When healthy, the extra 5 minutes a night probably don’t actually lead to a whole lot of problems. He should still pull guys out of games when it’s near the end, and the lead is 20 points either direction, but with healthy guys I can’t complain too much.

However, the Bulls need to stop treating players with injuries like it’s a go/no go switch that is either on or off. They need to stop putting it in the players hands whether to play or not, especially with the character of the players on this team who will gladly sacrifice their long term health to grind out one more win.

Especially in this season for Pete’s sake. Does Tom Thibodeau not get a minute limit from the training staff to apply? Does he complete ignore it? At what point are the Bulls going to stop putting this on the players and have the guys they actually pay to make medical decisions, you know, make them?

In this season, it’s almost irrelevant. The Bulls aren’t going anywhere anyway, and the nagging injuries will heal up over the summer. However, if Derrick Rose was healthy? We’d be pissing away the season again. Preparing to enter the playoffs in April as a banged up hot mess of injuries where no one’s been healthy all year because of idiotic short term thinking.

If Thibodeau is ignoring the marching orders, then quite frankly, he needs to go. I love Tom as a coach, one of the best in the NBA, however, he will NEVER win a title as a coach if he enters ever playoffs with a roster that’s given it all it has all year and has no health because he pushes guys out to 40+ minute performances while coming off injuries.

If Thibodeau isn’t getting marching orders than the training staff needs to go. The Bulls clearly need someone to step in and set boundaries for a coach who has shown that he won’t act with even the slightest amount of prudence without them.

In the end, something needs to change. It needs to change before it matters again. It needs to change before the Bulls really compete for the title again. Next season, we’ll be sitting here in the off-season using the phrase “if healthy” a whole lot. While the Bulls can’t control a fluke knee injury to Derrick Rose, they can take a lot of steps to ensure the rest of the health of the roster.

Those steps sure don’t seem like they’re being taken now. Not with Luol Deng who explicitly said he wasn’t getting enough rest and kept trying to play through his achilles. Not with Jimmy Butler who’s limping badly after every game and plays 40+ minutes in a game decided before halftime.

I don’t know what it will take for the light to come on for Thibodeau, Swanson, or Tedeschi. I don’t even know for sure where the biggest source of the problem is, but I Forman/Paxson have the power to step in and fix it. It looked like the hiring of Jen Swanson would help this summer, but so far, it’s the same old situation at the UC.

Hopefully, the Bulls figure something out before next season, because if they don’t, Rose’s knee might hold up, but the roster sure won’t.


Leave a comment
  • "I don't know what it will take for the light to come on"!

    Sometimes it never does come on, Doug. Other times it flickers briefly, taunting us to hope, but then disappears again.

    An interesting question is, Why? An unrealistic view of the game or the human body? a blind spot? stubbornness? Who knows?

    But the key question is, How does it get fixed? Counsel those responsible? If that doesn't work, change those responsible? I would say so, but it is hard to move a coach who has done so well with so little -- he actually is a genius at some aspects of the game.

    You have identified a real problem.

  • I don’t always agree with Doug, but he’s 100% right on this issue. The Bulls tend to beat their players into the ground. Although I love Tom Thibodeau as a coach, he seems to be the root of the problem. I think Eric Spoelstra has made great strides in this area. If the decision were left to Dwyane Wade, he’d play every game. But Spoelstra allows his trainers to take the decision out of Wade’s hands. Rightfully so, this is why Wade is on a pace to only play about 60 games this year. Thibodeau might argue that he doesn’t have the depth to sit his top 8 players longer, but he must find a way.

  • Yeah it is completely stupid and irrational. I get the whole old school tough coach thing but there is a line between that and pure stupidity. We seem to land consistently in the pure stupidity side of playing injured guys way too soon and for too long and have paid dearly for it the last few seasons. Sounded like they were going to take it seriously this year only to have the same old injury treatment with everyone not named Rose. I really don't get it or understand how they don't get it...

    Maybe its all Thibs fault or maybe its all on the medical staff for clearing guys to play without limits I don't know but something needs to happen. We can't keep going into the playoffs with a freaking triage unit as it basically negates the already minimal chance we have of winning a title.

    What is so frustrating is it is such an easy fix.

  • (question from another topic) Is it possible to trade deng and then try to bring him back as free agent? or rules don't allow it

  • In reply to mariiito:

    There's nothing in the rules to prevent it, but it's extremely unlikely it would go down that way.

  • Thibs needs to change. I don't think the Bulls will win with him as their head coach unless he does. He's a very, very good coach but he's not a great coach. He's still got the high school coach or assistant coach mentality, as opposed to a pro head coach mentality. The minutes, the long practices, the constant pacing and shouting on the sidelines is amateur stuff, not pro stuff. I feel like it's a matter of time before the players tune him out like Scott Skiles. He can't see the forest for the trees, so focused on winning the next regular season game that he doesn't keep an eye towards the long term goal of winning playoff games. A head coach needs to do that.

    Health management is not the only area where Thibs needs to change, but it's the most obvious. You don't play a guy coming off injury 45+ minutes, but Thibs has only two speeds: Full speed or stop.

    Until Thibs changes, the organization needs to adjust by protecting its players from him. We thought that they were going to do that this year but so far, we are wrong.

  • The funny thing is, as much as I think Thibs is a pretender as a head coach, we know he is a defensive genius who is grounded in the fundamentals of offense as well. When it comes to player re pore, developing players etc. I think he's out of his element, but if given a boatload of offensive talent he's a guy who you could definitely win with.

    The real issue is where is that talent? It sure as hell wasn't Rip or Bogans who were pathetic back court mates for a deserving star talent like Rose. If I were Thibs I'd be saying f-ck you very much Gar/Pax. In the playoffs, not the meaningless regular season, the Bulls offensive futility showed big time especially late in games.

    Speaking of said offensive star talent providing in a major market failures Forman/Paxson, the sad thing is, with a season down the tubes with Rose out, again, we could definitely with a clear conscious be tanking. I mean who would blame the Bulls with Derrick's startling back to back departures and perceived flirtation with contention from pursuing the offensive infusion of star talent this team according to most NBA voices needs.

    It's sad because when you are not even trying to achieve something you really don't deserve any good fortune come draft time. I do respect the people who just feel morally tanking is wrong. Just like I respect people who view immoral things capitalists or the government do is wrong. Nonetheless, I will enjoy reaping the benefits of some of those arguably unethical actions( to a point).

    It's the same with tanking. While in many cases I honestly would have a problem with taking a season long dive into a pool of futility and negativity I certainly would understand a team like the Bulls devastated by all-star talent injury, severely lacking in offensive talent and hamstrung by an ill timed budget doing so.

    The dialogue to no one's fault really other then Gar/Pax, is so f-ing boring right now really about what(?) Mirotic who doesn't sound like he gives a rat's ass about playing in Chicago any time soon, or Marquis Teague, or D.J. Augustin?! What serious fan of the NBA in total really gives a crap right now about discussing these so called topics.

    While I normally would object to discussion of other teams or other sports on a Bulls blog, in this case what true well rounded NBA fan would rather discuss Jimmy Butler's injuries rather then Indiana's season, players, what Portland is doing, Westbrook out again, and the upcoming draft pool as in how the horses are racing in the college realm of basketball?

    I'll tell you a guy I'm impressed with in that regard is Julius Randle. Scintillating offensive skills plus a Paul George like(see pre-Draft interviews) likable persona to boot. A guy who absolutely projects as a soon to be NBA star.

    This upcoming Draft as a pool of players with qualifying NBA statistical profiles is DEEP in quality by most basic measures. It's just too bad we don't want to discuss occasionally star watches as in trending players,impressions etc.

    Regardless, I don't post much in part because nobody seems interested in these interesting NBA topics as opposed to the mundane, offensively talentless aka pointless Bulls. As I really could give a damn about really any player they have on their roster right now not named Derrick Rose. Deng, Noah, Taj, etc. are just not exciting players to watch IMO and most if not all are guys the Bulls hung onto way the hell too long. And Thibs is about as interesting to watch as a coaching persona as a school librarian. Top it off with a disingenuous rat fink front office in Bug eyes Gar etc. and there's just not a whole lot to like here in Chicago right now.

    A real tank job would make the exceptional 2014 Draft watch a very intriguing and compelling horse race, but as usual the stodgy and largely offensive star gathering le incomptentes known as Gar/Pax are ruing all the fun as they always do. But hey, how bout that scintillating star Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson etc. Yeah, bullshit.

    I will say, looking back on drafts since Rose, it's hard to point to a lot of better options the Bulls could have gone with, but in bringing in skilled current or former all star offensive talents still very capable Gar/Pax minus the excuses Dallas/Cuban with Rose or Miami would have at least brought in some offensive star talent for him to pair with. Not f-ing Rip Hamilton, Bogans etc. Homers who say these other franchises would not have found a way to bring in offensive talents to pair with Rose are just clueless or in classic homeristic denial.

    This tank aka 2014 Draft sweepstakes could actually be fun to watch and speculate on right now, but instead mundane horseshit season is what were given. F-ck you Gar/Pax and your shitty offensively talentless Chicago Bulls; I sure as hell don't watch and wait until the day you leave which unfortunately does not appear near in the offing.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    There are some future stars in the coming draft, and the higher picks are more likely to get them. Do you know, if the Bulls had 3 fewer wins they would have the second worst record right now? With a 20% chance of getting #1, and a 56% chance of a top 3 pick! And a top 3 pick plus Mirotic might just turn into 2 elite players and a decade of contending for the banner.

    Plus, some other guys are going to be really, really good in this draft, and if the scouts for the Bulls are on, they could have a really strong team.

    Deng should be traded for a pick/player -- the team will need the money saved in a year or two. Watch and see.

  • Thibs has got to be OCD about Win %. He probably walks out of his office, and if he notices a paperclip is out of place, sits back down to reorganize the whole desk and then goes through his entire 'getting ready' routine again just to make sure he doesn't jinx the game. The irony is that the longer into his tenure he goes, the more his OCD-type behavior actually works against him.

    I am about 95% of the way towards feeling Thibs and the Bulls will never hoist a banner together. Thibs needs a team with 1-10 depth, and the new CBA makes that tough to accomplish. The Bulls who look to be contributors next year (Butler, Rose, Noah) need someone to monitor their health, and Thibs clearly is not that person.

    Thibs has a great basketball mind (hence, the 5% hope I have that it can get turned around with a good conversation), but for f---king goodness sake, there is a championship forest beyond the tree of grind out regular season wins at all cost. I am not sure he sees that.

    Thibs should be made to watch Popovich handle the Spurs playing time, Clockwork Orange style.

  • We know that minutes limits have been placed on players in the past, because Paxson famously attacked Del Negro after he ignored a minutes limit on Noah one night.

    And if a guy says he can go, it's hard to blame Thibs for playing him as many minutes as necessary.

    That being said, there is absolutely, positively NO reason for Butler to play 46 minutes in a blowout loss. Not because he's less than 100%, but because nobody needs to play 46 minutes in a blowout loss.

  • I think the Bulls are tanking. Not by trading Deng and other decent players. Instead, by making sure enough guys are hurt so that they are on the DL for long stretches. That way, they will surely hit the lottery.

    Butler, Hinrich, Deng... Noah is probably next. He'll complain of mild plantar faciitis and then Thibs will play him about 53 minutes in an over-time loss just to put him on the shelf for about 2 months.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Thats kind of what I was thinking as I read Doug's post.

    Thibs is the actual tank commander, we just didn't realize it immediately after Rose went down.

    Don't forget Taj, he'll develop some kind of ankel/leg problem soon enough.

  • The great thing about Thibs? He coaches every possession like it is game 7 of the Finals. The bad thing about Thibs? He coaches every possession like it is game 7 of the Finals. I like him as a coach, but if, at some point, he doesn't realize some games mean less than others, he isn't going to be a head coach for long.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Kevin Kaufmann:

    Thibs seems to only know one way to approach everything - ie. 100% all the time… Haven't seen any behavior that would lead me to believe he can adjust to the situation at head - like a Jackson or Pop.
    That said, I'd like to see him keep the pedal to the metal this season and make sure the season a complete wreck.

  • The only player not getting hurt is Carlos Boozer, he must have the secret recipe to avoid the thibodeau meat grinder, don't play defense, don't hustle and he'll play reduced minutes. He's definitely the Bulls iron man the last 4 seasons and for good reason, he follows a secret formula to keep thibodeau in check.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Great point.

    For a while now, I have had my fingers on the keyboard ready to post that exact same theory, that boozer is living proof that Thibs style of coaching is untenable over the long term.

    Apparently you cannot give up your body at 100% effort on every single play, offense and defense, for 40 plus minutes per night, no matter what kind of world class athlete you are.

    Everybody who plays the Thibs way gets injured all the time, whether the nagging type, or the catastrophic type. The only guy that hasn't had a single basketball related injury over the past 4 seasons is boozer, who is the antithesis of everything Thibs on both ends of the floor, that cannot be a coincidence for this length of time. So I guess boozer isn't completely worthless afterall.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Maybe the team would sign me for the minimum. I can't play D and I can't hustle. Of course, I am almost 70! I can't score either. Still, it would be a big financial savings, if they amnesty Booz, and I would not require a long-term contract. I will even give the team an option for a second year! How fair is that?

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    100% with you, doesn't make an effort and is just fine

  • Well, people finally say what I have been saying here all along. Thibs does not seem to care about players. He plays his players like he's more important than the players, and as if each player is a part of some video game. His antics have grown old just like his playbook. I think the whole team is turned off playing for him. And it makes one also wonder if Pax or Gar Heard is off to lunch each game--trying to ignore what's going on-- avoiding Reinsdorf's questions while he's simply counting the money the team makes..

  • Our prayers do go out to coach and his family. Letting him know we care and wish him and his family God's peace, love, and the Holy Spirit for comfort..

Leave a comment