Bulls' Media Day Notes: Butler's Opportunity, Hinrich's Return, Rose's Most Impressive Newcomer
DEERFIELD, Ill. – After missing out on the opportunity to play in the NBA Summer League a season ago due to the lockout, Jimmy Butler embraced the challenge this offseason and enjoyed being the focal point of the Chicago Bulls’ offense. While he admits confidence will play a big role in terms of his jump shot, he put forth hard work over the summer and is hopeful all the time spent in the gym pays dividends.
“[Summer League] helped me a lot because I got to experience everything first hand,” Butler told RealGM on Monday afternoon during media day. “It’s different when someone is telling you how to do something, and then you’re out there doing it, being the focal point of an offense. It’s a tremendous difference.”
With the departures of Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, Butler knows his role will heighten and his minutes will increase this season. He impressed many around the Bulls with his on-ball defense last season, but now he’ll need to prove to Tom Thibodeau that his offense is just as strong.
Still, Butler will miss not being able to see familiar faces such as Brewer and Korver, who both took the second-year player under their wings in 2011-12.
“It’s tough to see those guys leave,” Butler said. “[In] my first year in the league, those were my vets and now they’re not here anymore.
“But I still talk to them. We may not be on the same team, but we’re all still friends, we’re all still connected like brothers. Yeah, we’re not all in Bulls jerseys, but we’ll all be talking to each other and checking in on each other.”
Bulls appreciative of Hinrich: For Derrick Rose and Deng, the appreciation for Kirk Hinrich only grew once they realized how different it is to play without him. While this will be Deng’s seventh season alongside Hinrich, Rose spent just his first two campaigns and acknowledges he was not prepared to play with Hinrich.
“I think I was too young to play with Kirk,” Rose said. “He was someone at that time that was in a bad situation: The Bulls were starting all over again. I only got a chance to play with him for a short time.”
For now, Hinrich will start at point guard until Rose fully recovers from his torn ACL and is ready to take the spot. Then, the plan for Hinrich is to play both guard positions and spend a lot of time next to Rose in the backcourt as a player who can alleviate Rose’s ball handling responsibilities.
“Sometimes when you have a player here, you oversee what he does,” Deng said. “In the past few years that Kirk has been gone, I think everyone who follows the Bulls and all the staff and players realized and started missing what he used to do.
“I’m really happy to have him back. Playing with Kirk was fun, but now we appreciate each other a lot more because we know what we’ve done in this league so far. … You start to realize how much you enjoy playing with [him].”
Rose’s most impressive newcomer: In Rose’s mind, the newest member of the Bulls who has stood out to him the most during workouts is Marco Belinelli.
“I didn’t know he was that big of a guard and how good he can shoot the ball,” Rose said. “And how he can put the ball on the floor and come off the pick and roll, that’s something huge.”