Storyline: Chicago Bulls Turmoil?

201 rumors in this storyline

More importantly, it again signaled the reality that the belief this team can make a run for the playoffs with the schedule being the easiest of the contenders over the next two weeks is a fallacy—if the first 70 games is any indication. “For us to come out with that lack of effort at this point in the season is maddening,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Look at the points in the paint, 70-30; that tells you everything you need to know about tonight’s game.”

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“Yes,” Wade said when asked if it’s hard to play 12 during a game. “But we’re players. It’s tough because guys don’t know how many minutes they’re gonna play. Mentally it’s tough. You got younger guys, it’s hard to bring them back. You stick with it. No matter who coach puts out there on the floor. He’s trying to figure it out as well.” “Guys in the locker room are fine. Some guys don’t know when they’re gonna play, some guys don’t know how much so it could be a little challenging. Especially young guys, when you’re trying to develop mental toughness, it could be tough. It’s the hand we’re dealt and we gotta find a way to play it.”

Nick Friedell: Bobby Portis was asked today after practice if he understood why he wasn’t getting minutes earlier in the year: “Nah, I didn’t really know what I could do to get minutes,” he said. “The one thing that I know that I always do is just come in here every day, work as hard as I can, let the dominos fall how they fall. Every day I come in here, just bust my butt for some minutes, but sometimes it wouldn’t work. I always kept faith in God, knew that it would eventually come around. You know even when I went to the D-League I felt that it was helping me, having to go down there and get some confidence.”
1 month ago via ESPN

Rondo has had issues with head coach Fred Hoiberg’s communication, especially after he was benched for five games in late December, but so have a lot of players on the roster. All along, Rondo’s presence — and to a lesser extent, Wade’s — felt like a puzzle piece that didn’t fit on a team that was trying to develop young players while remaining competitive. Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson sold Rondo and Wade as the type of veterans younger players could learn from. At most turns this year, that has been the case.

Sources have indicated that privately Butler differs from that opinion. But he was willing to dance the dance with his boss on Friday. “No, I don’t,’’ Butler said, when asked if he took those comments of simply being a piece to build with personally. “No organization is the same. Everybody operates differently. Everybody has different personnel. I don’t care if anybody wants to build around me. Just win. At the end of the day, when you win, everything is fine whether you’re built around or not built around. Everybody’s happy. All of that is just background noise. I just want to win at all costs.’’

After hitting on back-end first-rounders Taj Gibson in 2009 and Butler in 2011, Paxson and Forman have drawn outside criticism for recent picks or draft-day acquisitions Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell, Doug McDermott and Bobby Portis. But the Reinsdorfs still hold management’s talent evaluation in high regard, one source said, and also have valued its ability to avoid hamstringing the franchise with bloated, long-term contracts for players with minimal impact.

Randy Brown couldn’t sit silently any longer. For the third time in two seasons, including a line in a Tribune story last season, the former Bull and current assistant coach watched his name get dragged through the mud, accused of being general manager Gar Forman’s eyes and ears inside the locker room. On Saturday, Brown reached his breaking point, passionately defending his character. “Look, this is a public position. I get it. But my reputation is being slandered at this point,” Brown told the Tribune. “I’m losing sleep the last couple of days. I’m trying to get over it. But it’s tough.”

Hamilton told a story on NBA Crossover (in the video above) about a Bulls film session in 2011-2012, the first of his two seasons with the team. “One of the coaches, assistant coaches, spits out, ‘Randy has nothing to do with this team, he doesn’t need to be around the players.’ Looked at every man that was in that film session and pretty much told them, ‘Hey, don’t listen to him. When he comes and talks to you, don’t listen to him.’ And for me, as a veteran guy just coming from Detroit, I was like, ‘What is going on around here?’ Because every conversation I had with Randy was always good, was always love. So it’s kind of like a situation where, like, man, I don’t know what’s going on between management and the coaches. And now, as you see, it’s coming out again.”

According to Russillo, “[A member of the] front office went to Butler [in 2014] and said, ‘If you don’t sign this extension, we’re going to play Tony Snell over you. We are going to give you his minutes, and that’s going to drop your minutes and numbers down.’ ’’ Butler was asked about the story before the Bulls’ 128-100 win over the Thunder on Wednesday. “I’ll tell it to you like this,’’ Butler said. “That [expletive] happened so long ago, I didn’t think it was a matter of anything. “We won’t go into detail about what was said, what wasn’t said. It’s not anybody’s business. We got a deal done; I thought it was a fair deal. That’s that.

A source close to the situation said Russillo’s story has a huge hole. He claimed the front office then ran it past former coach Tom Thibodeau, and he refused to do it, saving Butler and helping him eventually get the five-year, $95 million deal he signed after the 2014-15 season. “They never would have approached [Thibodeau] with that,’’ the source said. “It didn’t happen. At that point, the front office had very little say in anything [Thibodeau] did.’’

Forget the contract stuff. Last May, Butler was irate after stories leaked out that claimed he had turned into a diva, and he believes the leaks came from the front office. Butler thought Forman was a guy who “only shows loyalty to the top of the pyramid,’’ a source said then. He addressed the issue in October, saying, “Am I a diva? I don’t call it that. My will to win rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I can blame it on that but won’t apologize for it. Never will.’’
2 months ago via ESPN

Nick Friedell: Jimmy Butler, on how much he thinks his play has shocked the front office over time: “You couldn’t say I would pan out this way,” Butler said. “I couldn’t say that either. I just work hard. Crazy part is I think I can still surprise them even more because I continue to work. Continue to be myself, do what’s asked of me. do what I can to the best of my ability. Yeah, they were shocked, surprised, excited for me and the future. But nobody could see this coming.”

And lo, right on cue, Ryen Russillo explains why Jimmy Butler mistrusts the Bull’s front office. Russillo said on ESPN Radio Tuesday that once Butler demurred on a lowball early extension offer after his third season, a member of the front office threatened to supplant Butler in the rotation with … Tony Snell. This allegedly infuriated Butler to the point where he still doesn’t trust the front office. Tom Thibodeau apparently stepped in, Butler thrived and the Bulls locked him up with a max offer sheet in free agency that really didn’t allow him to leave.

Sources said Nikola Mirotic and Carter-Williams have frustrated Wade and Butler more than most players and that both Wade and Butler addressed players privately before airing their frustrations to reporters. “I’m very expressive. I want good for these guys. I try to help these guys,” Wade said. “But there also comes a time (when) I can’t want it for you. It’s not every person on this team. But guys know who they are if they want to be real with themselves, if they’re doing enough.”

The Bulls are bickering. But Spoelstra’s perspective is that they’re still well ahead of the Heat in the Eastern Conference standings, positioned for a playoff berth. “I have no thoughts about that,” Spoelstra said. “Welcome to the NBA. That’s around every team. What I see is a team that’s in the eight spot right now. They have a very talented team. They have two players generating over 60 percent of their offense, one of them we know very well. That guy’s a killer.”
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March 30, 2017 | 4:16 pm EDT Update
Ever since the Lakers hired Walton in the 2016 offseason after serving as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for the previous two years, Walton said Buss has “been incredible” as she has offered support as they talked in person or via text message. “As a coaching staff, it’s really nice to hear and know,” Walton said. “We can do things that we feel are best for the team and not have to worry for now at least if we’re a part of that future. It’s very comforting to coach that way.”
“It’s a tough spot to be in with the people that hire you aren’t here anymore. Even before that happened, I always had a good relationship with her and have had random talks with her before any of that went down,” Walton said of Jeanie Buss. “She was great with the vision she had, what she saw and the way she sees things playing out. That made it a little easier even before we had official talks after all that stuff went down.”
March 30, 2017 | 3:13 pm EDT Update