Indeed, no one is untouchable. The palace intrigue that surrounded Butler and Hoiberg prompted several teams to inquire about Butler’s availability at the trade deadline. Though they were rebuffed, several rival executives told The Vertical they intend to try again. Boston was among the teams trying to pry away Butler in February, and several executives point to Orlando, with its treasure trove of young players and defensive-minded head coach, as a team to watch closely in the pursuit of Butler.
The days of Thibodeau overextending Noah in a meaningless regular-season game seem like a distant utopia. Chemistry issues continue to plague the Bulls’ locker room, league sources told The Vertical. Grumblings range from Hoiberg’s inability to hold players accountable – a complaint registered publicly by Butler last December and one that lingers in the locker room today, a source said – to Butler’s shoddy shot selection to the disconnect within the team offensively.
While injuries haven't helped, center Pau Gasol pinpointed the main culprit as players having their own agendas on the court. "We all have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, 'Am I worrying about the right things? Am I worrying about the collective or am I just worried about what I do or the shots I take, how much am I scoring (and) how much am I playing?'" Gasol said before the Bulls righted the ship a bit in a 107-102 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night at Sleep Train Arena. "All those things are the wrong approach to winning, so if we are … capable of changing that approach individually and collectively, we'll be in a better place."
A source said on Tuesday morning that Noah remains unhappy with his current standing in the organization, and “still hasn’t moved past losing his starting job’’ late in training camp. The source went onto say that Noah “hasn’t been a distraction by any means, but isn’t the biggest [coach Fred] Hoiberg fan these days.’’
Privately, the Bulls have hoped that winning games would cure a lot of Noah’s woes, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case. It also didn’t help that the Bulls went 7-2 without Noah during a recent shoulder injury, and that he’s been the subject of trade talk.
Nick Friedell of ESPN on the Posting Up podcast with Tim Bontemps: "I don’t think that the tension between Jimmy and Derrick was ever as bad as it was made out to be. But the tension now, moving forward off the Derrick talk for a second, between Jimmy and other players in that locker room is bad. Because you can’t just say, “I signed this new deal. I’m the leader.” That respect has to be earned over time. Nobody is questioning Jimmy’s work ethic. He’s worked his tail off. But they are questioning whether Jimmy can be the leader that this group needs with so much turmoil going on around them."
Nick Friedell of ESPN on the Posting Up podcast with Tim Bontemps: "You talk to anybody within that Bulls organization, and they’ll tell you that Jimmy has changed. His personality has changed. And it’s not to say he’s wrong in that. But this was a kid that loved saying he was from Tomball, Texas and that he was just a role player on a really good team. And now he wants all the trappings that come with being a star in the league. And that’s all well and good. But again, this ties back into the leadership problem this team has. You can say all that, but you can’t just say, “Alright, I’m the leader.” You have to earn that respect over time. Maybe Jimmy will."
Nick Friedell of ESPN on the Posting Up podcast with Tim Bontemps: "He’s really rubbed some people the wrong way with how he’s going about things. So, it’s something to watch for, and it’s something that I know is on the minds of the front office in that, “Can we trust this guy to go out and to be who we need him to be every night, and can he lead us the way that a championship-caliber team needs to be led?” And early on, the returns have been no."
September 24, 2021 | 5:17 pm EDT Update
Law Murray: Frank: “Bledsoe is a downhill attacker… couple years removed from All-Defense” Says he has a lot to prove. “Ready to give us another guy who can make plays, not just for himself but for others and to get to the paint, we felt was very important.”