It's episode #10 and we've got our Bulls Media Day Summary, a Preview of Pre-Season: What to Look for, Make it or Break it season for a number of players on the roster, the Latest developments with Jimmy Butler and Minnesota and iTunes reviews from you, the listener.
Welcome to the Bulls Podcast, coming to you from BullsPodcast.com. This is where we’ll be bringing you the latest news, reviews, rants, rumors and opinions on the players, coaches and front office of the Chicago Bulls.
Introducing Edward Shuler
We’d like to welcome this week’s special guest. He’s the host of the Bulls Gold podcast, Edward Shuler. Like us, his show is relatively new with 13 episodes released, so it’s one that you want to pay attention to and make it a habit to listen to every week. Edward and his co-host Salim Suterwalla focus on the past, present, and future of the iconic Chicago Bulls franchise with weekly discussion, game recaps, and segments.
We’ve got a lot in store for you this episode. Including:
- Bulls Media Day Summary
- Preview of Pre-Season: What to Look for
- Make it or Break it season for a number of players on the roster. We’ll discuss who we feel may be on the bubble early in the season.
- Latest developments with Jimmy Butler and Minnesota
- iTunes reviews from you, the listener
BULLS MEDIA DAY
Media day began with John Paxson giving an assessment of the summer and the season to come. “I said earlier this summer after we went to the draft and through free agency that we were pleased in terms of where we are in the rebuild,” said Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson. “With that said, we also understand that we have a lot of work to do. There is an excitement with the group. (But) you're not going to hear us talk about wins or anything like that; the expectations for us are to see this team come together. Our goal is to be the best basketball team we can be, and that's through this group coming together. We have talent, I believe that, and how it comes together, how we play, will determine what kind of win total we end up with, but we're not going to focus on that.'
When asked about the Jimmy Butler / Minnesota debacle, John Paxson politely said it was not their concern. They are concerned about the Bulls, not the Timberwolves drama. When pressed on the issue, they weren’t about to take the bait, even when they are very close to claiming a major victory with the deal.
“It’s never about vindication,” said Paxson when asked about the Butler trade. “We did exactly what we thought was the right thing for the organization last year to rebuild. We walked out that night and we were comfortable then and we’re comfortable now.”
The Bobby Portis contract extension is active in talks with Bobby’s agent and they hope to get it wrapped up soon. This is great news for Bulls fans if the deal can get done. According to general manager Gar Forman, the Bulls and Portis’ representatives are working on an extension as he moves off his rookie contract.
Gar Forman on the Bobby Portis contract situation: ‘‘We’ll continue those conversations up until the deadline,’’ Forman said. ‘‘We value Bobby. We look at Bobby as part of our core. He has continued to improve each year. All of us up here love the energy he plays with, the work ethic he has, what he brings to the practice floor and game floor. That’s why we’ve been having conversations.’’
Coach Fred Hoiberg
Fred was relieved that they were 2 deep in every player position and that training camp would be “ultra competitive” for every starting spot on the roster. “Every position is open at this point”
Coach Hoiberg admitted his players already are starting to get tired of hearing about how suspect they are defensively. ‘‘I think that you certainly hear it,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘It’s hard in this era when things are said to not hear it. So I think our group as a whole, it is an area we need to improve in.’’ Fred said he is dividing the season up into 4 segments and that there are clear goals established to challenge each player during those predetermined timeframes.
Wendell Carter Jr
When asked what Bulls player has taken him under their wing, he replied without hesitation “Robin Lopez. He’s helping me get started in this league the right way, teaching me all of his tricks”
Coach Hoiberg chimed in on the Lopez-Carter competition for the starting center position: “Robin is really good for Wendell. The fact that he (Lopez) is going in to his eleventh year, he’s a 30 year old consummate professional and just a great fit to teach Wendell what it’s all about to be a professional. Wendell is not backing down at all. He’s going out there and playing physical; he made some unbelievable plays at the rim defensively and feel really good about that position going in to the season.”
Wendell doesn’t care if he has to come off the bench. Whether it’s eventually starting, off the bench, limited to 3 minutes a game or staying on the bench just rooting for the team, he’s ready to give 110% to make sure the team is in a position to win. When one on-camera reporter asked about team and individual goals, Wendell confidently replied, “We’re going to make the playoffs.. It’s as simple as that”
Down to 200 lbs, not the 185lbs that was reported. He spent the entire summer working out and working on his game, rather than what he’s had to do in previous off-seasons just rehabbing injuries.
Zach isn’t worrying about “Validating” is new contract to justify to people that he’s worth the money. “I work hard, the contract is a result of that. Expect that to continue”
He admitted that last season coming off the ACL rehab, he felt 60%-70% back to form, in comparison to right now where he feels absolutely 100%.
When asked about defense, Zach admitted that he does need work in a few areas. He is very comfortable guarding on the ball, but conceded that weak side defense is something that he’s working hard to improve upon.
When asked about what he brings back from his work in the summer, Zach said he is elevating his overall consistency. He’s got his leg strength and stamina back and he’s worked all summer long to watch film and improve on every area that he and the coach set out for him to adjust and improve upon.
“I think expectations for us is just going to be taking it day by day and being competitive,” said Zach LaVine. “I think we'll be fine because we're going to be so excited. We're really hungry. We hear the outside expectations (about another 27-win season). But I think we use that as fuel. We're going to get off to a hot start with training camp coming. We've all been here and it's going to be fun. That's why I think we're all able to get a jump on the season because we're all healthy now. Obviously, we're going out there to win. That's what we do. That's the only way you can get better and that's how you compete; that's how you progress as a team. As players, we're going out there to win and compete every game. I'm not putting expectations on this season. Obviously we want to make the playoffs, we want to compete for championships. So that's what we're going to start with, starting tomorrow. Build those championship habits.” One off-camera tidbit that I found interesting is that Zach said he’s an active gamer on Playstation and even said he’d play anyone that found him online.
The most common word for Jabari was “chemistry”. He’s appreciated the 3 weeks before training camp that the team privately worked out together. He stated that they’ve already learned a lot about each other and their individual playing styles.
Jabari also stated that the fact that Dunn, Lavine and Markkanen had such little time playing together last year is actually a blessing in disguise. Now that Jabari Parker is in the mix, it allows the team to gel as a cohesive unit rather than trying to work one guy into a system. The young core already has a tight friendship and have spent a lot of time together in the gym, and out in public together. Jabari also affirmed his commitment to giving back to Chicago and various charities.
Lopez entered training camp this week in an interesting predicament. On one hand, he has a history of being the ultimate locker-room guy, including being helpful to young players. On the other hand, the latest young guy the Bulls’ brass would like to see Lopez mentor is a 19-year-old rookie trying to take his job.
So which Lopez did first-round pick Wendell Carter Jr. encounter as the Bulls officially started camp Tuesday?
‘‘It’s a little bit of both,’’ Wendell said with a snicker when asked about it. ‘‘Anytime we’re on the court, he’s coming at me, but I feel like that’s the only way I can get better. If he comes out just trying to teach me without going hard every play, then I won’t really learn. I feel like you learn more from the players than the coaches. You learn from your teammates more than the coaches or assistant coaches.’’
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Bobby addressed the Niko situation one last time. At the end of last season, Portis insisted he was going to go to The Players’ Tribune website during the summer and tell his side of the story regarding the practice altercation between him and Mirotic last training camp.
“I decided to not do it,” Portis said Tuesday of writing about the incident. “Just focus on the future and focus on myself. Me and my family, I hung out with them a lot. It was a blast. My little brothers are growing up. I really wasn’t worried about anybody else but myself and bettering myself. Focused on the season and locked in to having a good year, not only for myself but for the organization.”
Coincidentally, Portis will see Mirotic again Sunday, when the Bulls host the Pelicans in their preseason opener at the United Center. The two never really spoke away from the court after the punch, and that likely won’t change.
“Me and Niko always compete at a high level against each other,” Portis said. “We’re two competitors, two guys who love the game of basketball. He had a good playoffs [with the Pelicans], and a good year at the end of the year. I was happy for him and what he did.
“It will be fun to compete against him Sunday. At the same time, we’re trying to build our chemistry here and get ready for the opener.”
Notable Quotes from Bobby:
“I know my role is to come off the bench and provide energy, bring passion to the game, get the crowd involved and score.”
Bobby Portis on his sleeping habits: “I slept a lot this summer, six or seven hours a night.” Portis gained some weight and strength in the offseason. He ended last season at 246 pounds, he's now at 259. According to Portis, his body fat went from 10.4 to 8.6 percent.
In terms of his pending contract extension: Bobby said he’s not worried about that part right now. He is just hungry to get playing again and bringing his intensity back to the floor.
What do we feel would be a fair contract for Bobby Portis? What does the ideal contract term look like for Bobby Portis? 6-8 million a year for 4 years? Bobby Portis averaged 22.5 minutes per game this season. He was tied for first in the NBA in scoring (13.2 PPG) for players averaging under 23 minutes per game.
Kris has bulked up over the summer as well. He clapped back to all the critics that have questioned his work ethic. He spent a majority of his offseason in the gym, both pickup games and in the weight room.
When asked about his initial impression of the Bulls over the summer, he said: “The first thing I see is the energy,” “I think everybody is excited to be here to work, everybody’s here to improve, and the chemistry is looking good.”
Kris said one of his personal goals for the season is to be more vocal as he runs the offense, both on and off the court.
Marcus: I went back over the last week and watched at least 10 games of Dunn from last season. The Dunn to Markannen combo is a constant theme throughout every game that the Bulls dominated last season. When Kris and Lauri were communicating on the court, both ended up having killer games. Go back and watch the YouTube video of Lauri becoming the fastest rookie in NBA history to make 100 3 pointers. Almost 80% of them came from a Kris Dunn pass. If Kris Dunn elevates his point guard role this season, we could actually see Lauri making another giant leap in the league in terms of his own performance.
Gained 17lbs, up to 240lbs. He feels a lot stronger and has a lot more stamina to run up and down the court. He’s taken the summer to not play with Finland and concentrate on his health and building up his strength. The result is that he is a lot bigger and a lot quicker. He feels that he’s even faster on the floor.
On the birth of his new son, he said that he’s got a lot more to play for now. It’s brought him a new perspective on life.
In reference to his seemingly trolling photo aimed at the Timberwolves, Lauri Markkanen, with a smile, on his tweet that appeared to troll the Wolves: “Just a throwback picture.” He went on to laughingly admit that he did it because he knew the Bulls fans would think it was funny, which we certainly did. It’s great to have a player that has a sense of humor and is willing to include the Bulls fans in on his hijinx online.
It’s my belief that the true X-Factor with the Bulls roster this season is going to be Chandler Hutchison. Off the bench, it’s clear that Hutch is already going to have the confidence that it takes to step up and take on his role. He’s been working on his shot selection, including perfecting jump shots. He also noted that he is learning every position on the floor within Fred’s playbook so that he can step in and fill the gaps in any position he’s asked to perform in.
AB had a brief on-camera interview with Chuck Swarski where he talked about how much work he put in over the summer to elevate his overall game, including big strides on the defensive end. He’s come a long way since playing alongside Ben Simmons at LSU and being undrafted. He’s taken advantage of every opportunity since then, becoming rookie of the year in a dominating performance for the Windy City Bulls in the G-League. It wasn’t even close. He played on a level leaps and bounds ahead of any other individual player and it will be great to see that translate into a full time spot on the Bulls roster this year.
He spoke about the intense rivalry that he and Zach Lavine have had during the summer and that they have each beat each other a “handful of times”. It’s great to see AB put the time in and accelerate his growth rate with the team. He relishes the moniker of “Instant Offense”, a tag which he intends to make good on when the season gets under way.
BULLS PODCAST HOUSEKEEPING
New Bulls Fan Hotline from the Bulls Podcast!
We have a new phone number that I want you to put into your phone contacts right now.. That’s 312-626-5401.
We'd like to start a monthly “Young Bulls” segment on the show and have 2 teens join us on the podcast to talk about the BULLS. Any parents interested in featuring your youngsters? Just go to BullsPodcast.com/youngbulls and fill out the contact form.
New Bulls Podcast Network Site! BULLS.FM
We’re happy to be a part of BULLS.FM, which will be alive streaming audio channel that you can tune into 24/7. The streaming server will start once the season starts, but if you want to get to know who will be on it, check out BULLS.FM. it features The Bulls Podcast, Bulls Gold, Bulls HQ, Chicago Bullseye, BAWL! On Bulls, The Bulls Beat and The Big Red Bus. All shows are automatically updated, so the site will always be 100% current. I’m even working on a Roku channel for the stream that I hope to get launched as the season starts, so you can enjoy the best Bulls Podcasts wherever you happen to be, at any time. So check it out at Bulls.FM.
Fast take on the Jimmy in Minnesota situation, and we expect this drama to come to a head or a conclusion fairly soon.
- KAT signed a monster 5 year deal worth $190 million, followed by Wiggins re-signing a multi-year deal as well.
- Jimmy wants to get a trade to the Miami Heat. Thibs has stated that they will not be making a bad deal for a Butler trade (how ironic).
PreSeason – Things to watch for
Insertion and Growth of Wendell Carter Jr.
The rotation of Robin Lopez and Wendell Carter Jr is going to be a key scenario.
Kris Dunn emerging as a leader who can control the tempo of the game.
He referenced his role as the leader and quarterback of the team.
The development of Lauri Markannen’s game with his newly bulked-up frame and how his game has improved.
Make it or Break it Seasons for:
- Justin Holiday
- Denzel Valentine
- Cameron Payne
- Ryan Archidiacono
- Rawle Alkins on his 2 way deal (#SavageLife)
- Cristiano Felicio
It will be interesting to see the roles that some of the training camp signings brings to the table.
New faces include:
- Derrick Walton Jr. (6’1” Guard)
- Antonius Cleveland (6’6” Guard)
- JaKarr Sampson (6’9” Forward)
- Kaiser Gates (6’8” Forward)
Who’s the X-Factor for the Bulls this year?
Who will step up and fill the “intensity” role that someone like David Nwaba gave the Bulls last year?
True Bulls Fans Should Subscribe by Stevo Callahan (5 Stars)
Love the Bulls content from these guys. Listening to every episode out here in Okanawa japan. 28 games Vegas? Really? Glad they put their money where their mouth is! Go Bulls!
Review by ALJR6 (5 Stars)
I’m so pumped for the season to start and my opinion is that the Bulls will be getting that 6th seed in the Eastern Conference and I believe the Big 3 of Lari, Zach and jabari will lead the way. The Bulls will be looking at at least 43 games. Keep up the good work guys!
Thanks again to Edward for coming onto the show today for Episode #10. You can find his show at https://bullsgold.podbean.com/ and we have a link to that in our shownotes, also as I mentioned, we’re happy to include Bulls Gold as a part of our Bulls.FM project, so you can find the show and all episodes there as well. The show is also on iTunes, Stitcher and all the popular podcasting platforms, so be sure to subscribe so you can continue to enjoy Edward’s take of the Bulls as the season progresses this year.
Edward, it’s nice to have another new podcast covering the Bulls, as we feel we have another new show that we can keep pace with and grow together. Thanks so much for being a part of the show with us today.
Remember to subscribe to our show. Visit Bullspodcast.com/subscribe to get all the links to where we are. We are on iTunes/Apple Podcasts now, so we do want you to subscribe to us there and also give us a 5 star review and your feedback on the show as well. Just like in today’s show, we’ll read them out as we get them, so get yours in now to be on the next show!
Next week we’re going to have Diana from DemBulls, a new YouTube channel where she covers the Bulls on a regular basis. It’s going to be a great show that you don’t want to miss.
Until then, Thanks for listening everyone, Go Bulls!