The Bulls could use more athleticism at small forward but are in a difficult position to make a trade, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com. With Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah both likely to be free agents this summer, Derrick Rose having a long injury history and Jimmy Butler being untouchable, Smith believes the Bulls are limited in what they can offer in a major deal. He mentions former Bull Luol Deng as a possibility because he is being “phased out” by the Heat, but speculates Taj Gibson would be the asking price. Smith writes that the Suns would want a first-round pick for P.J. Tucker, and the Celtics would ask for rookie Bobby Portis in exchange for Jae Crowder. The Bulls may have to settle for what they have unless they are willing to surrender a significant piece in return.
There’s more out of Chicago:
- Despite some ups and downs, rookie coach Fred Hoiberg still has the attention of his team, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun Times. Even with the distractions of Gasol and Noah possibly heading elsewhere next season — if not before — Hoiberg has found a way to keep the team focused. “I think guys are listening,’’ Rose said. “We have good-hearted people here. We don’t have any knuckleheads or anything like that. It’s all about just incorporating that into the game. Everything he tells us in shootaround, and everything he tells us before the game to prep us before the game, we just got to incorporate that into the game, but on a more consistent basis.’’
- Butler got the coaching style he had been seeking from Hoiberg in Thursday’s comeback victory over the Sixers, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Butler made headlines in December when he took a public shot at Hoiberg for being too “laid back,” but Hoiberg was intense with his halftime speech Thursday when the Bulls were trailing by 16 points. “Fred came in here and got on our [butt] to tell you the truth,” Butler said. “I like it though. He was fired up. He came in and let us know that’s not how we’re going to play.”