Central Notes: Lue, Smith, Butler

The Bulls locker room has become a fragmented one that is separated into cliques, Ben Dowsett of Basketball Insiders relays. One group, which includes point guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah, is harboring lingering resentment with the organization over the ousting of former coach Tom Thibodeau, Dowsett notes. The other group includes Jimmy Butler, who despite the public support of Pau Gasol, has struggled to establish himself as a leader and voice of the team, the Basketball Insiders scribe adds.

The best squads in the league have a culture where veterans and rookies are able to criticize one another in the pursuit of greatness, Dowsett notes. This isn’t something that occurs within the Bulls’ locker room, according to coach Fred Hoiberg. “You have to have that,” Hoiberg told Dowsett. “It has to be something where the guys can look at each other in the face, and be able to hold each other responsible and accountable when they’re not doing it on the floor, and to be able to take that.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Otis Smith has rekindled his passion for the game coaching the Pistons‘ D-League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Tim Casey of USA Today writes. The former Magic GM had zero interest when offered a front office role by coach/executive Stan Van Gundy in 2014, but the opportunity to develop young players through coaching held great appeal, Casey notes. “I like to teach,” Smith said. “Coaching, to me, is just another aspect of teaching … Even when I was in the general manager role, it’s just a broader brush, but it’s all that. It’s all teaching guys how to be men both off the court and men on the court.
  • New Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has risen through the coaching ranks quickly, but despite his relative inexperience, there is the general sense around the organization that the team is in better hands now than it was under former coach David Blatt, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe writes. One message that Lue is attempting to impart to the Cavs players is that they will need to be willing to sacrifice if they want to win a title, Washburn adds. “Winning takes care of everything,” Lue said. “Winning two championships with the Lakers for me, people probably wouldn’t even know who I was. I was the 15th man that first year and people love me in L.A. I was part of a team, part of a championship. It’s an unbelievable feeling.
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