Central Notes: Thibodeau, Pacers, Jackson

Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said it was painful to watch the team struggle to a non-playoff season, according to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago. Now president and coach of the Timberwolves, Thibodeau discussed the Bulls as he returned to Chicago for this week’s draft combine. “I think Derrick [Rose] after the first couple months, played very well and it was great to see him healthy,” Thibodeau said. “He went through four years that were difficult. I think Jimmy [Butler] continues to improve and get better. Pau [Gasol] was terrific. Doug McDermott had a terrific season and Niko [Mirotic] was inconsistent but he finished strong. There were a lot of pluses and one or two games go a different way and if Joakim [Noah] doesn’t get hurt, this is a terrific team. They need their health. For me, just looking from afar, that’s the biggest thing for this team.” Thibodeau also supported the coach who took his place, Fred Hoiberg, and said he expects the Bulls to become contenders again next season.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pacers will hold a workout on Tuesday for Indiana small forward Troy Williams, Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins and others, tweets Jeff Rabjohns of Basketball Times. High schooler Thon Maker will work out for the Pacers on Wednesday, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).
  • Maryland power forward Robert Carter Jr. had an interview with the Pacers at the draft combine, tweets Scott Agness of VigilantSports.
  • The Bucks will likely be looking for backcourt help in next month’s draft, according to Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee enters Tuesday’s draft lottery with the No. 10 pick, along with second-rounders at No. 36 and No. 38. GM John Hammond insists the team will employ the “best-player-available” strategy, but Gardner says it’s obvious the Bucks need better guard play. One possibility could be Notre Dame junior point guard Demetrius Jackson, who interviewed with Milwaukee during the draft combine. “[Bucks coach] Jason Kidd is awesome,” Jackson said. “I do my research before I go in there. I’m naming off some of his accomplishments — nine-time all-NBA defender. At the next level I really want to be an elite NBA defender. It’s cool to meet some of these people you see on TV.”
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