Although some Bulls fans may have clamored for a youth movement in Chicago, the team saw first-hand that their young core may not be ready for primetime just yet, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. Briefly in Monday’s loss to the Pistons, the Bulls trotted out a lineup of Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant, Paul Zipser, Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio but the offense quickly stalle, resulting in the prompt reinstatement of star forward Jimmy Butler.
Friedell explains that the vaunted trio of Portis, Valentine and recently acquired Cameron Payne may not be reliable enough offensively, citing their struggles against Detroit as an example of what life would be like for Bulls fans without Butler or Dwyane Wade there to steer the ship. Should Wade leave via free agency this summer and Butler get traded, there could be more nights just like Monday in the future.
Payne, brought over from the Thunder in the Taj Gibson trade, hasn’t been particularly effective in a Bulls uniform, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes in his own piece, highlighting the supposed “pure” point guard’s abundance of field goal attempts. Head coach Fred Hoiberg echoed the sentiment. “He took a couple shots that he maybe could’ve got one more bounce to the rim or kicked out for a shot,” Hoiberg said. “This is really the first meaningful big minutes that he’s getting in this league. And it’s all valuable experience for him. And he’s not afraid of the moment. He’s going to give you everything he has.”
There’s more out of the Central Division tonight:
- After battling back from a ruptured hamstring that required surgery, Khris Middleton has wasted no time getting into a rhythm beyond the arc for the Bucks, Alex Boeder of Bucks.com writes. All of Middleton’s shooting numbers since he returned nine games ago are outpacing his career averages.
- The Pacers have put an emphasis on putting smaller lineups on the floor of late with mixed results, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star writes. Since the implementation of the changes the team has shot better from the field but struggled on defense.
- Injured Bucks forward Michael Beasley will be out at least two more weeks, Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Beasley, sidelined with a hyperextended knee, will be re-evaluated at that time.
- The Cavaliers are in danger, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, more so now that Andrew Bogut has broken his leg and will miss the remainder of the 2016/17 season. Injuries, coupled with upcoming road games, general fatigue and lingering defensive woes could spell trouble for the squad, he writes.