Chicago Bulls

Bulls To Hold Post-Playoff Meeting With Butler

The Bulls plan to meet with Jimmy Butler after the playoffs to express their support for keeping him, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

The session will be separate from routine exit interviews, and Cowley describes it as an attempt to repair a deteriorating relationship. John Paxson, the team’s vice president of basketball operations, will attend the meeting, but it’s uncertain if GM Gar Forman will be there.

Butler was reportedly angered after hearing his name mentioned in trade rumors around the deadline and last year’s draft. He received a $95MM contract extension two years ago, but never felt like the team really committed to him.

 He was also upset when Paxson said in a press conference after the trade deadline, “You build with players. We are building with Jimmy right now.’’ Butler became determined to lead the Bulls to the playoffs and show the front office that he was the type of player to build around, not just with.

A source told Cowley that Butler has communicated to the front office and to teammates that he wants to stay in Chicago. He is expected to repeat that sentiment in the upcoming meeting, with a warning that the Bulls should stop leaking his name in trade rumors if they really want to keep him.

Butler is signed for two more seasons with a $19.84MM player option in 2019/20.

Rondo Remains Unlikely To Play

  • Rajon Rondo, who was reportedly unable to play over the last three games because of a thumb injury, revealed that he also has a torn ligament in his wrist, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com tweets. The point guard remains a “longshot” to play in the Bulls‘ first-round series, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

Rajon Rondo Won’t Play In Game 5

10:10am: Rondo won’t play in Game 5, he confirmed this morning to reporters, admitting that he still can’t do much with injured thumb (Twitter links via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune). His potential availability for Game 6 remains up in the air.

9:29am: Rajon Rondo has missed just two games since suffering a fractured thumb in Game 2 of the Bulls’ first round series against the Celtics. However, the veteran point guard is anxious to return and participated in a late-night workout on Tuesday to assess whether he’s healthy enough to get back on the court for Game 5, per Marc Stein and Marc Spears of ESPN.com.

According to the ESPN duo, Rondo held the session to test both his thumb and his ailing right wrist in an effort to get a sense of whether a comeback for Game 5 is feasible. Shams Charania of The Vertical suggests there’s a belief around Rondo and the Bulls that a Game 5 return isn’t out of the question, but both ESPN and The Vertical suggest no final determination will be made until closer to game time.

“He wants to play bad,” a source close to Rondo told ESPN on Tuesday night. “As of right now, it’s still tender and he’s erring on the side of waiting until Game 6. But knowing him, he could change his mind in the morning and try to play.”

We heard earlier on Tuesday that Rondo had been ruled out for Game 5, with head coach Fred Hoiberg suggesting that even a Game 6 return was a “long shot,” so it seems that the point guard is attempting to force the issue.

The Bulls looked like a different team in the first two games of the series with Rondo leading the way. The former Celtic averaged 11.5 PPG, 10.0 APG, 8.5 RPG, and 3.5 SPG in the Bulls’ two victories in Boston. With the series now tied at two games apiece, Chicago would love to get Rondo back in the lineup, but it remains to be seen how effective he can be, even if he’s able to play.

In Rondo’s absence, Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams have struggled. The Bulls are expected to start Isaiah Canaan at the point in Game 5 is Rondo remains on the shelf.

Rajon Rondo Hoping To Return In First Round

When the Bulls first announced Rajon Rondo‘s thumb fracture on Friday, they indicated that he’d be re-evaluated in seven to 10 days and may not be ready to return at that time. However, with Chicago’s first round series now tied at two games apiece, it sounds like the veteran point guard may be looking to force the issue.

According to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com, Rondo has been ruled out for Game 5 on Wednesday, but was taking jump shots before Tuesday’s practice, with his hand no longer in a hard cast. Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg insisted today that it’s still a “long shot” that Rondo gets back on the court in the series, but he acknowledged that it’s a possibility.

“It’s so early in the process,” Hoiberg said of Rondo’s potential return for the Bulls. “Just watching him wince a little bit as the ball was coming to him makes me think it’s a long shot, but if there’s anybody that can do it, will try to fight through it, it’s Rondo. Just because the competitor that he is and obviously wanting to get back out there. Doing everything that he can to put himself into position, knowing that it’s obviously still a long shot for that to happen.”

Poll: Which 2-2 Series Will End In Upset?

Last year’s NBA Finals combatants, the Cavaliers and Warriors, made quick work of their first round playoff opponents, dispatching the Pacers and Trail Blazers respectively in four games apiece. However, many of the other first round series around the NBA remain very much up in the air.

Currently, four series are tied at 2-2, with two of those Game Fives scheduled for tonight, and two more on tap for Wednesday. The Clippers and Jazz have each split their home games, resulting in a 2-2 tie, while the No. 7 seeded Grizzlies won two home games over the Spurs following David Fizdale‘s post-Game 2 “take that for data” rant, pulling even in that series. Those four teams will be in action tonight.

Over in the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 seeded Celtics find themselves tied with the No. 8 Bulls in an unusual series in which road teams are 4-0 so far. Meanwhile, the Hawks ripped through the Wizards‘ defense in two games in Atlanta, evening that series at 2-2. Both of those series will resume on Wednesday.

In each of those four series, the higher seed maintains the advantage, with two of the final three games on their home court. But most of those higher seeds don’t look as formidable as they did entering the postseason.

What do you think? Will any of these series result in upsets? If the Jazz are able to knock off the Clippers, should that series even be viewed as a legit upset, given the absence of Blake Griffin and the teams’ identical regular season records?

Vote below on which lower seeds will make it through the first round — you can pick as many as you want. After placing your vote, share your thoughts in the comments section!

Canaan Steps Up, Mans Point

Consider Isaiah Canaan the latest beneficiary of the point guard carousel in Chicago. The reserve guard with more DNP-CDs than minutes played since the All-Star Break logged heavy minutes in Game 4 of the Bulls first-round tilt, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes.

With Rajon Rondo out for the series with a fractured thumb, Michael Carter-Williams in foul trouble, Jerian Grant rendered ineffective and Cameron Payne inactive, head coach Fred Hoiberg turned to the 25-year-old journeyman to lead his Bulls.

I was really proud of Isaiah for coming out after a lot of DNPs and being on the inactive list,” the Bulls coach said. “We wanted him in there because he can pick up the ball full-court. He hit a few shots for us as well. The plan was if we didn’t get off to a good start, he was going to get his opportunity.”

Though the Bulls would fall to the Celtics in the contest, Canaan posted 13 points and three assists in 34 minutes, an adequate stopgap for the latest hole in the club’s volatile point guard rotation.

League Dishes Out Pair Of $25K Fines

The NBA handed out two $25K fines, one to Rajon Rondo and one to Patrick Beverley, for separate incidents over the weekend.

Beverley got into a verbal altercation with Stuart Scaramucci, who is the son of Thunder minority owner Jay Scaramucci, after Game 3 of the Rockets-Thunder playoff series, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com details. Beverley fell near the younger Scaramucci during the game and immediately got up and started to complain about him to officials. The point guard said that Scaramucci was screaming obscenities and waved a clapper in his face while he was on the ground.

“If the NBA won’t or help protect players in situations with fans, I’m okay with the hazing, I’m okay with the boos, I’m okay with the other fans rooting for their team but I’m not okay with the blatant disrespect,” Beverley said (via ESPN’s Calvin Walkins). “…I’m not comfortable with that.

“So if the NBA won’t protect the players in that manner, I feel the need as a man, as a grown man who has children, who has morals, stand up for the right thing. I have to protect myself and I felt like I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I felt like I addressed him and (said), ‘At the end of the day this is a basketball game this is a game, I’m a grown man, your a grown man, let’s keep it professional.’ Just like that. There’s no need for plant disrespect, and that’s all.”

Rondo was fined for something completely different. He wasn’t able to play in the Bulls’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics, but he was sitting courtside with his team. During the game, Rondo extended his leg and it appeared that he was attempting to trip Jae Crowder. After the game, he said he was not trying to trip anyone.

“When you tear an ACL, your legs get stiff on you every once in a while,” Rondo said (via ESPN’s Nick Friedell). “I stretched my leg out. I also do that throughout the game. I guess he was so deep into our bench, it looked maybe whatever may have happened.

Crowder’s teammate, Gerald Green wouldn’t completely discount Rondo’s excuse.

“He may have had to stretch his leg out. I don’t know,” Green said. “I ain’t no snitch, so I don’t know. That’s not something I grew up being a part of. Where I’m from, they know snitches get stitches. So I don’t know.”

As a reminder, the money which the league generates from fines goes to charities chosen by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. The NBPA has its own foundation and half of the money goes to that charity, while the NBA’s half goes to it NBA Cares community partners. Some of those partners included the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, UNICEF and Share Our Strength, according to Ahiza Garcia of CNN Money.

Injury Impacts Rondo's Future; Chicago's Bench Draw Praise

We learned earlier today that Bulls guard Rajon Rondo will miss the remainder of the first round and perhaps some of the next with a fractured thumb. That bad news complicates how the pending free agent’s summer might unfold, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

Though Rondo is signed through next year for $14MM, the Bulls can part ways with him should they choose to do so by June 30. Half-way through Chicago’s dysfunctional regular season, such a split seemed inevitable. These days, up two games to zero on the No. 1 seed Celtics, that’s not the case.

A strong finish to the regular season, coupled with his impact on the Bulls’ surprising first-round wins over Boston this week, have bumped the oft-maligned veteran’s value to its highest point in seasons.

Rajon Rondo Out Indefinitely With Thumb Fracture

10:47am: Rondo has a cast on his right hand and will be re-evaluated in seven to 10 days, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed today (Twitter link via Nick Friedell of ESPN.com).

Meanwhile, with Rondo out, Grant will start at the point and Carter-Williams will back him up, Hoiberg said (Twitter link via Friedell). Cameron Payne will also be active (Twitter link).

10:04am: Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a hand injury in Game 2 of the team’s series against the Celtics, and Chicago announced today in a press release that he has been diagnosed with a fractured right thumb. While surgery isn’t required at this time, Rondo will be out “indefinitely,” according to the Bulls.

The injury will make things difficult for a Bulls team that has enjoyed a strong showing from “Playoff Rondo” in the first two games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Although Chicago remains the favorite in the series, with a 2-0 lead and two home games on tap, the team will have to find a way to win without Rondo, who was a difference-maker in those first two games. The former Celtic averaged 11.5 PPG, 10.0 APG, 8.5 RPG, and 3.5 SPG in the Bulls’ two victories in Boston.

With Rondo out of the lineup, the Bulls figure to turn to Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams for minutes at the point. Grant has been Rondo’s primary backup in the first two games of the series, while Carter-Williams saw a little playing time in Game 2. Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler will likely assume more of the ball-handling responsibilities in Rondo’s absence as well.

Community Shootaround: Boston’s Comeback Chances

The Bulls shocked the Celtics in Game 1 behind Jimmy Butler‘s 30 point performance. Rebounding was a major issue for coach Brad Stevens‘ squad, as Chicago pulled down 21 more boards than Boston did.

Rajon Rondo stepped up in Game 2, nearly bringing home the 2017 postseason’s first triple-double. The Celtics made just 30.3% of their shots from downtown and they appeared overmatched on the defensive end.

That leads us to tonight’s topic: After watching two games, do you think Boston can win this series?

Only 18 teams have ever comeback from 0-2 to win a 7-game series, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). The Celtics are the only No. 1 seed in history to drop the first two games against a No. 8 seed in a 7-game series. The 1993 Suns went down 0-2 in a 5-game series as a No.1 seed against the Lakers, but they came back to win that series and eventually won the Western Conference.

Can Boston comeback from the 0-2 deficit? If the Celtics come out victorious this round, how far can they go? Take to the comment section below to share your thoughts. We look forward to what you have to say!

An earlier edition of this post incorrectly relayed the number of teams to come back from 0-2 in a 7-game series. Only 18 teams have done so. 

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