Aaron Brooks

Jimmy Butler: “I’m a point guard”


Since signing a five-year, $94 million extension with the Bulls in July, Jimmy Butler has made a lot of noise about being the leader of the team. He certainly assumed that mantle last year, when he made his first career All-Star appearance and won Most Improved Player while Derrick Rose battled another round of knee injuries and inconsistent play. But now, with both of the Bulls’ backcourt stars expected to be healthy at the start of training camp, there’s been a lot of attention on their relationship, and how they can play together. There’s been talk of tension, which Butler dismisses, even as he dropped a surprising observation about his own role at Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas: he sees himself as a point guard.

From Bulls.com’s Sam Smith:

But sometimes there’s also internal change, which is what the best ones do in the summer. They add to their game, a shot, a move. Their games become the players you didn’t add. We saw it with Michael Jordan and that baseline jumper, Magic Johnson with his outside shot. They’re the same; until they are not. Rose and Noah reportedly have had healthy summers, and Butler continues to work on his own secret weapon.

“First off, I think I am a point guard,” Butler said without joking. “So I’ve done a heck of a lot of ball screen work, ball handling, getting into the paint and still handling, floaters, all that stuff point guards do. If I get a chance, high pick and roll more. I want some triple doubles. I’ve got to get my handle right so I can pass and get it to guys where they can make shots. I told Fred. You ask what position I play, I say point guard.”

It sounds like a joke for the guy who was supposed to be a small forward replacement for Luol Deng. But having another guard who can handle the ball and allow Rose to play off the ball with Butler’s defensive prowess provides a potentially exceptional and previously unknown element to the Bulls arsenal.

At first glance, that seems like a shot at Rose, who when healthy is the Bulls’ starting point guard. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. If Butler emerges as a capable primary ballhandler, that’s just another dimension to the Bulls’ offense, which already looks to be more dynamic under new coach Fred Hoiberg than it was under Tom Thibodeau. In the past, Rose has played well with another point guard in the lineup. In 481 minutes together, lineups featuring Rose and Kirk Hinrich outscored opponents by 3.5 points per 100 possessions. In 191 minutes together last season, lineups featuring Rose and Aaron Brooks outscored opponents by 16.8 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. Considering Butler is a significantly better player than both Brooks and Hinrich at both ends of the floor, putting him in a ballhandling role and allowing Rose to play off the ball has the chance to be an effective option for Chicago.

A lot of people want to make the tension between Rose and Butler out to be something that could tear the team apart, but all indications are that the two stars actually play well together, and under a coach as offensively creative as Hoiberg, there’s no reason to believe that will change.

Report: Aaron Brooks reaches one-year deal to remain with Bulls


He was a guy Tom Thibodeau trusted, now he’s going to have to earn the confidence of Fred Hoiberg.

He’ll get the chance because Aaron Brooks will be back with the Chicago Bulls, something first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN and now confirmed by Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

Brooks averaged 11.6 points and 3.2 assists in playing all 82 games for the Bulls last season, starting 21 games due to various injury absences. Brooks made the veteran’s minimum last season but he’ll earn more than that in 2015-16.

There was speculation the Bulls would go for a bigger guard who could possess the ability to play both guard spots as opposed to just one, but when the market dried up after a few targets signed above-average deals, it didn’t leave the luxury-tax paying Bulls with many options, and a return engagement with Brooks was an easy choice.

This gives the Bulls essentially the same backcourt as last season, with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler (who re-signed with the team) as the starters and Brooks with Kirk Hinrich and Tony Snell behind them.

Overall the Bulls roster is largely the same as last year, they are simply counting on health and a more modern offense under Hoiberg to make them more serious challengers to Chicago.

Here’s why Taj Gibson deserved to be ejected from Game 5 (VIDEO)


Early in the fourth quarter of Cleveland’s Game 5 win over the Bulls, Taj Gibson was ejected for what the referees viewed as a kick to Matthew Dellavedova, who was on the ground after being pushed there by Gibson during a box-out situation.

While many believe that Gibson’s “kick” only happened because of the leg lock that Dellavedova had on him, the actions by Gibson earlier in the possession, when looking at the totality of the play, did in fact warrant the ejection.

Gibson is overly-physical with Dellavedova twice on the perimeter, as he attempts to screen for Aaron Brooks. He gets Dellavedova with an arm around the neck …


and then throws his shoulder forward to catch Dellavedova in the face …


before shoving Dellavedova in the back …


which caused him to hit the floor before the leg lock and kick ever took place.

Here’s a look at the entire possession.

The referees easily could have called Gibson for the foul on the screen, because he clearly launches his shoulder forward for maximum impact. Had this happened, there obviously wouldn’t have been any incident between the two players under the basket.

Now, should Gibson have been ejected simply for shaking his leg loose from Dellavedova’s grasp, no matter how bad it looked initially? Of course not. But given the way Gibson caused the altercation by his actions very early in the possession, I believe the ejection was warranted — although I don’t feel like Gibson is deserving of any additional punishment in the form of a fine or suspension.

[Photos via Tom Read]

Bulls overcome ugly start to take 2-0 series lead over Bucks


CHICAGO — This is more like what we thought this series would look like. Tough, physical, low-scoring. It was the kind of game the Bucks needed it to be in order to have a shot, and for a while, it looked like they might pull it out. But a scoring explosion from Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter helped Chicago put the game away 91-82 and take a 2-0 series lead.

The physicality was evident in the second quarter, when a collision between Aaron Brooks and John Henson led to a skirmish at midcourt with four players receiving technicals. Then, in the fourth quarter, another altercation occurred between Zaza Pachulia and Nikola Mirotic, with Pachulia being tossed.

“This is the playoffs,” said Bucks coach Jason Kidd. “It’s going to be physical. Both teams are competing to win.”

“It’s an emotional game,” added Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “I want us to play with a lot of toughness. But I also want us to play smart. So where do you stop? You stop right before it becomes physical. I don’t want anyone thrown out. I don’t want any of that stuff. But I don’t want to take our emotion away from us, either.”

There was plenty of emotion on both sides on Monday. There was also plenty of ugliness. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field, and the Bucks led the Bulls 16-11 after the first quarter. Derrick Rose, fresh off an outstanding performance in Game 1, started the game 0-for-7 in the first half before waking up in the second half.

Mirotic suffered a left knee leg in the collision with Pachulia. He was officially diagnosed with a quad strain and he will be reevaluated in the morning.

Regardless, the Bulls don’t hold the added physicality of this game against the Bucks, or feel that they crossed any lines.

“We’ve got to let it go,” Butler said. “That’s what we expect. They try to get in your head. That’s playoff basketball.”

Skirmish breaks out at midcourt in Bulls-Bucks game, four players get technical fouls (VIDEO)


CHICAGO — After an absolutely brutal first quarter that ended with the Bucks leading the Bulls 16-11 (yes, 16-11 after an entire quarter), things started to get interesting in the second quarter.

First, John Henson collided with Aaron Brooks, knocking him to the floor. Then, when Joakim Noah rushed to his teammate’s defense, more players got involved:

Brooks picked up a common foul and Henson, Noah, Jimmy Butler and O.J. Mayo all received offsetting technicals. More importantly, this finally started to feel like a playoff game.