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NBA PM: Thibodeau Preps For New Challenge
Posted By Yannis Koutroupis On September 24, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
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Thibodeau Preps For New Challenge
For Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, last season was all about survival. On paper the team’s potential took a major hit with Derrick Rose out due to a torn ACL, but Thibodeau’s proud and resilient squad still managed to win 45 games and a first round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.
Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that the Bulls are set to improve a great deal now that their leader and star player is set to make his return to the lineup after a year away from the game. However, Thibodeau isn’t making the mistake of thinking that Rose’s return will solve all of the team’s issues and automatically make them the best team in the Eastern Conference.
“We have to be ready for a new and different challenge,” Thibodeau said to HOOPSWORLD in July. “When you look at Miami repeating, everyone is still chasing them. Everyone tends to overlook Indiana, you can’t do that. And you have Brooklyn and New York and when you look at our division, I think Cleveland got a lot better, Detroit has gotten a lot better. You have to be ready. You have to be ready for everybody. Teams like Charlotte have really improved, everyone in the East for that matter. We’re looking forward to the challenge.
“We hope to be a championship-caliber team and it has to go beyond the hope. You have to put the work into it. If you ask all 30 teams they’d all say the same thing and then it’s the teams that are willing to make the commitment to do all the things that are necessary to be a championship-caliber team, those are the teams that get there. We want to be in a position to do that.”
While a torn ACL isn’t as devastating of an injury as it was 10 years ago due to the advances in medical technology, Thibodeau cautions of an adjustment period for Rose.
“He’s put in a lot of work to his body, gotten a lot stronger,” Thibodeau said. “But he’s going to go through an adjustment period. When you’re out for a year and a half, it takes some time. But he feels completely healthy and he’s ready to go.”
After watching his team advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals without him and put forth a valiant effort against the eventual champions the Miami HEAT, Rose shouldn’t have to feel like he has to go out there and carry the same load he did prior to the injury – especially right out of the gate.
“The byproduct of Derrick being out was that other guys had an opportunity to grow,” Thibodeau said. “We saw the emergence of Jimmy Butler. I thought that was a big plus for us. I thought Kirk Hinrich had a terrific year overall. He was 38-22 for us as a starter. I think that’s what we took away from it. Of course, leading into this coming season I think we gained some confidence, but it starts all over and we have to put in the work to preparing for this season.”
Statistically the Bulls have gotten 21 points, 3.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists from Rose on average throughout his four-year career. We’re going to have to wait and see whether he can recapture that level of play or even exceed it, but the Bulls are certain to get a boost from Rose that the statistics don’t show.
“I’ve always had a saying: ‘If you can’t coach your best player, you can’t coach your team,’” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “[Rose is] the leader of our team in so many ways. It’s not just his ability, it’s what he brings to practice every day, what he brings to the locker room, the relationships he builds with his teammates and the trust level he has in his teammates and his teammates have in him. He really is the whole package. People talk all the time about his work ethic and what a great guy he is; it can’t be overstated. As good of a player as he is, he’s an even better person. Those intangibles are important to us.”
Rose’s comeback is slated to officially begin on October 5 when the Bulls open up the preseason against the Indiana Pacers on the road.
Kings Making Right Move With Cousins
The Sacramento Kings and center DeMarcus Cousins are closing in on a contract extension, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
The two sides have until October 31 to come to an agreement, otherwise Cousins will become a restricted free agent at season’s end – as long as the Kings issue a qualifying offer to ensure they have the right to match any offer he receives.
Fellow 2010 draft picks John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks have already received contract extensions and Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George is close to joining that list as well with a max deal of his own.
Stein reports that Cousins’ camp is willing to accept around $80 million, which is just shy of the $90 million max over five years that Wall received and George is on pace to get.
Cousins’ tenure with the Kings has been anything but smooth sailing. He’s difficult to deal with at times, to say the least, and many wanted to see how he acts with new ownership, management and coaches in place before committing any kind of major money to him.
However, the fact of the matter is that there are few big men in the league as talented as Cousins. He could potentially develop into the best big man in the league; he’s that talented. When you are the Kings and you have a player of that caliber, you hold onto him despite his faults and pay him what any other team would happily pay him. If the 23-year-old just replicates the 16.3 points and 9.8 rebounds he averaged last season, there would be a line of teams willing to give him a max deal next offseason.
The Kings, who have missed the playoffs for seven straight years, are fortunate to have Cousins. His past does give reason to be hesitant over extending him, but there is the chance that the extension brings out the best in Cousins.
First and foremost, everyone wants to be taken care of financially. The extension sets Cousins up for life; having that kind of security and never having to worry about money again is important. It also shows Cousins how much the organization believes in him. That extension makes him the face of the franchise and their leader. Say what you may about Cousins, he’s a competitor who disdains losing. He’s not going to think his job is done just because he got a big contract. He’s going to want to earn that money and prove to everyone that he’s deserving of being mentioned as one of the best centers in the league.
The Kings saw this offseason just how tough signing a top-tier free agent can be. They put over $50 million on the table for Andre Iguodala just to get a maybe from the veteran small forward. New ownership and management have a long ways to go before the Kings become a desirable destination. They have the opportunity to lock up one of the league’s most talented big men for five years; if Cousins was playing elsewhere, the chances of him considering signing with Sacramento would be remote. He has his faults, but when you look at where the Kings would be if he left in free agency and what he can do on the court, it makes looking past those faults quite easy.
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