LOS ANGELES – Doc Rivers knows a little something about Marquette players.
The Clippers coach played there from 1980-83, so had no problem speaking about the make-up of players that attend the college and how it translates into the NBA.
Specifically, how a player like Jimmy Butler was selected with the last pick of the first round out of Marquette, and has ascended into being the face of the Bulls franchise moving forward.
“It starts with Doc,’’ Rivers first kidded, when the topic came up on Sunday. “No, you know what I think is you don’t get the McDonald’s guys a lot. You get those guys who could’ve been, and nobody saw. And then by the end of their college career, they are the McDonald’s guys, the Dwyane Wades, the [Jae] Crowders. Those guys are mad that these guys were McDonald’s ahead of them. I really believe that’s part of it.
“They get to Marquette and that group they all play the same. They’re tough, they’re gritty, they’re drivers. They’re winners. You gotta give the coaches some credit.’’
Rivers went onto acknowledge that Butler has reached superstar status throughout the league, and said he’s used the mental part of the game to obtain that.
“I think just his smarts have improved,’’ Rivers said. “He’s got the Dwyane Wade pump fake going now. He gets someone every game on it. He gets a back-cut a game and gets buckets that way. So he’s not just scoring on raw ability and athleticism. He’s scoring with his brain. And to me that’s the step that superstars take.’’
No talk necessary
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg knows that trade rumors have been out there, circulating around his team, but one day after insisting that all was quiet on the trade front, he also didn’t feel the need to discuss it with his players.
“I think the thing with this team is we’ve got so many veterans with this group,’’ Hoiberg said. “They understand this business, they understand all the rumors that are being thrown out there, especially in today’s social-media age.
“There’s so many things again that are started by 14-year-old kids that somebody picks up and throws out there to see if it sticks. Our guys know that, they get that.’’
The Dunleavy plan
If Mike Dunleavy (back surgery) can make it back from practicing with the Santa Cruz D-League team without any setbacks on Thursday, the forward wasn’t ruling out playing Friday in Denver.
As far as how they will ease him back in, Hoiberg said nothing was etched in stone yet.
“I know Mike is always a guy that’s going to keep himself in great shape, great condition,’’ Hoiberg said. “So we’ll obviously be careful with it. We won’t play him a lot early on in the process. I think it would be great if we could get him out there before the All-Star Break a little bit, but these next two days will determine a lot of that.’’