Is Nikola Mirotic pushing Taj Gibson out of a starting job?

SHARE Is Nikola Mirotic pushing Taj Gibson out of a starting job?

It’s too early for Fred Hoiberg to start showing his hand.

Then again, the last time the Bulls coach tinkered with a major change to his lineup – moving Joakim Noah from a starter to a reserve – it didn’t exactly go very well.

There was a back and forth between Noah and Hoiberg on whose idea it was to make the switch late last preseason, and the entire ordeal never really sat well with Noah.

So with whispers that Nikola Mirotic is penciled in ahead of Taj Gibson as the starting four so that the “three alphas’’ will have a drive-and-kick option, well, Hoiberg seems to be sitting in that gray area for as long as he possibly can.

“Not necessarily,’’ Hoiberg said, when asked if Mirotic’s outside shooting gives him an advantage over Gibson. “It’s an open competition. That’s the thing I’m most excited about.’’

Through the first few days of practice that has meant running Gibson – who was a starter last season – with the first team, but also playing Mirotic and second-year big man Bobby Portis with the ones as well.

Once preseason games begin next week, there’s a good chance that Hoiberg will take turns starting Mirotic and Gibson, trying to get a feel of what works best.

“We’re going to play a lot of different competitions in this preseason,’’ Hoiberg said. “Not only in practice but we’ll have seven opportunities in these preseason games to see who fits best with who and then plan the rotations accordingly.

“It’s going to be ongoing and we’ll see who wins that spot.’’

As far as what the rest of the starting lineup will look like, it’s actually a no-brainer. Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade will make up the backcourt, while Jimmy Butler will occupy the three. Robin Lopez will be the starting center, but just don’t tell Hoiberg that.

“Again, it’s open right now,’’ Hoiberg said when asked if Lopez was locked into that middle spot. “But Robin is another guy who has been really, really impressive since he’s been here. His ability to seal in transition, he has great strength. He can pass. He’s always going to defend. And the great thing about Robin is he’s not going to play outside of who he is. He’s going to know what his role is and he’s going to play it.’’

From Chicago …

Derrick Rose wasn’t the only Chicago-born player to be introduced at home games with the lead in, “From Chicago … ”

Wade said on Wednesday that he did it for a season while he was with Miami, but planned to go back to it this season in his return to his hometown.

“Just, ‘From Chicago,’ something like that,’’ Wade said, when asked if he had his intro at the United Center figured out yet. “I thought about the whole Marquette University thing. It’d be cool to have two guys coming out from Marquette University [Butler also went to Marquette], but I think coming back to the city, to say I’m from Chicago will be good for me.

“I did it so many different ways in Miami, I’ve heard it every way. I did it from Robbins one year. I did it from Marquette. I did it from Chicago. I know what they sound like.’’

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