If Friday was another example of Bulls dysfunction, Saturday was a chance to begin healing.
There was a sign of that in practice. Dwyane Wade, who joined Jimmy Butler in criticizing the team’s younger players Wednesday, made a rare appearance after his presence was requested.
“Young guys just want a little bit more from him,” veteran Taj Gibson said. “He brung it [Saturday]. He pushed the young guys. And that’s a sign that that meeting did a little something. It’s all about positive.”
That meeting was Friday morning, after the Bulls had made national headlines Wednesday, when Wade and Butler vented about the work ethic of the younger players and questioned how much they care about winning,
Youngsters Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant and Bobby Portis found that assessment more hurtful than helpful. So did veteran Rajon Rondo, who blasted Butler and Wade on Instagram for their leadership skills.
Butler, Rondo and Wade were fined, and Butler and Wade were benched for the start of the game against the Heat, which the Bulls lost 100-88.
But perhaps Wade taking part in practice was a sign of progress.
“Everybody will go through something like we’ve gone through these last 48 hours,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It happens over the course of a season that’s long and when guys are around each other as much as we are. Sometimes it lingers on and on and on and guys don’t talk about it and it takes awhile to get out of it. We tried to take the approach of trying to go in there and get everything off our chest and move forward. I think we accomplished that.”
One of the stands Rondo took in his Instagram post was that veteran players should practice and play all the time. Wade hadn’t really practiced since December, and he was defiant in his response about it Friday.
“I could take that as a personal attack, but what’s that going to do for me?’’ Wade said. “Come in and fight Rajon because he said his vets practiced every day? I’m 35. I’m not practicing every day.’’
Carter-Williams said he just wanted a better understanding of the situation.
“The real problem was we just wanted more criteria,” he said. “We know that Jimmy and Dwyane weren’t trying to stab us in the back or anything like that. Just the way it came out was different. It was talked about, and we understand where they were coming from and what they meant by it, but I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. They said some things out of frustration and we move on from it.”
The Bulls (23-25) are entering a critical stretch with a six-game road trip starting Wednesday and a tenuous hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
“I think it’s definitely a big challenge ahead for us,” Carter-Williams said. “We can go two ways: We can come together, or we can spread apart as a team and lose focus.’’
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