Butler the full-time point guard? The staff discussions continue

SHARE Butler the full-time point guard? The staff discussions continue

The discussions continue.

They’ve been taking place more frequently right after recent Bulls games.

Fred Hoiberg gathers his assistant coaches, and they consider whether they should make Jimmy Butler the full-time point guard.

“We have talked a lot about that as a staff, and we’re putting the ball in Jimmy’s hands a lot,’’ Hoiberg said. “In the fourth quarter, he’s pretty much the guy who has the ball in his hands, bringing the ball down and initiating the offense. He’s also doing it in the first half, especially with that first unit. With the lineup change with Jerian [Grant] on the floor, Jimmy has handled a lot of that ballhandling responsibility.’’

But, technically, he’s still not the full-time point guard, and there are reasons for the hesitancy.

First, Rajon Rondo  is the best pure point guard on the team. The problem is, Rondo is not the best pure point guard for that starting unit. Butler and Dwyane Wade are ball-dominant players, and big men Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez are more physical than athletic.

So even after a great game Sunday against the 76ers (eight points, five rebounds, 10 assists and a plus-14 rating in only 21 minutes), Rondo is not leaving that second unit.

Coincidentally, Grant, who was named the starting point guard last week, had no assists and was a minus-8 in the 121-108 victory against the 76ers.

“Rondo has done a great job of really accepting the role,’’ Hoiberg said. “He’s really taken pride in that role, being a leader of that second group. Nikola [Mirotic], Doug [McDermott] and Paul [Zipser] have all benefitted greatly from playing with him, and our pace just picks up when Rajon is in the game.

“He has been a really positive influence on that group.’’

And if Butler ever becomes the full-time point guard, the Bulls would have to come up with another fifth starter.

Michael Carter-Williams usurped Rondo’s starting role at the end of December, mostly because of the defense he could provide on the perimeter alongside Butler. Then the Bulls realized how inconsistent Carter-Williams’ outside shot was, and they moved on to Grant.

Now Grant is struggling from the outside.

Ideally, Butler would move over to the point, and McDermott would slide into the starting lineup, providing the Bulls with their best outside threat to work with that starting group.

The problem with that lineup, however, is that Butler already is covering for Wade’s defensive issues, so the last thing Hoiberg needs is for Butler to have to cope with two below-average defensive players in Wade and McDermott.

That’s the big problem with this team: too many players with only one skill. It’s no wonder Hoiberg is still tinkering with lineups 49 games into the season.

For now, he said he’d stick with Grant, and that means Butler will wait patiently.

“Hell, yeah, I’ll do it,’’ Butler said last week about being the full-time point guard. “That’s not saying I am [a point guard], but if that’s what my team and my coach need me to do, I definitely think I can handle it.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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