Michael Carter-Williams is scheduled to return from a left knee injury any day now.
That’s good news for the fourth-year player after he sat out the last three games, but Carter-Williams also doesn’t fully understand what he’s returning to.
“A little confused,’’ Carter-Williams told the Sun-Times on -Thursday when discussing the makeup of the roster.
Carter-Williams, 25, is one of five point guards being carried by the Bulls. Joining him are Jerian Grant, Isaiah Canaan, Rajon Rondo and newly acquired Cameron Payne. The starting job has been a rental all season long, rather than a permanent residency. Coach Fred Hoiberg went with Rondo to start the year, then Carter-Williams, and now Grant.
While Carter-Williams likes that he can still come back from the setback of the knee injury to an open competition, he would welcome some more clarity from Hoiberg on why he lost the spot to Grant, as well as what he needs to do to get it back.
“It’s tough,’’ Carter-Williams said. “I’m not going to lie. Some days you just wish Coach would come out and say, ‘Listen, you’ve got to do this. This person has to do this.’ Some days I’m thankful that the spot is still open so that I can compete for it and get it.
“It’s something we’re all working through, so I’m not alone. It’s hard to put words to it. Takes a lot of patience. We have no choice but to ride it out. I’m not playing so I’ve got to be patient and hopefully wait my turn.’’
According to Carter-Williams, the point guards talk about the situation almost every day. The addition of Payne in the trade with the Thunder added to the logjam.
“It’s only natural that we all talk about it,’’ Carter-Williams said. “Like I said, confusing.
“I mean probably every day we think we should have that starting position. But it’s more about competing in a competitive nature and environment than hate or anything like that. We all work out together, so we all know what we’re going through.’’
Hoiberg doesn’t have to explain his decision-making to any player. To the media Hoiberg has made it sound like an open competition with no favorite heading down the stretch.
“It’s hard because you have five guys who have shown they’re capable of giving you quality -minutes,’’ Hoiberg said. “We’ll have to get things figured out these last [21 games] and try to get the best combinations out there.’’
The wild card is Payne.
He obviously is not up to speed with the offense yet. Knowing Gar Forman, it’s easy to deduce that the general manager would like to see Payne start before the year is done to justify the trade.
Hoiberg said there is no mandate from his bosses for Payne to start, and Payne seems willing to play the waiting game.
“Whenever my name is called I just play the game,’’ Payne said. “It’s tough, but it’s all good. I’m just that type of guy.
“I believe in putting the people on the floor that will help us win. If we’re winning and I’m not playing it’s fine. If we’re winning and I’m playing, it’s fine.’’
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