MINNEAPOLIS — The starting lineup situation for the Bulls was described as “fluid’’ by coach Fred Hoiberg on Saturday.
Expect it to stay that way for the rest of the regular season.
Hoiberg went with the all-audition team, starting the three “building blocks’’ in Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine and again trotting out Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba. That meant not only were Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez on the bench, but they were inactive.
That two veterans were healthy, able to produce at a high level and in street clothes, yet didn’t point a finger or make a scene is pretty amazing.
Hoiberg acknowledged that.
“It says everything about those two guys,’’ Hoiberg said. “And they’ve been that way going back to August. We had young guys filtering into Chicago and pretty much the whole month of September, Those [veterans] right from the beginning took great leadership roles, took pride in it and really accepted those roles that they had not had before in the league. They’ve been great. They understand. They’re supportive.
“Robin was great talking coverages on the bench the other night. Justin did the same thing when guys came off the floor. They’re about the team. When you look at this thing, those two have an opportunity to be part of the future. The other guys are getting opportunities right now. And that’s a big part of this, to see who fits with this team long-term.’’
Hoiberg would not rule out their return to the starting unit, but the team remains committed to looking at different lineup combinations with some of the younger players before that happens.
Déjà vu nightmares
Taj Gibson knows bad injuries to teammates.
The former Bull watched Derrick Rose have his career derailed when his knees betrayed him, and he watched Joakim Noah slowly succumb to injury problems.
He offered this advice to Jimmy Butler one day after he saw him crumple to the court with a meniscus injury in his right knee.
“He thrives in adversity,’’ Gibson said. “If he has a chance to come back and play, he’ll play. As a friend first, I want him to be 110 percent ready. Over the years, I’ve seen guys rush back and those things hurt a player’s career. You might be OK the first couple games. But as it goes on the next couple years, your progress kind of slows down. I want him to be safe and do it the right way.’’
Hoiberg began his coaching career at Iowa State. While he didn’t want to get too deep into the microscope of corruption taking place in college ball, he was asked if college players should be paid.
“I have mixed feelings about it,” Hoiberg said. “If I was playing, I’d sure like to get paid. But I also understand the other argument, as well.’’
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