Bulls coach Billy Donovan still searching for a solid starting group
It might have been the 28th regular-season game for the Bulls on Friday, but everything remains on the table for a coaching staff that continues to tinker with different groupings to gauge the chemistry.
Coach Billy Donovan made it clear Friday that everything was still on the table.
Considering the Bulls’ underachieving start this season, everything should be.
Donovan made a change to the starting lineup a few weeks ago, but he might slowly be walking that change back.
After the embarrassment in Phoenix on Nov. 30, Donovan pulled Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu from the starting lineup, replacing them with Javonte Green and Alex Caruso, respectively. Because of a knee injury to Green, that starting lineup only received a one-game look.
Donovan insisted that once Green was back up and running, he would start. As of Friday, however, he hasn’t.
Green again came off the bench for Williams and seemingly will until further notice.
“This is a unique situation, playing the same team [the Knicks] with a day in between, but I think we have to keep evaluating and looking at that [starting lineup],’’ Donovan said. “I think Javonte has done a good job for us, and I also think Pat’s done a good job. Plus, it’s about the combination of players and who we’re mixing and matching. It’s something we’ll continue to look at.’’
Williams has gone up against a very physical Julius Randle, so it could simply be matchup-based, but he also has started playing better offensively with that first unit, scoring seven points in his first-quarter stint.
Either way, what has become obvious the last few weeks is Williams’ continued growth in defending the opposing team’s best player.
“I think it always helps you defensively the more familiar you are with different teams and different personnel,’’ Donovan said. “He’s light-years ahead of where he was as a rookie, just because he was coming in and having to guard a lot of these guys not knowing much about them. He’s been very solid and reliable for us.’’
Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has always been adamant about Derrick Rose having his No. 1 jersey hanging in the rafters of the United Center someday.
Coaching Rose with the Timberwolves and now the Knicks, Thibodeau hasn’t changed his stance.
Rose was asked about it before the game Friday.
“Of course, I’ve thought about it, but only from people asking me about it,’’ Rose told reporters. “Yeah, for me it wouldn’t be a big problem, but for my family members to see that and the people that have supported me all these years to be part of it, that would be cool. I know the love I’ve received, no matter if it’s here or somewhere else; that’s all I need.’’
Unfortunately, neither Rose nor Thibodeau will have a vote on that. Rose knows who will.
“It’s up to Jerry [Reinsdorf] and the franchise to make that decision,’’ he said.
Turnovers remain an issue for the Bulls, especially considering they were very careful with the basketball last year, finishing fifth in that category at 12.1 per game. Entering Friday’s game, they were 14th with 14 turnovers per game — and way too many careless ones.
Veteran DeMar DeRozan offered up a solution.
“We’ve got to find that calm when we go out and play,’’ DeRozan said. “We have to play as the intelligent ones.
‘‘It’s all about being aware. We get caught up trying to do the right thing too fast, and we get caught up in that. We fight to find that rhythm.’’