NEW YORK — Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Monday that he already has had exit meetings with players over the last few days and that his request of each of them is simple: Get together and work this summer.
“It’s important,” Hoiberg said. “It’s going to be a very important offseason for us to get a lot accomplished and kind of get a leg up heading into training camp. We’ve had a couple meetings with players so far, I’ll do more [Tuesday] and we’ll do the rest of them on Thursday after the last game against Detroit. The meetings have gone very good so far, and I think everybody understands the importance of spending time together.”
That’s especially true of his three core players — forward Lauri Markkanen and guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn — who played a total of just 12 games together this season.
Dunn already has said he’ll work with his teammates in the offseason. Markkanen is still looking to finalize his international schedule but seems open to it. LaVine not only wants to meet up with his teammates in Chicago but says he hopes to get them out to Los Angeles for some extra work and bonding time.
“We’ll get the last three weeks [before camp starts], for sure, of everybody together,” Hoiberg said. “And then over the course of the summer, whether guys do go out to L.A. for a stretch, or obviously they’ll be spending a lot of time together in Chicago, just to have that very important time together, just to build that chemistry and to get reps as a team, which we didn’t get many of, obviously, because of the [knee] rehab that was going on with Zach [for much of the season], so it is important.
“There are times where it will work to get everybody back into town, and again, the way the league is going now, there are a lot of guys that spend a lot of time in L.A., and you get really good runs out there because of the quality of players, a lot of All-Stars going up and down. So I think it is good at some point for our guys to spend time in that type of environment as well. [It’s helpful] to get a little bit of both, and not have the monotony of being in the same place for the entire summer.”
Healing at the proper pace
Second-year guard/forward Denzel Valentine, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last week, plans to start up basketball activity in “a few weeks,” but admittedly won’t rush back like he did last offseason after ankle surgery.
“The same thing as last summer, but I’m not going to have to worry about Summer League,” Valentine said. “After my surgery last year, I kind of rushed it a little bit. This summer, [I’ll] just take my time, get as healthy as I can get, get better so I can hit the season running next year.”