Justin Holiday knows drama, so a simple rebuild should come easy
Justin Holiday knows organizational chaos.
The well-traveled guard spent the 2015-16 season in Chicago, the first season after Tom Thibodeau was shoved out the door. Then he was traded to the Knicks in the Derrick Rose deal. He got a full bite of the soap opera in the “Big Apple’’ this past season.
So returning to the rebuilding Bulls might be the calmest situation Holiday has been in for quite some time.
“The funny thing is, I’ve struggled my whole career to get to where I am, so that’s something I can handle very well,’’ Holiday, who finalized a two-year, $9 million deal, said Tuesday. “It’s going to be a learning process for everyone. Everyone assumes it’s going to be very tough for us. How you get through the tough times, that makes you grow into the player and people we’re supposed to become.
“It’s not the good times that mold you. It’s the times you struggle and how you deal with it and how you face that.’’
In his first stint with the Bulls — which was also Fred Hoiberg’s rookie season as coach — Holiday played in 27 games and started four. He averaged 18.9 minutes and 6.5 points per game to at least make himself a favorable asset in the Rose trade.
He played in all 82 games last season with the Knicks, averaging 20 minutes per game and a career-best 7.7 points.
The Bulls hope he can be versatile enough to play shooting guard and small forward, as well as get up and down the floor. More importantly, he has a temperament that will help keep the locker room upbeat in what could be a trying season.
Then again, it doesn’t get much more trying than what the Knicks went through the last 12 months.
“On the inside, it wasn’t as chaotic as it seemed,’’ Holiday said of last season. “Especially between us teammates, the players in the locker room, we all enjoyed one another. We just had a tough year. Yeah, there was a lot of stuff outside watching the media and things, especially with what Melo [Carmelo Anthony] had to deal with. But for the most part with the team and how we all saw each other, we had no problems with one another.
“I did enjoy my time with them, being able to battle even though we didn’t do as well as we wanted to.’’
Holiday also enjoyed his first go-around with the Bulls, too. He downplayed the rumors that former Bull Jimmy Butler lacked leadership, especially with the young guys.
“Personally, the thing I liked about Jimmy as far as young guys is he pushed them,’’ Holiday said. “Regardless of who you were, how young or how old, he attacked you like it was the next person. It didn’t matter who it was. I liked the grit and fire that he brought and the leadership in that way.
“I understand everybody leads differently and some people take certain type of leadership different than others. But I personally liked how he was in the time that I was here.’’
NOTES: Antonio Blakeney had 23 points and Lauri Markkanen 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Bulls (1-2) beat the Wizards 82-73 in Summer League play in Las Vegas.
• Cameron Payne became the second Bulls player to leave Las Vegas because of “family reasons,’’ one day after Kris Dunn left for the same reason. Neither will return to Summer League play.
Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.