Michael Carter-Williams hoping Bulls are the right landing spot
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Tony Snell was in a tough spot at the start of his NBA career.
With the 20th pick in the 2013 draft, then-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wanted a defender and glass protector. He was eyeing Gorgui Dieng, who coincidentally went with the next pick.
But the Bulls selected swingman Snell, one year after giving Thibodeau the disaster that was point guard Marquis Teague.
It was another sign of the disconnect between the coach and the front office.
Though Snell had more staying power than Teague, his trade to the Bucks on Saturday night showed the Bulls have had more misses than hits lately with personnel decisions.
A source confirmed that Snell would join the Bucks by Monday and the Bulls would receive point guard Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th pick in 2013.
Basically, one team’s bad decision for another’s.
The Bucks were left with no choice. The injury to Khris Middleton (torn hamstring) just before camp started was a huge blow to their perimeter game, so they needed a shooter with some length. Snell is only a career 35 percent shooter from long range, but he impressed the Bucks last season by averaging 12.5 points against them in two meetings.
Carter-Williams has declined steadily, going from NBA Rookie of the Year with the 76ers to a bench player with the Bucks.
So how does he fit with the Bulls? He doesn’t give them the outside shooting they crave. He’s a career 25.5 percent shooter from three-point range. What he gives coach Fred Hoiberg is on-the-ball defense off the bench, as well as a point guard who can play with pace.
The trade ends the competition for the backup point guard spot among Spencer Dinwiddie, Jerian Grant and Denzel Valentine.
The good news for the Bulls, and more specifically Carter-Williams, is that he no longer will have the spotlight on him in his quest to reach a ceiling that has been unreachable. And he finally will have a strong veteran point guard to teach him.
New Bull Rajon Rondo has made it a point to be a mentor for the younger players, even travelling to Las Vegas for the Summer League to sit on the bench during games and play tutor.
Rondo’s reputation took a hit in Dallas and Sacramento, but Hoiberg hasn’t seen any of the baggage that supposedly travelled closely with the point guard.
“He’s bought in to what we’re trying to do,’’ Hoiberg said. “He wanted to come in and watch film, we worked a lot with his shot early in the process and he was around our guys, and from the very first moment you could tell guys were going to gravitate toward him because of his voice, veteran presence. Like all players you learn a lot from the different situations you have been through. I’m sure that’s the case with Rajon.
“That’s how I’m judging it and how I’m going to base it, how our relationship is. I took some transfer kids when I was [coaching Iowa State] who didn’t have the best reputations. And the minute you stepped onto the campus, you talked about how it was going to be, how important it is to develop a relationship with them. That’s how I’ve always approached it.’’