How did noted workaholic Tom Thibodeau bide his time during the NBA lockout?
Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer seems to have an answer.
When training camp finally began last week, Brewer said his coach passed out playbooks that had doubled in size from last season. And last year's playbook was roughly the same thickness as the greater Naperville phone book.
"I might take a Twitpic and show you how thick the playbook actually is," Brewer said with a laugh. "It's incredible. I thought he was joking this year, but there really are more plays, more in depth on how he wants us to guard and run the plays. I think that should help us in the long run."
With a year of experience running Thibodeau's system, Brewer has a theoretical advantage over newcomer Richard Hamilton. Brewer and Hamilton figure to share the shooting-guard spot, similar to the way Brewer split time with Keith Bogans last season.
On Monday, after the Bulls practiced at the United Center, Brewer declined to lobby for the starting job.
"It's a team atmosphere," he said. "We're all trying to play for one goal. So if (Hamilton's) having a great game, he should be out there playing. If I'm having a good game, I should be out there playing. At the end of the day, in practice we're going to be pushing each other."
Hamilton played in Detroit for seven seasons before he ever came off the bench in a game, so he's a logical choice to start. Thibodeau refused to say whether Hamilton will start or even play when the Bulls host Indiana on Tuesday for their second preseason game.
Brewer may have been the Bulls' most valuable defensive player last season, but he's hoping to improve on his 6.2 scoring average.
"If Thibs wants me to start, I think I've done enough work in the off-season to be able to help the team," he said. "I didn't want to be a guy who was hindering the team offensively if I can't knock down the shots.
"If he wants me to start, I've been playing really well with the starters and fit in well with them. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses.
"But I can say the same thing with the guys on the second team, the Bench Mob. I've played with those guys all last year and we had tremendous success. So maybe Thibs might not want to mess up the chemistry we had last year. Whatever he decides, I'm going to be ready for whatever role I take on this year."
The practice experience has to be different for Brewer this year. Instead of guarding Bogans, who didn't take many shots, he's asked to chase Hamilton, who might run a quarter mile through various screens on every possession.
Brewer said the reality is he guards a number of different players during practice scrimmages. He has played small forward in practice with Hamilton at two guard, and says Thibodeau has even used a lineup with him, Hamilton and Luol Deng on the floor together.
"The sets we put in for Kyle (Korver) so he can get open and get the ball; Rip is a mirror image on how he moves without the basketball," Brewer said. "He's one of the best in the game."
Another advantage for Brewer this year is he's completely healthy. Last summer he was coming off a partially torn hamstring when he joined the Bulls as a free agent.
"He's got great instincts, great feel," Thibodeau said of Brewer. "He's very good moving at without the ball, slashing and cutting from the weak side and things like that."