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updated: 10/19/2012 1:50 PM

Bulls' Radmanovic ready to contribute

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  • Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters goes against Bulls forward Vladimir Radmanovic during preseason action.

      Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters goes against Bulls forward Vladimir Radmanovic during preseason action.
    Associated Press

 
 

Replacing Brian Scalabrine is a tough task for anyone.

For Vladimir Radmanovic, it's darn near impossible. His last name has four syllables, but it would be an awkward task for fans to chant Rad-man-o-vich at the end of games.

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Seriously, though, Radmanovic was one of the first players to sign up for the new-look Bench Mob this summer. So far in preseason it appears coach Tom Thibodeau does not have the 6-foot-10 forward penciled into the rotation.

Radmanovic has played just 24 minutes through four games of the preseason, none in Tuesday's win over Milwaukee. He will get another chance Friday when the Bulls host Minnesota at the United Center.

"I came here ready. That's all I can do," Radmanovic said following Thursday's practice at the Berto Center. "Try to be ready each and every game. Obviously, coach has his own vision of who's going to play and how many minutes each guy is going to play. For us, it's just stay focused and be ready to play."

During 11 years in the NBA, there has never been a season in which Radmanovic has started the majority of his team's games. His best performance was for Seattle in 2003-04, when he averaged 12.0 points.

The native of Belgrade, Serbia, is a multiskilled big man who can put the ball on the floor and step beyond the 3-point arch. He has shot 38 percent for his career from 3-point range but is 0-for-3 for the Bulls in the preseason.

"Obviously, it's easier when you play big minutes," Radmanovic said. "You can get in a rhythm and get your game going. But it's not about me. It's about the team.

"So whatever the team needs from me, it's what I'll try to provide. It's coach's job to decide who's going to play."

As it stands, Thibodeau appears to be eyeing a 10-man rotation that doesn't include Radmanovic or rookie guard Marquis Teague. But plans can always change. Two years ago, Kurt Thomas barely played early in the season, then ended up starting 37 games at center when Joakim Noah got hurt.

"If they're here, that means they're capable," Thibodeau said. "I expect everyone to be ready. It's a long season, and usually in every season you're going to call upon everybody.

"The key is to, 1, know your job, and 2, when you're called upon, do your job. I think we have some guys that will be in that position. I think Vladimir could be one of them."

The Bulls clearly have expectations for Radmanovic, because they could have re-signed Scalabrine at the same price. Scalabrine ended up turning down an offer from the Bulls to be an assistant coach and will try his hand at broadcasting in Boston.

Scalabrine was a perfect example of how to be a successful 12th man in the NBA. He stayed positive and tried to use his veteran knowledge to help teammates.

"I think we've had a team full of guys that had great team spirit," Thibodeau said. "That's an important part of a team. You look for those type of characteristics. I don't know if there's anyone quite like Scalabrine. I want all of our guys to be good teammates and stay together."

Asked about Thibodeau, Radmanovic, 31, admitted it has been tough keeping up with the pace of Bulls' training camp.

"I heard a little bit about coach when I was coming here. I guess I didn't hear enough," Radmanovic said. "He's a hard worker, and he's pushing us to the limits. It's a little exhausting, but hopefully it's going to pay off. He's proved the last couple years that it works, so we can't say nothing bad."

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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