Fittest loser
Article updated: 1/30/2013 5:38 AM

Deng lobbies to coach Butler in slam-dunk contest

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Several Bulls players have been pushing for second-year forward Jimmy Butler to play in the rookie-sophomore game during all-star weekend.

That would be meaningful for Butler, since the all-star game is being played in Houston and he grew up in the suburb of Tomball.

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The all-star discussion kicked up a notch when the topic shifted to the possibility of Butler taking part in the slam-dunk contest. Luol Deng is not only supporting Butler for the event, he wants to be his dunk coach.

"I'm just saying, I'm creative," Deng said Tuesday at the Berto Center. "I'm telling you, that's my biggest strength. I'm a smart guy. I could come up with some dunks that would be watched for years and years to come, if I get the opportunity.

"I'm just saying if anyone watching out there in the NBA, if you want to see some great things, man, put Jimmy in the dunk contest."

Butler was open to the idea of the dunk contest, but felt two-time champ Nate Robinson might be the best mentor.

"The helper would be the midget on our team, little Nate," Butler said with a laugh. "He's been through it, so I think he'll be my dunking coach."

Butler did acknowledge a down side to Robinson's participation.

"I feel like Nate's one of the biggest haters on this team, so if I was to win, he'd always say, 'I did this better than you did,'" Butler said. "I feel like it would be a constant competition between us two."

The all-star weekend participants will be announced Feb. 7 on TNT.

Deng for defensive award:

Following Monday's win over Charlotte, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau plugged Luol Deng as possibly the league's best defender.

Well, the defensive player of the year award seems to be wide open. Dwight Howard won't win it. It doesn't seem likely New York's Tyson Chandler will repeat. So why not Deng, arguably the best defender on a traditional strong defensive team?

"I think there are a lot of guys who play solid defense, affect a lot of shots and might not get recognized," Deng said Tuesday. "I think a lot of people look at steals. Guys with high steals or a lot of blocks, and I understand that. That's the direction it goes most of the time.

"I think it's hard for someone like myself or anyone else who just plays solid 'D' to really get backed up for that. It's not like my steals numbers are crazy or my block numbers are crazy. But a lot of times coaches see -- whether it's help side, affecting plays out there, affecting your guy's shots, a coach going away from a guy he would normally go to a lot. Those are the things that win you games and coaches recognize. But when it comes to voting, a lot of times it's the numbers."

More silence on Rose:

Another day, another non-update on Derrick Rose's return from a knee injury. Joakim Noah essentially plead the Fifth Amendment when asked if the players have been coached not to give any updates.

"When you see your star player out and just working as hard as he is to try to get back, it's just extra motivation," Noah said. "It also puts things into perspective how lucky we are to be playing. I know there's nothing more that he wants to do than be playing."

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