Ex-Bull Hamilton says Thibodeau works team too hard

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has never been timid about working his team hard during practices.

    Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has never been timid about working his team hard during practices. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/2/2014 1:50 PM

The Bulls skipped practice Monday, opting for a day of rest between the end of a long circus road trip and Tuesday's return to the United Center against the Dallas Mavericks.

One recent Bulls player suggested over the weekend the team needs more rest. During a guest spot on NBA TV, Richard Hamilton talked about his history with Tom Thibodeau's practice sessions and how they might relate to Derrick Rose.

 

"When I played there, practice was tough," said Hamilton, who spent two seasons with the Bulls from 2011-13. "I never experienced anything like that until I actually got to Chicago. It's well-documented that practices are a little too long, they're a little too hard and things like that.

"So if you want Derrick (healthy) for the whole year, you've got to protect him. You've got to protect his body. When you know it's game time, 'You know what? We're not going to play him 35, 40 minutes a game. It might be 20 minutes a game.'

"So I think they've all got to come together and say, 'All right, this is what we're going to do with Derrick for this season right here, because we know we're only going to win the championship with him.' If (they) don't have him, they won't be anywhere close to that."

I don't know if it's well-documented that Thibodeau's practices are "too long and too hard." Hamilton also made a comment that he'd never had to ice and tape for shootarounds until playing for the Bulls.

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This is a subject that never seems to go away, though. The Bulls don't have much to complain about, off to an 11-6 start after posting a winning record on the circus trip for just the second time since the championship era ended.

The injuries have been frequent this season. Already, the Bulls are down to just four players who have appeared in all 17 games -- Mike Dunleavy, Aaron Brooks, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott.

Are tough practices really to blame? That's tough to prove either way. This year's training camp did feature long practices and few days off.

Once the regular season settles in, Thibodeau tends to skip practice days and focus his preparation on the morning shootarounds. He has said he learned from Doc Rivers during their successful three years together in Boston to take days off whenever they're available.

Hamilton does have a reliable history. He played for the Detroit Pistons during the period where they reached the Eastern Conference finals seven years in a row. The Pistons went through three different coaches during that stretch: Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown and Flip Saunders.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

So if Hamilton says he never practiced as hard as he did with the Bulls, his experience is telling. Keep in mind that Pat Riley, who reportedly worked his teams very hard, was an indirect influence on Thibodeau.

Riley worked with assistant Jeff Van Gundy in New York. Once Riley left for Miami and Van Gundy became the head coach, Thibodeau became one of Van Gundy's most valued assistants.

One thing that does seem obvious is the Bulls need to be careful with Rose, as well as Joakim Noah, who is coming off arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this summer.

The suggestion here last week was for both players to avoid playing back-to-back games. The Bulls have a back-to-back forthcoming, with Dallas at home Tuesday followed by a trip to Charlotte.

The Mavericks are coming off their own back-to-back, posting wins at Toronto and Philadelphia over the weekend.

How did Dirk Nowitzki fare? Well, he sat out against the 76ers, given the night off to rest.

• Get the latest Bulls news via Twitter by following @McGrawDHBulls.

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