Hoiberg gives Bulls lineup clues
While new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg continues to search for the ideal starting lineup, three spots seem reasonably settled in the long-term.
Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol are certain starters, while Derrick Rose will play point guard when healthy.
A couple other trends have seemed obvious in preseason: Hoiberg likes Doug McDermott coming off the bench in sort of an instant-offense role, and he prefers to have Nikola Mirotic on the floor at the same time as Gasol.
So that could mean Tony Snell and Mirotic will open the season in the starting lineup, with Joakim Noah and McDermott coming off the bench, but there is still time to figure things out before Cleveland visits the United Center on Oct. 27.
McDermott was in no mood to complain about his role after Saturday's practice at the Advocate Center.
"I'm fine with whatever," he said. "(There's) more of an opportunity for shots and scoring off the bench. You see guys like that in the league all the time, come off the bench and you see them kind of fire away.
"I feel like that's something I can do. But at the same time, if I was out there with Derrick and Jimmy and Pau, I think I'd really space the floor for them. I think Derrick would get a lot of driving lanes, along with Jimmy. So either way, I think I can help out wherever they ask."
In Wednesday's loss to Detroit, Noah and Gasol played together for the first time in preseason, with Mirotic at small forward. After the Bulls started the game slowly, Hoiberg went with Gasol and Mirotic as the bigs to open the third quarter and brought Noah off the bench. That would seem to be another hint of what's in store, but Noah didn't take offense to the thought of leaving the starting lineup.
"I think Coach is going to have a lot of decisions to make in terms of matchups and things like that," Noah said. "Whatever Coach does, I'm cool with it."
So maybe fans should expect Gasol and Mirotic, who teamed up to lead Spain to the European championship last month, to be the starters, with Noah and Taj Gibson coming off the bench. However, the strong play of rookie power forward Bobby Portis has made lineup decisions even more difficult.
"Obviously, we've got a lot of big guys who are capable of playing," Hoiberg said. "So there may be times during the course of the season where we do play a bigger lineup with Niko at the three. We're going to continue to work at that. If you want to get a guy like Bobby Portis an opportunity to get some minutes and everybody is healthy, there are going to be times we're going to have to play Niko at the three.
"We're putting different combinations out there when we scrimmage to try to make sure we get the best lineups and get those guys used to playing with each other in different lineups."
The Bulls have three games left in preseason, beginning Monday at Charlotte. Hoiberg said Snell will probably not play because of a sprained ankle suffered last week and Kirk Hinrich will likely start at guard.
The final preseason game is against Dallas in Lincoln, Neb. Hoiberg is planning to start McDermott that night because the second-year forward played in college down the road at Creighton.
Hoiberg said Rose did most of the noncontact portions of Saturday's practice, but is still getting back into shape. There's no timetable yet for Rose being cleared for scrimmages or full-contact practice. Rose is recovering from a broken left orbital bone and will wear a protective mask when he does play again.
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