Upon reflection, Deng appreciates all of his Bulls coaches
Luol Deng didn't leave the Bulls under happy circumstances -- a midseason trade to Cleveland in 2014 -- but he was glad to reflect on his Chicago experience when he visited town with the Lakers on Friday.
"A lot of the guys here in the locker room remember those days so they're always asking about it," Deng said. "Being here with a young team, I try to explain to them when we had the group, it seemed like it was yesterday. So what you're doing right now, time will fly by so fast. It's really about appreciating and working hard."
Deng, obtained in a draft night trade in 2004, was part of two successful Bulls eras. He was one of the "Baby Bulls" who led the franchise back to the playoffs in 2005, then was a starter on the Eastern Conference finals team in 2010-11 when Derrick Rose was MVP.
The fourth-leading scorer in franchise history behind Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Bob Love, Deng offered praise for all his Bulls coaches.
"I was really lucky. As you guys remember, I had a lot of up and downs with Scott Skiles," he said. "As I think back, I really appreciate everything he put me through. He wanted me to play better defense, I didn't play defense in the beginning. Later on, I became known as a guy who plays defense.
"Thibs (Tom Thibodeau) was finally the coach that had a system I really wanted to play. That was the most fun times of my career because I played with no pressure; I played hard and because of the minutes I was playing my numbers spoke for themselves. I think the whole team felt something special that year."
Deng was not a fan of Vinny Del Negro during the 2007-09 seasons, but his perspective changed as time passed.
"I didn't like the style we played and maybe I could have dealt with it better at the time," he said. "But Vinny is one of the guys that throughout my career, would always call and check on me. Those are the little things that make you realize the guys that actually care about other things besides basketball, those are the guys I seem to get along well with longer."
LaVine turns up defense:
Speaking of Bulls players whose defense improved, Zach LaVine belongs in that category, at least based on his coach's assessment of Friday's loss to the Lakers.
"That was the biggest thing that I took out of last night's game was that his defense was 100 percent better," Fred Hoiberg said Saturday. "Still off the ball he has to make sure he's pulling over and when he's low man opposite, he's got to get into the paint and help with cutters in there. And rebounding is still an issue.
"As far as where he was the previous two games, he was 100 percent better. I told him he screwed up because now he's showed me he's capable."
Dunn return uncertain:
There was no news to update on Kris Dunn, who will miss his fifth game with a concussion Sunday. Coach Fred Hoiberg said it's likely Dunn will travel with the Bulls when they go on a West Coast trip this week, but no telling when he'll play.
"Not a lot has changed on Kris," Hoiberg said at the Advocate Center. "It's great to see him again in here. He's dribbling the ball a little bit. He took a couple of shots today but still isn't doing anything much with physical activity."
Chicago-based agent passes:
Henry Thomas, Dwyane Wade's longtime Chicago-based agent, passed away. Thomas played a key role in the 2010 free agent summer since he represented both Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade posted a lengthy tribute on his Instagram Saturday.