CHICAGO – Timberwolves coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau already has reached back to his Chicago years and brought three former Bulls with him to Minnesota.
Might there be a fourth?
Now that Thursday’s trade deadline has passed, it’s buyout season in the NBA and Thibodeau is expected to court 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose when he is waived by Utah.
It’s no secret how former Bulls teammate Taj Gibson would vote on such a move if he had one.
“Of course, that’s my guy,” Gibson said before he and Jimmy Butler returned to Chicago on Friday for the first time since both became Timberwolves last summer. “We’ve been in the trenches a long time. It’d be good to have him on our team. Just having that veteran leadership would be good. I’ll just let Thibs handle that.
“Tyus [Jones] and the rest of the guys are doing a great job so far. We’ll just wait and see what’s going to happen. … If it happens, it happens. I’ll let ownership and management handle that. I know Thibs is going to be on top of that.”
Thibodeau coached Rose all five seasons he was Bulls coach. They won 62 games and Rose won MVP in Thibodeau’s first season.
Thibodeau won’t comment at least until Rose becomes a free agent.
“We’ve got to see who becomes available and if anything makes sense and do we think it can improve the club,” he said. “Then make a move from there and see who other suitors are for the guy. It doesn’t necessarily mean you can get the guy.”
Sweet home Chicago
Butler, Gibson and Thibodeau all received warm ovations — Gibson maybe the warmest of all — when all three returned to United Center for the first time since they were together with the Bulls.
“It’s very weird, very weird,” Gibson said. “Going into the locker room, seeing my old parking spot gone. It’s different. I’m just happy to be back at United Center.”
Not his call
If the Wolves do sign Rose, it won’t affect anybody more than backup point guard Jones.
“I have,” he said when asked if he has heard the Rose rumors. “I can’t focus or worry about those things. The only thing I can do is focus on playing each and every night to try to help this team. I’m not [making those decisions].”
Zach being Zach
Among the reunions Friday were Bulls guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn meeting their former Wolves mates for the first time since last June’s draft-night trade sent both to Chicago for Butler. LaVine was the centerpiece of the package the Bulls received, but just don’t call him Butler’s replacement in Chicago.
“I’m going to be the best Zach LaVine you guys can get,” he said. “That’s who I am. I’m not here to replace anybody. I’m here to become the next young guy coming in for the Chicago Bulls, work my butt off and take this back to where it should be. You can’t replace a guy when you’re not that person. I’m Zach LaVine. I’m going to play like me. I’m going to act like me and that’s just how I carry myself. I’m me.”
LaVine left Minnesota after three seasons just when his friends in Minnesota now are on a team finally ready to win.
“I’m happy for them,” LaVine said.
• Little-used Shabazz Muhammad remains with the Wolves, but he still could be waived to clear a roster spot.
• One of the forgotten reunions: Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg played with Wolves veteran Jamal Crawford when both were with Chicago long ago. “That’s just crazy to me,” Hoiberg said. “The guy still looks like he’s 15 years old.”