Tom Thibodeau: “We feel that we have more than enough to win with regardless of who may be in or out”

February 16, 2012 – 10:00 am by Chris Fedor

In a season where the NBA schedule is condensed and there has been shaky play at times, the Chicago Bulls are realizing just how important depth is in the regular season. After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, the Bulls went out and boosted their team even more with the addition of Richard Hamilton. Their depth has been tested as they’ve had to use a number of different players and lineups due to injury. Rip has missed some time, Luol Deng has been injured, and Derrick Rose has missed eight games. Many teams would struggle without the reigning MVP, but not Chicago. Despite the injuries, The Bulls still have the best record in the NBA.

Tom Thibodeau joined ESPN 1000 in Chicago with Waddle and Silvy to talk about if he felt his team would be at the level it is after suffering the kinds of injuries they have, on making sure his players get enough rest in a condensed season, whether or not he regrets playing Derrick Rose against the Hornets, if Rose’s injuries will cause him to be more cautious with him moving forward, and what he thinks of Jeremy Lin.

If he felt his team would be at the level it is at despite the injuries:

“The one thing about our team it doesn’t surprise me. I think the quality of our depth has been great. It was great last year, I think we have the right guys and everyone on our bench has stepped up and done a terrific job. Obviously I would prefer to have all those guys for every game but that’s what we feel. We’re deep and our guys have shown that all season long.”

On making sure his players get enough rest in condensed season:

“Again you have to figure out can we rest in between? What’s the proper amount of time? Can a guy handle big minutes? We’re one of the few teams that does play 10 every game and every team plays two or three guys in the mid to high 30’s, that’s just the way this league is. Whenever you can get guys rest you try to do so.”

If he regrets playing Derrick Rose against the Hornets:

“You don’t look back. You base your decisions on the information you have at the time. Those decisions aren’t being made by Derrick alone. He’s a big part of it. He’s the only person that really actually knows how he feels but also you have a team of doctors and training staff that’s studying all the information and trying to make the best decisions possible. We’re certainly never going to ask a player who is injured to play. That’s not ever going to happen here. We’re day to day with him, he’s getting better, and that’s all we can do.”

Whether or not he will be more cautious with Derrick Rose moving forward throughout the season:

“I don’t believe in the things about sitting a guy out because it is this opponent or that opponent. I think if a guy is injured he sits out regardless of who you are playing. If he’s hurting, can play, and can’t do further damage, then he plays. We are going to be smart with him. If he needs rest then we are going to rest him. We feel very good about our bench and the guys we have. We feel that we have more than enough to win with regardless of who may be in or out.”

On staying healthy

“Well I think that’s the challenge for everybody and I think that’s for every season. The two things you are always looking at, you always begin with the end in mind and you want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the season and you want to be as healthy as possible. You’re striving to build the right habits and improve each and every day so at the end you are playing your best and then how you manage your health. A big part of that is good fortune too. If you take an injury late that can hurt you but I think you just want to keep building throughout the season.”

On Jeremy Lin:

“What an incredible story. It’s a testament to the kid. He was able to get an opportunity and he’s taking advantage of it. That just goes to show you that you work hard, you study, and you never know when you will be called upon. He’s done a great job for them.”

Listen to Tom Thibodeau on ESPN 1000 in Chicago here

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