Bulls have real talk after upset loss, trade between Nikola Vucevic and Billy Donovan – NBC Sports Chicago

Submitted by National Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls’ decision to hold training camp in Nashville fell under a harsh spotlight Wednesday night after a disastrous season-opening loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

On the one hand, the improved communication and cohesion that served as goals and buzzwords during away camp, not to mention an offensive philosophy designed to avoid isolation and stagnation, was put to the test during a heated third-quarter exchange between Nikola Vucevic and coach Billy Donovan. .

On the other hand, a surprise 20-point loss that sparked mild booing from the losing fans led to a players-only meeting in the locker room after the game where dialogue and difficult conversations flowed freely.

“This would never have happened last year. It was a quiet group,” Donovan said. “So the confrontation piece is a sign that it’s important to them. They know we have to be better.”

Typically, coaches meet separately in their offices while players are in the locker room after the game, talking among themselves. When Donovan left his staff to debrief and entered the locker room to see his players having those difficult conversations that Nashville’s team bonding activities were supposed to promote, he asked his players if they needed more time.

They said yes.

“I think it was really good for us to have those things. I think it was needed. It was just regular discussions about what needed to be done. A lot of guys said a lot of good things, things that needed to be said,” Vucevic said. “I think we can really use this to learn and change some things we need to change.” “It wasn’t crazy, no fighting or nothing like that. It was really constructive. This was probably the first time since I’d been here that it had been like this. And it was really needed.

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“I started saying some things. I really liked that a lot of guys jumped in and said a lot of good things. No one guy is 100 percent right. Everyone had something to say and sees things differently. And when you have those constructive conversations, it’s not Only positive things come in. I think communication is very important.

“I’ve been on teams in the past where we’ve had those things, and it’s worked out almost every time as we’ve been able to fix some things and move forward.”

Zach LaVine added: “Guys want to win. You bring up a game like that in Game One and people are going to have some conversations. Guys are frustrated and you should be too. If you’re not frustrated, that says it all. It’s annoying for it to happen in Game 1. It happened.” “We’ve got to go from there. The guys are going to have their say after the game. The coaches as well. We’ve all got to get it out there and make sure we’re on the same page. It’s not one individual that lost. It’s the whole team.”

Vučević’s outburst came during the third quarter after he received a technical foul for frustratingly throwing the ball into the basket post after the team’s defense collapsed. But it also came long after the ball had barely been touched; He went 12 minutes between field goal attempts to cap the second and third quarters.

“At certain moments, I felt like we were a little stagnant and managing similar things and I think we could have involved myself in certain situations that could have helped the team,” Vucevic said. “I’ll watch the film again and see. Maybe some of the things I saw were wrong and I overreacted. I’ll see.”

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“It wasn’t just my touches. Just the things we were running could have been better for us at the moment. Some of those were touches, but I didn’t have to score. Offensively, we stagnated a little bit and didn’t play with energy and didn’t move the ball.” Sufficiently.

“Just unhappy with some of the things we’re doing. Obviously I expressed that in a little more aggressive way than I should have at the moment. Those happen in the heat of the moment. You’re trying to win and do what you can to help the team. I didn’t like what was happening. We talked it out.” “And it’s over.”

Maybe not. Donovan actually hopes to have more difficult conversations in the future. To him, they represent a team that cares.

I’ve said this before: I think confrontation is a good thing. I think it’s healthy. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Vooch. He felt a certain way. And I kind of said what I felt. Maybe he wasn’t wrong to feel the way he did. But how do you channel that in a way that motivates and uplifts the group? Donovan said. “Right now, I could have handled it better with him and he probably could have handled it better with me. It wasn’t disrespectful or anything. He was just frustrated with the way we played. I didn’t blame him. I fell in line with him. But There has to be a way together that we can solve those issues and problems.

“I think the confrontation piece is really good. I think it’s really healthy. And I think that needs to happen as much as possible.”

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Preferably next time during a close game, not a huge loss to start the season.

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