First, the Bulls held Derrick Rose out of the scrimmaging portion of Monday's practice as "planned rest." Then, coach Tom Thibodeau switched the Bulls' scheduled day off from Wednesday to Tuesday.
What's next: Thibodeau dropping Luol Deng's minutes to the low 30s or actually taking Jimmy Butler out of games?
Thibodeau likes getting questioned about distribution of minutes about as much as he likes his film projector breaking. Fair or not, the Bulls coach can't escape the topic, particularly since injuries have affected recent playoff runs.
The intriguing part about the debate is that, despite heavy minutes for Deng, Butler and Joakim Noah, players routinely praise Thibodeau's overall pacing of the team.
"He's good at knowing when we need a day off," Carlos Boozer said last season. "We rarely practice on the road, mostly just watch film, walk-through stuff and get shots up. (Reporters) don't see the things he does behind the scenes to help us."
Still, there's no denying Deng has led the NBA in minutes per game in two straight seasons. And Thibodeau himself said at the Las Vegas Summer League in July that dropping Noah's minutes could aid in keeping at bay the plantar fasciitis that has plagued Noah in two of the last four seasons.
On the flip side, Deng played all 82 games for only the second time in his career in Thibodeau's first season in 2010-11, even while piling up the third-most total minutes and ranking fourth in minutes per game. And Boozer, who arrived in Chicago with an injury-prone label, has missed just three games in the last two seasons.
So the two-sided debate continues.
"Tom is the coach and will have final say on minutes," general manager Gar Forman said. "I've said this before: One of the things Tom is very good at is pacing a team throughout the season. Not only what you see on game night but pacing a team as far as practices and off days are concerned. Ultimately, that's his decision."
Asked Monday about how shifting from double to single practice sessions affected his training camp plan, Thibodeau said little.
"You map everything out and try to get things done, pace the team correctly," he said. "There's a mental and physical part to it. We just have to be smart."
In these early stages of training camp, Rose has made clear he wants to do as much as the team allows him but that he is ceding to management.
"I wish I could go out there and play the same minutes, but I'm leaving that up to Thibs," Rose said.
Kyle Korver used to routinely say Thibodeau's demands are more mental than physical.
"We've established a baseline," Thibodeau said of his practice approach. "You evaluate yourself whether it's championship caliber in everything you're doing from how you practice, how you conduct yourself in the meeting, how you concentrate in the film session, how you prepare in the weight room, how you take care of your body. There's a lot that goes into winning.
Sometimes, that involves heavy minutes.
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