October’s trade sending Tony Snell to the Bucks and Michael Carter-Williams to the Bulls looked like one of those win-wins for both teams.
Both players had fallen out of the rotation with their respective teams. Snell is now Jason Kidd’s starting shooting guard. And Carter-Williams projected to fill a strong need before he got hurt Oct. 31 — a big, defensive-minded guard who, while shooting-challenged, can push pace.
Carter-Williams, who suffered a bone bruise in his left knee that has healed and a sprained left wrist and bone chip in the wrist that has lingered, said he’s optimistic his Friday visit with doctors will lead to clearance for him to practice next week. He hopes to play by the end of the month.
“It has been tough,” Carter-Williams said. “You see things out there and feel like you can help.”
Coach Fred Hoiberg agrees.
“We loved what we saw out of him when we had him. He can really defend. He’s going to get up and pressure full court. He can guard multiple positions,” Hoiberg said. “He will be our secondary defender on the perimeter behind Jimmy (Butler).
“The other thing we loved is his pace. He pushes the ball, makes the right play, can get in the paint. We need another guy who can push the ball.”
Snell, who entered averaging 8.3 points on 39.6 percent shooting, is starting for Khris Middleton, out for the season following a torn hamstring. Kidd called Snell a “professional” and lauded his work ethic.
“He understands what playing hard is. He has had Thibs (Tom Thibodeau) as a coach,” Kidd said. “We always have asked him to guard the best player on the offensive end and he always has accepted that challenge.”
Kidd said he didn’t see an unconfident player when Snell arrived, contrary to Snell’s display in Chicago.
“Our conversation was to be yourself,” Kidd said. “We’re asking you to play both sides of the ball. I don’t think this is anything new to you. I didn’t see that he was down. He takes coaching very easy.”
Cha-ching: Players said they talked plenty about the tentative agreement between the NBA and NBPA on a new collective bargaining agreement, pending ratification by players and owners. Increased minimum salaries caught many players’ attention.