MILWAUKEE -- Omer Asik is no longer going to be a gigantic question mark on the Bulls' radar after this preseason ends.
During the next few weeks of exhibition games, the Turkish big man is going to find out very quickly whether he is ready to play in the NBA or not. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is going to make sure Asik sees a lot of action, including serving as the center in a lineup with Joakim Noah as power forward.
"Any time you have two seven-footers it gives you an opportunity to shut the lane down. And I also want to see if Jo can play with Kurt [Thomas]. Kurt's different, he's more of a body position guy. He's a great low-post defender and he can also step away from the basket and add some shooting to us."
Thibodeau believes that Asik has a chance to step in and contribute right away.
"The big advantage I thought we had was he was here in the summer, so we had a chance to work with him and observe him then and then he came back [from the World Championships] in September and get some practices in and get some practices in there. We had an opportunity to sort get a feel for him and also get him started on our system. Now I want to see if he can do it against NBA-caliber players. I thought he played very, very well internationally, but now this game is a little bit different."
Speaking of lineup changes, Thibodeau also mentioned that he wouldn't be afraid to use Luol Deng at the 2, 3 or 4 positions.
Brewer still on the mend: Don't expect to see Ronnie Brewer (sore right hamstring) on the floor any time soon. Thibodeau reiterated before the game that Brewer still was not practicing with contact, and he wouldn't rule out the possibility of Brewer missing the Bulls' next three games as well. Brewer sounded upbeat after shootaround Tuesday morning. "I'm feeling a lot better, a lot more confident," he said. "They're just holding me out for precautionary reasons. I'm getting back to full-strength, learning the offense, learning the defense and things and looking to forward to getting back on the court."
Brewer tore the same hamstring last season so the Bulls are definitely being extra cautious with the injury, but he is the still the favorite to be starting two-guard when the regular season begins.
Skiles praises Thibodeau, Noah: Former Bulls coach and current Bucks coach Scott Skiles couldn't help but crack a joke when he was asked before the game if he had any doubt that Thibodeau, a former coach of his at one point in Philadelphia, would do well as the Bulls head coach.
"Well, right now on Oct. 5 I have a doubt in my mind if I'll do well or not," he said with a laugh. "It's a long season. Nah, I've known Tom a long time I'm sure he'll be great. He'll be organized and have a philosophy. He's got a good staff and they have a good team. You add all of those things up and you're probably going to have a good year."
Skiles had this to say about the leap Noah has made since he came into the league. "He's become a much more productive player," he said. "He's obviously, statistically, one of the better rebounders. He plays with a ton of energy. He runs the floor well. He's got good hands. He's been able to finish better, he's improved his free-throw percentage, he's done a lot of things well and has improved a lot as a player."
Rose keeps it low-key on birthday: Derrick Rose turned 22 on Monday, but instead of going out and celebrating the All-Star point guard decided to keep a low profile.
"I just chilled," he said. "I really didn't do nothing but just stay in the house, played a [video] game and watched TV."
He did have the assembled media laughing when he relayed the reaction he got from his teammates when they found out it was his birthday.
"If anything, people [were] talking about [how] they couldn't remember when they were 22, so it kind of made me feel bad."