MILWAUKEE -- Pau Gasol might have known before he signed with the Chicago Bulls this summer that Tom Thibodeau is wired a little differently than most coaches, but over the first two weeks of training camp the veteran big man is seeing first-hand just how big those difference can be. Thibodeau always wants more from his players and never seems to be satisfied.
In Saturday's latest example, Thibodeau said that while he was pleased with the way Gasol is playing on the defensive end, he wants the former All-Star to do even more.
"He could do better," Thibodeau said. "He's done well, but I think he could be great. That's what I want him to be. He's got great length, he's got great timing. He's smart. He can anticipate. He's still not communicating as well as he's capable of, but he's done well thus far."
After hearing Thibodeau's comments after the game, his decision to leave the 34-year-old Spaniard in to close out a win over the Milwaukee Bucks makes more sense. Gasol, who ended up playing 30 minutes, said he wasn't surprised by Thibodeau's choice, but even he had to chuckle a little bit when asked if he has ever been a "great" defender in the league.
"All the time," he said with a smile. "I think I can get better. I had some good stretches where I played better defense. I've always been more of an offensive-minded player, but I think my shot-blocking has always gone a little bit under the radar. With this defense I'm going to be in the paint a lot, protecting the paint, protecting the rim. I feel good so I think I'm going to have a pretty good season defensively. With this group of guys they cover so much ground, there's a lot of length, athleticism, activity, so it makes things easier for everyone."
As for Gasol's relationship with Thibodeau, the pair is united in the belief that this team can win right away. Gasol didn't appear to be unnerved by Thibodeau's comment regarding his defense, but he does understand more than ever that Thibodeau expects maximum effort all the time.
"We're all getting to know each other," Gasol said. "Every individual is a little different. Obviously, our coach is a different type of guy. But I think we understand each other well. We have respect for the game. We both -- everyone in here -- wants to win. And as long as we're on the same page we should be fine."
Second-unit woes: While Gasol and the starting group played their best game to date on Saturday, the second unit of Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell and Aaron Brooks struggled to find a rhythm together. Their performance was a sore spot for Thibodeau after the game.
"They got to play a lot better," he said. "I think when they went in it was 20-8, then it went 24-20, that can't be. We can't lose ground like that. You go in there, you got to get the job done. They're more than capable. You got to get in there and get it done."
The last word: Milwaukee Bucks head coach (and future Hall of Fame point guard) Jason Kidd, on what he's seen so far from Derrick Rose.
"It doesn't look like he's missed any games in the sense of his athletic ability. I thought in the summer he looked extremely powerful (with) speed. I think sometimes injuries can be a positive because I think it's now helped him develop that jump shot from beyond the arc. It's gave him a lot of time to concentrate on that. You're talking about a guy that's played at a high level, MVP, so he's a smart player. So I think the injury's a positive thing that has helped him develop the jump shot and, I think, the different gears because once he gets it in six (gear) he's hard to stop. And being able to change the pace makes him dangerous, that more talented, I think."