· Skokie, IL 60076
Follow what leader?
"Leadership has not been a strong asset of this particular group," head coach Scott Skiles conceded after practice Tuesday at the Berto Center. "It's definitely something we're still searching for.
"We have a quiet group. So then you say, 'Well, you have to lead by example.' We have plenty of guys who work hard and lead by example and all that and are very good guys, but there are times when you like the players to discipline themselves a little bit."
Last season, the Bulls made a quantum leap to the playoffs, in part because of the effectiveness of forward Antonio Davis and swingman Adrian Griffin in leadership positions.
But before this season started, Davis was shipped to the New York Knicks as part of the Eddy Curry trade, while Griffin was allowed to walk out the free-agent door. Griffin signed with the Dallas Mavericks after the start of the season.
"A.D.'s leadership presence is definitely something we've missed," Skiles said. "There's no doubt about that. And Griff was very important to our team. We miss that (veteran leadership)."
While much was made of the loss of Curry at the time, the departure of Davis and his influence on and off the court turned out to be no less significant.
Not only did Davis demand accountability from his teammates, but he had the talent and experience to command respect.
"When A.D. was on the court, you always heard his voice, and it gave us a sense of confidence that somebody was back there," guard Chris Duhon said. "With this team, we have a lot of guys whose natures aren't to be vocal. That hurts us, especially at the defensive end, where communication is very important.
"When you have a guy like A.D. on the court, you always know whether you're in the right spot. Because if you're not, he makes sure that you know about it."
Duhon has been the most vocal of the three Bulls co-captains this season, but his reserve role, coupled with a lack of durability, limits his impact for leadership.