The price for Marco Belinelli keeps going up
BY JOE COWLEY jcowley @suntimes.com May 3, 2013 10:28PM
Updated: June 5, 2013 6:14AM
Free agent-to-be Marco Belinelli looked so good Thursday in Game 6 that he might have priced himself out of a likely return to the Bulls.
Starting because Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich were on the shelf, Belinelli showcased a playmaking pick-and-roll game that will raise his value when he hits the market.
Before the Bulls signed him to a one-year, $1.957 million deal last offseason, Belinelli was stereo-typed as just another European outside shooter.
He admitted the tag bothered him, but there was little he could do about it last summer.
Playing for demanding Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, however, Belinelli has showed he can play defense as well as be effective at the point.
Belinelli had a game-high 22 points but also tied a career high with seven assists, most of those on pick-and-rolls.
If Hinrich is out again, look for Belinelli to have the ball in his hands frequently Saturday night against the Nets.
“He’s a good pick-and-roll player, and I like having multiple guys out there that can run pick-and-roll,’’ Thibodeau said.
“I thought that was one of the things that made Kirk and Nate [ Robinson] so effective together. Now we’re just doing it with Nate and Marco.
“Having multiple pick-and-roll players on the floor is important. [The Nets] have several guys who are capable pick-and-roll players, so we know the things we’re going to have to do better. And usually it comes down to your effort, your intensity, your concentration, your ability to get through things, be mentally tough when facing adversity and do all the little things that can help your team win.’’
Thibodeau doesn’t like ruling out players until he absolutely has to, but he didn’t hesitate to end speculation that Derrick Rose would make a surprise comeback for Game 7 at the Barclays Center.
Asked by reporters after practice Friday if there were any indications that Rose could play in possibly the last game of the season, Thibodeau served up an emphatic no.
Playing without Rose is nothing new for the Bulls, but life without Deng has not been easy.
In the last three games Deng has missed — including Game 6 — the Bulls are winless.
“It’s tough because he does so many things well on both ends of the floor,’’ second-year swingman Jimmy Butler said.
“He’s a huge leader out there for us, and he can just cover up guys in a variety of ways, so it’s tough not having him out there with us.
‘‘But more than anything, just his leadership.’’