Chicago Bulls center Nazr Mohammed, back, and forward Taj Gibson (22), defend Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Friday, April 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski) ORG XMIT: CXA109
Updated: May 6, 2014 6:15AM
The Bulls’ front office was staying quiet about the vacancy created Thursday with the waiving of rookie forward Erik Murphy, but according to one Bulls player, free agent Ronnie Brewer was feeling good about his chances of filling that spot.
‘‘It’s kind of a waiting game now,’’ the player said Friday, ‘‘but I talked to him, and it sounded good.’’
Forward Taj Gibson also spoke with Brewer after the Bulls’ win Wednesday night in Atlanta and would love to be reunited with the 6-7 small forward, who spent two seasons with the Bulls from 2010 to 2012.
‘‘He’s familiar with the whole team,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘He’s been to the Eastern Conference finals with us. He’s been through a lot with us, and that’s our guy.’’
Murphy’s departure came at a strange time, with just seven games left in the regular season before the Bulls faced the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. But there definitely were reasons for the move to be made — specifically related to whom the Bulls might meet in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers all require strong perimeter defense, and the Bulls weren’t going to get that in Murphy.
On the other hand, that’s one of Brewer’s strengths.
‘‘Right now it’s still open,’’ Gibson said. ‘‘I don’t know who we’re going to get. It’s one of those things that sucks because you got to lose a great guy in Erik Murphy. The guy comes in every day, busts his tail, never complains. Doesn’t take one day off. In my opinion, never took a day off. Great rookie. It sucks because around this league there are a lot of guys that really don’t go as hard as him.’’
Coach Tom Thibodeau was leaving all personnel decisions to general manager Gar Forman but also had high praise for Murphy.
‘‘It’s more in terms of roster flexibility,’’ Thibodeau said when asked what went into the decision. ‘‘From my standpoint, Murph did a great job for us. Young guy, worked incredibly hard each and every day, great spirit. And I think he has a bright future.’’
Asked if the system was too overwhelming for Murphy, Thibodeau said he didn’t feel that was the case.
‘‘Smart kid, hard-working,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I thought he did a great job in changing his body and really working hard. It takes young guys a little while to develop, but he did a very good job for us. He embraced his role, and he did all the things he could to help the team.’’
Around the rim
Bucks big man Larry Sanders was inactive Friday but still made news. The NBA announced that when he returns from injury, he’ll be suspended for five games for violating the league’s drug policy.
◆ Of the Bulls’ six remaining regular-season opponents, only the Washington Wizards were above .500 entering Friday.