By Jessica Camerato
Earlier this week, Brian Scalabrine looked back on his career with the Boston Celtics. In Part 2 of this exclusive series with CSNNE.com, he looks ahead to the upcoming season with the Chicago Bulls, including playing for Tom Thibodeau, fitting into a new system, and returning to the Garden as the opponent.
Brian Scalabrines time in Boston may have come to an end this summer, but the connections he made on the team were the start of a new beginning.
As Scalabrine hit the free-agent market, former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau was stepping into the head coaching role for the Bulls.
Both Thibodeau and the Bulls organization were familiar with Scalabrine. Thibodeau had been on the Celtics coaching staff for the past three seasons and the Bulls' front office had seen Scalabrine play his entire career in the Eastern Conference.
"Tom, being our old assistant coach, really wanted me to come along," Scalabrine explained. "He saw me play for three years and he liked what I could do off the bench. He liked my locker-room presence. He knows whether I'm playing, not playing, I'm always going to be the same guy. He knows that he can count on me."
Scalabrine signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with the Bulls in September. He had kept an eye on them over the summer as they made moves to bolster their roster, including the acquisitions of Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer. Scalabrine knew the direction Thibodeau wanted to take the Bulls, and was excited by their potential.
"Every guy that they signed, it was like, that's a good guy, he's a hard-nosed player," he said. "Carlos Boozer really fits in well with Derrick Rose. We've got shooters on the wing. I hear great things about Ronnie Brewer and his defensive energy. So when you start hearing this as it goes along, you start saying, 'I could see myself really fitting in here.' "
Even in a new uniform, Scalabrine sees himself playing a similar role on the Bulls as he did on the Celtics. He looks to spread the floor, add energy off the bench, and step in should a teammate go down. (Earlier this week, Boozer suffered a broken hand.)
When Scalabrine isn't playing, he says he can help with rotations and use his work ethic to serve as an example of professionalism on the team.
My role is not going to be, 'I'm starting for the Chicago Bulls,' " he said. "That's not my role. My role's going to be all of the above, those other things."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers believes "those other things" will benefit the Bulls.
"Scal is more important than people think," he told CSNNE.com. "When he's not playing, he's low maintenance. When he's playing, he does the right thing for your team. He's the guy you want at the end of your bench. It's a good pickup for them."
Scalabrine enjoyed playing under Rivers and now feels the same about playing under Rivers' former assistant. He believes that like Rivers, Thibodeau pays attention to the little things and puts a spin on the game that sets him apart from other coaches.
"He's a great teacher and a great communicator," Scalabrine said. "He did it well when we were in Boston, but him and Doc always played off each other. Tom would get us going in a drill and Doc would chime in, or Doc would get us going in an offensive drill and then Tom would come in - 'Screen and step. Open to the ball. Be strong with it.' Now, it's him teaching. I knew he was a good communicator and I knew he was a good teacher, he's just better than I even imagined then. He's very thorough in what he does."
This season, Scalabrine is dedicated playing for Thibodeau and to helping the Bulls succeed. He understands the reality of a non-guaranteed contract, but believes he has the skill set to play for the team. That would mean a return to the Garden against the Celtics on November 5.
Even though Scalabrine is open to coming back to Boston after his career is over to work in local television or for the Celtics organization, those days are in the future. Now he is focused on coming back to Boston to get a win.
"I don't want to play for anybody else but the Bulls," he said. "My focus is right here. My focus is on us winning an NBA Championship."
Spoken like true team player.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato.