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It's not quite Brad Miller time for the Bulls
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro has used Brad Miller in a limited role in recent games, perhaps saving him for later in the season.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 1/8/2010 12:00 AM

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Bulls game day

Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center, 7:30 p.m.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WMVP 1000-AM

Update: After getting off to an 8-3 start, the Bucks have gone 6-15 since Nov. 23, but won their last two against New Jersey and Oklahoma City. Rookie guard Brandon Jennings slowed down considerably in December, averaging 16.7 points and shooting 37.6 percent from the field. Michael Redd is still struggling at 11.9 points and 34.7 percent shooting. The Bulls are 1-1 against Milwaukee this season, losing at the Bradley Center 99-97 on Nov. 30.

Next: Saturday vs. Minnesota Timberwolves at the United Center, 7:30 p.m.

Brad Miller has his own hunting show on the Sportsman Channel, so who better from the Bulls to comment on Gilbert Arenas' decision to store guns in his locker?

"I was just telling Lindsey (Hunter), I have to get thrown in with the idiots," Miller said with a laugh. "I'm not giving up my guns. They're used for the right purpose."

So count Miller among the millions who immediately recognized that bringing guns to an NBA locker room wasn't a great idea. Arenas, the Washington Wizards guard, has been suspended indefinitely by NBA Commissioner David Stern and may face criminal charges.

"Exactly," Miller added. "It's so stupid. What can you say?"

OK, let's switch topics, then. Something that hasn't been as easy to evaluate is Miller's role on the court. The veteran center is still making valuable contributions, such as playing against Orlando's Dwight Howard last week when Joakim Noah got in foul trouble.

But those nights have become infrequent. During his last 10 games, he logged 30 valuable minutes against the Magic and scored 16 points against Indiana on Dec. 29. In the other eight contests, he's averaged 1.6 points and 2.0 rebounds.

The return of Tyrus Thomas from a broken arm can explain some of Miller's limited minutes, but Thomas has only been back for six games.

"I'm just playing it easy right now," Miller said. "There are a lot of games left. Joakim's played well, so save my body for later in the season. Obviously, we want to win games and I've got to be ready later down the road as well. I think that's the philosophy we're going with right now."

Miller, 33, has had stretches this season where he's played very well. Coach Vinny Del Negro changed the starting lineup Dec. 8 to try and get Miller going. A short time later, he averaged 12.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in a three-game span, but then came up empty in the next five and Del Negro went back to starting rookie Taj Gibson.

"Brad knows how to play, he knows what we're doing, so I use him in areas where he can be successful," Del Negro said following Thursday's practice at the Berto Center. "I want to try to stay consistent with him."

Maybe it makes sense to save Miller for late in the season when the Bulls might be ready for a playoff push. He played 27 minutes per game in the first-round series against Boston last season, averaging 10.3 points and 7.9 boards.

Asked if he feels his skills are in decline, Miller demonstrated that his sarcastic sense of humor is as strong as ever.

"Yeah, my athleticism is going out the window every second I breathe," he said. "I'm losing it at such a rapid rate, because I started at such a high level of athleticism to being with."