Chicago Bulls

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Anthony, Scott

The Knicks need to show that the team has some forward momentum this season if the franchise wants to have a shot at landing premier free agents next offseason, Bradford Doolittle of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes. Doolittle points to the Bucks as an example, who despite their small market, managed to sign Greg Monroe this Summer, a player who the major market Knicks had their sights on. If the Knicks are unable to show improvement in the win column over last year’s squad, then no amount of available cap space will be able to convince stars like Kevin Durant that New York is a preferred free agent destination, Doolittle concludes.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There’s an excellent chance that the Knicks will explore trading Carmelo Anthony this season, Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report opines (video link). New York will likely wait to see how the roster performs at the start of the season, and if the team doesn’t look to be headed toward the playoffs, then it could look to deal Melo, possibly to the Bulls, Bucher notes. Anthony’s contract does include a no-trade clause, so the forward would have to be on board with any potential swap.
  • The Raptors gave recent training camp signee Shannon Scott a partial guarantee of $25K on his minimum salary deal, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (Twitter link).
  • Despite some skeptics saying that the Nets have the worst starting point guard in the league in Jarrett Jack, forward Thaddeus Young said during an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio, that the team has full confidence in Jack’s ability to lead them, Tom Lorenzo of NetsDaily writes.

Carlos Boozer Unlikely To Sign Before Season Starts

Carlos Boozer is likely to remain unsigned for the rest of the offseason and instead seek a deal with a playoff contender after the season starts, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Thus, it appears as though the 13-year veteran simply isn’t seeing an offer that he likes for now, though it casts doubt on the idea that he would bite on apparent interest from the Chinese league, an option that had reportedly intrigued him earlier this month.

Boozer, who turns 34 in November, made $16.8MM combined last season from the Bulls, who waived him via the amnesty clause in July 2014, and the Lakers, who submitted a partial claim of $3.251MM to snag him off waivers. He’d be hard-pressed to make even the amount of that amnesty claim on an NBA contract this season, simply because most teams have no more than the $2.814MM room exception to spend. The Mavericks, one of the latest three NBA teams reported to have interest in him, have only the room exception to use, while the Knicks, another of those interested parties, are limited to the minimum. The Rockets have more than $2.274MM left of their mid-level exception, but using it would impose a hard cap on them, and they still have yet to sign No. 32 overall pick Montrezl Harrell. The Spurs, Raptors, Pelicans, Nuggets, Nets, Lakers and Heat were reportedly interested in the Rob Pelinka client earlier this summer, but none of them have the capacity to give him as much as the Lakers paid for him last year. The Lakers renounced their Bird rights to him last month.

The two-time All-Star put up 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in 2012/13, but his numbers have declined in each of the two seasons since, and his 6.8 boards and 23.8 minutes per contest last season were career lows. Former Nets executive Bobby Marks wouldn’t be surprised if Boozer waited until Christmas to sign (Twitter link). I’d speculate that a decent chance exists that he stays on the market even longer. Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal, two other aging former All-Stars, chose to carry on as free agents into the season last year but never wound up signing.

What do you think Boozer will end up doing? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Eastern Notes: Wizards, Celtics, Bulls

The Wizards expect Tomas Satoransky, a shooting guard whom Washington drafted 32nd overall in 2012, to finally join them after he completes the final year of his contract with Barcelona this season, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. As Michael adds, for the past few years, it’s been questionable as to if Satoransky will ever join the team. Satoransky has told the Wizards that he intends to be in Washington for the 2016/17 season, Michael reports, citing a source. Last summer, as Michael points out, Satoransky wanted the team to sign him before he competed in the summer league, and he’s also pushed for a larger amount than the team was willing to give. Ultimately, the Wizards stood firm and used the mid-level to sign Paul Pierce.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Jae Crowder, whom the Celtics re-signed to a five-year, $35MM deal, is participating in full workouts, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes. Crowder suffered an ankle sprain during the first round of the playoffs. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has yet to project a starting lineup, Crowder is expected to compete with Evan Turner at small forward, Washburn adds.
  • In an interview with Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype, Nikola Mirotic had mostly positive things to say about his season under former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, but he also added that he’s looking forward to playing under Fred Hoiberg next year in a system that allows for more individual freedom from the players. “We had good and bad times, but we were always together,” Mirotic said. “When things were going badly, we never thought it was the coach’s fault or were thinking this could be his final year with the team. We have been very focused on the task ahead. We knew we had a good shot at the Finals. I can only say positive things about Thibodeau. He has helped me improve. He’s a difficult coach that perhaps doesn’t like to play the young guys much, but you learn from him and he makes you work hard. He got you ready for the time when that opportunity could come.”

Latest On Carlos Boozer

7:54am: The Shandong Lions, another Chinese team, are also going after Boozer, as Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia indicates via Twitter.

12:26am: The Sichuan Blue Whales and other Chinese teams are expressing interest in Carlos Boozer, and while the Rob Pelinka client is intrigued, he’s still pursuing NBA deals, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). News regarding the 33-year-old has been scarce since a late-July report indicated that the Knicks, Rockets and Mavericks were eyeing him. The 33-year-old has lingered in free agency since July, when the lucrative five-year deal he signed with the Bulls expired. He made $16.8MM last season as a member of the Lakers, though Chicago paid all but the $3.251MM figure the Lakers bid when they claimed him via amnesty waivers.

Few NBA teams have more than the $2.814MM room exception to spend at this point. The Mavs have that amount available, though they already have deals with 20 players, the offseason maximum. The Knicks spent the room exception on Kevin Seraphin and have only the minimum to offer. The Rockets have about $2.274MM worth of their mid-level that they could spend, though doing so would leave the team hard-capped and without the means to give No. 32 pick Montrezl Harrell a market-value contract. Boozer and the Clippers reportedly had mutual interest in July, but they only have the minimum to spend, and while the Spurs, Raptors, Pelicans, Nuggets, Nets, Lakers and Heat have all apparently had interest over the course of the summer, it’s unclear if that’s the case now. Thus, I’d speculate that Boozer is only receiving minimum-salary offers from NBA teams at this point.

Andray Blatche signed a three-year, $7.5MM deal with China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers this past spring, and a few weeks ago Shavlik Randolph inked a contract for at least $4.5MM over three years, numbers that suggest that Boozer, if he went to China, stands a decent chance to top the $1,499,187 he’d see on an NBA minimum deal. Still, Metta World Peace wound up with less than that in his deal with Sichuan last summer. A Chinese team would nonetheless offer Boozer a chance to double-dip, since the Chinese Basketball Association ends well in advance of the NBA season, giving players an opportunity to latch on with NBA teams at prorated salaries for the stretch run.

Will Joseph of Hoops Rumors examined Boozer’s free agent stock in depth earlier this month.

Where do you think Boozer ends up? Comment to tell us.

Eastern Notes: Embiid, D-League, Bulls

Sixers GM Sam Hinkie noted that while Joel Embiid adhered to the prescribed recovery plan for his injured right foot, the team would have liked the center to be more focused at times regarding his rehab, Tom Moore of Calkins Media writes. “He [Embiid] gets thrown into the NBA and the thing you love the most is taken away from you,” Hinkie said. “I found his diligence to be good. At the same time, I’ve had conversations with him that everybody’s got to step up their focus. The stakes are very high. It’s clear to everyone however high they were, they’re higher [now].” Embiid underwent a second surgical procedure on his injured right foot this week, and he is expected to miss the entire 2015/16 campaign.

Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • The Raptors have secured the D-League rights to several players via the expansion draft, and a number of recognizable names are up and down the list, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca notes (on Twitter). Some of the better known players selected by the team include Earl Clark, Nolan Smith, Dee Bost, Dahntay Jones, and Ricky Ledo, Grange relays.
  • The Bulls chose to stand pat for the most part this offseason regarding making roster moves, with the team still believing that its core has the capability of reaching the NBA Finals, a plan that center Joakim Noah agrees with, Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com writes. “I think continuity is gonna be great for us,” Noah told Goodwill. “Even though it’s the same group, it’s still gonna be change at the leadership role as far as coaching. So it’s gonna be very different. So having the same team brings stability as well.
  • Lamar Patterson, who inked a two-year pact with the Hawks this offseason, hopes that shedding 22 pounds of weight from his 6’5″ frame will help him earn a regular season roster spot, Jake Fischer of SI.com writes. The guard spent last season with Tofas Bursa of Turkey, averaging 11.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per game. Patterson, who turns 24 next month, led the Hawks in scoring at the Las Vegas Summer League with 13.1 PPG to go along with 5.1 RPG in 25.8 MPG.

Central Notes: Thompson, Landry, Kukoc

Negotiations between the Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson aren’t as contentious as they may seem, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes in his NBA AM piece. It simply comes down to Thompson’s desire for a deal approaching the max and the Cavs’ desire to curb their tax bill, as Kyler explains. Indeed, the sides aren’t as far apart financially as it seems, a league source said to Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops last week, as Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops relays. Thompson doesn’t appear eager to take the team’s qualifying offer and push the possibility of a larger payday back to next year, but insurance policies are available that Thompson could buy if he fears he wouldn’t get the kind of deal he’d be seeking in 2016, Kyler points out. See more from around the Central Division:

  • Marcus Landry‘s new contract with the Bucks is for one year at the minimum salary and is non-guaranteed, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). It has limited injury protection, Pincus adds, so that would indicate that it’s an Exhibit 9 contract that would hold Milwaukee responsible for no more than $6K should Landry get hurt while playing for the team. “It’s not impossible to make [the regular season roster],’’ Landry told Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. “Guys get traded, teams make moves. I just have to hold up my end of the deal. I’m what they like to call a gym rat and I’m going to try to be in their gym as much as I can though training camp. I’m excited for this opportunity, very excited.’’
  • Playing for the Bucks is a “dream come true” for Landry, as the Milwaukee native also told Woelfel for the same piece. Landry made it clear to agent Keith Kreiter that he he wanted to play for his hometown team, and Kreiter worked with the Bucks over several weeks to engineer a deal, Woelfel writes.
  • The Bulls have hired Toni Kukoc as a special adviser to president and COO Michael Reinsdorf, the team announced. Kukoc’s duties will be wide-ranging and include “relating to the international players on our team.” The native of Croatia joins former teammate Scottie Pippen, who holds the same title for the organization.

Central Notes: Allen, Morris, Thompson

Lavoy Allen received incentive clauses on his three-year deal with the Pacers instead of the $1.5MM signing bonus that was originally reported, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). It appears that those incentives call for Allen to get an extra $500K each year if he keeps his weight down, Pincus also tweets. Allen is considered likely to make weight, so the cap hits of $4.05MM this season and $4MM each of the next two years remain the same, unless he fails to hit the target at preseason weigh-ins.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • One of the reasons that the Pistons acquired Marcus Morris was to prevent 2015 first round draftee Stanley Johnson from being pressured to start and produce for the team immediately, David Mayo of MLive.com opines. Mayo also notes that Morris’ $5MM salary this season, and the $4.625MM he will earn for the 2016/17 campaign, will make him a bargain as a reserve player once Johnson assumes a starting role.
  • The Cavaliers need to be careful that whatever the outcome of their contract negotiations with restricted free agent Tristan Thompson, they don’t alienate LeBron James, who is on record as being a big supporter of the forward, Tom Ziller of SBNation writes. Though Ziller doesn’t necessarily believe that James would leave Cleveland again, he doesn’t think it wise for the franchise to roll the dice and risk losing the superstar next summer. Also complicating matters is the fact that Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul, also represents LeBron.
  • Earlier this evening we broke down the 2015/16 salary cap figures for the Pistons, and previously had done the same for the Bulls and Cavaliers, which can be viewed here and here.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Thompson, Love, Bulls, Douglas

LeBron James believes the Cavs front office has “done a great job” this summer, but the next step, he added, is to re-sign Tristan Thompson, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com chronicles. James and Thompson share Rich Paul as an agent.

“Our No. 1 objective right now is to sign Tristan,” James said Thursday at Cedar Point amusement park. “He’s a huge part of our team. Short term and long term he makes our team more dangerous.”

Keeping him for this season doesn’t appear to be the issue. Paul raised the specter of Thompson signing his one-year, approximately $6.778MM qualifying offer earlier this week, but the agent said that if that happened, Thompson wouldn’t re-sign with the Cavs in unrestricted free agency next season. The Cavs are offering less than the near-max that Thompson seeks, Windhorst notes. See more from Cleveland amid the latest from the Central Division:

  • James also expressed confidence that Kevin Love, who re-signed on a five-year deal earlier this summer, will function better this season than last, as Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. Love arranged a meeting with James earlier this summer. “He wanted to talk about the season, what could happen with the team going forward,” James said. “I was absolutely open to it. I was one of the people that wanted him there when we made the trade last summer. The fact that he committed to us let me know the type of guy we have. I think he’s going to be great for us. I think he’ll be an All-Star this year and a much more vocal part of the team this season.” 
  • Jimmy Butler knows much hinges on the Bulls‘ coaching change and their ability to take advantage of opportunities, as Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com relays (Twitter links). “We got the same team. Is it enough? We’ll find out. It wasn’t enough last year. Only thing we changed was coach,” Butler said. “We got the same exact team. We had a chance. We were right there. If we’re healthy…we’ll be right in the same position.”
  • Toney Douglas understands he faces a challenge to make the opening night roster for the Pacers, a team that already has 15 fully guaranteed salaries to go along with his partially guaranteed deal, writes Manny Randhawa of the Indianapolis Star. President of basketball operations Larry Bird used the phrase “having him in camp” twice in the press release to announce the signing of Douglas, but the point guard isn’t discouraged. “We really haven’t gotten into detail about me being here, but I know I’m here for a reason,” Douglas said this week to reporters, including Randhawa. His contract covers one season, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Central Notes: Thompson, D-League, Butler

Despite Rich Paul’s proclamation that his client, Tristan Thompson, would not re-sign with the Cavaliers next summer if he were to sign his qualifying offer, worth nearly $6.778MM, Cleveland should not offer the forward a maximum salary deal, opines Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer. Livingston points to the exorbitant luxury tax hit that would go along with such a lucrative contract for Thompson, and notes that prior to the 2014/15 campaign the forward had been considered a disappointment by many. The Plain Dealer scribe also adds that despite the threat by Paul that Thompson would depart, the Cavs would still retain the 24-year-old’s Bird rights, meaning that they could outbid other teams for Thompson’s services next offseason.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pacers will meet with officials from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants next week to discuss terms of the prospective sale of the D-League franchise to Indiana, Adam Johnson of D-League Digest tweets.
  • Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler acknowledges that the chemistry between he and point guard Derrick Rose needs to improve next season, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com writes. “I think we can,” Butler said during an appearance on “The Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000, when asked about his chemistry with Rose. “I think we will. And I think we better, because the way I look at it, I don’t think either one of us is going anywhere anytime soon.”
  • Toney Douglas said that the presence of Donnie Walsh as a consultant helped him decide to sign with the Pacers, Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com writes. “I love Donnie,” Douglas said. “Donnie has always been a great guy. I loved him when I was in New York. Him being here was really a great situation. I trust him. He’s not going to lie to you; he’s going to keep it real and tell you what you need to do.” Walsh was president of the Knicks when the team swung a deal with the Lakers to acquire the draft rights to Douglas back in 2009.

Central Notes: Williams, Kirk, Douglas

The opportunity to play for an NBA title is what ultimately led to Mo Williams‘ decision to sign with the Cavs, Chris Fedor of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. “It feels home,” Williams said of Cleveland during an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “There’s just that team where you kind of feel like, ‘You know what? I would never want to leave this organization.’ Obviously the business of basketball changes the landscape of a lot of people’s careers and mine was no different, but to have the opportunity to come back and finish my career there and have the opportunity to go out on top, I couldn’t ask for a better situation. There’s no monetary factor involved in any of my decisions. At this point of my career now it’s just playing winning basketball, playing for championships.

The Cavs’ young backcourt will also benefit from the addition of Williams, Fedor adds. “The reasons why the Cavs were confident to bring me back, I’m a strong voice and a team guy,” Williams said. “It’s about bringing everybody together collectively for one goal. That’s kind of my approach and just being around guys every day obviously you’re going to learn personalities. It’s just like any coach. You have to be able to manage those personalities and you have to be able to have everybody on your team like you. I think those things are important. Be able to relate to our guys. I’ve been the star of my team. I’ve been the second guy and the third guy. I’ve been the sixth man and the guy [expletive] off that he’s not playing. I can kind of relate to each guy.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Alex Kirk, who made five appearances for the Cavaliers during the 2014/15 season, is expected to sign a deal with an Italian team in the near future, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders relays (Twitter link).
  • The Pacers guaranteed $600k of Toney Douglas‘ $1,185,784 salary for the 2015/16 season, and another $275k becomes guaranteed if the guard is on the roster come the season opener, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says he was not surprised by the team’s decision to fire him, Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com tweets. Thibodeau also relayed that he had no regrets regarding his tenure with Chicago, and said he had no reaction to the disparaging comments made by team owner Jerry Reinsdorf when the Bulls announced his termination, notes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).

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