Chicago Bulls

Central Notes: Parker, Jackson, Bulls

Jabari Parker chose Dr. Charles Tucker as his new agent after leaving the Wasserman Media Group and agent B.J. Armstrong earlier this month for familiarity and trust reasons, Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times details. Parker, according to Gardner, got to know Tucker and his son, Charles Jr., while playing basketball on the AAU circuit as a kid. Both the younger Tucker and Parker, whom the Bucks chose with the second overall selection in the 2014 draft, have remained friends and religion is a big reason why, Gardner writes.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • Reggie Jackson does not anticipate a warm reception when he returns to Oklahoma City Friday for the first time since the February trade that brought him to the Pistons, David Mayo of writes. Jackson, as Mayo adds, grew tired of his backup role under Russell Westbrook while with the Thunder. The Pistons acquired Jackson last season after Brandon Jennings was lost to a season-ending injury. The Pistons re-signed Jackson to a five-year, $80MM contract over the summer. “I know what to expect,” Jackson said, per Mayo. “I know how it was. I was booed when I came out there to start there last year. So I expect some of the same treatment. It’s like every other arena. I get booed in other arenas when I come out, so I’m just ready to go out there and play.”
  • With Pau Gasol wanting more touches and Joakim Noah struggling, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has a problem regarding his big men, Nick Friedell of explains. Hoiberg, in his first year with the team, is still trying to figure out what works best, Friedell writes. Noah is a 2016 free agent while Gasol has a player option on the final season of a three-year, $22.3MM contract that brought him to Chicago in 2014.

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Hezonja, Knicks

Joakim Noah, a 2016 free agent, hasn’t started a game, has career lows in nearly every statistic and is not in position to contribute more because the Bulls have changed into more of a 3-point shooting team, Sam Smith of notes. While Pau Gasol, who has a player option on the final season of a three-year, $22.3MM contract that brought him to Chicago in 2014, has not struggled as much as Noah has, his production is much lower than it has been in recent years, Smith adds. Both players, of course, are getting up there in age (Noah is 30 and Gasol is 35), but feel healthy, Smith writes, and that adds to the frustration of not being able to help the team more.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic rookie swingman Mario Hezonja has shown flashes of the potential that made the Magic select him fifth overall in the draft, but his rookie mistakes on defense have led to a cut in his minutes, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel details. To his credit, Hezonja has been willing to learn from his mistakes and has fit in well with the Magic’s young locker room, Robbins adds. “Oftentimes, he’s just not ready,” Magic coach Scott Skiles said. “He’s not aware and he’s not ready. He knows it.”
  • The Bulls assigned Cameron Bairstow to the Austin Spurs of the D-League, Chicago announced in a press release. Bairstow is headed to Austin as part of the flexible assignment rule since Chicago is without a one-to-one partnership with a D-League team.
  • Carmelo Anthony is not surprised by Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis‘ hot start, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Porzingis has six double-doubles in his first 14 NBA games, as Berman points out. “Man, he’s 7’3″,’’ Anthony said. “There was only concern because people didn’t know and nobody ever saw him before. People were all so upset the Knicks drafted him. When you’re 7’3″, you just put your hands up and block a shot. For him to have seven blocks, it didn’t surprise me. [But] nobody expected [24] and 14, seven blocks. Nobody expected that, but I’ll take it.’’

Jonas Valanciunas To Miss Six Weeks

Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas will miss about six weeks with a fracture in his left hand, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. After tests on the hand Saturday, Valanciunas decided against surgery and will count on rest and rehab to heal the injury. During Friday’s game with the Lakers, the center injured the fourth metacarpal in his hand, similar to an injury that cost him 18 games during the 2012/13 season. Valanciunas, who signed a four-year, $64MM extension before the season started, is averaging 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds.

There’s more news from the Eastern Conference:

  • The improved play of Glenn Robinson III will lead to some tough decisions for Pacers coach Frank Vogel, writes Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star. The second-year forward, who signed with Indiana in July, hit 6-of-7 shots and delivered a career-high 17 points in 21 minutes during Saturday’s blowout of the Bucks. It was the latest in a string of impressive performances by Robinson, who split last season with the Wolves and Sixers, but it may not be enough to keep him in the Pacers’ rotation. His playing time will likely decrease when George Hill and Myles Turner return from injuries. “It’s driving me crazy with all these tough decisions when everybody gets healthy,” Vogel said. “[Robinson’s] got to stop making all his shots. I’ll just harp on the fact that he missed one.” 
  • Bulls centers Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol are both getting fewer shots in new coach Fred Hoiberg’s offense than they are accustomed to, writes Sam Smith of Noah turned in his fifth scoreless game of the season Friday and has yet to reach double figures this season. Gasol is averaging 13.8 points per game, barely above his career low. “Physically, I feel good,” said Noah, who will be a free agent next summer. “Now it’s trying to figure out where I can get opportunities offensively and just helping the defense. That’s it. I’ve to be more aggressive when I get my opportunities.” 
  • Younger and older basketball fans tend to view the Sixers‘ annual tanking differently, writes Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Regardless of perspective, the columnist wonders why things aren’t better yet in Philadelphia.

Central Notes: Noah, Varejao, D-League

Joakim Noah, who will be a free agent after the season, is struggling to find his rhythm and the center believes it’s because of a lack of scoring chances, Nick Friedell of writes.

“I just got to be more aggressive. I got to be more aggressive offensively and look for my opportunities. Right now, I’m just not really sure where I can get them, but when they come I have to be ready and I have to be ready to score,” Noah said.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Anderson Varejao hasn’t received the playing time that he is accustomed to seeing and the big man admits that it’s not an ideal situation, Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. “It’s tough. It’s not easy,” Varejao said. “You never know how much you can do in practice because you never know if you’re going to play or not, but the main thing is stay ready.”
  • The Cavs have recalled Joe Harris from the Canton Charge, the team’s D-League affiliate, according to a team press release. Harris averaged 26.0 points and 9.0 rebounds during two games for the Charge.
  • The Bulls have sent Cameron Bairstow to the D-League and the Bucks will do the same with Damien Inglis, according to Adam Johnson of D-League Digest (Twitter link). Neither franchise has its own D-League affiliate and the affiliates to which they’ve been assigned have yet to be announced.

Eastern Notes: Rose, Pistons, Heat

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose may be dealing with blurred vision for a few more months, Nick Friedell of relays. Rose has struggled shooting so far, averaging only 12.6 points per game, as Friedell points out. Rose suffered a left orbital fracture during the Bulls’ first training camp practice on September 29th.

“[The doctors] said it could be as long as three months,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “But [the vision] has continued to improve, and that’s obviously a positive.”

The news, however, came as a surprise to Rose.

“This is my first time hearing about it,” Rose told reporters, including K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). “But you kind of have that hope in your mind that it gets well a lot quicker. But for this to be seven or eight [weeks] out and still the same way, I can’t do nothing but live with it. Get the most out of every day, keep putting my deposits in and keep working on my game until my eye gets better.”

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • While former Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith is still upset with comments team president Phil Jackson made during the summer about Smith’s personal life, Marc Berman of the New York Post opines that Smith should be grateful that he was traded to the Cavs. After not fitting into the Knicks’ plans, and despite his current shooting woes, Berman writes that the Cavs still see Smith as a capable scoring threat in a reserve role.
  • Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings, who is recovering from a torn left Achilles suffered in January, participated in four-on-four and three-on-three games with teammates and is still on track to return around Christmas, David Mayo of reports. “As I told him today, what’s not back right now is his quickness,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s going to take some time. Being out and being able to do stuff is one thing, and being able to do it at a speed that you can really do is another.”
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Beno Udrih should have no problem fitting in with Miami, Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel writes. “He’s got veteran savviness about him,” Spoelstra said. “You saw it the other night. He hasn’t been in a practice. He hasn’t been in a shootaround but he’s played for enough different systems that he can just play basketball. You don’t notice things that you might have because he’s a veteran player. You can throw him in any situation. Guys like that are very valuable with veteran teams.” The Heat acquired Udrih from the Grizzlies in exchange for Mario Chalmers. Spoelstra did not identify a clear-cut role for Udrih, Richardson adds. 

And Ones: Gasol, Nuggets, Drummond, Hawks

The BullsPau Gasol could miss out on a major payday if he doesn’t opt out of his current deal next summer, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Gasol has a player option on the final season of a three-year, $22.3MM contract that brought him to Chicago in 2014. He is owed a little less than $7.77MM for 2016/17, when increased TV revenues are expected to greatly raise the salary cap. Two unidentified executives from rival teams told Johnson that even at age 36, Gasol could land two more years of guaranteed money if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. “I’ll wait to make that decision,” Gasol said. “All I’m focused on now is trying to play the best I can so that if I do opt out and explore, I have options. If I have the best season possible and work on my body and stay healthy and help this team accomplish its goals, I’ll go from there.”

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • The league has taken steps to reduce the unique home-court advantage the Nuggets possess because of Denver’s location and altitude, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Denver is at least a two-hour flight from nearly all NBA cities, which gives the home team a decided advantage against an opponent playing back-to-back games, especially when the thin mountain air is factored in. “I didn’t like it when I had to come here,” said Michael Malone, who is in his first season as Nuggets coach. “But I love it now.” Dempsey reports that the NBA has tried to cut into that edge by making Denver the first stop for teams traveling from the east and building an off day into the schedule for teams coming from the west.
  • The PistonsAndre Drummond tops a list of six players exceeding expectations compiled by Jonathan Concool of Basketball Insiders. Drummond was averaging 20.3 points and 20.3 rebounds per game heading into Saturday’s action. Rounding out the list are the BlazersC.J. McCollum, the Pistons’ Marcus Morris, the Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Magic’s Evan Fournier and the LakersJordan Clarkson.
  • The Hawks will recall Edy Tavares and Lamar Patterson from the D-League Sunday, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both are expected to be in Atlanta in time for the game with the Jazz.

Eastern Notes: Gortat, Budenholzer, Zeller, Hoiberg

The WizardsMarcin Gortat is upset about being singled out by coach Randy Wittman following Tuesday’s 24-point loss to the Thunder, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. Wittman angrily said that even he could get one defensive rebound in 27 minutes, as Gortat did in the blowout. “I don’t think it was necessary to call me out in the media like that,” Gortat said. “But it happened. I heard a different story in training camp, that stuff like that won’t happen. But it happened. So I disagree with what he did.” Gortat still has four seasons left on a five-year, $60MM deal he signed in 2014.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hawks released a statement this evening from coach/executive Mike Budenholzer explaining his absence from Friday’s game. On Friday morning, I returned to Atlanta from Boston to be with my family due to an emergency medical situation involving my wife,” Budenholzer wrote. “We are encouraged by her progress to this point and remain cautiously optimistic.” He promised to return to the team “as soon as possible.” Assistant Kenny Atkinson will continue to coach the team until Budenholzer returns, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • The CelticsTyler Zeller, who was passed over for an extension earlier this month, is dealing with severely reduced playing time, according to Chris Forsberg of Zeller has become the odd man out in Boston’s crowded frontcourt, getting just 14 minutes of court time over five games before his role was expanded in Friday’s victory over Atlanta. “Tyler’s a really good player. We just have a lot of bigs,” said coach Brad Stevens. “I don’t know how else to say it. We haven’t shot it great, so you want to play some guys that can stretch the floor and be guarded when the floor is stretched. And that leaves at least one person out.”
  • Despite a couple of disappointing losses to the Hornets and Wolves, Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf tells K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune he is completely happy with the performance of new coach Fred Hoiberg. “Fred connects with the players,” Reinsdorf said. “He connects with everyone he talks to because of his experience as a player, executive and coach at the college level.” This is Hoiberg’s first NBA coaching job after spending five years at Iowa State.

Central Notes: Drummond, Budinger, Dellavedova

Andre Drummond reiterated his intention to re-sign with the Pistons this offseason when he is eligible to become a restricted free agent, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports relays. “I love it here. I plan on being here,” Drummond told Spears. Team owner Tom Gores, coach/executive Stan Van Gundy, and Drummond mutually agreed to hold off on signing an extension to allow the team to retain more cap space heading into next offseason in order to make further roster upgrades.

Here’s more from out of the Central Division:

  • Small forward Chase Budinger is attempting to carve out his niche on the Pacers after having been acquired from the Wolves this past summer, writes Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star. “I’m still trying to figure that out, it’s still a work in progress,” Budinger said. “My role is still trying to evolve and trying to fit into this system and with this team. I’m still trying to find better ways to be more productive.” The 27-year-old has appeared in nine games this season, averaging just 4.1 points in 15.9 minutes per contest while shooting 41.9% from the field.
  • Cavs point guard Matthew Dellavedova has used his strong playoff showing from a season ago as a springboard to a solid start to the 2015/16 campaign, Chris Fedor of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. “I feel confident,” Dellavedova told Fedor. “I think you should always be more confident in your game and that comes through putting in the work. I think it was a great experience for me playing in the playoffs last year and working hard in the offseason by playing with the national team. In a different role than I usually play here with the Cavs, and [I] have just tried to build on that. I think if you work hard that’s what helps with your confidence.
  • The Bulls lead the NBA in building through the draft, with a league-best 10 draftees currently on the roster, Sam Smith of notes in his leaguewide rundown. “The franchise always has had a strong belief in building through the draft and developing our own players,” said Bulls GM Gar Forman. “It starts with [owner] Jerry [Reinsdorf], who always has been a strong believer in the draft.

And-Ones: Durant, Green, Aldridge

Sean Deveney of The Sporting News mentions the Lakers, Bulls and Knicks as major-market suitors for Kevin Durant, and the Warriors as a team that could catch his eye, but people around the league have long felt as though Durant will either sign with the Thunder or the Wizards, Deveney writes. It’s a sentiment one Eastern Conference GM who spoke with Deveney confirms. Still, Washington doesn’t plan an extravagant pitch, a source tells Deveney, in keeping with the former MVP’s low-key personality. That said, neither the Warriors nor the Heat should be ruled out as potential Durant destinations, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. See more from around the NBA:

  • Gerald Green punched a man who was trying to restrain him from going from the lobby of his condo building to his unit, according to a police report that Manny Navarro and Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald obtained. The man, who elected not to press charges, was attempting to keep Green in the lobby so that he would be there when rescue officials arrived, the report states, according to Navarro and Rabin. Green had earlier approached the front desk of the lobby with bloody hands and asked for a call to paramedics, then proceeded to the valet area in front of the building and collapsed, the report continues, as Navarro and Rabin detail. Green, who was handcuffed but not arrested, was hospitalized and later released and is serving a two-game suspension from the Heat. Team president Pat Riley said the team still believes it can count on Green, who issued an apology as part of a team statement, Navarro and Rabin add.
  • The Mavericks weren’t the favorites for LaMarcus Aldridge, but they still had a chance to sign him when they abandoned their pursuit to instead nail down the more certain acquisition of Wesley Matthews, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports details in an inside look at Aldridge’s free agency. Aldridge liked Kobe Bryant‘s basketball chat but little else about the Lakers presentation, while Aldridge was reluctant to share the marquee with James Harden despite an intriguing Rockets pitch and found Raptors GM Masai Ujiri appealing but not convincing enough to sway him to Toronto, according to Wojnarowski.
  • The Spurs wooed Aldridge with a casual, face-to-face approach from Gregg Popovich and other San Antonio principals, Wojnarowski explains in the same piece. Popovich’s decision to fly in for a second visit, prompted by Aldridge’s second Lakers meeting, helped sealed the deal for the Spurs, thanks in part to a last-minute appeal from Riley that the Heat president intended to use to sell Aldridge on a secondary role in Miami, Wojnarowski writes. Instead, Aldridge took Riley’s message to heart as he embraced the idea of sacrificing some of his impressive offensive numbers in San Antonio’s egalitarian offense, as the Yahoo scribe details.

D-League Notes: Bulls, Hawks, Celtics, Sixers

GM Gar Forman said the Bulls haven’t used the D-League that frequently because they wanted the players “in our culture,” K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune passes along via Twitter. Earlier today, the Bulls formally announced that they will have their own D-League team starting in the 2016/17 season, so that concern will no longer be an issue.

Here’s more D-League news to pass along:

  • Edy Tavares is headed to the D-League affiliate of the Spurs, the Hawks announced today, confirming Tuesday’s report from Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Atlanta was sending the rookie on assignment. The Hawks don’t have a D-League affiliate, so it wasn’t initially clear where he’d end up, though it’s no surprise to see him head to the Austin Spurs, given the ties between the Atlanta and San Antonio organizations.
  • The Sixers sent point guards Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten to their D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, the team announced via press release. The duo aren’t expected to play in any D-League games, but they will work out with the team as they recover from their respective injuries, per John Finger of These are the first D-League assignments of the season for Philadelphia.
  • The Celtics assigned James Young to the Maine Red Claws, their D-League affiliate, and later recalled both him and Jordan Mickey, the team announced (Twitter links). Both players were sent to Maine to log more practice time. It was the third D-League assignment of the season for Young, and the second for Mickey, as our assignment and recall tracker shows.
  • The Rockets have assigned swingman K.J. McDaniels to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This is the first D-League assignment of the 2015/16 season for both the player and team.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post

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