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Chicago Bulls

P.J. Tucker Drawing Trade Interest

The market for P.J. Tucker, who is on track for unrestricted free agency this summer, is growing and several teams hold interest in acquiring the veteran small forward, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports. The Clippers, Bulls, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Hawks all have interest in trading for Tucker, who is known for is defensive prowess, Gambadoro reports.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Knicks had interest in Tucker as well, but Gambadoro did not add New York to his list. Gambadoro cautions that a trade may not get done for a few reasons. The main one seems to be that Phoenix is also interested in re-signing Tucker because it does not have another player like him with his defensive and rebounding abilities, Gambadoro writes. Unless the Suns are confident they can re-sign him, however, it makes to shop him around.

The Suns likely aren’t willing to part with Tucker unless they can get a first-round pick or good prospect in return, Gambadoro reports, and for a team like the Clippers, that may be a deal-breaker, considering Tucker is only a marginal upgrade over someone like Wesley Johnson. This is simply my speculation, but of the teams listed, a larger trade would likely have to take place for it to make sense because those clubs do not have much to offer in terms of draft picks or young talent.

Tucker has made only 17 starts for the Suns this season, but has appeared in 41 games. His minutes are down a bit at 27.4 per game. Never known as a particularly strong shooter, Tucker is averaging 6.3 points per game and is attempting 5.7 field goals per game. His 5.7 rebounds per game is lower than any of his averages in that category in his three previous seasons with the Suns.

Injuries, Illness Affecting Development

  • Injuries and illnesses are juggling the Bulls‘ rotation and hampering player development, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant and Paul Zipser have all been in and out of the lineup recently as coach Fred Hoiberg tries to find healthy and effective combinations. “We have so many young guys and all of them at some point over the course of the year have given us good minutes,” Hoiberg said. “… It’s something that we’ll continue to juggle until we find the right group. It’s unfortunate. Denzel has had some good moments and then has had a setback on a couple of different moments.”

Bulls Notes: Rondo, Gibson, Trades

Rajon Rondo‘s tenure with the Bulls hasn’t gone as planned and the point guard believes he has to do a better job of weighing his free agent options in the future, as David Aldridge of NBA.com passes along.

“I was very cautious this summer, where I chose to play,” Rondo said “What I was told in the meeting … it’s a little different [now] from what I was told. That’s all I can say. That was big for me, to come in and understand that I’m a guy that, once I learn the system, I can run the show. That’s what I do. I don’t try to come in and act like I know it all, and that’s why I put the extra work in of watching film, getting an understanding of what you want from personnel, each player.

[RELATED: Trade Candidate: Rajon Rondo]

“That’s what I do best. I managed how to get three Hall of Famers the ball and keep everybody happy. All I have is two this year and I had one last year. It’s pretty simple. That’s what I do. I run the show.”

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • The Bulls simply are not a good fit for Rondo as the team is currently construction, a source close to the point guard tells Aldridge in the same piece. “Rajon has to play with guys who are more suited to the way he plays,” the source said. “If he’s with some shooters and some slashers, he’ll be fine. They’ll be fine. I think he and Butler can play together, and maybe Wade and Butler can play together. But he and Wade and Butler can’t play together.”
  • Rondo’s teammates are thrilled with the way he handled his benching and his reduced role on the team, Aldridge passes along in the same piece. “One thing about that is, I’m super happy how he handled it,” Taj Gibson said. “That just speaks to how he’s grown, when you talk about it. I missed him the last couple of games, I really did. He’s a great player. He facilitates the ball. I’m just happy he didn’t overdo it. He’s a pro. He’s been great in the locker room.”
  • It would be surprising if the Bulls didn’t make a move or two before the trade deadline, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com opines (Twitter link). Rondo is an obvious candidate for a change of scenery, but other players could find themselves in a trade. If the Bulls want to give second-year power forward Bobby Portis more run, they could elect to deal Gibson, although that is just my speculation.

Butler Lost 10 Pounds With Flu

  • Although it only briefly halted Jimmy Butler‘s impressive season, the small forward is said to have lost as many as 10 pounds while suffering from the flu last week says Sean Highkin of The Athletic. In his first game back from the illness, the Bulls star dropped 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Bulls Notes: Felicio, Lopez, Hoiberg, Valentine

Cristiano Felicio has taken over as Chicago’s center at the end of games, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Felicio played the entire fourth quarter in Saturday’s win over New Orleans and has established chemistry with the Bulls’ guards on pick-and-roll and lob plays. “The other thing he gives us is a big-time defensive presence,” said coach Fred Hoiberg. “We can get out and trap ball screens with him because of his ability to move. There are not a lot of big bodies that move as well as he does.” The Brazilian big man is putting up slightly better numbers during his second season in the NBA, averaging 4.4 points and 5.0 rebounds through 33 games.

There’s more news out of Chicago:

  • Starting center Robin Lopez has accepted the change without complaining, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m just trying to play my part a little bit,” Lopez said. “I think that’s kind of the good thing about our team. When we’re playing really well, we’ve got a lot of different options.’’ Lopez, who was acquired from the Knicks in an offseason deal, is under contract through 2018/19.
  • The Bulls have been disappointingly average through the first half of the season, Johnson writes in a separate piece. Young players like Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic haven’t become the building blocks that management expected, and the team’s last two first-rounders, Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine, aren’t part of the rotation. Johnson expects Hoiberg to be brought back next season, but his future after that could be uncertain.
  • It’s too early for the Bulls to write off  Valentine as a failure, argues Cole Zwicker of Fan Sided. Injuries and illnesses have helped to derail his rookie season, but Zwicker contends that Valentine still has the skills to develop into a productive NBA player.

Trade Candidate: Rajon Rondo

As we approach February’s trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at several players we consider trade candidates, discussing their value, speculating on potential destinations and explaining why they are – or should be – available. These players won’t necessarily be dealt in advance of the deadline, but it won’t be surprising if they are.

Rajon Rondo, PGRajon Rondo vertical
Chicago Bulls
2016/17 salary: $14,000,000
Salary for 2017/18 is guaranteed for just $3,000,000 through June 30th
Trade restrictions: None

Rajon Rondo couldn’t have been happier when he signed with the Bulls in July. After a disastrous stay in Dallas and a lost season in Sacramento, the veteran point guard felt like he had finally found a home.

“I’m excited,” Rondo said after agreeing to a two-year, $28MM deal. “Great organization with pieces around me that I’m excited about.”

Fast forward six months and nobody is excited. Not Rondo, who was pulled from the rotation two weeks ago. And not the Bulls, who are currently outside the playoff race at 20-21 through the first half of the season. Chicago was counting on Rondo and fellow free agent addition Dwyane Wade to turn the team back into contenders, but the fears many observers had about difficulty in meshing their similar styles have come true.

Marksmanship has always been an issue for Rondo, but the problem has become worse than ever since his arrival in Chicago. He’s shooting a career-low .368 from the field and just .298 from 3-point range. His scoring average has dipped to 7.3 points per game, which is the lowest since his rookie season.

Rondo responded to coach Fred Hoiberg‘s decision to take him out of the rotation by asking for a New Year’s Eve meeting with GM Gar Forman and executive vice president John Paxson. Little was resolved from that session and Rondo indicated that he would ask for a trade if he couldn’t get playing time in Chicago. An unidentified member of the coaching staff told Rondo he had been playing poorly and was benched to “save him from himself.”

After riding the pine for 5 1/2 games, Rondo got some help this week from an unlikely source — the flu bug. With Wade, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic all sidelined, Hoiberg needed healthy bodies and turned to Rondo as the lead guard for the second unit. Rondo played well enough as a reserve that it might become an ongoing role.

“I talked to him about the lift and the spark that he gave us [Tuesday] with the energy and the pace, the push that he had with that second unit,’’ Hoiberg told Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Of course, the situation isn’t ideal for either party. Rondo doesn’t want to be a backup after 10 years as a starter, and the Bulls don’t want to be paying $14MM to their second-string point guard.

But does that mean he will be traded out of Chicago before the February 23rd deadline?

Despite his shooting woes, there are still many reasons why teams would be interested in picking up Rondo. He’s the reigning league leader in assists, averaging 11.7 last season for a Kings team that finished well out of the playoffs. Also, Rondo is only 30 and is healthy enough to have several productive seasons left. And his contract for 2017/18 is only guaranteed for $3MM through June 30th, which means a team could easily part ways with him if the deal doesn’t work out.

The defending champs might be a possible trading partner, as a report last week said the Cavaliers are keeping a close eye on the Rondo situation. Cleveland has been in the market for a backup to Kyrie Irving since the season began, following the sign-and-trade of Matthew Dellavedova to the Bucks and the retirement and subsequent trade of Mo Williams to the Hawks.

Rondo’s contract would make him a pricey addition for a team that already has the NBA’s highest salary, and it’s not clear whom the Cavs would give up in a deal. Cleveland seems more likely to swoop in if Rondo gets bought out, although his poor 3-point shooting makes him a bad fit in the Cavaliers’ offense.

Another rumor that has gotten some traction involves Miami. The Heat still owe Goran Dragic more than $54MM over the next three seasons and may want to unload that contract to speed up the rebuilding process. Dragic is making $15.89MM this season, so their salaries would easily match up. Chicago could reunite the Dragic-Wade backcourt and gain some outside shooting, while Miami could either waive Rondo or renegotiate with him after this season and maybe pick up a draft pick or two to help replace the package they sent to Phoenix to acquire Dragic.

The Sixers are another interesting possibility for Rondo, if only as a short-term option until Jerryd Bayless returns from injury next season and rookie Ben Simmons is ready to take over the offense. A recent hot streak has sparked hope of playoff contention in Philadelphia, and a veteran point guard might be just what the Sixers need to maximize the team’s wealth of young frontcourt talent.

Wherever Rondo goes next, it will almost certainly be a better fit than the Bulls. It appeared to be an odd signing even before Wade committed to Chicago, and the Butler-Wade-Rondo trio always seemed destined to fail because of overlapping skills.

Still, Rondo is too talented to sit on the bench with the Bulls or to be relegated to the second unit. If Chicago is set on using Michael Carter-Williams as its starter, the organization is better off finding a new home for Rondo rather than running the risk of him being a disruptive force for the rest of the season. Rondo could be a giant X factor wherever he goes. He could turn out to be a valuable piece for a title contender just as he was in Boston, or he could quickly sink a team’s postseason just like he did in Dallas.

What do you think? Should the Bulls trade Rondo? Weigh in below in the comments section with your thoughts and possible trade ideas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rondo Calls Benching 'Slap In The Face'

  • Point guard Rajon Rondo called his punitive benching by Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg a “slap in the face,” writes Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago, but the veteran also says that the decision wasn’t unexpected.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 1/11/17

Here are Wednesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

10:20pm:

  • The Jazz have assigned Alec Burks and Raul Neto to their D-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the team’s website. Both players were in action for tonight’s contest against the Grand Rapids Drive.
  • The Blazers have assigned Tim Quarterman to the D-League, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. Portland does not have its own affiliate, so Quarterman will play for the Windy City Bulls on this assignment.

1:41 pm

  • The Raptors recalled rookie guard Fred VanVleet from their D-League affiliate following the team’s Tuesday night victory (Twitter link). VanVleet posted a double-double for the Raptors 905 on Tuesday, with 12 points, 11 assists, and four steals.
  • The Nets have re-assigned Chris McCullough to the D-League, the club announced today in a press release. The second-year power forward has played sparingly this season for Brooklyn, but has appeared in 21 games for the Long Island Nets, averaging 18.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG.

Rajon Rondo Returns To Bulls' Rotation

  • After sharing some candid thoughts on Tuesday about his recent benching, Rajon Rondo returned to the court for the Bulls later in the night, playing for the first time in 2017. As K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune reports, Rondo played well enough that head coach Fred Hoiberg said he expected the point guard to remain in the rotation going forward — for now, at least.

Rajon Rondo Talks Situation With Bulls

Rajon Rondo, whose status with the team remains unclear, said a member of the Bulls’ coaching staff told him that the team was trying to “save him from himself,” as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relays (series of Twitter links). Rondo was told that he was playing poorly during a game against the Pacers—the one where he was initially benched—and that was a major reason why the team took action.

“Save me from myself,” Rondo lamented. “I never heard that before in my life. But I guess he was trying to do the best thing for me.”

Rondo added that he didn’t appreciate the team’s comments. Rondo was asked if he and coach Fred Hoiberg have spoken much about the situation. “Um. How can I say this? No,” Rondo said. “We speak. Cordial. Nothing much to say.”

A member of Chicago’s public relation staff attempted to end the media session midway through the interview, but Rondo said he would like to continue, as Johnson passes along (additional series of Twitter links). “I haven’t had this much attention in awhile,” Rondo said.

Rondo added that when he signed with Chicago, he envisioned things going differently and called the situation the most confusing of his career. He’s played in 29 games for the Bulls this season, posting the lowest points and minutes totals since his rookie season.

Rondo is playing tonight for the first time since being benched late last month. The point guard hasn’t seen NBA action in nearly two weeks, but said he’s been trying to stay in shape by playing pick-up games at a local middle school. He’ll be the team’s sixth man while Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are absent from the lineup.

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