Chicago Bulls

Central Notes: Hill, Bulls, Whittington

Pacers signee Jordan Hill has been arrested after allegedly driving 107 mph near Atlanta, reports Mike Petchenik of WSB-TV (Twitter link). “We have been informed Jordan was arrested for allegedly reckless driving in Atlanta, Georgia. It is obvious we don’t condone this. We will address this with Jordan. This is a major concern of safety, not just for Jordan, but for others,” president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in a statement the team issued via Twitter. Hill is scheduled to make a guaranteed $4MM on his one-year contract this season, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • While Pau Gasol understands the Bulls‘ reasons for firing former coach Tom Thibodeau, he doesn’t believe that simply revamping the team’s offense is enough to take the next step toward an NBA title, Mike McGraw of The Daily Herald relays. “Offense wasn’t too much of an issue last year,” Gasol said. “We can work on our offense all we want, but defense is going to make a difference in how we’re going to beat other teams.
  • The Bulls also face the challenge of fielding a roster loaded with big men in a league trending toward more scoring and smaller lineups, McGraw adds, but Gasol believes the team can benefit from its roster continuity. “We have a great opportunity,” Gasol said. “We have a very strong team. There were very few changes made as far as our roster and our players. We can build on what we had last year, so we have all the tools to be a much stronger team than we were and learn from our mistakes from last year. I think we have to understand we have talent offensively and we have to play with a better flow offensively. I think we’re going to have more freedom to play in transition and exploit our abilities as individuals. As long as we understand that defense is what wins championships and makes the difference … we should be fine.
  • Shayne Whittington is part of the Pacers‘ current frontcourt logjam, but he believes his ability to guard multiple positions will set him apart, Scott Agness of writes. “Honestly, I think the one thing that really will set me apart from anybody at the four and five is if I can start guarding guards on a consistent basis,” Whittington said. “If I start doing that, then, then you never know, I’ll be at the four quite a bit. We’ll switch a lot; I can actually guard those guards; [Coach Frank Vogel will] feel comfortable with me out there guarding people. If your President of Basketball Operations feels comfortable with you guarding guards out there, you’re going to be on the court, especially if you’re 6’11”. Playing defense, rebounding the ball — that’ll get me on the court.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Cavs, Jackson, Hilliard

The Cavs would benefit from bringing back unrestricted free agent J.R. Smith and the guard would benefit from a return to Cleveland after testing his luck in free agency, Bud Shaw of the Northeast Ohio Media Group opines. Smith, who is expected to meet with the Cavs soon, left $6.4MM on the table when he declined his player’s option with Cleveland in June. The reunion would make sense from a basketball standpoint, Shaw writes, because the Cavs would not need Smith to carry the load of a top scoring option and Smith is at his best off the bench and playing loose.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Reggie Jackson‘s five-year, $80MM deal with the Pistons does not carry any options and will pay the guard $13.9MM in the first year and $18.1MM in the final year, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). It was recently reported that despite widespread criticism, Detroit coach/executive Stan Van Gundy still likes the contract.
  • Darrun Hilliard, who the Pistons drafted at No. 38 and later officially signed to a three-year deal, received $600K guaranteed in the first year of his contract with Detroit with the second and third years of his deal at the minimum salary, Pincus tweets.
  • The final year of the two-year deal E’Twaun Moore signed in September with the Bulls became fully guaranteed on July 15th, Pincus tweets. The combo guard will be paid slightly more than $1MM this upcoming season. Moore’s production fell last season as he made 56 appearences and averaged only 2.7 points per game.

Eastern Notes: Larkin, Stuckey, Copeland

The Nets believe that the right system can bring out the potential that made Shane Larkin a first round pick back in 2013, Ohm Youngmisuk of writes. “I talked to [GM] Billy [King] and Lionel [Hollins] as soon as free agency started, and they told me they wanted me to come in and just play my game,” Larkin said. “I’m more of a pick-and-roll guy, up and down. “And that’s the thing they told me they wanted me to come in and do. For them to tell me they wanted me to come in push the tempo, bring some energy to the team, that was everything I wanted to hear.

Larkin admits to having been uncomfortable playing in the Knicks‘ triangle offense last season, Youngmisuk adds. “I mean the triangle is a good offense if you have the type of players that fit within that offense,” Larkin said. “And I don’t feel like it was the best offense for me. I’m not talking bad about it. It’s a great offense. I wish them nothing but the best.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The presence of former teammate Jason Kidd as coach was a major factor for Chris Copeland‘s decision to sign with the Bucks, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports writes. “The biggest hook for me was Jason Kidd, by far,” Copeland said. “Obviously, he was a friend of mine before all this. He was a great mentor for me in New York and someone I continue to grow under. An incredible mind on and off the floor.
  • The final season of Jordan Mickey‘s four-year pact with the Celtics is a non-guaranteed team option, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • Brazilian big man Cristiano Felicio‘s contract with the Bulls is a two-year deal, and he will earn $525,093 in 2015/16 and $874,636 the following season, with both years non-guaranteed, Pincus relays (Twitter link).
  • Rodney Stuckey‘s three-year contract with the Pacers will see him earn $7MM each season, and includes a player option for the final year, Pincus relays (on Twitter).

Eastern Notes: Okafor, Mickey, Aldridge

Sixers first-rounder Jahlil Okafor is preparing himself to be the focal point that Philadelphia will build around, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes. “I’m definitely used to being the centerpiece of a team,” Okafor said. “That’s what I’ve become accustomed to.  That’s what I’ve been working so hard for.” Philly point guard Isaiah Canaan is excited about the possibilities Okafor brings with him to the team, Kennedy adds. “He’s going to open up everything,” Canaan said of Okafor. “He’s a big presence on the post. He can score the ball and he can pass. With a big guy who can do that and draw a lot of attention, he’s going to open up everyone else on the team and he’s going to be big piece for us. You always need a big man on the team. Next to point guard, that’s the most important piece. To have Big Jah and hopefully [Joel] Embiid – if he can come back fully healthy next year – not to mention still adding other pieces, we’ll be fine and have a lot of great players on this team.

Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • The first two seasons of Jordan Mickey‘s four-year deal with the Celtics are fully guaranteed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The forward is set to earn $1,170,960 this season, followed by salaries of $1,223,653, $1,276,346, and $1,329,039, Pincus adds.
  • Ronald Roberts‘ two-year agreement with the Raptors includes a partial guarantee for $75K, Pincus relays (on Twitter).
  • The final season of Mike Dunleavy‘s three-year pact with the Bulls, which is scheduled to pay him approximately $5.18MM, is only partially guaranteed for $1.66MM, Pincus tweets.
  • The cancellation of the scheduled meeting between LaMarcus Aldridge and the Knicks was due to New York’s desire for Aldridge to play exclusively at center, a position he is not fond of, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork writes. “They didn’t want to meet with me,” Aldridge said. “Some people said it was me. But it was both parties agreeing that we shouldn’t meet.” League sources informed Begley that Knicks president Phil Jackson decided to cancel the meeting when it became clear that Aldridge had no desire to man the pivot on a nightly basis.

Central Notes: Kaun, Dunleavy, Brooks

The Cavaliers invited draft-and-stash center Sasha Kaun to join GM David Griffin and other team personnel in Las Vegas this weekend to discuss the possibility of Kaun signing with the franchise and joining the NBA this coming season, Joe Vardon of The Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. While Cleveland is interested in having the big Russian join its roster, the Cavs’ salary cap situation limits how much they can offer Kaun, a sum which certainly wouldn’t equal the $2.9MM annual salary he earns playing for CSKA Moscow, Vardon adds. For Kaun, the money disparity isn’t a dealbreaker, with Kaun telling Vardon, “That’s probably something that shouldn’t be a problem. Hopefully coming to this team, it will give us an opportunity to win, and winning is more important to me than money. I don’t think I want to do it [play basketball] because of the money. Just play basketball and enjoy it and play with some really great players. That’s the more important thing.

Griffin confirmed the Cavs’ interest in the 30-year-old big man, saying, “We would love to have him if something could be worked out.” The GM also acknowledged the challenge in signing Kaun due to budgetary constraints, Vardon notes. “It’s difficult because he’s coming off making an incredibly large amount of money and he is literally a first-team, all-Euroleague-caliber center, and it’s a difficult proposition to come to a team like ours for the type of money we have to offer,” Griffin continued.

Here’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Mike Dunleavy‘s three-year deal with the Bulls will pay him $4.5MM for the 2015/16 campaign, $4,837,500 in 2016/17, both seasons being fully-guaranteed, and $5.175MM the final season, which is partially guaranteed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • The Bulls‘ one year pact with Aaron Brooks will see him earn $2.25MM this coming season, and it gives him the power to veto trades, Pincus notes (on Twitter).
  • Aron Baynes will earn $6.5MM in each of the three seasons covered in his deal with the Pistons, with the final year being a player option, Pincus tweets.
  • Brazilian big man Cristiano Felicio‘s contract with the Bulls is for two years, and he will earn $525,093 in 2015/16 and $874,636 the following season, according to Pincus.

Central Notes: Butler, Ellis, Young

There had been rumblings toward the end of the 2014/15 season that there was tension between Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, with Rose supposedly becoming frustrated with Butler’s expanded offensive role with the Bulls, rumblings that Butler categorizes as false, Nick Friedell of writes. “I think he’s always been supportive of me being aggressive, especially on offense,” Butler said. “We all know that I’ll be the aggressor on defense. So from what I can tell, the guy’s always been in my corner.”

The swingman believes the only reason his relationship with Rose was even discussed is because of Chicago’s season ending on a disappointing note in the NBA playoffs, Friedell adds. “The only reason that it came up is because we lost,” Butler said. “I don’t think we have any beef or whatever you want to call it. I think we just want to win. We didn’t win, so now [people say] we’re beefing, now we have a problem with each other, and I don’t think that’s the case.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • The league has temporarily disallowed the four-year deal worth approximately $44MM that Monta Ellis inked with the Pacers, Zach Lowe of Grantland reports in a series of tweets. Lowe is quick to stress that Ellis will indeed become a member of the team, but Indiana simply ran out of necessary cap room, and will need to change the order in which some other transactions are finalized to make Ellis’ deal work.
  • The salaries that Ellis is set to earn with that Pacers contract are $10.3MM this coming season, $10,763,500 in 2016/17, $11.227MM in 2017/18, and he has a player option for the final season worth $11,690,500, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • Pacers 2015 second-rounder Joseph Young will be paid $1,007,026 and $1,052,342 the first two years of his deal, both of which are fully guaranteed, and $1,097,658, which is non-guaranteed, during the 2017/18 campaign, Pincus relays, adding that a fourth season, worth $1,142,974, is a team option (Twitter link).

Bulls Sign Aaron Brooks

JULY 14TH, 5:26pm: The deal is official, the Bulls announced in a press release.

JULY 9TH, 10:47am: The deal won’t be for the minimum, but instead for slightly more than $2MM, reports K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Chicago will use a portion of its $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception, Johnson adds.

JULY 7TH, 1:08pm: The Bulls will re-sign Aaron Brooks for one year at the minimum salary, reports Marc Stein of (Twitter link). Brooks could have signed for 20% more than the minimum via Non-Bird rights, but Chicago gets a break as its poised to pay the tax thanks in large measure to its deals with Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy.

The 30-year-old Brooks served as Chicago’s primary backup point guard this past season, even starting 21 games, but little chatter surrounded his free agency, surprisingly, as his sparse rumors page shows. The Bulls thus keep their primary backcourt contributors in house, with Derrick Rose and Tony Snell under contract, Butler having agreed to re-sign and Kirk Hinrich having opted in.

Butler, a seven-year veteran, will nonetheless see a slight raise, from $1,145,685 to $1,270,964. The Bulls need only pay $947,276, the equivalent of the two-year veteran’s minimum, with the league picking up the rest. The disadvantage of the one-year deal is that Chicago can’t trade him without his consent, as he’d lose his Early Bird rights if he were traded, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).

Bulls Re-Sign Mike Dunleavy

JULY 14TH, 5:21pm: The deal is official, the Bulls announced via a press release.

9:08am: The sides have reached agreement, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter). It’ll be $14.4MM over the course of the three years with a partial guarantee on the final season, Wojnarowski also tweets.

JULY 1ST, 8:16am: The Bulls and Mike Dunleavy are close to a three-year, $15MM deal, reports Marc Stein of (Twitter link). Chicago has remained the favorite even as other teams were poised to give chase. LeBron James apparently prompted the Cavaliers to pursue the client of outgoing Wasserman agent Arn Tellem, while the Wizards and Clippers also reportedly had interest.

Chicago has Early Bird rights on Dunleavy, and it would seem they’re putting them to use here. The Cavs were likely limited to no more than the taxpayer’s mid-level of $3.376MM, and while the Wizards could have spent their $5.464MM non-taxpayer’s mid-level, the Bulls appear to have come up with a comparable figure. That’s even though Chicago is poised to pay the tax, too.

Kings Sign Marco Belinelli

July 13th, 9:58pm: The signing is official, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

July 3rd, 4:05pm: The deal wouldn’t fit within the mid-level exception, Stein notes via Twitter. That exception would only allow for a total of $17,129,640 over three years, and while it’s not uncommon for initial reported figures on deals to be off, this appears to be confirm that the contract will exceed the exception amount. That means the Kings will likely use cap room and lose the ability to create trade exceptions for the three players they’ve agreed to trade to Philadelphia, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders points out (on Twitter).

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Detroit Pistons

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

1:36pm: The Kings and Marco Belinelli have reached agreement on a deal worth $19MM over three years, reports Ramona Shelburne of (Twitter link). The contract will include no option clauses, tweets Ken Berger of Sacramento will likely use part of the cap space it’s set to clear in the wake of its trade agreement with the Sixers, though the deal is cheap enough to fit within the $5.464MM mid-level exception if the Kings choose to operate as an over-the-cap team.

The Hornets had reportedly planned a strong pursuit, and the Warriors had interest, too. The Heat put in a call to express their interest in the client of Sam Goldfeder and Jeff Schwartz, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link), but Miami, like the Warriors, is likely limited to no more than the $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception. The Bulls might have gone after him if they’d have failed to sign Mike Dunleavy, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune wrote, but they, too, would likely have been limited to the taxpayer’s mid-level.

Belinelli wanted to re-sign with the Spurs, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News heard (Twitter link). They were armed with Early Bird rights to bring him back on a deal comparable to the one he’s getting from the Kings, but they’re in hot pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge, and may well have had to renounce Belinelli’s rights to squeeze Aldridge under the cap.

Sacramento moves on from having missed out on Monta Ellis and Wesley Matthews with a proven three-point marksman who’s nailed 39.2% of his attempts from behind the arc for his career. Still, outside of two seasons in New Orleans, he’s primarily been a reserve during his eight years in the NBA.

Bulls Sign Cristiano Felicio

The Bulls have signed big man Cristiano Felicio, who is from Brazil and is currently playing on Chicago’s summer league team, the Bulls announced in a press release.

“We’ve been impressed with Cristiano’s work ethic and potential,” said GM Gar Forman. “We’re looking forward to working with him and having him come to camp with us this fall.” 

K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tweets Felicio will come to training camp on a make-good deal.

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