Adam Mokoka

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Young, LaVine, Mokoka

It’s “highly unlikely” Lauri Markkanen will play again before the All-Star break, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Meeting with reporters before tonight’s game, Bulls coach Billy Donovan provided an update on Markkanen, who has missed the last nine contests with a sprained right shoulder.

“He makes progress, but he has not done anything contact-wise, he’s done nothing that at this point in time would show us that he’s going to be back within the next week,” Donovan said. “Could it happen? Sure. Do I feel like it’s likely it’s going to happen? Probably not.”

Markkanen’s original prognosis was two to four weeks, and Johnson notes that the full four weeks will take him to March 8, three days before the Bulls start the second half of their season. Markkanen has played in 14 of Chicago’s first 30 games and is averaging a career-high 19.1 PPG.

“The biggest challenge I think for Lauri right now is because of the injury, if he reinjures it or hurts it again relatively quickly on his return, it’s going to almost put him back to ground zero again,” Donovan said. “So he’s working with the medical staff and he’s doing what he can physically to keep himself in condition.”

There’s more from Chicago:
  • With second-half schedules released today, Thaddeus Young believes the Bulls can make a strong playoff push in April, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The team’s slate for April includes a game with the Timberwolves and two each with the Grizzlies, Hawks and Cavaliers. There are also some matchups with teams they will battling for playoff spots, such as the Pacers, Knicks and Heat. “I’m an analytical guy,” Young said. “I look at the numbers, I look at who’s in front of us, I look at our schedule and I’ve seen months where we can kind of take care of business and really push some leeway and some gaps in between us and other teams. I see in April where we can really cover some ground on some teams that we can really step in and face and make sure we take care of business.”
  • Zach LaVine has higher goals now that he has been named an All-Star for the first time, notes Sam Smith of NBA.com. “You want to be MVP of a championship team,” he said Tuesday after learning that he had been selected as a reserve. “Obviously, if we continue to play the right way and I’m playing at a high level, I can see myself as All-NBA team. If I continue to up my defense and being consistent, I can see myself as an All-Defensive team guy.”
  • Second-year swingman Adam Mokoka, who is on a two-way contract, has been transferred to the G League and will join the Austin Spurs, the Bulls announced (via Twitter). He has seen limited playing time in seven games this season.

Central Notes: Bulls, Holiday, Nance, Dellavedova, Exum

The Bulls will be without six players when they travel to Oklahoma City this week for a pair of preseason games, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. In addition to Garrett Temple (coronavirus), Denzel Valentine (hamstring strain), and Thaddeus Young (lower leg infection), the club will also be missing Devon Dotson, Adam Mokoka, and Tomas Satoransky, who are simply listed as “not with team.”

As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago noted on Sunday when those three players – and Noah Vonleh – were given excused absences for the Bulls’ previous exhibition contest, those vague designations will likely become common over the course of the 2020/21 season as teams navigate the NBA’s coronavirus protocols.

While Vonleh eventually confirmed he had tested positive for COVID-19, that doesn’t mean the same is true of Dotson, Mokoka, and Satoransky. It’s possible they’re being kept away from the Bulls temporarily for contact tracing purposes, or even for a reason unrelated to the coronavirus. With teams not formally announcing which of their players have tested positive for the virus, we may be left to speculate in situations like this throughout the coming season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Now that the Bucks have secured a commitment from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) wonders if an extension for Jrue Holiday might be next up on the team’s to-do list. Since he was recently traded, Holiday can only get a 5% raise and one extra year (beyond his 2021/22 player option) for now, but those restrictions will lift on February 26, allowing for more money and more years.
  • Cavaliers veterans Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova are entering the NBA’s concussion protocol and neither player will travel to New York for the club’s final two preseason games, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
  • Dante Exum, who had 23 points and five assists and was a plus-33 in Monday’s win over Indiana, has solidified his spot as the Cavaliers‘ backup point guard entering the season, Fedor writes in a separate story for Cleveland.com. Exum, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, is entering a contract year.

Adam Mokoka Returns To Bulls On Two-Way Deal

After spending his rookie season on a two-way contract with the Bulls, second-year wing Adam Mokoka has officially accepted another two-way deal from the team, according to the NBA’s transactions log.

Mokoka only logged a total of 112 minutes in 11 games at the NBA level in 2019/20, but was a regular for Chicago’s G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls. He averaged 10.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 3.3 APG in 31 games (32.2 MPG) in the NBAGL, though he only shot 37.1% from the field (32.7% on threes).

Mokoka was named the MVP of a summer tournament in France that also featured NBA players Frank Ntilikina and Sekou Doumbouya. He received a two-way qualifying offer from the Bulls last week that made him a restricted free agent.

Chicago has already signed undrafted rookie guard Devon Dotson to a two-way deal, so both of their two-way slots are now full, as our tracker shows.

Bulls Won’t Extend Qualify Offer To Shaq Harrison

The Bulls will not extend a qualifying offer to guard Shaquille Harrison, making him an unrestricted free agent, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Harrison had a low-cost QO of $2,025,705 but Chicago chose to create a little more cap and roster flexibility rather than retain the 6’7” guard.

The undrafted Harrison, 27, began his career in Phoenix. He’s been with the Bulls the past two seasons. Last season, Harrison appeared in 43 games — including 10 starts — and averaged 4.9 PPG in 11.3 MPG. He shot 38.1% from long range.

The Bulls are reshaping their backcourt, as they’re also declining to extend a QO to a more prominent player, Kris Dunn. Both Dunn and Harrison are considered strong defenders but are somewhat limited on offense.

Chicago did make a qualifying offer to two-way player Adam Mokoka, according to Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link). That QO will be a two-way deal with $50K guaranteed.

Eastern Notes: Isaac, Connaughton, Heat, Mokoka

Jonathan Isaac hasn’t played for the Magic in nearly seven months, having suffered a knee injury on January 1. However, it looks like his return is imminent — the team’s performance staff and front office officials have cleared Isaac to suit up for Orlando’s scrimmage on Monday, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

The Magic are being extra cautious with Isaac, one of the franchise’s young cornerstones, so he’ll still have to make it through today’s shootaround before being given the go-ahead for the club’s evening scrimmage vs. Denver. And even if he plays, he’ll face restrictions, Robbins notes.

“It’s been a very long time since he’s played,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said of Isaac. “As always, we will take a very cautious approach, and his playing time will be placed under a very limited minute restriction as he gets reacclimated to the NBA game.”

The Magic had originally been planning to be without Isaac this summer, but the young forward has exceeded expectations, writes Robbins. If he gets through Monday’s scrimmage with no issues, he would be well positioned to contribute in the team’s seeding games and potentially the playoffs as well, which would be a nice boost for Orlando. Isaac was one of the NBA’s best defenders during the first half of the season, with averages of 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals per game in 32 contests.

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Bucks wing Pat Connaughton, who revealed last week that he had tested positive for COVID-19, said on Saturday that he was en route to the NBA’s campus in Orlando, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. Assuming Connaughton began his quarantine that evening and returns two negative coronavirus tests, he should be cleared to rejoin the team today.
  • Heat starters Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn confirmed that their arrivals to Orlando were delayed by positive COVID-19 tests, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Adebayo said that he was essentially asymptomatic, while Nunn had “mild symptoms,” per Winderman. “It felt like a common cold, to be honest,” Nunn said. “I’m just thankful I got over it.”
  • Bulls two-way player Adam Mokoka was named the MVP of a summer tournament in France, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. Mokoka scored 18 points in the final of the Amiral League, which took place in Paris and also featured NBA players Frank Ntilikina and Sekou Doumbouya.

And-Ones: Beasley, Walkup, China, Ntilikina

The Nets issued a press release two weeks ago announcing that they had signed Michael Beasley, then voided that contract after the forward tested positive for COVID-19. According to John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link), Beasley’s case is technically being treated as if he failed his physical and had his contract disapproved. As Hollinger puts it, “it’s like he was never there.”

Substitute-player contracts don’t count against NBA teams’ cap sheets this summer, so the Nets’ cap will be unaffected either way. However, presumably the team won’t be on the hook for the $183K they would have owed Beasley.

More importantly, the five-game suspension that Beasley would have had to serve if he had stuck with the Nets appears to still be in play — if and when the former No. 2 pick signs with a new NBA team, he’ll still have to serve that five-game ban before being activated.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former Stephen F. Austin guard Thomas Walkup, who has spent the last three seasons overseas, received some NBA interest, but has decided to remain with Lithuanian team Zalgiris Kaunas rather than exercise his opt-out, according to Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link).
  • The NBA has terminated its relationship with a basketball academy located in the Xinjiang region of China, according to a letter sent by the league to a U.S. senator, obtained by Ross Dellenger of SI.com. “The NBA has had no involvement with the Xinjiang basketball academy for more than a year, and the relationship has been terminated,” deputy commissioner Mark Tatum wrote to Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn. The Xinjiang region, where Chinese authorities are holding approximately one million Muslims in “re-education” camps, is “known as one of the world’s worst humanitarian zones,” Dellenger writes.
  • A handful of NBA players are taking part in a basketball tournament in Paris this week, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who reports that Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina, Pistons forward Sekou Doumbouya, and Bulls two-way player Adam Mokoka are participating in the event.

Central Notes: Brogdon, Porter Jr., McRae, Mokoka

When the Pacers play the Bulls on Friday night, they could be without a few notable players, including Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon is dealing with a left hip injury that limited him to only 11 minutes of game action on Wednesday night against the Bucks. The former Rookie of the Year award winner got an MRI and did not practice on Thursday, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

In 48 games this season, Brogdon is averaging 16.3 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 4.7 RPG. He is also shooting 43.9% from the field and a career-low 31.3% from three-point range.

Along with Brogdon, T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott, and JaKarr Sampson are all questionable for tomorrow’s contest.

Here’s more from out of the Central:

  • The Cavaliers announced on Thursday that rookie Kevin Porter Jr. was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol after suffering a head injury on Wednesday night against the Celtics. His status to return is unclear. The late first-round pick is averaging 10 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG this season.
  • Who is Adam Mokoka? If you asked Bulls fans earlier this season, they might not be able to answer that question. Fast-forward to March, and the 21-year-old is starting to carve out a role for himself with Chicago. Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago looks at the road the Bulls’ two-player has taken from his early playing days in France, Serbia, and now Chicago.
  • With the Pistons potentially gearing up for a rebuild, newly-acquired guard Jordan McRae will get an opportunity to show Detroit’s front-office brass that he’s a keeper, writes Ron Beard of the Detroit News. McRae scored 15 points in his debut on Wednesday night against the Thunder.

Bulls Waive Doyle, Simon, Shittu

The Bulls have waived guards Milton Doyle and Justin Simon and forward Simisola Shittu, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

These moves reduce their opening night roster to the maximum 15 players. All three players were on non-guaranteed contracts and were deemed most likely to be waived.

Chicago has no plans to add a player off the waiver wire, according to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, which is good news for Shaquille Harrison, whose $1.62MM contract was only guaranteed for $175K. He’ll receive a full guarantee if he remains on the roster through January 10th. All of the other 14 players on the regular roster have fully guaranteed deals.

The Bulls will add another two-way player in the coming days and that player will likely be someone from outside the organization, according to Johnson (Twitter links). Adam Mokoka has the other two-way contract.

Doyle played with the Nets on a two-way contract two seasons ago and spent last season with the Spanish team Murcia. Simon and Shittu are undrafted rookies who will likely join the team’s G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls.

Eastern Notes: Heat, Spoelstra, Mokoka, Osman

With the NBA declaring it will strongly enforce free agency rules pertaining to tampering going forward, Ira Winderman examines what this message means and how it could affect the Heat‘s 2021 summer plans in a story for the Sun Sentinel. Miami is expected to have enough salary-cap space to sign a second max player by then, with several expensive contracts set to expire.

Many league observers believe the Heat had Jimmy Butler locked up ahead of the June 30 free agency start this summer, but as seen with players such as Kemba Walker (Celtics), Kyrie Irving (Nets) and Kevin Durant (Nets), several other teams around the league took a similar approach with free agents.

The rules, as explained by Winderman, are simple: Teams are not allowed to contact players until the official start of free agency.

Tampering has been an increasingly prevalent issue in today’s NBA, with members of the league office actively exploring how to improve the problem. The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously voted on new rules to reportedly make tampering penalties stricter going forward, as noted in a recent Hoops Rumors story.

Miami was also thought to have LeBron James and Chris Bosh committed to deals before the free agency period opened back in 2010, but as Winderman notes, officials inside the organization denied these claims and investigations outside the team didn’t lead to any evidence of tampering.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The Heat could benefit from head coach Erik Spoelstra effectively selling bench roles to certain players this season, Winderman notes in a separate story for the Sun Sentinel. Spoelstra will have a number of options to choose from in his rotation, including whether to star Justise Winslow or Goran Dragic at point guard, Kelly Olynyk or James Johnson at power forward and more.
  • Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago previews what Adam Mokoka could bring to the Bulls this season, with the 21-year-old currently on a two-way contract. Mokoka averaged 9.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in summer league with Chicago, playing in a total of five games.
  • Joe Gabriele of NBA.com examines Cedi Osman‘s mindset entering his third season with the Cavaliers. Osman, 24, is looking to build off an international experience with Turkey in the FIBA World Cup this summer. The young forward, who is extension-eligible, averaged 13 points, 4.7 rebounds and 32.2 minutes in 76 games with Cleveland last season.

Bulls Sign Adam Mokoka To Two-Way Deal

2:34pm: The Bulls have officially signed Mokoka to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

12:53pm: Adam Mokoka will join the Bulls as a two-way player, tweets Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The 6’5″ shooting guard out of France declared for this year’s draft but wasn’t selected.

Mokoka also entered the draft in 2018, but withdrew before the deadline. He spent this season with Mega Bemax in Serbia.

Rawle Alkins and Brandon Sampson filled the Bulls’ two-way slots this season, but both are free agents.