Ayo Dosunmu

Central Notes: Dosunmu, White, Kalamian, Holiday, Sexton

Rookie Ayo Dosunmu and third-year guard Coby White have expanded roles in the absence of Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine and they’ve performed well, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Ball is out six-to-eight weeks after undergoing knee surgery and LaVine didn’t join on the Bulls on their three-game road trip due to a less serious knee injury.

Dosunmu and White have started the last three games, with Dosunmu averaging 18.0 PPG, 8.0 APG and 5.7 RPG and White posting 17.0 PPG, 4.3 APG and 4.3 RPG.

DeMar DeRozan has been impressed with Dosunmu’s maturity. “He accepts his mistakes,” DeRozan said. “He holds himself accountable. And that’s big for a young guy to be able to do that.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons assistant coach Rex Kalamian has agreed to become the head coach of the Armenian national team, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaworski tweets. Both of Kalamian’s parents are Armenian-Americans. Kalamian, who recently served as acting coach when Dwane Casey missed some games for personal reasons, will continue in his duties in Detroit.
  • Jrue Holiday returned to action on Wednesday after missing six games due to left ankle soreness. Though he only scored nine points in 22 minutes, he gave the Bucks a boost in numerous areas, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. “Wish I had a little more (time on the floor), but I think just trying to get my timing back, get my legs back, get my feel for the game back,” Holiday said. “I feel like I haven’t played in a long time, so just trying to get back right.”
  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, who underwent season-ending knee surgery two months ago, will be a restricted free agent after the season. Bryan Fonseca of Basketball News explores the pros and cons of Cleveland trading Sexton before next month’s deadline. Fonseca ultimately concludes the Cavs should retain Sexton, providing another shot-creator and catch-and-shoot option on a team with playoff aspirations beyond this season.

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, Hill, Trade Targets, Caruso

The shorthanded Bulls have a three-game losing streak for the first time this season, but rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu has emerged as a bright spot, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Making his third start, Dosunmu posted his first career double-double Saturday night with 21 points and 10 assists in a narrow loss to the Celtics.

Dosunmu made nine of 10 shots from the field, committed just one turnover and harassed Jayson Tatum into a poor shooting game. His outstanding performance came one night after going scoreless in 32 minutes against the Warriors.

“Coming from college to the NBA, there’s a lot of adjustments that I knew I had to make,” Dosunmu said. “And I knew that one of the adjustments was going from night to night and understanding that it’s a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league. And it’s so many games that you can’t get too high and never get too low. That was my challenge. (Friday), I had a tough night. I didn’t play to my standards. But I knew we had another chance today to get better. So I just wanted to come out there and try to establish that mentality.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Saturday’s game also featured a surprising contribution from hardship addition Malcolm Hill, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Hill, who signed with the team on Friday, played 18 minutes and was on the court as the game was being decided in the closing minutes. He shot just 1-of-5 from the field, but made enough plays to impress coach Billy Donovan“He’s been here for a day-and-a-half,” Donovan said, “and he did a good job defensively.”
  • In a separate story, Schaefer identifies three potential trades to fix the hole at power forward created by the loss of Patrick Williams, Javonte Green and Derrick Jones. Jerami Grant of the Pistons might be an option, Schaefer states, but only if Chicago is willing to part with Williams. Schaefer sees Grant as an ideal fit with the starting lineup and points out that he has prior experience with Donovan in Oklahoma City and executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas in Denver. The KingsHarrison Barnes and the ClippersNicolas Batum may also be options, according to Schaefer.
  • Chicago guard Alex Caruso, who is the only Bulls player currently in health and safety protocols, isn’t expected to return until Wednesday, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Central Notes: Dosunmu, Cavaliers, Olynyk, LeVert

Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu has been carrying his team in the absences of several key players, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Dosunmu had a big game on Saturday for a Chicago team missing Lonzo Ball, Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso and others.

In nearly 40 minutes, he recorded 21 points and 10 assists, shooting 9-of-10 from the field. The Bulls still lost to the Celtics 114-112, but Dosunmu’s production at 21 years old was certainly eye-opening.

“For a young guy like him to play with so much poise and not get rushed into making quick decisions, just playing smart ball, is impressive at that age,’’ teammate Nikola Vucevic said of Dosunmu. “Especially only in his third start and played however many games we played so far. He played well at both ends. He’s been doing that all year long. It’s a huge addition for us.’’

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • The Cavaliers reestablished their identity during a recent road trip, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic writes. Cleveland went 5-1 on the trip, defeating Oklahoma City 107-102 on Saturday. The team now owns the sixth-best record in the East at 26-18.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey doesn’t think it’ll take Kelly Olynyk long to get re-acclimated to the team, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Olynyk has only appeared in 10 games this season due to a knee injury, but he seems to be nearing a return. “Kelly’s a smart player,” Casey explained. “It’s not going to take him long. He knew all of the positions when healthy in training camp. There were times when we needed a wing during training camp, and he went out and played the wing.”
  • Pacers guard Caris LeVert discussed his appreciation for life and basketball on the one-year anniversary of his cancer discovery, as relayed by Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. LeVert was acquired by Indiana last January and underwent a physical that showed a cancerous mass on his left kidney. “It’s been extremely tough, but I’m extremely grateful to be still playing this game at a high level against the best players in the world,” he said.

Zach LaVine, Four Other Bulls Exit COVID-19 Protocols

All the Bulls players who were in the health and safety protocols have now rejoined the team, head coach Billy Donovan said today (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). That group consists of Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Alize Johnson, Matt Thomas, and Devon Dotson.

LaVine, Dosunmu, Johnson, and Thomas were all placed in the COVID-19 protocols at least 10 days ago. Dotson just entered the protocols on Tuesday, but has since tested out of them, according to Donovan (Twitter link via Johnson). That suggests that perhaps Dotson registered a false positive test earlier in the week.

It’s great news for the Bulls, who were one of the first teams to be affected by a coronavirus outbreak this month and who have had three games postponed. They’ll resume play on Sunday when they host Indiana.

The Bulls currently have three replacement players on 10-day hardship contracts. Alfonzo McKinnie signed his second 10-day deal on Monday and Ersan Ilyasova and Mac McClung inked their respective 10-day pacts on Wednesday.

While those contracts remain active for now, once all the Bulls players coming out of the protocols have been medically cleared to return to action, the team won’t be able to continue carrying those hardship signees, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). That means Ilyasova and McClung likely won’t get to play out their full 10-day contracts, and if Chicago wants to keep McKinnie around, the team would have to create room by trading or waiving someone from the 15-man roster.

Lakers’ Westbrook, Cavs’ Okoro Enter COVID-19 Protocols

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). Lakers guard Avery Bradley has also been placed in the protocols, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Westbrook and Bradley are the fourth and fifth Lakers to enter the protocols within the last three days, joining teammates Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, and Malik Monk.

It’s unclear if the two Lakers guards have registered confirmed positive tests for COVID-19, but if they have, they’ll be sidelined for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The news of Westbrook and Bradley entering the protocols coincides with reports that the Lakers have agreed to sign Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract using a hardship exception. Westbrook’s and Bradley’s absences should open the door for Thomas to get some run at the point guard spot.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro has entered the health and safety protocols, sources tell Kelsey Russo of The Athletic (Twitter link). No other Cavs players are currently in the protocols, so we’ll have to wait to see if Okoro is a one-off or if any of his teammates join him in the coming days. If Okoro tested positive for COVID-19, he’ll be in the protocols for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan told reporters, including Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, that Coby White and Javonte Green are the only two players on the team who have cleared the health and safety protocols and have been conducting individual workouts. That leaves eight players in the protocols, and many of them – including Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Alize Johnson, and Troy Brown Jr. – may not be back until after Christmas, according to Donovan.
  • Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa has cleared the health and safety protocols, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen also provides a few injury updates on Raptors players — Dalano Banton (illness) is good to go, while OG Anunoby (hip) and Khem Birch (knee) will be listed as questionable for the club’s game vs. Golden State on Saturday.

Bulls’ Ayo Dosunmu, Stanley Johnson Enter Protocols

The Bulls‘ COVID-19 outbreak continues with Ayo Dosunmu and Stanley Johnson both being placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

They are the sixth and seventh Chicago players to enter the protocols, along with Coby White, Javonte GreenDeMar DeRozan, Matt Thomas and Derrick Jones Jr.

Johnson just joined the team on Thursday, signing a 10-day deal under the hardship exception. The Bulls added a second hardship player, Alfonzo McKinnie, on Friday. Dosunmu, a rookie guard, has started the last two games due to the depleted lineup.

The Bulls still have 11 active players, so there doesn’t appear to be any danger of tonight’s game in Miami being postponed. The NBA hasn’t called off any games so far this season after COVID-19 caused chaos with the schedule last year, particularly in the early part of the season.

Schaefer adds that Alex Caruso, who has missed the past three games with a strained right hamstring, has been listed as available for tonight.

Central Notes: Dosunmu, Jarrett Allen, Pistons

Rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu has started the past two games for the shorthanded Bulls, and Sam Smith of Bulls.com writes that he’s earned that opportunity. A Chicago native, Dosunmu played well in his first start, notching 11 points, six rebounds, and eight assists in nearly 42 minutes during the team’s win over Denver on Monday.

Coach Billy Donovan is a big fan of the rookie and says he possesses an innate desire to improve his game.

I really love coaching him because you can really, really talk to him in a way he wants the truth,” said Donovan. “He wants to get better, he wants to grow, he wants to hear what he has to do to improve. For me as a coach, when you see a young man with that much hunger and desire to want to be good… he wants to hear it all and I really respect that about him. There’s a lot on his plate and he did a great job not only starting (Monday) but playing the number of minutes he did.”

Smith relays that Dosunmu, who went to the University of Illinois, located in Champaign, asked to be announced as “From Chicago” in his first home start, like former Bulls MVP Derrick Rose.

I like to be proud to say I’m from Chicago because I know the ups and downs of the city,” said Dosunmu. “I’ve been here my whole life. I’ve seen so many things, so much tragedy. For me to be in this position, doing what I love at the highest level, anytime I get an opportunity to show love to where I came from, I always love to do that. I’m from Chicago. Chicago, Illinois. I love Champaign, but I’m from Chicago.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Bryan Fonseca of BasketballNews.com makes the case for Cavaliers big man Jarrett Allen to earn his first All-Star nod this season. Fonseca notes that Allen has posted career-high numbers in several categories for the 14-12 Cavs, including a ridiculously efficient 71.7% true shooting percentage, which ranks third in the league.
  • Speaking of the Cavaliers center, Joe Vardon of The Athletic tweets that Allen will be strongly considered for the next Team USA squad under new head coach Steve Kerr. The World Cup takes place in 2023, with the Olympics in 2024.
  • With a record of 4-20, the Pistons rank dead last in the NBA. However, Rod Beard of The Detroit News believes that coach Dwane Casey‘s job should be safe. He notes that the Pistons have struggled to make open shots all year, which is a player problem, not a coaching issue. The team believes in Casey’s ability to work with and develop young players, Beard adds.
  • The results might not be showing it yet, but James L. Edwards III of The Athletic says the Pistons are in a much healthier place this season compared to the last few. He points to several young players on rookie contracts, another potential top pick this summer, and cap flexibility moving forward as reasons why the outlook is brighter in Detroit than it might appear on the surface.

Central Notes: Johnson, Donovan, Dosunmu, Pistons

Spurs forward Keldon Johnson was apparently almost drafted by the Cavaliers. Johnson discussed his near-selection in an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter video link). The Cavaliers instead opted to draft Dylan Windler with the No. 26 pick in the 2019 draft, while Johnson was ultimately drafted by San Antonio with the No. 29 pick.

Injuries have limited Windler’s availability across two NBA seasons. Windler missed his entire 2019/20 rookie season with a leg injury. In just 48 games, Windler holds career averages of 4.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 1.1 APG over 14.5 MPG.

“I was expecting to go the Cavs,” Johnson said. “Going back to draft night, I just feel like it’s a blessing I landed with the Spurs.”

The 22-year-old small forward out of Kentucky is averaging 14.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 2.0 APG for the Spurs. He boasts a slash line of .469/.410/657.

The 13-10 Cavaliers have enjoyed a breakout 2021/22 season, currently good for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. One can only imagine what Cleveland would look like had the club selected Johnson instead of Windler, though in so doing the team may have played its way out of the third pick in the 2021 draft that netted them breakout rookie big man Evan Mobley out of USC.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan expects the NBA will adopt stricter COVID-19 policies with the winter holidays on the horizon, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago is currently missing guard Coby White and forward Javonte Green due to COVID-19 diagnoses. ‘‘I think that’s happening,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I don’t think there’s any question that’s happening. My guess is stricter policies than there have already been this year. ‘‘[The holidays], people are going to be around family. The way it’s moving right now, it’s getting a little stricter. For us right now it’s a lot stricter because we have two players that are positive.’’
  • Bulls rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu, a second-round draft pick out of Illinois, has earned rotation minutes in the season’s first quarter. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago examines how Dosunmu is adjusting to playing at the NBA level. “I think I’m getting better each game,” the rookie said. “One thing I love about Coach Donovan is he shows so much tough love to me. After every game, whether I play a lot or I don’t play a lot, he always calls me over and gives me words of encouragement. Sometimes it may be good. Sometimes it may be bad. I take the constructive criticism and try to help myself become a better player because I know that he obviously sees something in me if he’s coaching me hard.”
  • The end result of the 2021/22 season for the Pistons will be measured more by player improvement than by the year-end win-loss tally, opines Rod Beard of the Detroit News. The youth-oriented club, led by forward Jerami Grant and 2021 top pick Cade Cunningham, is currently the bottom seed in the East with a 4-18 record.

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, Vucevic, Ball, New ID

Bulls guard Coby White is expected to make his season debut on Monday night against the Lakers but rookie Ayo Dosunmu will still get some minutes, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

‘I think [Dosunmu has] played too well and has played some good basketball for us,’’ head coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘We’ve got to find a way to utilize both of those guys.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • Nikola Vucevic will remain in the league’s health and safety protocols for at least a few more days but he’s experiencing only mild symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19, Cowley adds in the same story. ‘‘I talked to him [Saturday] a little bit,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘The symptoms haven’t gotten worse. Kind of feels like more he’s got a cold. He’s doing fine.”
  • Lonzo Ball says he has no hard feelings toward the Lakers and Pelicans organizations, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. He was traded by the Lakers in the Anthony Davis blockbuster, then came to Chicago prior to this season in a sign-and-trade transaction. “I wanted to come to a place where I felt like I fit, a place that wanted me for me and didn’t want me to change,” he said. “Chicago is the best place for me.” He looks at the trade that sent him to New Orleans as a positive. “I think it helped my career personally,” he said. “In the long run, it made me a better person and a better player.”
  • The Bulls should be a factor in the Eastern Conference race all season, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. Due to the team’s roster makeover, the individual pieces make the whole more than the sum of the parts, masking individual weaknesses, Hollinger adds. Chicago’s identity has changed from a soft team to one that plays pesky defense and can dominate opponents in transition.

Bulls Notes: White, Dosunmu, LaVine, Caruso

Bulls guard Coby White could be cleared to return Monday if he responds well to a pair of weekend workouts, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. White, who underwent shoulder surgery in June, practiced with the team today and took part in a five-on-five scrimmage afterward with a few players and coaches. He’s scheduled for another workout Sunday and will return to the lineup if that goes well.

Coach Billy Donovan plans to ease White back into the rotation slowly, which means rookie Ayo Dosunmu will still get regular minutes. The team wants to be sure that White’s shoulder can hold up under contact, which he just began this week.

“That’s the biggest thing right now,” Donovan said. “How much can we in those situations, whether it be the G League or some of these low-minute runs, get him contact? And he’s not shying away from it. He’s not avoiding it. He’s not afraid of it. It’s not that at all. It’s just a matter of he has to get back physically to where he was doing those things.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Bulls struggled Friday in their first game without center Nikola Vucevic, who is in the health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19. Vucevic didn’t travel with his teammates on their five-game road trip, and Donovan called on Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan to alter their playing style while he’s sidelined (video link from NBC Sports Chicago). “I think for Zach and DeMar, certainly with Vooch being a center and not here, they’re going to have to understand there’s going to have to be even more sacrifice in terms of moving and cutting and trusting the pass and moving the ball, and a lot of times it’s going to end up in someone else’s hands,” Donovan said.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who served as an assistant with Team USA at the Summer Olympics, was impressed by the way LaVine handled his role on that team, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. LaVine is one of the NBA’s top scorers, but he moved into a reserve role in the Olympics and provided energy and “pressure defense” when the team needed it. “I loved getting to know him. I thought his willingness to take on a role off the bench for us was huge,” Kerr said. “He just got it. He understood exactly what we needed.”
  • Kerr also praised former Pacific Division rival Alex Caruso, who signed with the Bulls in free agency, according to Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports. Kerr called Caruso a “great pickup” and said he’s glad to see him in the Eastern Conference.