Ayo Dosunmu

Bulls Notes: Drummond, Caruso, Free Agency, Dosunmu

Andre Drummond returned to the Bulls Friday night after spending a few days away for mental health reasons, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The veteran center made an immediate impact, grabbing 11 rebounds in 14 minutes in a win over Charlotte, and expressed thanks to his teammates for understanding his situation.

“Felt good to be back on the floor again,” Drummond said. “My guys rallied behind me, just gave me a lot of support when I came back in here. It definitely boosted my energy. I still have a lot to deal with, a lot to tackle in my own personal life. But it’s good to be back on the floor again.”

Drummond missed just one game during his absence, sitting out Wednesday’s contest against the Lakers for personal reasons. He’s averaging 6.7 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per night this season, and his board work will be needed for Chicago to advance past the play-in tournament.

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Alex Caruso was able to play his second straight game Friday, but his sprained left foot remains a concern, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The team is keeping Caruso away from contact during practices, and coach Billy Donovan pulled him from Wednesday’s game at halftime because the foot appeared to be bothering him. “Alex doesn’t complain,” Donovan said. “He doesn’t say anything. I can just tell, the way he’s moving. Alex will give everything he’s got. But he’s going to have to deal with this. It’s going to be an ongoing challenge for him the rest of the year. He tries to fight through it the best that he can.”
  • Luxury tax considerations will weigh heavily on the Bulls’ free agency decisions, Johnson states in a mailbag column. The tax line for next season is projected at $162MM, and they already have about $111.5MM committed to six players. Drummond and Derrick Jones Jr. could raise that total to $118MM if they both pick up their player options. That leaves a limited amount to offer Nikola Vucevic and Coby White unless the front office can unload some other salaries.
  • Ayo Dosunmu has put up similar numbers to last season when he was considered a draft steal, but his impact hasn’t felt the same, Johnson adds. Dosunmu, White and Patrick Beverley will all be free agents this summer, and Johnson doesn’t expect all three to return.

Central Notes: Duren, Bagley III, Beverley, Dosunmu

The Pistons faced the Heat on Sunday and it gave Jalen Duren an up-close lesson on how counterpart Bam Adebayo plays. The Pistons would like to see Duren emulates Adebayo’s approach, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press.

“I was watching Bam even before I was in the league,” the Pistons’ rookie center said. “One of the guys I pay attention to, being a big guy who does a lot. You can talk about the skill factor, but I look at it from the standpoint of just affecting the game in more ways than one. Some guys just affect the game scoring, some guys affect it on the defensive end, which isn’t bad. But I feel like Bam is a guy who affects it all around in just terms of his hustle, his IQ, his defensive mindset, he can score it, his ability to connect the floor. That’s what I try to be.”

Duren left Sunday’s game with a head injury after a collision with Miami’s Kevin Love, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III was not only back in action on Sunday, he was in the starting lineup, Langlois tweets. Bagley missed the previous three games with right ankle soreness. He scored 14 points.
  • Guard Patrick Beverley is averaging 6.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists since signing with the Bulls as a free agent. His impact has been far greater than his numbers, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “I just love his presence, his competitiveness,” coach Billy Donovan said. “The way he comes in on a back-to-back telling guys, ‘We got to be ready to play.’ I love his message and disposition and the way he is every day. He has a great motor, great enthusiasm, loves the game and loves competing. I love being around him.”
  • Ayo Dosunmu needs to get his confidence back on the offensive end, Donovan told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. With Beverley cutting into his playing time, Dosunmu has averaged just 5.1 points and 1.5 assists in 17.6 minutes per game this month. Dosunmu’s three-point percentage has dropped from 37.6 percent during his rookie campaign to 31.5 percent this season. “Ayo has always been really competitive defensively,” Donovan said. “His defense has gotten better from a year ago, but clearly his offense, he’s trying to figure some of those things out. I just think he has to go through it. He’s got to find himself out to the other side.’’

Bulls Notes: Ball, Replacements, DeRozan, Green

There are concerns that Lonzo Ball might miss all of next season after deciding to undergo a cartilage transplant in his left knee. Bulls coach Billy Donovan didn’t offer a specific prognosis, but he admitted Ball is facing “a long rehab,” writes Andrew Seligman of The Associated Press.

“For me to say, ‘I have no hope that he’s ever gonna play here again’ or ‘Yeah, he’s definitely going to be back,’ I just don’t know,” Donovan told reporters on Friday.

The procedure will be the third for Ball on his left knee in the past 14 months. He hasn’t played since January of 2022, but Donovan said his work ethic and attitude haven’t changed.

“Even though he comes in, he’s around the team for a period of time, there is a lot of time that he’s away from everybody,” Donovan said. “Just having to come to grips of not playing is really, really hard, I think, probably for him to absorb. But he handles himself incredibly well. He’s so consistent all the time with his spirit and disposition and what he’s tried to do every step of the way to get back.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Ball’s latest setback will force the Bulls to address their point guard situation this summer, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who adds that it’s hard to understand why the team wasn’t more aggressive in finding a replacement at the trade deadline. With no cap space and limited draft assets, the trade market appears to be the team’s best option. Mayberry notes that it’s now more likely that the Bulls will try to re-sign some combination of free agent guards Patrick Beverley, Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White.
  • DeMar DeRozan didn’t consider sitting out tonight’s game after playing 52 minutes and scoring 49 points in Friday’s double-overtime contest, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. With 13 games remaining and the Bulls fighting for a play-in spot, DeRozan understands there’s no time for load management. “I hoop all summer for free,” he said. “Why not do it when you’re getting paid for it? I’m looking forward to it.”
  • Javonte Green is trending toward a return after missing more than two months following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Johnson tweets. Green was able to practice Friday with the Bulls’ G League affiliate, and Donovan said team doctors want to see how he responds to numerous practice sessions.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents during the 2023 offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of Central players.

Brook Lopez, C, Bucks

  • 2022/23: $13,906,976
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Lopez has been one of the NBA’s best stories this season, rebounding from a mostly lost season in 2021/22 after undergoing back surgery (he played just 13 regular season games and 12 playoff games). He’s having an outstanding year and has been a major factor in Milwaukee’s league-leading 44-17 record, averaging 14.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 2.4 BPG on .508/.370/.766 shooting through 60 games (30.3 MPG).

The veteran center, who is one of the leading candidates for Defensive Player of the Year, has said he hopes to remain with the Bucks, and the interest is reportedly mutual. Lopez has definitely earned a raise, but given his age (he turns 35 next month), I’d be a little surprised if he gets more than a two-year deal.

Khris Middleton, F, Bucks

  • 2022/23: $37,948,276
  • 2023/24: $40,396,552 (player option)
  • Stock: Down

Middleton’s stock is down primarily due to injuries, which have limited him to 20 games to this point. The Bucks have been very cautious with the three-time All-Star, as he’s been coming off the bench lately and averaging his fewest minutes per game (21.5) since he was a rookie. However, despite the small sample size, it’s worth noting that the Bucks have been terrific with Middleton on the court – he has a plus-9.7 net rating, per NBA.com.

A career 38.9% three-point shooter, Middleton is making just 29.9% from deep this season, which has hurt his offensive efficiency (the rest of his shooting numbers are very close to career norms). That seems more like an aberration than a long-term concern.

The remaining 21 regular season games and how he fares in the postseason will likely determine whether or not the 31-year-old decides to pick up his player option for ’23/24. Let’s not forget that Middleton averaged 23.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 5.1 APG and 1.5 SPG during Milwaukee’s championship run a couple years ago — I would not be surprised at all if he bounces back from a disappointing season over the next few months.

Ayo Dosunmu, G, Bulls

  • 2022/23: $1,563,518
  • 2023/24: RFA
  • Stock: Neutral

The 38th pick of the 2021 draft, Dosunmu had a strong rookie campaign, earning a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team after averaging 8.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 3.3 APG on .520/.376/.679 shooting in 77 games (40 starts, 27.4 MPG).

His numbers have been quite similar in year two, with the 23-year-old averaging 9.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 2.8 APG on .498/.316/.806 shooting in 60 games (49 starts, 28.1 MPG). Obviously the three-point percentage is down, which is unfortunate, and he hasn’t necessarily progressed from a statistical standpoint like some second-year players do.

Advanced stats aren’t very high on Dosunmu, and the Bulls have been better by a pretty significant margin when he’s not on the court. While Dosunmu may not have made a second-year leap, I still like his defensive potential and he reportedly has a strong work ethic and team-first attitude.

Dosunmu met the starter criteria, so the value of his qualifying offer increased to $5,216,324. It will be interesting to see how his restricted free agency plays out.

Hamidou Diallo, G/F, Pistons

  • 2022/23: $5,200,000
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Diallo is challenging to evaluate because his strengths and weakness are more pronounced than most players. He is a non-shooting wing with pretty bad tunnel vision, which you would expect would make him ineffective in a league constantly looking for floor-spacers.

That isn’t the case. The 24-year-old is one of the most athletic players in the NBA and he plays with a tremendous amount of energy. He utilizes those strengths to play strong defense, crash the boards, drive, and catch lobs, and he’s been very effective at all of those things in ‘22/23.

The Pistons have an overall defensive rating of 117.6, which ranks 28th in the league. When Diallo is on the court, Detroit has the equivalent of the league’s fourth-best defense. He is shooting a career-high 58.1% from the field in large part because he is converting 71.8% of his attempts at the rim, per DunksAndThrees.com – a better mark than many centers.

Sometimes Diallo’s energy carries over into recklessness. He fouls too much and can be turnover-prone. Even if his game is polarizing, I think he deserves a raise, perhaps a deal in the range of $6-10MM per year.

Oshae Brissett, F, Pacers

  • 2022/23: $1,846,738
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Down

After averaging 9.6 PPG and 5.4 RPG on .428/.368/.716 shooting in 88 games (41 starts, 23.7 MPG) with Indiana from 2020-22, Brissett had an opportunity to establish himself as a reliable rotation player in a contract year. Unfortunately, that has not come to fruition.

The Pacers have been relatively weak at power forward all season. Brissett hasn’t helped much. He’s averaging 5.5 PPG and 3.4 RPG on .388/.333/.693 shooting in 49 games in ‘22/23, with his playing time cut back to 16.0 MPG. He has been a healthy scratch in seven of the last eight games.

Still just 24 years old, Brissett should land another (relatively small) deal in free agency — he’s a solid rebounder and defender. But those shooting numbers are a problem, and his stock is definitely down compared to the past couple seasons.

Checking In On RFAs-To-Be Who Have Met Starter Criteria

As we explain in a glossary entry, a player who is eligible for restricted free agency at the end of a given season can have the value of his qualifying offer adjusted depending on whether or not he meets the “starter criteria.”

A player is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency.

If a top-14 pick doesn’t meet the starter criteria, he has the value of his qualifying offer adjusted downward and receives a QO equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would get if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.

A player drafted at No. 10  or later can increase the value of his qualifying offer by meeting the starter criteria.

Players drafted between 10th and 30th who meet the starter criteria receive a QO equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale, while second-round picks or undrafted free agents who meet the criteria receive a QO equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.

In simplified terms, here’s how those rules will apply in 2022/23:

  • A top-14 pick who falls short of the starter criteria will have a qualifying offer worth $7,744,600.
  • A player picked between No. 10 and No. 30 who meets the starter criteria will have a qualifying offer worth $8,486,620.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted free agent who meets the starter criteria will have a qualifying offer worth $5,216,324.

A qualifying offer is essentially a one-year contract offer that functions as a placeholder if the player doesn’t accept it. If a player is considered a good bet to sign a lucrative long-term contract, a slight adjustment to his qualifying offer generally has no material impact on his free agency.

However, a change in a qualifying offer can sometimes be a difference maker. The best recent example of this came in 2020, when then-Bulls guard Kris Dunn met the starter criteria, ensuring that his qualifying offer would be worth $7,091,457 instead of $4,642,800.

The Bulls opted not to extend that $7MM+ QO, making him an unrestricted free agent, and he ended up signing a two-year, $10MM contract with Atlanta. If Dunn hadn’t met the starter criteria, it’s possible Chicago would’ve been more comfortable issuing a $4.6MM qualifying offer, which would’ve significantly changed the way Dunn’s free agency played out.

So far in 2022/23, three players have met the starter criteria:

Washington was the 12th overall pick in 2019 and will therefore have his qualifying offer bumped up to $8,486,620.

As second-round picks in 2020 and 2021, respectively, Jones and Dosunmu will now have QOs worth $5,216,324.

Here are some more players eligible for restricted free agency this summer whose qualifying offers can – or will – be impacted by the starter criteria:

(* Player has a team option for 2023/24)

White, Hayes, Hachimura, and Langford have no realistic path to meeting the starter criteria this season, so if their teams want to make them restricted free agents this summer, the qualifying offer cost will be $7,744,600. Johnson could join them in that group, though he has started 20 games so far this season and Brooklyn still has 23 contests left, so he still has a shot to make 41 starts as long as he stays healthy and the Nets don’t move him to the bench.

Thybulle and Williams are the only two non-lottery first-round picks who will be RFA-eligible later this year and still have a chance to meet the starter criteria, bumping their QOs to $8,486,620.

It’s probably a long shot for Thybulle, who has made 59 starts since the beginning of 2021/22 — the Trail Blazers only have 23 games remaining, so Thybulle would have to start every single one of them to get to 82 total starts (an average of 41) over the last two seasons.

Williams has a clearer path to get there. He has logged 1,651 minutes so far this season, averaging 27.5 per game. The Celtics play 21 more times this season and Williams would have to play 349 more minutes (16.6 per night) to reach the 2,000-minute threshold. That seems likely as long as he stays off the injured list.

Jones, Martin, and Marshall belong in a different group. All three players have team options on their contracts for 2023/24, so their clubs could simply exercise those options and not have to worry about restricted free agency this year. That’s absolutely what will happen in Jones’ case, since he’ll still be RFA-eligible in 2024.

Martin and Marshall, however, would be on track for unrestricted free agency in 2024 if their team options for next season are picked up — the Rockets and Pelicans could decide to decline this options this summer and negotiate with their players as restricted free agents instead, giving them more control over the process. Houston took this route last summer with Jae’Sean Tate.

With that in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye on whether Martin and/or Marshall will reach the starter criteria and bump their potential QOs to $5,216,324 (from approximately $2.3MM). Martin, who has been in the Rockets’ starting five since mid-January, would need to start 15 of the team’s last 23 games to get there. It’s a more difficult path for Marshall, who would need to average 29.6 minutes per game in the Pelicans’ final 21 contests to get to 2,000 minutes on the season.

Bulls Notes: Beverley, Dosunmu, Leadership, Caruso

New Bulls starting point guard Patrick Beverley has come close to suiting up for his hometown team even before this season, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. When Beverley was looking to make his NBA debut in 2012 following international pro stints in Greece and Russia, he participated in a mini-camp for Chicago’s summer league team at the time.

In a recent presser, the 34-year-old vet discussed his excitement at the chance to play for the Bulls.

“Obviously, an honor,” Beverley said. “The way I play, I run through a wall for any team. This is even more… It’s the city where I’m from, so I don’t know what might happen. I might pull some [expletive] out I ain’t never did before. I’m super stoked and can’t wait to get started. This is good energy, fresh energy.”

In his first game for the Bulls last night, Beverley helped the team snap a six-game losing streak with his signature tough defense, solid court awareness and dogged leadership.

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Second-year Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu was shifted to a bench role upon Beverley’s arrival. After a Friday shootaround, he explained that he was excited to learn from his fellow native Chicagoan, rather than being worried about losing minutes to him, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He’s a [three]-time All-Defensive team [honoree],” Dosunmu said. “That’s one category where I want to get to… So him being here and being able to give me advice of how to manipulate things on the defensive end and make guys uncomfortable, he’s doing that at 6 feet, 6’1″. If I can continue to learn and get better, then I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to be the same way.”
  • Chicago head coach Billy Donovan had high praise for Beverley’s leadership and defensive effort following the Bulls’ 131-87 shellacking of the Nets on Friday, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s very inspiring and uplifting, and very positive, but the one thing I respect about him is he comes into everything with great energy,” Donovan said. “And then his voice has been really positive in terms of trying to uplift guys, give guys confidence and belief, that type of stuff. There’s no question you can feel his presence.” In a separate piece, Cowley wonders if Beverley has already become the team’s de facto leader after just one game.
  • Beverley instantly shores up the perimeter defense of a team that desperately needs it. The Bulls’ best defender, Alex Caruso, believes playing alongside another solid wing defender will help boost the team similar to the way it did last year, when he and injured point guard Lonzo Ball were locking down opposing offenses, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He has a really high defensive IQ,” Caruso raved. “I think having me and him out there together being able to orchestrate where guys need to go, calling out plays, impact the ball can help. Lonzo and I had great synergy last year as far as being to play off each other and wreaking havoc for the other guys.”

And-Ones: World Cup Qualifiers, Nike Summit, MVP Race, Rising Stars, Draft

With two more qualifying matches for the 2023 World Cup right around the corner, USA Basketball has officially announced the 12-man roster that will compete in February’s games. Team USA’s squad is made up primarily of G Leaguers, but features a number of players with NBA experience.

The 12 players who will represent the U.S. on February 23 vs. Uruguay and Feb. 26 vs. Brazil are Deonte Burton, Will Davis II, Abdul Gaddy, Langston Galloway, Treveon Graham, Dusty Hannahs, Nate Hinton, Jay Huff, Xavier Moon, Elijah Pemberton, Reggie Perry, and Craig Sword.

So far, Canada is the only team in the Americas field to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, having won all of its first 10 qualifying contests. However, Team USA – which has an 8-2 record so far – will clinch a World Cup berth by winning either one of its two games this month, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

Meanwhile, USA Basketball also announced the rosters for the 2023 Nike Hoop Summit, an annual showcase of U.S. high school prospects that will take place on April 8. The most notable name on the men’s roster is Bronny James, but Bronny isn’t the only son of a former Cavaliers lottery pick to be named to the event — the 13-player roster also includes Dajuan Wagner Jr.

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

  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is building a strong case for his third consecutive MVP award and leads the way in the latest straw poll conducted by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Bontemps’ survey asks 100 media members for their current MVP ballots — Jokic received 77 first-place votes, easily besting runners-up Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks (11 first-place votes) and Joel Embiid of the Sixers (6).
  • Rockets guard Jalen Green (left groin strain) and Pistons center Jalen Duren (right ankle sprain) have been forced to withdraw from Friday night’s Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend due to injuries, according to the NBA (Twitter link). They’re being replaced by Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu and Rockets forward Tari Eason.
  • In his latest mock draft for The Athletic, Sam Vecenie moves Alabama wing Brandon Miller up to No. 3, writing that Miller is considered the safest bet in the 2023 draft class – outside of Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson – to be a “really good player” at the NBA level. Vecenie’s top five is rounded out by Overtime Elite guard Amen Thompson at No. 4 and Houston forward Jarace Walker at No. 5.

Bulls Notes: Vucevic, LaVine, Offseason Approach, Inactivity

Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas believes the team will be able to reach a contract agreement with center Nikola Vucevic, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Vucevic is headed to unrestricted free agency this summer unless he signs an extension.

“He’s having an unbelievable year,” Karnišovas said. “And you know we want him to be here.”

Vucevic said he’s willing to sign an extension but doesn’t feel the need to get something done before the season ends.

“If they want to talk extension, obviously we’re open to it,” he said. “But if they want to wait until summer, that’s fine too. We’ll see. Obviously, I’d be interested in re-signing here if we can work everything out.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • Zach LaVine said he wasn’t fazed by a report that the Bulls and Knicks had discussions about him prior to the trade deadline, according to Johnson. “Those speculations don’t come out with winning teams,” LaVine said. “Didn’t happen last year, so I think being one of the leaders of the team and understanding your positioning and the position of the team, your name is going to get thrown in stuff like that.” Johnson downplayed the Chicago Sun-Times report, with his sources suggesting that those talks either never occurred or that they happened weeks earlier.
  • The Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley stuck by his LaVine story and said the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on which players to include in the deal, even with the Bulls also getting back draft capital. A source told Cowley the Bulls aren’t as committed to LaVine long-term as some may think, and they could test the trade market for him once again this summer.
  • While the Bulls — expected to be very active before the trade deadline passed — wound up doing nothing, that won’t be the case this offseason, Johnson adds in a separate story. The franchise won’t go into a full rebuild, but the rest of the season will determine Karnisovas’ approach this summer. The Bulls have to give the Magic this year’s first-round selection unless it’s in the top four and they also have key contract decisions to make on Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu and Javonte Green, as well as Vucevic.
  • The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg heavily criticized the front office for its inactivity, labeling it a debacle and shameful that changes were not made to a roster that has failed to show signs of taking a big step forward.

Bulls Rumors: Williams, Caruso, White, Vucevic, DeRozan, Dosunmu

Based on his conversations with executives around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype doesn’t believe Patrick Williams or Alex Caruso are on the trade block for the Bulls, as he told guest K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago in the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast.

One executive who spoke to Scotto suggested the Bulls may have “devalued” Williams by holding onto him until now, but Johnson questions whether the No. 4 overall pick really had a ton of value last season or this past summer, given that a major injury limited him to 17 games in 2021/22.

Johnson and Scotto agree that Caruso would bring back a strong return if the Bulls were to make him available, with Johnson suggesting that Chicago could probably get a first-round pick and a player in exchange for the defensive-minded guard.

However, Johnson still believes the Bulls are more likely to buy than sell at the trade deadline. In that scenario, Johnson believes Coby White would be in whatever package Chicago sends out, perhaps packaged with Portland’s lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick. The Grizzlies previously had interest in White, Johnson adds, though it’s unclear if Memphis would still be a suitor at this point.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The general consensus among executives around the league, according to Scotto, is that the Bulls are likely to keep center Nikola Vucevic beyond this season. The veteran center wouldn’t have a ton of value on the trade market and there’s a belief that Chicago won’t want to lose him for nothing in free agency after giving up so much to acquire him from Orlando.
  • Johnson would be surprised if the Bulls move any of their Big Three at this season’s deadline, but suggests DeMar DeRozan would have the most trade value and that Zach LaVine would also draw interest. Johnson notes that Chicago will face an interesting decision on DeRozan this summer, since he’ll be entering a contract year and “you can bet” he’ll be seeking an extension.
  • One NBA exec, speaking to Scotto, had the following to say about Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu, who can be a restricted free agent this summer: “Nobody will put a big offer sheet on him. His situation reminds me of Josh Hart. He could get that type of contract or bet on himself and take the qualifying offer.” As a restricted free agent in 2021, Hart signed a three-year, $38MM contract that wasn’t fully guaranteed; Johnson believes Dosunmu could end up with a three- or four-year deal in the range of $10-12MM per year.

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, Caruso, Donovan

Second-year Bulls reserve combo guard Ayo Dosunmu made his first NBA buzzer-beater in a 110-108 victory over the Hawks Wednesday, but continues to be a work in progress, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Cowley notes that Dosunmu has had something of a rocky trajectory with the 13-18 Bulls thus far this season. He initially was pressed into service as Chicago’s starter at the point due to the lingering recovery of Lonzo Ball from knee surgery, was then replaced by Alex Caruso in the starting lineup, and more recently has been losing rotation minutes as a backup to 36-year-old vet Goran Dragic.

“It’s all about your approach, your mental approach,’’ Dosunmu said. “You’ve got to be mentally strong in this league, definitely. I pride myself on being a great teammate, being there for my teammates. [In Miami] I didn’t play the minutes I ideally want to play, just me being a competitor, you know, but I can’t take that out on my teammates… I knew that whenever my time did come I would be ready for it. I always say brick-by-brick, and sometimes you can’t always keep stacking ‘em. Sometimes you gotta take bricks away. That’s part of the journey.’’

“He has always been able to hang onto his competitiveness and competitiveness has always gotten him through,’’ head coach Billy Donovan said of Dosunmu. “But I think the further you go up the ladder from high school, to college and now to the NBA, that is a huge component that you have to have, but there’s also the detailed part, too. In terms of understanding who he is really guarding, trends, what the opponent likes to do, how he’s being guarded, what they’re doing to him.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Caruso has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol after he collided with Atlanta forward De’Andre Hunter while scrambling for a loose ball in the second quarter of the Hawks game on Wednesday, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Schaefer notes that the Bulls also diagnosed the 6’4″ guard with a sprained right shoulder. The next opportunity for Caruso to suit up will arrive Friday against the Knicks, who have gone 8-2 across their last ten games, including two wins against the Bulls last week.
  • Donovan believes the Bulls’ reportedly heated locker room exchange, during halftime of an eventual 150-126 loss to the Timberwolves, could ultimately be a positive for the team’s season going forward, Cowley writes in a separate piece. “I think you hope so,’’ Donovan said of the conversation. “I’m a big believer in confrontation. Communication, them trying to relay what they need from each other is a good thing.’’ After that Minnesota defeat on Sunday, the Bulls have now won two straight games against playoff hopefuls.
  • In case you missed it, the Bulls are being eyed carefully by several front offices across the league as potential sellers by the trade deadline, should their season continue to crater.