Bulls Rumors

Bulls Rookie Justin Lewis Injures Knee

Rookie Bulls two-way player Justin Lewis injured his knee during a workout, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The exact extent of the damage is not yet known, but sources inform Johnson that the team is worried the 6’7″ forward out of Marquette may have torn his ACL.

Johnson notes that Chicago staffers had been optimistic about Lewis’ ability to help the Bulls as a rookie, despite not having a spot on the team’s standard 15-man roster. The athletic forward had also developed into a volume long-range shooter during his second college season, converting 34.9% of his 5.2 triples a night.

Lewis averaged 16.8 PPG on 44% shooting, 7.9 RPG and 1.7 APG while being named to the 2021/22 All-Big East First Team during his final season with Marquette. Lewis posted more modest numbers while playing for the Bulls’ Summer League team in Las Vegas this year, averaging 7.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 0.8 BPG across 22.5 MPG.

Though the 20-year-old had been projected to have his name called on draft night in 2022, he instead went undrafted, then quickly agreed to terms with the Bulls on a two-way contract. The team still has one open two-way roster slot available.

25 Of NBA’s 30 Teams Have Made At Least One Offseason Trade

Since the 2022 NBA offseason began, 26 trades have been made, as our tracker shows. A total of 25 teams have been involved in those 26 deals, with 15 clubs (half the league) completing multiple trades.

The Raptors, Heat, Bulls, Pelicans, and Clippers are the only teams that have not been part of at least one trade since their seasons ended this spring. While most of those clubs were pretty active in free agency, it has been an especially quiet offseason in New Orleans, where the Pelicans also haven’t made a single free agent signing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Timberwolves have been the NBA’s most active team on the trade market this summer, with new president of basketball operations Tim Connelly putting his stamp on the franchise in his first few months on the job. After making four draft-night deals in June, Minnesota finalized the offseason’s biggest trade by acquiring Rudy Gobert from the Jazz just over a month ago.

The Hawks and Knicks, with four deals apiece, have been the next most active teams on the trade market. A pair of Atlanta’s moves were minor, but the other two – acquiring Dejounte Murray and sending Kevin Huerter to Sacramento – will have a major impact on the team going forward. As for New York, most of Leon Rose‘s deals involved shuffling around draft picks and clearing cap room for the team’s free agent signings of Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein.

Here are a few more details on this summer’s 26 trades:

  • The Pacers, Pistons, Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Kings have each made three trades. The other teams to make multiple deals are the Hornets, Thunder, Jazz, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, Rockets, and Spurs, with two apiece.
  • That leaves the Sixers, Nets, Celtics, Cavaliers, Bucks, Magic, Wizards, Lakers, Warriors, and Suns as the clubs that have each completed just one trade.
  • All 26 of this offseason’s trades have consisted of just two teams, with no three- or four-team deals made so far. A draft-night agreement involving the Hornets, Knicks, and Pistons was originally reported as a three-team trade, but was ultimately completed as two separate deals.
  • Not a single player has been signed-and-traded so far during the 2022 offseason. That’s pretty surprising, since 27 free agents changed teams via sign-and-trade in the three years from 2019-21 and only four teams used cap room this offseason — sign-and-trades are typically more common in years when most clubs are operating over the cap.
  • Eight first round picks from the 2022 draft were traded this summer, and four of those were dealt twice: Jalen Duren (Charlotte to New York to Detroit); Walker Kessler (Memphis to Minnesota to Utah); Wendell Moore (Dallas to Houston to Minnesota); and TyTy Washington (Memphis to Minnesota to Houston).
  • Another dozen second round 2022 picks changed hands this offseason, including one that was on the move twice (No. 46 pick Ismael Kamagate from Detroit to Portland to Denver).
  • A total of 15 future round picks (2023 and beyond) were included in trades this summer, including a pair that changed hands twice. Six of those first round picks were unprotected, while nine included protections.
  • Another 19 future second round picks (2023 and beyond) were also traded, with two of those 19 dealt twice. All but one of those traded second rounders was unprotected.

NBA Schedule Not Expected For At Least Another Week

Everyone eagerly anticipating the release of the schedule for the 2022/23 season will have to wait a little longer, according to NBA insider Marc Stein (Twitter link). Sources tell Stein that the schedule isn’t expected to be revealed until after next week, which puts the date sometime in mid-August.

The league typically releases its schedule during the second week of August, although that has been affected over the past two years by shortened offseasons caused by the pandemic. Last year’s schedule was announced on August 20.

Possible trades involving Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell may be slowing the process this summer as the schedule makers wait to see if any of those situations get resolved before locking in prime TV dates.

A few things are known about the upcoming season, including league-wide media days on September 26, followed by the start of training camps a day later. The Pistons and Bulls will travel to France for the January 19 NBA Paris Game, according to the league’s website, and All-Star Weekend is set for February 17-19 in Salt Lake City.

The preseason schedule is virtually set and will begin with the defending champion Warriors facing the Wizards in Tokyo for a pair of games September 30 and October 2. The Raptors and Jazz will meet October 2 in Edmonton, the Bucks and Hawks will square off October 6 and 8 in Abu Dhabi, and the Raptors and Celtics will play Oct. 15 in Montreal.

Based on past schedules, the 2022/23 regular season will likely tip off on October 18.

Bulls To Pursue Extension With Nikola Vucevic?

Nikola Vucevic and the Bulls will have initial discussions during training camp regarding a possible extension, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

A source told Cowley that both sides want him to remain with the team beyond the final year of his contract. Vucevic is heading into the last season of his front-loaded four-year, $100MM deal that he signed with Orlando. He’ll make $22MM in 2022/23.

Vucevic has been the subject of trade rumors for months. There was heavy speculation that he’d be part of a Rudy Gobert deal with Utah before the All-Star center was dealt to Minnesota. Extending Vucevic on a one-year deal with a player option for the 2024/25 season would make sense for both sides, Cowley speculates.

Chicago may simply have come to the conclusion that an upgrade at center may not be available.

The Bulls front office places a high value on the Vucevic’s professionalism, versatility and consistency. However, there’s no denying that the big man had a rather forgettable 2021/22 season. He averaged 17.6 PPG, his lowest since the 2017-18 season, and shot just 31.4% from 3-point range. He’s a 34.8% career shooter from distance.

In the previous season, when he was acquired by Chicago, he averaged 23.4 PPG and made 40% of his 3-pointers in 70 games between the Bulls and Magic. Cowley notes Vucevic’s touches have dipped after he was more of a focal point in Orlando’s scheme.

The biggest issue with Vucevic is his defensive shortcomings. He’s never been a shot blocker and he has difficulty in pick-and-roll situations. But Chicago was never truly whole last season due to injuries and Vucevic didn’t have the ability to build chemistry at both ends with the core group.

And-Ones: Crawford, Micic, Dragic

Retired shooting guard Jamal Crawford reflected on his 20-year NBA run in a conversation with Bryan Kalbrosky of USA Today. Earlier this summer, the 6’5″ vet, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, showed off his still-lethal handle at his yearly Seattle-based Pro-Am league the CrawsOver.

“I would always stretch and ice even if nothing was hurting,” Crawford, now 42, said of one of the keys to his longevity in the league. “I heard an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of recovery. I was always taking care of myself… I was always trying to think about the long game so I could play at a high level for a long time… I would’ve played even longer if I knew the stuff I know now.”

Across 1,327 career games played with the Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Timberwolves, Suns and Nets, Crawford averaged 14.6 PPG, 3.4 APG and 2.2 RPG, while posting shooting splits of .410/.348/.862.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball globe:

  • After flirting with a move to the NBA this summer, star EuroLeague guard Vasilije Micic opted to remain with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. The Thunder continue to possess the draft rights to the two-time reigning EuroLeague Final Four MVP, who spoke to Rada Nikolić August of Sport Klub about his offseason decision . “I felt a slight mistrust from the direction of the strongest league in the world, which they have towards many, not only me,” Micic said, though he seemed open to keeping the door open to an eventual move stateside. “I really don’t think I’m going there to prove what and how much I can do. It’s nice like this for me, so if I go to America one day, it will happen…” Last year, the 28-year-old averaged 18.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.1 SPG across 28 contests with Anadolu Efes in EuroLeague play.
  • New Bulls reserve point guard Goran Dragic is set to return to competition for his native Slovenia in EuroBasket 2022 this September, as he announced via Twitter. “I’M BACK,” the 36-year-old posted, along with a variety of descriptive emojis. Dragic had previously retired from playing for Slovenia in 2017, after helping the national club win its first-ever FIBA European championship in EuroBasket play. Dragic won the EuroBasket MVP award for his efforts, averaging 22.6 PPG in nine games. Dragic joined Chicago this summer following turns with the Raptors and Nets in 2021/22.

NBA Teams With Open Two-Way Contract Slots

A total of 18 NBA teams currently have both of their two-way contract slots filled, as our tracker shows.

That doesn’t mean those players will be locked into those slots for the rest of the 2022/23 season, or even until opening night, since two-way deals are low-cost contracts that don’t count against the salary cap, making them easy to replace. But it means those spots are unavailable for the time being.

That leaves 12 teams with at least one two-way slot available. Those teams are as follows:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Washington Wizards

The Hawks, Hornets, Mavericks, Rockets, Clippers, the Trail Blazers, and Wizards have fairly straightforward two-way situations at the moment — they’ve each filled one slot and have one open, with no reports indicating that any of those teams has reached an agreement on a two-way deal with a free agent or draftee.

The Nets and Bulls also have one two-way spot filled and one open, but each of them has a two-way qualifying offer out to a restricted free agent — David Duke for Brooklyn and Malcolm Hill for Chicago. If those players simply accept their QOs, neither the Nets nor the Bulls will have a two-way opening.

The Spurs also have one two-way player signed and one spot open, though a Shams Charania report last month indicated that undrafted rookie Jordan Hall will sign a two-way contract with San Antonio. If and when that happens, the Spurs will join the list of teams with both of their two-way slots occupied.

The Pacers and Pelicans are currently the only two teams that don’t have a single player on a two-way contract. A Charania report way back in June suggested that Dereon Seabron would sign a two-way deal with New Orleans, but it hasn’t officially happened yet.

The best candidate for a two-way contract with Indiana, meanwhile, could be 48th overall pick Kendall Brown, who is one of a handful of 2022 draftees still unsigned. Even if Seabron and Brown sign two-way pacts, the Pacers and Pelicans would still each have one slot available.

Contract Details: Dellavedova, McGruder, Knox

Matthew Dellavedova‘s new one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Kings, originally reported as partially guaranteed, is actually non-guaranteed for the time being, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Dellavedova will receive a partial guarantee of $250K if he’s not waived before Sacramento’s first game of the regular season, then would lock in his full $2.63MM guarantee if he remains under contract through the NBA’s league-wide guarantee deadline of January 7.

Here are a few more details on recently signed NBA contracts:

  • Rodney McGruder‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Pistons is fully guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned. That gives Detroit 17 players on guaranteed contracts, though one of those players (Kemba Walker) is very likely to be bought out. The Pistons would still have to trade or release one more player with a guaranteed salary in order to get to the 15-man regular season limit.
  • Kevin Knox‘s two-year, $6MM contract with the Pistons is worth a flat $3MM in each of the two seasons. While the first year is guaranteed, the deal includes a team option for the 2023/24 season.
  • As expected, Goran Dragic‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Bulls and JaMychal Green‘s with the Warriors are both fully guaranteed.

Bulls Sign Goran Dragic

AUGUST 2: Nearly a month after first reaching an agreement with Dragic, the Bulls have officially signed him, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 3: The Bulls are fortifying their backcourt bench depth with a new veteran addition. Chicago will sign former All-NBA point guard Goran Dragic to a one-year contract, per Jordan Schultz of the Pull Up Podcast (Twitter link).

Dragic, most recently with the Nets, will earn $2.9MM, the veteran’s minimum, next season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Dragic, who has an All-Star season and an All-NBA season on his résumé, played a crucial role during the Heat’s NBA Finals run within the Orlando “bubble” campus in 2020. The Slovenian guard’s production fell to earth the next season amid injury troubles, and he was ultimately dealt to the Raptors in the sign-and-trade agreement that landed Kyle Lowry with the Heat in the 2021 offseason.

Last year, Dragic appeared in just five games with Toronto before reaching an agreement to leave the club as it sought out a suitable trade. The 36-year-old was shipped to the Spurs and negotiated a buyout with San Antonio, then latched on with the Nets as a free agent.

Across 16 games with Brooklyn, including six starts, Dragic averaged 7.3 PPG, 4.8 APG and 3.2 RPG, while posting .376/.245/.739 shooting splits. Though his assist and rebounding numbers were in line with his career averages of 4.8 APG and 3.1 RPG, his scoring efficiency across 25.5 MPG for Brooklyn was a far cry from his 14-year career average of 13.7 PPG on .460/.362/.767 shooting.

The addition of Dragic marks Chicago’s fourth free agent agreement this offseason. The team agreed to re-sign All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine to a maximum deal, is bringing back deep-bench reserve forward Derrick Jones Jr., and will add journeyman reserve center Andre Drummond to boost its rebounding.

As Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype observes (via Twitter), thanks to Dragic’s minimum-salary deal, the Bulls are now approximately $1.7MM below the luxury tax this season, carrying a projected 15 players on guaranteed contracts. Gozlan adds that Chicago has around $7MM left to use from its non-taxpayer mid-level exception.

Any further Bulls roster changes seem more likely to come via trade than free agency. Opening up a roster spot now to add another free agent would require trading or waiving a current Bull with a guaranteed salary. The team also has a $5MM trade exception that will expire after July 7.

If the Bulls do make a deal, it could involve their backcourt depth. The team adds to a group of guards that already includes Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, and Coby White, though Ball’s health heading into next season remains a question mark.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports that the team anticipates this current roster will be intact for training camp in the fall, though he acknowledges that the team does appear to have a surplus of guards.

Checking In On Remaining Restricted Free Agents

Of the players who finished last season on an NBA roster and didn’t have a contract for 2022/23, there are still dozens of unrestricted free agents on the open market. However, the number of restricted free agents is far smaller.

As our list of current free agents shows, there are just eight restricted free agents still unsigned — four who received standard qualifying offers and four who received two-way QOs.

We’re already a month into the 2022 free agent period, but it’s possible that some of these restricted free agents will remain on the market for another month or two. Let’s take a closer look at the RFAs still available…

Standard RFAs:

It’s no surprise that Bridges remains unsigned. He was arrested just before free agency began and now faces multiple felony charges related to domestic violence. The Hornets will certainly be in no rush to re-sign him as the legal process plays out, and Bridges’ $7.9MM qualifying offer won’t expire until October 1, so he’ll be in no hurry to accept it either. If and when Bridges is back under contract, the NBA would have the option of placing him on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation.

The other three cases here look more like straightforward examples of how restricted free agency often works. In all likelihood, the Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs have made preliminary offers to Nwora, Sexton, and Wieskamp, respectively, and have encouraged them to explore the market to see if they can get a more lucrative offer sheet elsewhere. Until that happens, those teams are unlikely to bid against themselves by increasing their offers.

We know, for instance, that the Cavs have reportedly offered Sexton a three-year deal worth roughly $40MM. He’s believed to be seeking a salary closer to $20MM per year.

All three players would have the option of accepting their qualifying offers and heading into the season on a one-year contract, but that may be a more viable path for Sexton, who is coming off a lost season and has a QO worth $7.2MM, than for Nwora ($2.1MM). Wieskamp’s qualifying offer is also relatively modest ($1.8MM), but his NBA résumé is far more limited than Sexton’s or Nwora’s, so it’s unclear if he’ll get a better offer than that.

Two-way RFAs:

A report in early July suggested that Duke was hoping to earn a standard contract from the Nets, and following a Las Vegas Summer League in which he averaged 19.0 points per game in five appearances, there’s no reason to think his stance has changed. Brooklyn only has 13 players on standard contracts, so a promotion remains in play for Duke, but the team likely wants resolution on the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sagas before locking in those back-of-the-roster spots.

Once Goran Dragic officially signs, the Bulls will have 15 players on standard guaranteed contracts and just one on a two-way deal, so they’d probably like to see Hill accept his two-way qualifying offer to fill that second slot.

It’s unclear what the Raptors‘ plans are for Johnson. The team has filled its two-way slots with new signees (Ron Harper Jr. and Jeff Dowtin) and there will be stiff competition for a spot on the 15-man regular season roster — the team already has 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts, plus three with partial guarantees and second-rounder Christian Koloko still unsigned. We’ll see if Johnson gets a chance to vie for one of those roster spots.

There may be a cleaner path for Thomas to earn a place on the Celtics‘ 15-man roster. Only 12 of Boston’s regular season roster spots are accounted for so far, so Thomas could get the chance to compete to be the 13th or 14th man. The team has already filled both its two-way slots with new additions (JD Davison and Mfiondu Kabengele).

DeRozan Believes Bulls Weren't Ready For Adversity

  • DeMar DeRozan felt the Bulls weren’t “ready for adversity” last season when injuries piled up, he told Draymond Green on his podcast (hat tip to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). “We kind of fell apart. We lost ourselves obviously through health,” he said. “Regardless, I think I told one of the young guys after All-Star break, I said this is the moment when you see what teams are serious. He didn’t know what I meant by that. For us to hit the wall that we hit showed that we wasn’t ready for adversity.”
  • During the same podcast, DeRozan spoke of how criticism aimed at the Bulls for engineering a sign-and-trade with San Antonio fueled his highly productive season. He averaged a career-high 27.9 PPG. “My whole career has kind of been based off that (criticism). But I never let it bring me completely down. It knocked me down. But I got back up,” he said. “And for me, that moment of going to Chicago, I just told myself, ‘This is a new opportunity. I’m going to make the most out of it in every type of way.’”