Chicago Bulls

Diallo Drawing Interest As Deadline To Withdraw Nears

Hamidou Diallo hasn’t played organized basketball in nearly five months, but he’s drawing interest around the league, sources tell Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog (Twitter link). The Nets, Bulls, Bucks, Heat, Pacers and Jazz have all expressed interest in the athletic shooting guard.

Diallo is currently ranked as the 42nd best prospect in the draft, according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. Some believe he has a chance to move into the first round, as Zagoria writes in a full-length piece for The New York Times. “I would not be surprised if his combination of athleticism and skills opens some eyes, and then he’ll have a tough decision,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said. ” Do you want to be the 25th pick in this year’s draft or do you want to have a chance to maybe be a top 10 pick [next year].”

The Queens native hasn’t yet made a decision yet on whether he will remain in the draft or play at Kentucky, Zagoria passes along in a full-length piece on his website. Diallo enrolled at the school to play for John Calipari in January but opted not to join the basketball team. He, like all prospects, has until tonight to make a decision.

Draft Notes: Allen, Irvin, Magic

Frontcourt may not be the Bulls‘ biggest need, but if someone as talented as Jarrett Allen is available at No. 16, the team shouldn’t hesitate to go in that direction, Mark Strotman of Comcast Sportsnet contends. Strotman believes Allen could be the team’s next Joakim Noah. Chicago drafted Noah in 2007 even though Ben Wallace was under contract and it worked out long-term for the franchise.

Allen may not surpass current starting center Robin Lopez this season, but by the time his rookie contract is up, Allen could be one of the best big men in the league. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express has the Texas product as the 17th best prospect in his class.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • The Lakers recently met with Michigan’s Zak Irvin and the team was impressed with his workout, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Irvin will also work out for the Bucks later this week.
  • Pittsburg’s Jamel Artis will work out for the Lakers and Rockets later this week, Scotto reports in a separate tweet. Artis isn’t ranked in Givony’s top 100 prospects.
  • The Magic have several players scheduled to work out for the team on Tuesday, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel passes along. Cal’s Ivan Rabb, Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, Villanova’s Josh Hart and Houston’s Damyean Dotson will all participate in Orlando’s workouts.

Reality Suggests Butler Trade May Be Unlikely

While his name has come up in trade rumors all year, K.C Johnson of the Chicago Tribune says a Jimmy Butler trade is unlikely for the Bulls. The scribe recently answered questions about the swingman in a weekly mailbag post.

Of note is that Johnson reaffirms a reader suggestion that even if a deal did get made, it likely wouldn’t involve the oft-rumored Celtics. Ultimately, however, Johnson doesn’t see enough on any particular roster that would entice the Bulls to part with their best player.

Throughout the comprehensive piece, Johnson weighs in on all aspects of a possible Butler deal and how it would impact the organization. In 76 games for the Bulls this season, the 27-year-old posted career highs of 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.

  • The Bulls find themselves in a familiar place as last year, a CSN Chicago panel concluded. They contemplate trading Jimmy Butler but hesitate to pull the trigger on an underwhelming package.
  • The Lakers aren’t likely to give up a lottery pick for a one-year Paul George rental, says Sam Smith of the Bulls official website, but the Pacers could potentially net Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and a matching salary should they decide to pull the trigger. Smith adds that Larry Bird‘s exit indicates that the franchise is eager to fully embrace a rebuild.

No Paul George, Gordon Hayward On All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-NBA teams for the 2016/17 season, and neither Paul George nor Gordon Hayward is among the 15 players honored. That’s big news for both players and their teams, since they’ll be ineligible for the Designated Veteran Extension, reducing the amount of money the Pacers and Jazz – respectively – could offer their star forwards in contract extensions this offseason.

Here are this year’s All-NBA teams:

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Based on this year’s All-NBA voting results, Wall is now eligible to sign a Designated Veteran Extension this summer, while Leonard is eligible to sign one next summer. Harden, Westbrook, and Curry are also eligible to sign DVEs this summer, as Bobby Marks of The Vertical notes (via Twitter).

Those Designated Veteran Extensions – which are dependent on a player making an All-NBA team in the year before he signs an extension, or in two of the previous three years – apply to players finishing up their rookie scale extensions. They allow a player re-signing with his own team to earn up to 35% of the salary cap, rather than just 30%. So, if we assume a $101MM salary cap for 2017/18, a player like Curry could sign a new Warriors contract with a starting salary of $35.35MM, instead of $30.3MM.

The Pacers and Jazz will still be able to offer George and Hayward larger and longer contracts than any other team, but the advantage won’t be as significant as it would have been if those players had earned All-NBA spots. Teams can offer their own Bird-rights free agents up to five years (instead of four) and 8% raises (instead of 5%).

Hayward figures to opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, while George is expected to reach free agency in 2018. George could still become eligible for the DVE in ’18 if the Pacers hang onto him through next season and he earns All-NBA honors a year from now. However, there’s no guarantee that Indiana will be willing to take that risk.

As for the rest of the All-NBA votes, there weren’t any major surprises, particularly on the first two teams. Perhaps the biggest surprise, in a year which was dominated by four clear-cut MVP candidates, is that Harden was the only player who received 100 out of 100 possible First Team votes. Westbrook and James received 99 apiece, while Leonard received 96.

Note: Hoops Rumors readers voted last month on All-NBA teams, and our squads looked awfully close to the official ones, with a couple notable exceptions. You can check out the results of our voting right here.

Hoops Links Vol. 5: Shirley Temple Lies, Milkshake Theft, More

Welcome to the fifth installment of Hoops Links, where we round up our favorite content from around the NBA blogosphere and shine a light on it here. Every week we set out to feature entertaining, original content powered by the blogging community.

See your own piece plugged? Well done! Now share the love by spreading the word about Hoops Links – we’re talking favs, retweets, postcards to mom and everything in between. Help us build a bigger stage for your best work!

If you want to hit us up with a link in the future, make sure to drop me a line on Twitter (@AustinKent) or even just email HoopsRumorsTips@Sports.ws. Remember, we want to be intrigued and captivated. It also helps if the content is relatively fresh (considering we publish on Thursdays).

Without further ado…


With a roster full of young players and a negligible chance of winning a meaningful amount of ball games, the Suns made the decision with months remaining in the season to tank unabashedly. After Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, in which Phoenix dropped from a projected No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed, Adam Maynes of Valley of the Suns wrote a spirited column suggesting that the organization got what it deserved.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Angry Earl Watsons
Author: Adam Maynes – @Adam4America
Link: Phoenix Suns tank fail


Joel Embiid verticalWe’re all happy to buy into the quirky Joel Embiid narrative whenever the goofy big man does something like sip a Shirley Temple on live television. But what if we’re living a lie? Kyle Neubeck of Liberty Ballers revealed that the pink beverage at Embiid’s side during the Draft Lottery was little more than a prop.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Red Pills
Author: Kyle Neubeck – @KyleNeubeck
Link: Joel Embiid’s Shirley Temple prop


Are the Bulls less likely to deal Jimmy Butler to the Celtics now that Boston has landed the No. 1 pick in the draft? Vijay Vemu of Blog A Bull suggests as much, writing that Danny Ainge took a risk holding onto the pick at the deadline rather than going the safe route and dealing for an established star.

Rating: 7 out of 10 Fortunate Gambles
Author: Vijay Vemu – @VJVemu
Link: Jimmy Butler to Celtics less likely


The Hawks could have done more to involve Dwight Howard in their offense, Da’Vonte Hughes of Soaring Down South writes, suggesting that the big man had reason to be upset with how he was utilized during his first season Atlanta.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Neglected Supermen
Author: Da’Vonte Hughes – @CookieByNature
Link: Dwight Howard non-option for Hawks


Did you forget that Joel Anthony was still in the NBA? You aren’t alone. Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie noticed the big man’s name trending on Twitter and discovered that people all around the world were shocked to see the veteran big man suit up in the Spurs‘ blowout loss Wednesday.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Two-Time NBA Champions
Author: Dan Devine – @YourManDevine
Link: Joel Anthony trends on Twitter


There are similarities between Jimmy Butler and Stanley Johnson, including underwhelming freshman and sophomore seasons, says Luke Wolthuis of Piston Powered. Could Johnson, a well-built two-way forward, make a leap similar to that of Butler’s in Year 3?

Rating: 7 out of 10 Better Late Than Nevers
Author: Luke Wolthuis – @WolthuisLuke
Link: Stanley Johnson, Jimmy Butler comparison


Harrison Barnes verticalAlthough he may not win the award, Harrison Barnes deserves a spot in the Most Improved Player conversation, Sam Guertler of Mavs Moneyball suggests. The forward’s offensive game improved dramatically in his first year as a targeted weapon in Dallas, without any compromise in efficiency.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Additional Better Late Than Nevers
Author: Sam Guertler – @SamGuertler
Link: Harrison Barnes Most Improved Player


It takes a delicate balance of usefulness and expendability for a player to suit up for three different franchises in one season. This year, Ersan Ilyasova dressed for the Thunder, Sixers, and Hawks, and still managed to set a new career high for points in a season. Miles Wray of The Step Back took a good long look at how the season stands up historically.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Bonus Points For Playing For Two Altogether Different Teams Last Year
Author: Miles Wray – @MilesWray
Link: NBA players who play for three teams in one season


It was hard to evaluate the first season in the NBA for Jakob Poeltl, a lottery pick on a reigning Eastern Conference Finals squad, but Brian Boake set out to do so anyway for Raptors Rapture. In Poeltl, the Raptors have a cheap, malleable option to audition as their Stretch 5 of the Future.

Rating: 8 out of 10 Teenage Mutant Ninjas
Author: Brian Boake – @NewmarketBrian
Link: Jakob Poeltl’s future with Raptors


Over the years, Gregg Popovich has simply owned Mike D’Antoni in the NBA playoffs, so much so that the J.R. Wilco over at Pounding the Rock had a particularly specific video commissioned just to drive home the point.

Rating: 9 out of 10 Academy Award-Winning Method Actors
Author: J.R. Wilco – @JRWilco
Link: Gregg Popovich, Mike D’Antoni History

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Grousbeck, George, Butler, Ainge

The Celtics are getting plenty of advice after landing the top pick in this year’s draft, but managing partner Wyc Grousbeck sounds like his decision is already made. Speaking with Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti in a video on CSNNE, Grousbeck said Boston will hold onto the selection “unless someone blows us away with an offer.”

“I think these picks are very, very valuable,” he said. “If you’re going to trade these picks for an established star making max, you’ve got to send max money out the door as well, so you’ve got to send more guys along, so this guy coming back had better be the second coming. What’s more, he’s going to be halfway through his career, whoever he is, and he’s going to be paid a lot of money, which restricts you in other ways.

“So if you can get a really good guy with this pick, you’ve got him, you can build with him, you can coach him up. You get to max money eventually, five to six years down the road, but it’s a totally different thing.”

There’s more out of Boston as the city prepares for the Eastern Conference finals and the No. 1 pick:

  • Winning the lottery gives the Celtics more leverage if they decide to reopen trade talks with the Pacers or Bulls, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. When Boston inquired about Paul George before the trade deadline, the Pacers were asking for a package that included the pick, along with Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. According to Greene, the Celtics refused to part with Crowder in any deal, which shut down the pursuit of George. Boston also had interest in Jimmy Butler, and there have been reports that those talks will resume this summer.
  • President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is enjoying the rewards of his patience, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. Ainge started the rebuilding process in 2013 by trading Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a package of draft picks that produced the No. 3 selection last year [Brown], the No. 1 this season and Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder in 2018. Ainge has resisted the temptation to part with those picks and is in the process of building a group of talented young players around his veteran core.
  • Ainge plans to keep his options open between now and the draft, but he understands that his assets increased significantly Tuesday night, relays Kurt Helin of NBC Sports“At the trade deadline we were trading away the possibility of the No. 1 pick, a 25 percent chance of the No. 1 pick, but that’s a 75 percent chance of not having that pick, and that’s how teams look at it, which is probably why we didn’t get a deal done,” Ainge said. “Now we have the No. 1 pick and we will explore the value of it.”

Is Hamidou Diallo A Fit For Bulls?

Denzel Valentine Undergoes Procedure On Ankle

  • After being nagged by ankle issues during his rookie season, Bulls guard Denzel Valentine has undergone arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle, a person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press (link via USA Today). Valentine’s recovery timetable isn’t expected to stretch out too long — the AP report suggests he’s expected to play for Chicago in Summer League action in July.

Five Key Offseason Questions: Chicago Bulls

Whether “Three Alphas” were too many or too few, this season didn’t turn out the way the Bulls hoped when they signed Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo to team with Jimmy Butler. After spending much of the year teetering on the edge of disaster, Chicago put together a late-season surge to claim the East’s final playoff spot.

Now the Bulls have to decide if they want to go through it all again. There’s no guarantee that Wade, Rondo or Butler will still be in Chicago next season, but there’s also a decent chance that they might all come back. If they do return, the Bulls need to spend the summer finding the right pieces to put around them, something that never happened this season. The other option is a complete rebuilding project, which some in the front office reportedly favor, but which Bulls fans may not be ready to accept.

Here are five key questions as Chicago embarks on an unpredictable offseason:

1. Is Butler a franchise player?JimmyButlervertical

It’s not often you hear an All-Star-level professional athlete get upset about a preposition, but Butler reportedly become angry when VP of basketball operations John Paxson said, “We are building with Jimmy right now.” Butler planned to make it clear in a post-season meeting with management that he is the type of player to build around, not just with.

Regardless of the wording, Butler is the key to Chicago’s future. He is under contract for the next two seasons at nearly $18.7MM and $19.9MM before entering an option year in 2019/20. So the Bulls can try to piece together a title contender, or they can trade him and start rebuilding. The Celtics, who may own the top pick in this year’s draft, were very interested last summer, as were the Timberwolves, who are run by Butler’s former Chicago coach, Tom Thibodeau.

The Bulls have a lot of dominoes that could fall in a lot of different directions this offseason, but the decision that will affect all others is whether to blow up the current team and take the best deal for Butler or keep him as the centerpiece to build around (or with).

Read more

Justin Jackson Talks Fit On Bulls

UNC’s Justin Jackson would be happy to play for any team in the league, but he believes he could help the Bulls on both ends of the floor, as Adam Zagoria relays for The Herald Sun.

“I can shoot the ball pretty well, which helps with spacing,” Jackson said. “Defensively, I can do a few things and so you kind of add both of those into it. At the end of the day, the Bulls are a great organization already but if I’m blessed to be drafted by them or whoever it might be, I can add a few things to it.”

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