Bulls Rumors

Assessing Chicago's Restricted Free Agents

The Bulls will have to make decisions on three young players, including two 2016 lottery draft picks, when those players become eligible for restricted free agency during the 2020 offseason. Whether or not retaining Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, and Shaquille Harrison makes sense for Chicago’s new front office is up for some debate, per NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer.

Though the 26-year-old Dunn (the No. 5 pick out of Providence in 2016) is a strong defender, his awful shooting will limit his usefulness for the Bulls. Schaefer anticipates that Dunn will play out the 2020/21 season on his $7.1MM qualifying offer for the 2020/21 season without reaching a longer-term deal with the club.

Schaefer also expects Harrison to play out his significantly smaller minimum-salary qualifying offer. Schaefer is less optimistic about the Bulls keeping injury-prone Valentine (the No. 14 pick out of Michigan State in 2016), who has appeared in just 170 of 311 possible games across his four-year Bulls tenure.

NBA Expected To OK Chicago Mini-Camps, Games For Bottom Eight Teams

4:14pm: Within her full ESPN.com story on the proposed Chicago campus, MacMullan writes that most of the bottom eight teams would prefer to hold mini-camps in their own markets, but commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts – who have repeatedly expressed that they believe the Orlando campus will be safer than teams’ own markets – want to create a similar environment for the non-Orlando teams before they approve group workouts and scrimmages.

Seven of the bottom eight teams – all except the Knicks – were on a call today with the NBA to discuss the issue, with the league seeking assurances that teams would send their players to Chicago, per MacMullan. There’s a belief that veterans like Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin may not travel to Chicago for the event, but that younger players would be more inclined to participate.

Participation would be voluntary and the cost of setting up the campus would be split among the NBA’s 30 clubs, sources tell ESPN. MacMullan notes that some of the bottom eight teams want to wait a couple weeks to see how the Orlando plan plays out, while others are in favor of moving forward with a plan as soon as possible, since they don’t believe there’s a ton of time to work out the details.

There’s still work to be done before the NBPA signs off on the plan, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.


3:56pm: The NBA is close to signing off on creating a second campus location in Chicago for the league’s bottom eight teams who weren’t invited to Orlando, sources tell ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan (Twitter link via Adrian Wojnarowski).

As MacMullan reports – and Woj relays – the eight clubs not invited to Orlando would be permitted to hold mini-training camps and inter-squad games in Chicago. The goal would be for the event to take place in September.

The news comes as a bit of a surprise. Many of the clubs whose seasons are over have been pushing the NBA to allow some sort of offseason team activities along these lines, in the hopes of keeping their young players engaged and active during a nine-month gap between games. However, a report earlier this week suggested that the NBA wasn’t expected to approve mandatory OTAs, and there was skepticism that the league would go to the effort of creating another “bubble” without its massive TV deals – and its 2020 postseason – at stake.

We’ll have to wait for more details on the NBA’s Chicago plan, but it seems safe to assume there would be more player opt-outs among the bottom eight teams than there have been among the top 22. As Bobby Marks of ESPN points out (via Twitter) that approximately 40 players on the non-Orlando teams could reach free agency in October, limiting their incentive to participate in a September mini-camp for teams they may be leaving a month later.

The Warriors are the only team without any pending free agents on their roster, but Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes (via Twitter) that their preference has been to hold a controlled mini-camp in the Bay Area — not to participate in a de facto Summer League across the country.

The Warriors, Timberwolves, Hornets, Bulls, Hawks, Knicks, Cavaliers, and Pistons are the eight teams not playing in Orlando this summer who would be invited to the Chicago campus, assuming the NBA and NBPA finalize an agreement.

Bottom Eight Teams Not Permitted To Start Making Trades

During a typical NBA league year, there’s a freeze on trades between the winter trade deadline and the end of a team’s season in the spring. Once the regular season ends, the 14 non-playoff teams are once again permitted to make trades, with other clubs regaining that ability as they’re eliminated from the postseason.

However, due to the unusual nature of the 2020 NBA calendar, things will look a little different this year. As Bobby Marks of ESPN explains, no teams are currently permitted to make trades, including the bottom eight teams who aren’t participating in the summer restart in Orlando. Even though the offseason has begun for those eight non-Orlando clubs (the Warriors, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Pistons, Hawks, Knicks, Hornets, and Bulls), a transaction moratorium remains in place for them following last week’s brief transaction window.

According to Marks, the likely outcome is that the league and the players’ union will agree to lift the moratorium once the first round of the playoffs gets underway on August 17. At that point, non-playoff teams – including the six teams in Orlando that don’t make the postseason – would be allowed to make trades, waive players, and sign certain players to contract extensions.

Of course, while non-playoff teams are generally permitted to make trades and other roster moves as soon as the postseason gets underway, we usually don’t see the first trades of the offseason completed until around the time of the draft. So we shouldn’t expect a flurry of moves if the moratorium lifts in August — most of the offseason’s deals will still likely come in October, when the draft and free agent period take place.

For the time being, the only permissible NBA transaction is the signing of a substitute player. The 22 teams participating in the restart can sign a substitute to replace any player who voluntarily opts out or who contracts COVID-19. The player being replaced would subsequently become ineligible for the rest of the season.

And-Ones: Luxury Tax, Thomas, Scola, Top Defenders

The Trail Blazers have the highest luxury tax bill at $5.9MM, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Team salaries are now frozen after the one-week transactions period that closed late Tuesday. The Heat ($2.9MM), Thunder ($2.5MM) and Timberwolves ($582K) are also over the luxury tax line but the projected $11.9MM total is the lowest since the luxury tax was introduced in 2002/03, Marks notes.

We have more from around the basketball world:

NBA Won’t Permit Mandatory OTAs For Non-Orlando Teams

Many of the eight NBA teams not participating in the summer restart in Orlando had been hoping to hold some form of mandatory offseason team activities to help bridge the gap between seasons and to keep their players engaged and active. However, the NBA and NBPA won’t allow any OTAs for those clubs to be mandatory, sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post.

According to Berman, the NBA hasn’t ruled out the possibility of “informal group-setting team workouts” this offseason for those bottom eight teams. But any workouts would have to adhere to the state’s social distancing guidelines as well as league safety protocols. Additionally, they could only be voluntary, per Berman. Currently, players on those eight clubs can only conduct voluntary individual workouts at their teams’ practice facilities.

The NBA has been prioritizing getting all the necessary rules and guidelines in place for its summer restart for the league’s top 22 teams, so the eight non-Orlando clubs have taken a back seat for now. However, it should just be a matter of time before the league formally addresses potential offseason activities for those franchises.

Because those teams aren’t expected to play any real games for about nine months, some have lobbied the NBA to allow them to play in a single-site offseason tournament. However, given the level of planning – including a 113-page manual on health and safety protocols – that went into the NBA’s restart, it’s not considered worth it to replicate that process (albeit on a smaller scale) for the other eight clubs, says Berman.

As Berman notes, with no “bubble” being created for the non-Orlando teams, there’s concern about how to safely hold group workouts for players who would be going home to their families from their teams’ practice facilities. In a conference call last week, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts alluded to the fact that replicating the safety protocols in place in Orlando for the bottom eight teams would be a challenge.

“Candidly, while I appreciate that there will be a bit of a layoff, I think there are some things these teams can do to get the guys that are not playing some (benefit) by their not being involved in Orlando. But unless we could replicate in every way the protocol that’s been established for Orlando, I’d be — I’m being tame now — suspicious,” Roberts said.

The Warriors, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, and Hornets are the eight teams not participating in the restart this summer.

NBA Still Considering How To Handle The Eight Teams Not In Orlando

Discussions are continuing on what to do with the eight teams not involved in the NBA’s restart in Orlando, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts addressed the topic during a conference call Friday, saying that any proposal must have the same strict health guidelines that are being used at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

“We want the same (safety) standards to be met,” Tatum said. “There have been conversations that we’ve been having with the players association on how to do that and whether or not we can do that. We know it’s something that our teams would love to do, that some of the players would love to do. But, as Michele said, it has to be done in the right way. We’ll continue having those conversations with Michele and her team on what that looks like.”

The teams left out of Orlando — the Hawks, Hornets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Warriors, Timberwolves and Knicks — are concerned about the competitive imbalance from having their players sidelined for so long. Assuming next season starts sometime in December, that will amount to a nine-month stretch without their players being involved in an NBA game.

The teams have discussed holding a mini-summer league, possibly in August, with a series of shared workouts followed by a few games. Considering the challenges of creating a bubble atmosphere in Orlando, it won’t be easy to find another site that could accommodate all eight teams while minimizing COVID-19 risks to make the setting safe for players and staff members.

“Candidly, while I appreciate that there will be a bit of a layoff, I think there are some things these teams can do to get the guys that are not playing some (benefit) by their not being involved in Orlando. But unless we could replicate in every way the protocol that’s been established for Orlando, I’d be — I’m being tame now — suspicious,” Roberts said. “I think there are conversations that could be had if there’s anything we can do with the other eight teams. I know there are some players, particularly young players, that seem concerned they’re not getting enough (opportunities). I think our teams are incredibly smart and creative and can come up with ways to get their guys engaged, if not now, before the season starts.

“But I am very concerned and frankly, my concern aside, our players, our teams are very concerned about any — in terms of play that doesn’t have the same guarantees of safety and health that we’ve provided for the teams in Orlando. So yeah, never say never, but there’s a standard. It’s a standard that’s got to be met, and if it’s not met, next question, as far as I’m concerned.”

Major Offseason Roster Shakeup Unlikely For Bulls

  • In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune says that new Bulls executives Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley are more likely to make modest tweaks to the roster for 2020/21 than to do anything drastic this offsesaon that breaks up the young core. The team’s two new decision-makers hope to put those young players in better position to succeed going forward, Johnson adds.

Kris Dunn Meets Starter Criteria, Increases Value Of QO

Bulls guard Kris Dunn has been deemed to have met the starter criteria as a result of the shortened season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). As a result, Dunn will receive a qualifying offer of $7,091,457 instead of $4,642,800 this offseason if Chicago wants to make him a restricted free agent.

We broke down Dunn’s situation in greater depth earlier this month, but the abridged version is this: A player eligible for restricted free agency receives a more lucrative qualifying offer if he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the season before he reaches free agency, or if he averages 41 starts or 2,000 minutes in the two seasons before his free agency.

Dunn, who started 32 games this season and 76 in total over the last two years, fell slightly short of the 41-game-per-season requirement, but the criteria became prorated due to the Bulls only playing 65 of their 82 games this season. As a result, the former No. 5 overall pick was considered to have met the starter criteria, increasing the value of his qualifying offer.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the $2.5MM difference could have a real impact on Dunn’s free agency. It’s possible the Bulls will be less inclined to tender a qualifying offer now that it’s worth $7.1MM instead of $4.6MM. If they do move ahead with the QO, it’s possible Dunn will be more inclined to accept it.

If Chicago doesn’t tender a qualifying offer to Dunn, he’d become an unrestricted free agent.

As Marks and ESPN have previously reported, the NBA and NBPA also agreed to prorate the criteria for bonuses and incentives available to players in 2019/20, based on the shortened season. As a result, the following players have now achieved bonuses, according to Marks (Twitter link):

  • Rudy Gobert (Jazz): $250K for a rate of one rebound per 2.52 minutes in 62 games played.
    • Original criteria: A rate of one rebound per <3.2 minutes in 67 games.
  • Solomon Hill (Heat): $532K for 992 minutes played.
    • Original criteria: 1,000 minutes.
  • Jrue Holiday (Pelicans): $255K for 1,922 minutes played; $255K for 55 games played; $255K for 4.9 RPG in 55 games.
    • Original criteria: 2,075 minutes played; 66 games played; 3.15 RPG in 67 games.
  • Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): $858K for 32 wins.
    • Original criteria: 33 wins.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors): $200K for All-Star berth and 52 games played.
    • Original criteria: All-Star berth and 65 games played.
  • Patty Mills (Spurs): $250K for 149 three-pointers made.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM.
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers): $250K for 184 three-pointers made and .375 3PT%.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM; .370 3PT%.

Central Notes: Bulls, Weaver, Cavaliers

It’s time that the Bulls make a final decision on who will serve as head coach next season, opines Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago recently hired Arturas Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations. The job security of current head coach Jim Boylen, which is uncertain, the decision will ultimately fall in the hands of Karnisovas and his team.

“Coaching in the league is very difficult,” Karnisovas said in a recent Zoom call, according to Cowley. “To make a decision about coaching is really hard. It’s probably the hardest thing for executives. So I look at a lot of aspects. I’ve had numerous conversations.

“Talking to players and coaches, obviously everyone is disappointed with the results last year. They definitely underperformed. . . . [But] in order for me to keep players and coaches accountable, I have to have personal relationships with them. That’s what I need to cultivate.’’

The Bulls finished with the fifth-worst record in the East at 22-43 this season, failing to secure an invite for the NBA’s restart in Orlando next month.

Boylen has elicited mixed feelings from players, staffers, and fans since succeeding Fred Hoiberg as coach in December of 2018. Chicago has failed to make the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, currently sporting a nucleus of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and others.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press looks at how new Pistons general manager Troy Weaver could avoid failure by examining some of the franchise’s past mistakes. Weaver, who most recently served as vice president of basketball operations with the Thunder, was hired by Detroit last week. The Pistons accrued just a 20-46 record on the season and have reached the playoffs just twice in the past ten years.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com examines some pressing offseason topics for the Cavaliers, including Kevin Love‘s future and the chances of Tristan Thompson returning in free agency. Cleveland hopes to have Thompson return for a 10th consecutive season, but the 29-year-old is set to enter unrestricted free agency with the team also acquiring star center Andre Drummond ($28.7MM player option) last February.

2020 NBA Front Office Shakeup Tracker

Having created a space to track the NBA’s head coaching changes this year, we’re now doing the same for the teams shaking up their front offices.

The front office structure for an NBA franchise generally isn’t as cut-and-dried as a coaching staff. All 30 teams will enter the 2020/21 season employing a head coach and a staff of assistant coaches. But not every team will have an executive with the title of “president of basketball operations” or “executive VP of basketball operations” on its payroll. And while some general managers around the league have decision-making power within their organizations, that doesn’t apply to all of them.

Nonetheless, we’ll do our best to track this offseason’s front office changes in the space below, monitoring which executives have decision-making power in each new management group. Some of these searches could extend well into the summer or fall, so be sure to check back for the latest updates.

You’ll be able to access this page anytime under the “Hoops Rumors Features” menu on the right sidebar on our desktop site, or on the “Features” page in our mobile menu.

Updated 6-24-20 (4:40pm CT)


Active Searches:

None

For the time being, there are no active searches for any top front office executives, or at least none that have been reported.

That may change in the coming months as more teams finish their respective seasons and consider their next steps.


Completed Searches:

Chicago Bulls

  • In:
    • Arturas Karnisovas, executive VP of basketball operations (story)
    • Marc Eversley, general manager (story)
    • J.J. Polk, assistant general manager (story)
    • Pat Connelly, VP of player personnel (story)
  • Out:
    • GM Gar Forman dismissed (story)
    • Executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson moved to advisory role (story)

Some combination of Paxson and/or Forman had been running the show in Chicago since Jerry Krause‘s departure in 2003, so when the Bulls overhauled their front office this spring, there was skepticism among fans that the duo known as GarPax would really be stripped of its power.

Paxson remained in the organization and may be involved in some basketball decisions, but Forman is gone, and by all accounts, the Bulls are prepared to give the reins to Karnisovas and his new right-hand man Eversley. One of their first orders of business will be making a decision on head coach Jim Boylen, who is very much on the hot seat.

Denver Nuggets

  • In:
    • Calvin Booth, general manager (story)
      • Note: Promoted from assistant GM
  • Out:
    • General manager Arturas Karnisovas left for job with Bulls (story)

The Nuggets had to replace Karnisovas once he decided to take the top job in Chicago, but didn’t technically conduct a full-fledged search for his replacement, opting instead to stay in-house and promote Booth. He’ll be the new top lieutenant in Denver for president of basketball operations Tim Connelly.

Detroit Pistons

  • In:
    • Troy Weaver, general manager (story)
  • Out:
    • Assistant GM Malik Rose left for job with NBA league office (story)

Senior advisor Ed Stefanski has served as the Pistons’ de facto head of basketball operations for the last two years, but at the time of his hiring, he wasn’t necessarily viewed as someone who would hold that position for the next five or 10 years.

With its hiring of Weaver, Detroit has brought aboard a GM who will work with Stefanski and “run the basketball side of things,” according to team owner Tom Gores. While Stefanski, vice chairman Arn Tellem, and head coach Dwane Casey figure to be involved to some extent in basketball decisions, it sounds as if Weaver will take the lead on those matters.

It’s worth noting that the Pistons are expected to hire a new assistant GM or two, so while their GM search is finished, their front office additions likely aren’t.

New York Knicks

  • In:
    • Leon Rose, president of basketball operations (story)
    • William Wesley, executive VP/senior basketball advisor (story)
    • Frank Zanin, assistant general manager – pro scouting (story)
    • Walt Perrin, assistant general manager – college scouting (story)
    • Brock Aller, VP of basketball and strategic planning (story)
  • Out:
    • President of basketball operations Steve Mills reassigned to MSG board (story)
    • Consultant David Blatt not retained (story)
  • Retained:
    • Scott Perry, general manager (story)

The Knicks made their changes in the winter, firing Mills during the first week of February and officially bringing Rose aboard less than a month later. Still, we’re including them here because the work they’ve done reshaping their front office has extended into the offseason, with the hiring of Zanin, Perrin, and Aller.

Following the Knicks’ surprising decision to extend Perry’s contract by one year, the next items on the docket include hiring a permanent head coach and deciding how to use their cap room once free agency begins.