Bulls Rumors

Bulls To Sign Shaquille Harrison, Waive Omer Asik

6:13pm: Sources tell Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic that Asik will be waived (Twitter link). Harrison will receive a standard contract rather than a two-way deal, according to Charania (Twitter link).

6:06pm: The Bulls may waive veteran center Omer Asik to make room for Harrison, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Asik’s $11,286,516 contract for this season is fully guaranteed, but he only has a $3MM guarantee on his $11,977,527 salary for 2019/20. Chicago was hoping he might be useful in trade talks, but may decide that opening his roster spot is more valuable. The 32-year-old has been away from the team with inflammatory arthritis and there’s no timetable for him to return. He played just four games after being acquired in a trade with the Pelicans in February. However, Johnson adds that a final decision hasn’t been made.

OCTOBER 20, 5:47pm: Shaquille Harrison, who was waived by the Suns earlier this week, will sign with the Bulls, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Harrison traveled to Chicago this weekend in anticipation of the move, Charania adds.

Harrison, who was part of the final cuts in Phoenix on Monday, played 23 games for the Suns during his rookie season, averaging 6.6 points and 2.4 assists per night. With no established point guards on the roster, he was given a shot at winning the starting job heading into camp, but Phoenix opted to go in a different direction.

The Bulls have all 15 roster spots filled, along with both two-way slots, so a move will have to be made before Harrison can be added. Rookie guard Ryan Arcidiacono is the only player without a fully guaranteed deal.

Bulls’ Denzel Valentine May Miss Several Weeks

The sprained left ankle that has been bothering Bulls swingman Denzel Valentine since early in training camp continues to be an issue, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed tonight that Valentine has a bone bruise in the ankle and will be re-evaluated by the medical staff in two weeks. His return to action could be much further away.

Valentine came into camp hoping to build on his strong performance last season, but the injury has prevented that from happening. He hurt the ankle during the first week of camp and has been trying to get back on the court ever since.

The 14th player picked in the 2016 draft, Valentine emerged as a valuable part of the rotation last season. He appeared in 77 games, starting 37, and posted a 10.2/5.1/3.2 line in about 27 minutes per night.

Ulis Could Jump Right Into Second Unit

  • Guards Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis could receive extensive playing time as the Bulls search for answers behind starting point guard Kris Dunn and at the off-guard position, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Arcidiacono, whose $1,349,383 salary doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January 10th, collected eight points and eight assists in 28 minutes during the team’s opener. Ulis, who received a two-way contract this week after being claimed off waivers, could spark the second unit. “He’s ready. He’s done a good job in practice,” coach Fred Hoiberg said of Ulis.

Bulls, Bobby Portis Envision Long-Term Fit

The Bulls and Bobby Portis couldn’t come to an agreement on a long-term deal before this year’s deadline for rookie extensions, though both sides envision Portis staying in Chicago past this season.

“My game won’t change. I’ll still give it all I got. This is where I want to be long-term,” said Portis (via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune in a series of Twitter links). “I couldn’t see myself in any other jersey. Obviously, I got Bulls DNA. Me and the city have a love connection somewhere. I just enjoy playing for the Bulls.”

VP John Paxson values Portis and told reporters that the power forward’s work ethic stands out. The executive said the extension talks were extensive and the team hopes to re-sign Portis in the summer.

Although the Bulls drafted frontcourt players in each of the past two NBA drafts and gave another forward a $20MM salary as a free agent this summer, Portis is still expected to open the season as a starter for the team. Lauri Markkanen continues to recover from an elbow injury and offseason addition Jabari Parker has been shifted to the second unit, at least for the time being.

Bulls Partner With Jersey Sponsor

  • The Bulls joined the ever-growing list of NBA teams that wear a sponsored advertisement on their jerseys, announcing on Tuesday that they’ve partnered with eyewear company Zenni Optical, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times details. The Bulls and Zenni Optical reached an agreement on a five-year partnership, which will involve various market elements in addition to the new ad patch on Chicago’s uniforms.

LaVine Primed For Big Season

  • Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine appears to be fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered during the 2016/17 season, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago reports. LaVine averaged 17.8 points on 52% shooting in 22.3 MPG during the preseason. Chicago retained LaVine by matching the Kings’ four-year, $78MM during restricted free agency this summer. LaVine appeared in 24 games last season after being acquired from the Timberwolves. “I think I found a good rhythm and then just keep that going into the regular season. I think last year still, I was trying to catch my rhythm with the games I played,” LaVine said.

Extension Roundup: Rozier, Portis, Jones, Russell

 Celtics point guard Terry Rozier turned down a rookie scale extension offer prior to Monday’s deadline and will become a restricted free agent next summer, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports. Boston offered Rozier approximately $12MM annually, according to Blakely, but chose to take his chances in free agency. Talks were cordial and the two parties will revisit each other when Rozier hits the market, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.
“I’m in a great situation,” Rozier told Blakely. “My team (representatives) felt it wasn’t good for me to sign an extension right now. It opens my options a little bit, but I’m focused on what’s happening right now.”
Rozier is expected to have multiple suitors even as a restricted free agent, since Kyrie Irving recently announced that he plans to re-sign with the Celtics next summer, Blakely notes. Rozier broke out last season, particularly after Irving went down with a knee injury. He was especially potent in the playoffs, averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.7 APG.
We have more extension decisions:
  • The Timberwolves and point guard Tyus Jones did not reach a rookie scale extension agreement. Jones will be a restricted free agent, and that’s been the expectation all along, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. Minnesota would have to make a $3,573,205 qualifying offer before free agency next summer, otherwise Jones would be unrestricted. Jones saw action in all 82 regular-season games last season, including 11 starts, and averaged 5.1 PPG and 2.8 APG in 17.9 MPG.
  • The Bulls and forward Bobby Portis couldn’t come to an extension agreement before Monday’s deadline, Wojnarowski tweets. Agent Mark Bartelstein and Chicago GM Gar Forman had lengthy negotiations as the deadline approached, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets, but couldn’t close the financial gap. “We had very positive talks,” Bartelstein told Johnson. “These are hard extensions to get done.” (Twitter link). Portis will be a restricted free agent if Chicago gives him a $3,611,813 qualifying offer. He averaged 13.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 73 regular season games after returning from his eight-game team suspension following his well-publicized dust-up with former teammate Nikola Mirotic.
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did not receive extensions, Michael Scotto of The Athetic tweets. Neither player was aware of Monday’s deadline, according to Scotto, suggesting that the Nets never made a serious pitch to lock them up before free agency. The Nets would have extend a $9,160,706 qualifying offer to Russell to make him a restricted free agent. Hollis-Jefferson’s qualifying offer would be $3,594,369.

Bulls Claim Tyler Ulis, Give Him Two-Way Deal

OCTOBER 15: The Bulls have officially confirmed that they’ve converted Ulis’ contract into a two-way deal, announcing the move in a press release.

OCTOBER 14: The Bulls have claimed point guard Tyler Ulis off of waivers, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter). Ulis was previously with the Warriors throughout training camp but was released this past week.

After getting a larger role than expected during his rookie season with the Suns, Ulis struggled throughout the 2017/18 season, leading to his release from the team. In his first two seasons in the league, Ulis averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists per game, but only shot 40.3% from the field and 28% on 3-pointers.

The Bulls already have 15 players on standard NBA contracts, but are only carrying one player (Rawle Alkins) on a two-way deal. Because Ulis was on an Exhibit 10 contract with Golden State, his deal can be converted into a two-way pact, allowing Chicago to avoid making any cuts to accommodate the newly-added point guard. The Bulls will do just that, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Ulis will add some depth to a point guard depth chart that features Kris Dunn, Cameron Payne, and Ryan Arcidiacono as the Bulls look to add more young talent throughout their rebuild.

Several Teams Must Make Moves Before Monday’s Roster Deadline

Saturday was a busy day in terms of NBA transactions, with most of the league’s 30 clubs making cuts and getting their rosters down to the regular season limit. As we explained over the weekend, players on non-guaranteed contracts must clear waivers before the first day of the regular season in order to avoid counting at all against a team’s salary cap, which is why most of those players were released on Saturday instead of today.

However, not every team now has a roster in compliance with NBA rules. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the Clippers, Suns, Bucks, Pistons, and Spurs still need to make roster moves by 4:00pm CT today in order to get down to the regular season limit. Teams are permitted to carry no more than 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way deals entering the season.

Here’s a quick look at the decisions facing those five teams:

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers need to trim their roster from 17 standard contracts to 15. Normally, the guys on non-guaranteed contracts would be the most obvious candidates to be cut, but I’d be surprised if the team parts ways with Patrick Beverley or Tyrone Wallace.

Instead, players on guaranteed salaries like Jawun Evans, Wesley Johnson, and Sindarius Thornwell could be in trouble if the Clips can’t find any trades they like.

Phoenix Suns

Like the Clippers, the Suns have 17 players on standard contracts, with multiple vets on non-guaranteed deals whom they’d like to keep. If Phoenix keeps all 14 players with guaranteed salaries, that would leave just one spot for Richaun Holmes, Shaquille Harrison, and Isaiah Canaan.

Of the players with guarantees, Darrell Arthur is the most obvious release candidate, but if the club keeps him before getting an answer from the league on its disabled player exception request, it won’t be eligible for that DPE.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the Suns will be granted that disabled player exception anyway. Marks wrote on Saturday that multiple team executives were “dumbfounded” by what season-ending injury Arthur could have suffered since being acquired by Phoenix in July. While the big man has been bothered by recurring knee injuries in recent years, the team hasn’t announced any new ailments or listed him on its injury report.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have 16 players on standard contracts, meaning one player will need to be traded or released today. Christian Wood, who has one of the team’s two non-guaranteed contracts, appears likely to make the team. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the other player on a non-guaranteed deal – Tim Frazier – will be waived though.

The decision may come down to Frazier vs. former first-round pick D.J. Wilson. Although Wilson has a guaranteed salary for 2018/19, his roster spot is “far from secure,” per Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link).

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have 15 players on guaranteed contracts and two on two-way deals, leaving no clear openings for the club’s final non-guaranteed player, Zach Lofton. The undrafted free agent has impressed Detroit this fall though, so we’ll see if the club can find room for him, perhaps by having him supplant one of the current two-way players (Reggie Hearn and Keenan Evans).

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs‘ final move is a mere formality. Manu Ginobili, who announced his retirement this summer, technically remains on the roster, but he should be quietly waived today. Once that happens, San Antonio will have 15 players on standard contracts – including partially guaranteed veteran Quincy Pondexter – and one on a two-way deal.

Note: The Bulls and Rockets also still need to officially convert players on Exhibit 10 contracts to two-way deals. Chicago will reportedly do so with Tyler Ulis, while Houston will do so with Gary Clark and Vince Edwards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jabari Parker Must Pust Team First

  • Following a “no comment” response from Jabari Parker when asked if he would accept any role given to him, Will Perdue of NBC Sports Chicago writes that Parker can only be a positive addition to the Bulls if he puts the team ahead of his individual goals and desires. Parker struggled throughout the preseason, but has an opportunity to rebound his value in Chicago this season.