Bulls Rumors

NBA Teams With Open Two-Way Contract Slots

Only a small handful of two-way players from 2017/18 had their contracts carried over to the 2018/19 season, while a few more signed new two-way deals. For the most part though, NBA teams have filled their two-way contract slots for the coming season with new faces, including several rookies who went undrafted in 2018.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contracts]

At the moment, 44 of 60 league-wide two-way contract slots are occupied, with a 45th set to be filled once the Wizards finalize their reported agreement with Jordan McRae. That leaves just 15 two-way deals available across the NBA as training camps approach.

Some clubs may not fill these slots before camps get underway, preferring to sign players to non-guaranteed NBA contracts and then convert those deals to two-way pacts later, depending on how players perform in camp and in the preseason. By the time the 2018/19 regular season begins though, I don’t expect many two-way slots to still be open.

With the help of our two-way contract tracker, which lists all the players currently on two-way deals, here are the teams who can still offer two-way contracts without waiving anyone:

Two open slots:

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Houston Rockets
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • San Antonio Spurs

One open slot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Golden State Warriors
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

Poll: Which Team Will Win Central Division?

The Cavaliers have won the Central division for four consecutive seasons, and the Cavs, Pistons, and Bulls have combined to claim 12 of the last 14 division titles. However, those clubs won’t enter the 2018/19 season as the frontrunners to finish atop the Central.

Currently, the Pacers and Bucks are viewed as virtual co-favorites for the Central crown in ’18/19. The opening over/unders from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had the Pacers at 47.5 wins and the Bucks at 46.5. Currently, however, betting site Bodog.eu has both teams projected at 46.5 wins for the upcoming season. No other Central team is projected to get to .500.

Indiana and Milwaukee finished four games apart last season, as the 48-34 Pacers claimed the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the 44-38 Bucks came in at No. 7. Both clubs have also made modest upgrades to their respective rosters during the offseason.

Indiana lost Lance Stephenson, Trevor Booker, Al Jefferson, and Glenn Robinson III, but added Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, Kyle O’Quinn, and Aaron Holiday. In Milwaukee, the Bucks acquired Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo to replace Jabari Parker, Brandon Jennings, and Jason Terry.

As they look to leapfrog the Pacers in 2018/19, the Bucks will be relying on continued development from Giannis Antetokounmpo – potentially the best player in the East – as well as an immediate impact from new head coach Mike Budenholzer. As for the Pacers, they’ll count on continuity from a group that gelled quickly last season, as well as improvements from young players like Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis.

What do you think? Do you expect the Pacers to supplant the Cavaliers as the Central’s top team in 2018/19? Will the Bucks take home the Central crown for the first time since 2001? Or will the Pistons, Cavs, or Bulls make a surprise run to win the division?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Bulls Sign Derrick Walton Jr.

AUGUST 14: The Bulls have made it official, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed Walton.

AUGUST 10: Former Heat two-way player Derrick Walton Jr. intends to sign a new contract with the Bulls, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Walton, 23, inked a two-way contract with the Heat last July after going undrafted out of Michigan. The 6’1″ point guard stuck with the franchise all season, appearing in 16 games for the NBA squad and 27 for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the G League.

Although his role for the Heat was very limited, Walton averaged 16.1 PPG, 7.0 APG, and 4.0 RPG with a .442/.377/.902 shooting line in the NBAGL.

When Walton’s two-way agreement with the Heat expired at season’s end, the club tendered him a qualifying offer, retaining the right of first refusal. However, Miami withdrew that QO during the second week of July, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.

While details of Walton’s deal with Chicago aren’t yet known, the club has a little flexibility. The Bulls currently have 17 players under contract — 14 on fully guaranteed deals, two on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed deals, and one on a two-way pact. As such, the team could give Walton a camp deal and allow him to compete for the last spot on the 15-man regular season roster, or it could ink him to a two-way contract.

Remaining Offseason Questions: Central Division

NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps more than a month away, most clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.

Over the next week, we’re looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on the key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2018/19 regular season begins.

After focusing on the Atlantic on Monday, we’re moving on to the Central today…

Chicago Bulls
Will the Bulls sign Bobby Portis to a rookie scale extension this year?

Even before Portis was technically eligible to sign a rookie scale extension, a report indicated that he and the Bulls were discussing the possibility of a new deal. That was a strong signal that there was legitimate interest on both sides in getting something done this year.

The Bulls will have cap room available next summer and may want to wait on Portis’ contract in order to maximize their flexibility in 2019. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not a huge concern for the team — Portis’ cap hold as a restricted free agent would be about $7.5MM, so if he signs a new contract now that goes into effect in 2019/20, it’s unlikely to significantly increase that cap charge and compromise Chicago’s cap space.

The Bulls and Portis have until October 15 to work something out. Last we heard, talks between the club and the forward’s camp were ongoing.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Will the Cavs eventually re-sign Rodney Hood?

The Cavaliers actually have several questions still to address. Will their long-rumored deal with David Nwaba be finalized anytime soon? Will Larry Nance get an extension this offseason? Will J.R. Smith or anyone else be traded before the season begins? Still, Hood’s status is the biggest question mark for the Cavaliers at this point, as he’s the most noteworthy free agent from the class of 2018 who remains unsigned.

Because Hood is a restricted free agent and there doesn’t appear to be a rival suitor out there ready to put an offer sheet on the table, Cleveland isn’t under pressure to get a deal done right away. The apparent standoff between Hood and the Cavs could last several more weeks. Last year, for instance, RFAs like Alex Len, Nikola Mirotic, and JaMychal Green didn’t resolve their situations until the last week of September when training camps got underway.

We’ll have to wait to see whether Hood will go the Len route – signing his one-year qualifying offer – or if he’ll be able to agree to terms on a multiyear deal with the Cavs, like Mirotic and Green did with their respective clubs last September.

Detroit Pistons
Is the Pistons’ roster set?

There are no burning questions looming over the Pistons as training camp approaches. Detroit has 15 players on guaranteed contracts and both its two-way contract slots filled. There are no major trade candidates on the roster. And it looks like the team is just about done making changes to its coaching staff and front office.

It remains to be seen whether senior advisor Ed Stefanski will officially get a general manager or president of basketball operations title, but there’s little intrigue there — he has led the Pistons’ front office this offseason and is the team’s effective head of basketball operations, even if he doesn’t have the usual title.

So our question for the Pistons is whether this is the roster that will open the season. Jon Leuer is hurt again, and there’s not a ton of depth in the frontcourt behind Andre Drummond and the oft-injured Blake Griffin. It remains to be seen whether Henry Ellenson is ready for major minutes or if Zaza Pachulia can still play them.

The Pistons have plenty of depth at point guard and on the wing, so it will be interesting to see if they trade in any of that depth for one more frontcourt contributor. Even Detroit’s two-way players – Reggie Hearn and Keenan Evans – are guards, so perhaps the club will consider replacing one of them with a big man for insurance purposes.

Indiana Pacers
Will Myles Turner get a rookie scale extension from the Pacers this year?

Turner was expected to take a huge step forward last season with Paul George no longer in Indiana, but he was nagged by injuries throughout the season and had his role adjusted to some extent to accommodate Domantas Sabonis‘ breakout year. The 22-year-old Turner should still be a major part of the Pacers‘ future, but after a modest showing in 2017/18 (12.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, .479 FG%), it’s not clear if the two sides will be able to compromise on his long-term value this offseason.

I expect Turner’s representatives to push for a long-term extension at least in the Clint Capela range ($16-18MM annually). The Pacers, who are poised to open up major cap room next summer and still have to figure out if the Turner/Sabonis pairing can succeed, may be reluctant to invest that heavily quite yet.

Like Portis and the Bulls, Turner and the Pacers will have until October 15 to strike a new deal. If negotiations get serious, it’s likely to happen closer to that deadline. And if the two sides can’t reach an agreement, Turner will be on track for restricted free agency in 2019.

Milwaukee Bucks
Who will be the Bucks’ 15th man for the regular season?

It’s still possible that the Bucks will be able to work out a trade that sends out a player like Matthew Dellavedova or John Henson. Assuming the current 14 players on guaranteed salaries make the regular season roster though, that leaves just one open spot, with multiple candidates to fill it.

Tyler Zeller will be on a non-guaranteed deal and won’t necessarily be assured of a roster spot. The same goes for Shabazz Muhammad. Training camp invitees like Travis Trice, Brandon McCoy, and Jordan Barnett will likely end up with the Wisconsin Herd, but perhaps one of them becomes a contender for that 15th roster spot with a strong preseason.

Jason Terry also remains a wild card in the Bucks’ decision-making process. Terry has said multiple times that he wants to play one more NBA season, and he has spent the last two years in Milwaukee. In 2017, he didn’t sign with the Bucks until mid-September, so we can’t rule out the possibility of him returning to the team once more. If he does, he’d almost certainly have the upper hand for that final opening on the roster.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Arcidiacono Remains Eligible For G League

The way that Ryan Arcidiacono‘s contract with the Bulls is structured to keep him eligible for the G League, Basketball Insiders’ Eric Pincus tweets. Arcidiacano has a $50K guarantee, which will allow him to play with the Windy City Bulls. He signed a minimum one-year deal worth $1,349,383. The 6’3” guard out of Villanova appeared in 24 NBA games last season as a two-way player, averaging 2.0 points in nearly 13 minutes of action. He posted a 13.8/4.5/8.6 line in 37 G League games.

  • Derrick Walton Jr. gives the Bulls another alternative, along with Arcidiacono, to Cameron Payne as Kris Dunn‘s backup, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Walton is expected to sign with Chicago, according to his agent, after the Heat cut ties with the former University of Michigan floor leader last month. Walton is a better perimeter shooter than Payne, who is more comfortable having the ball in his hands and running pick-and-rolls, Michael Walton continues. The Bulls have a number of players who can create for themselves, so Walton might be a better fit behind Dunn, Michael Walton adds.

Heat Notes: Trade Rumors, Walton, Haslem, Free Agents

Don’t be surprised if the Heat keep their current roster together for a while despite a flurry of trade rumors surrounding the team, Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel writes in a mailbag column. Numerous Miami players have been mentioned in possible deals, with Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Tyler Johnson among the most prominent.

Winderman notes that team president Pat Riley indicated in a media session that month that he would like to keep the current core together to see what it can accomplish. A deal could still happen before training camp opens in late September, but Winderman believes it would be more of a surprise, rather than something that has been rumored for weeks.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • Derrick Walton may go on to better things with the Bulls, but the Heat didn’t have playing time to offer him, Winderman adds in the same piece. The 23-year-old guard is close to a deal with Chicago after Miami pulled his qualifying offer last month. The Heat have a crowded backcourt with Goran DragicTyler JohnsonWayne Ellington and Rodney McGruder all established, Waiters returning from ankle surgery and Dwyane Wade possibly wanting to play another season. Walton appeared in 16 games last year as a two-way player.
  • The Heat are giving up a roster spot by holding onto veteran forward Udonis Haslem if coach Erik Spoelstra refuses to play him, Winderman states in a separate mailbag. Haslem, 38, has developed into a virtual assistant coach, getting into 14 games last season and 16 the year before. Even so, he has a standing offer to return to the team if he wants to keep playing.
  • The Heat don’t have much playing time to offer combo guards or big men, which is why Mario Chalmers and Jahlil Okafor didn’t consider Miami before signing elsewhere, Winderman writes in another mailbag. Along with the logjam in the backcourt, the Heat have Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo all competing f0r playing time in the middle. Winderman speculates that the team could look for help at small forward if either Wade or Haslem doesn’t return.

Poll: How Long Will Jabari Parker Be A Bull?

It wasn’t one of the most lucrative long-term deals of the summer, and it almost certainly won’t have any impact on the NBA championship in 2019, but the Bulls‘ two-year, $40MM deal with Jabari Parker was one of the most interesting free agent signings of 2018.

The contract, which is guaranteed for $20MM in year one with a $20MM team option for 2019/20, was one of the last big-money deals of July. At the same time the Bulls were finalizing their agreement with Parker, the Nets were using their remaining $20MM+ in cap room to absorb a pair of unwanted contract from the Nuggets, acquiring a pair of draft picks in the process. The Hawks were preparing for a similar deal with their leftover cap space, taking on Carmelo Anthony‘s $27MM+ salary in a trade that allowed them to add a future first-rounder and get out of their long-term commitment to Dennis Schroder.

For rebuilding teams with cap room to spare, moves like the ones made by the Nets and Hawks are common. It often makes more sense for those front offices to essentially rent out their cap space and net a young player or draft pick in the process than it would to use that space to sign a free agent of their own.

The Bulls could’ve taken a similar approach, but instead they opted to use their room on Parker, a former No. 2 overall pick whose NBA development has been slowed by a pair of ACL tears. The hope is that the 23-year-old Parker will bounce back and become a key part of Chicago’s core alongside the franchise’s other young building blocks.

Before his latest major knee injury in 2017, Parker had averaged 20.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 2.8 APG with a .490/.365/.743 shooting line in 51 games during the 2016/17 season. Those are very promising numbers for a player who was still 21 years old at the time.

While Parker’s offensive upside is obvious, there are still plenty of questions about his game. He’s not a strong defender, and his decision-making on offense can sometimes leave something to be desired. Although it’s possible he’ll still evolve into a star, that looks far less certain than it did a few years ago. And it’s not clear how he’ll fit in with the Bulls, whose lineup already features another defensive liability on the wing (Zach LaVine), as well as several players who figure to dominate the ball on offense.

Parker’s short-term deal with the Bulls will give the club an exit ramp. If things don’t work out for the Chicago native, he likely won’t still be a Bull at this time next year, since the team will have the opportunity to decide on his second-year option.

On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that the former Duke forward will remain with the Bulls long-term even if he does excel in his hometown — his two-year pact will give him the opportunity to reach unrestricted free agency again in 2020, at which point he could sign with any team.

What do you think? How will the Bulls’ experiment with Parker play out? Will the former top-two pick be one-and-done in Chicago, or will his short-term contract eventually turn into a long-term stay?

Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts.

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Magic To Host Bulls, Jazz In Mexico City Games

The NBA will be returning to Mexico City once again during the 2018/19 regular season, with the Magic set to play the Bulls and Jazz at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico on December 13 and December 15, respectively. Orlando announced the news today in a press release.

It will be the third consecutive season that the NBA has played two regular season games in Mexico City. In 2016/17, the Suns played a pair of games in Mexico, while the Nets did so during the 2017/18 season. In those cases though, Phoenix and Brooklyn gave up one home game apiece — both Mexico City games in 2018/19 will count as Magic home games, as John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com notes.

“Any time we have the opportunity to travel and represent the league internationally it is very attractive,” Magic CEO Alex Martins told Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. “It helps us to expand our brand in certain cities around the world. It certainly helps in relation to the promotion of our ownership’s interests in Amway, and that’s certainly the case with Mexico City as Mexico is a growing market for the Amway Corporation. So it’s a great brand-building opportunity for the Orlando Magic but also for the Amway Corporation.”

According to Robbins, Magic officials aren’t concerned about the Mexico City games general travel or rest issues for the team, since they believe the league has created a schedule that will allow for extra rest around that time. Martins also tells Robbins that the club won’t lose any revenue as a result of giving up two home games, and may even come out ahead.

The NBA projects to continue playing two games per year in Mexico City through at least the 2020/21 season, according to Orlando’s press release. This year’s games will mark the 27th and 28th games played in Mexico since 1992, and that figure will increase to 32 by ’20/21.

And-Ones: ROY Predictions, Offseason Rankings, NBAGL

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has the best chance to win the Rookie of the Year award, according to an ESPN panel. Doncic will fill up the stat sheet and might wind up with the ball more often than second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr., according to Mike Schmitz. Top overall pick Deandre Ayton ranks second on the poll, with Schmitz noting that the Suns big man likely to get more playing time than any other rookie. Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton and Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. round out the top five.

We have more from around the league:

  • Retaining Paul George in free agency and dumping Carmelo Anthony‘s contract while receiving projected sixth man Dennis Schroder in return earned the Thunder the top spot on NBA.com’s David Aldridge’s offseason rankings. The rankings are based upon what teams have done during the offseason. The Lakers ranked No. 2 by virtue of signing LeBron James and handing out one-year contracts to other players, thus allowing them to be a force again in next year’s free agent market. The Nuggets gained the No. 3 spot by locking up Nikola Jokic and making trades that cleared roster spots and eased their luxury-tax situation.
  • Forwards DJ Hogg (Texas A&M) and Malik Pope (San Diego State) and swingman BJ Johnson (LaSalle) are among the top 10 prospects at the G League Invitational, according to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. The invitational takes place Sunday in Chicago and over a dozen of last year’s prospects received training camp invites afterward.
  • The Warriors’ over-under odds for wins next season is 62.5, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Celtics ranked second overall with a 57.5 over-under win total with the Rockets third at 54.5. The Hawks have the lowest projected win total at 23.5. The odds for each NBA team were passed along by ESPN’s Ben Fawkes.