Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is eager to get a rookie scale extension done before the December 21 deadline, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Markkanen said on Tuesday he’s pushing his agent, Michael (Boris) Lelchitski, to reach an agreement. “I really want to be here long-term so I’m putting some pressure on (my agent) to get (an extension) done,” he said. De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo are the other members of Markkanen’s draft class who have already reached extension agreements.
Garrett Temple‘s new one-year contract with the Bulls is worth exactly the amount of the room exception ($4.767MM), according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). However, Chicago is an over-the-cap team without the room exception available and used a portion of its mid-level exception to complete its deal with Temple.
Meanwhile, Noah Vonleh‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Bulls is entirely non-guaranteed for the time being, per Smith (Twitter link). Vonleh won’t have to wait too long to find out whether or not that money will be guaranteed though — if he’s still on the roster through opening night, he’ll receive his full guarantee, Smith says.
Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports takes a look at some of the key storylines facing the Bulls roster heading into training camp. Though the club’s personnel off the court underwent some drastic revisions, the current on-court product looks fairly similar, Schaefer notes.
Rookies Patrick Williams and Devon Dotson join free agent additions Garrett Temple and Noah Vonleh. Guards Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison are currently the only significant departures from the 2019/20 roster. Individual workouts commence this Tuesday, December 1, while team workouts kick off on December 6.
Schaeffer notes that the starting point guard position could be up for grabs in new head coach Billy Donovan‘s first training camp with the Bulls. Though second-year guard Coby White started the Bulls’ most recent game, Tomas Satoransky was the lead guard for the other 64 games of the 2019/20 season. The fates of deep-bench centers Cristiano Felicio and Luke Kornet and the club’s two-way players are narratives that offer some intrigue as well.
There’s more out of the Central Division:
- The Bulls will need for starting small forward Otto Porter to prove he’s worth his contract in the final year of his lucrative deal and become a trade asset by the deadline, and for starting power forward Lauri Markkanen to develop a game that stagnated last season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
- Former Pistons guard Will Bynum, now a trainer and founder of The Grind Family skills academy for basketball players, recently discussed his experience training new Detroit point guard Killian Hayes, according to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press Pistons. “His lateral footwork is really, really good,” Bynum said. “His hands are quick. And he has the patience to defend really, really good rhythm players offensively.”
- With his looming maximum salary extension now the talk of the league, Bucks MVP forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was set to depart his native Greece for the U.S. this weekend ahead of the team’s training camp kickoff, according to Antigoni Zachari of Eurohoops.
NOVEMBER 28: The Bulls have officially signed Norvell, according to RealGM’s transactions log.
NOVEMBER 26: The Bulls have reached an agreement to sign free agent shooting guard Zach Norvell to a one-year contract, his agents at Priority Sports tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). No further details on the agreement were provided, but I’d expected it to be a non-guaranteed training camp deal.
After going undrafted out of Gonzaga in 2019, Norvell signed a two-way contract with the Lakers for the start of the ’19/20 season. He was waived last December and then briefly returned to the NBA in February when he signed a 10-day contract with Golden State.
Norvell, who will turn 23 next month, only logged 41 minutes across five games at the NBA level, but appeared in 36 G League contests, recording 14.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.9 APG on .397/.388/.814 shooting.
Once the Bulls finalize the signing of Norvell and the rest of their reported roster moves, they’ll have just one spot left on their 20-man offseason roster, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
NOVEMBER 28: Vonleh is officially a Bull, per RealGM’s NBA transactions log.
NOVEMBER 26: The Bulls are in agreement with free agent forward Noah Vonleh on a one-year deal, agent Jim Tanner tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). It will be Vonleh’s second stint with the franchise, as he finished the 2017/18 season in Chicago.
The ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Vonleh began his career in Charlotte before moving on to Portland, Chicago, and New York. In 2019/20, he began the season in Minnesota before being traded to Denver as part of the four-team mega-deal involving Clint Capela and Robert Covington.
In total, Vonleh averaged just 3.7 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 36 games (10.5 MPG) for the Timberwolves and Nuggets last season. He was more productive in 2018/19 for the Knicks, recording 8.4 PPG and 7.8 RPG in 68 games (25.3 MPG).
Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ new president of basketball operations, worked in the Nuggets’ front office last season, so he got a first-hand look at Vonleh for about a month before the hiatus.
It has been a relatively quiet free agent period for the Bulls, whose only other newcomers via free agency or trade are veteran guard Garrett Temple and undrafted rookie Devon Dotson, who signed a two-way deal.
If Vonleh is retained for the regular season, he, Temple, Dotson, figure to provide some additional depth on a Chicago squad that will otherwise return many of its players from last year’s roster. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes (via Twitter) that the team already has 15 guaranteed contracts, so for Vonleh to make the team, someone else would have to be traded or released.
In a pair of stories, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files and J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required) provide a few additional details on the Pacers‘ pursuit of Gordon Hayward in free agency, confirming that the Celtics sought a second starting player in addition to Myles Turner in a potential Hayward sign-and-trade. That lines up with what Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reported last week.
Agness says that Hayward and his family purchased a home in the Indianapolis area over a year ago and that his wife was excited about the possibility of moving back to Indiana. However, Ainge apparently drove a hard bargain in trade discussions — Michael reports that even an offer of Turner, a first-round pick, and a rotation player (possibly Doug McDermott, as Washburn reported) wasn’t enough to win over the Celtics.
It’s possible that the hard line drawn by Ainge wouldn’t have ultimately mattered — the Hornets‘ offer of four years and $120MM was about $15MM higher than the Pacers were willing to go, according to Agness. That difference certainly may have been enough to lure Hayward to Charlotte even if the Pacers and Celtics had agreed to trade terms.
Still, both Agness’ and Michael’s reports seem to suggest there was a window when the two teams’ inability to work out a sign-and-trade agreement may have been the only thing standing in the way of Hayward going to Indiana. According to Michael, once the Hornets put their $120MM offer on the table, Ainge wanted to go back to the Pacers to negotiate in “good faith,” but Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein “pulled the plug” on that as the veteran forward chose Charlotte.
Here’s more from around the Central:
- It flew under the radar a little since it wasn’t reported as part of the initial agreement, but the Pistons gave up an eye-popping four second-round picks in their deal that sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers and landed them No. 19 pick Saddiq Bey. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link), those four second-rounders “appear to have been in part the cost of Kennard’s past knee issues.” However, Kennard’s camp is confident those issues are behind him, and it seems the Clippers are too, writes Lowe.
- While the 2020 draft may not be packed with future stars, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said his club “really liked” this year’s class, which was why the team traded for multiple extra picks. “We liked the players that were in it and we just felt there were quality young men that could help continue to build our program, we were aggressive,” Weaver said, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Referring to Bey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and Saben Lee, the Pistons’ GM added, “Hopefully, we can look back in time and call this our core four.”
- The failed Bogdan Bogdanovic sign-and-trade was a bad look for the franchise, but Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscription required) contends there’s a case to be made that the Bucks will ultimately be better off with the moves they made instead. Not landing Bogdanovic allowed Milwaukee to offer more than the minimum to add role players like D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis, and Bryn Forbes, and the team didn’t end up having to part with promising 23-year-old Donte DiVincenzo.
- In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago fields questions about the Bulls‘ surprising No. 4 draft pick and the club’s relatively quiet free agent period.
After spending his rookie season on a two-way contract with the Bulls, second-year wing Adam Mokoka has officially accepted another two-way deal from the team, according to the NBA’s transactions log.
Mokoka only logged a total of 112 minutes in 11 games at the NBA level in 2019/20, but was a regular for Chicago’s G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls. He averaged 10.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 3.3 APG in 31 games (32.2 MPG) in the NBAGL, though he only shot 37.1% from the field (32.7% on threes).
Mokoka was named the MVP of a summer tournament in France that also featured NBA players Frank Ntilikina and Sekou Doumbouya. He received a two-way qualifying offer from the Bulls last week that made him a restricted free agent.
It has been a frenzied week of NBA roster moves since the league lifted its months-long moratorium last Monday, but there have been no updates on perhaps the biggest storyline of the offseason, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. As Windhorst points out, the league is still waiting to see whether or not reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will agree to a five-year, super-max extension with the Bucks.
League sources tell Windhorst that the Bucks – in recent weeks – have moved from “cautiously optimistic to cautiously confident” that Antetokounmpo will make a long-term commitment to the club when he returns from Greece. However, moves made by other teams across the league this week suggest that not everyone on the outside views it as a lock.
Clubs that have long been cited as likely free agent suitors for Giannis if he reaches the open market in 2021 went to great lengths this week to preserve their cap room for next summer. The Heat, Mavericks, and Raptors were among the teams that made an effort to keep money off their books for next season — in some cases, it may have even cost them key free agents.
Here’s more from around the East:
- While a panel of analysts at The Athletic agree that the Hornets‘ four-year, $120MM deal for Gordon Hayward is an overpay, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic that the forward did have another four-year offer in the $100MM range. It’s not clear whether it was the Pacers or another team that made that offer.
- In negotiations with Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, it was clear the Raptors prioritized their future cap flexibility over keeping the free agent centers in Toronto for 2020/21, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, who says the team knew it might have to take a step backward in the short term in order to achieve their ambitions in the long term.
- While losing two more key pieces from their 2019 championship roster will be a tough pill to swallow for the Raptors, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca warns not to assume the club will take a big step backward in 2020/21.
- The Bulls entered the offseason needing to fortify their wing rotation, which is why they agreed to sign Garrett Temple and bring back Denzel Valentine, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Temple is a good teammate and a versatile veteran who can play multiple positions, while the Bulls like Valentine’s ability to shoot, pass, and rebound, Mayberry writes.
- Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post makes a case that the Wizards need to reboot their roster by trading both John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Unless the No. 4 pick out of FSU accepts a deal worth less than the maximum allowable 120% of the rookie scale, Williams will earn $7,068,360 in his rookie year and about $32.1MM over the first four years of his NBA career. A full list of anticipated rookie scale salary figures is viewable here.
The 6’8″ Williams is viewed as an athletic, defensive-oriented forward with room to grow on offense as a long-distance shooting threat. His physical attributes (he has a 7′ wingspan) and tantalizing upside saw him vault into the lottery conversation relatively late this season.
Williams will compete with incumbent starter Lauri Markkanen for minutes at power forward, the No. 4 pick’s most natural positional fit. Ahead of the draft, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer hailed the ascendant Williams as potentially being one of the biggest steals this year.
As was previously reported, Dotson signed a two-way deal with Chicago. The 6’2″ point guard, who went undrafted this year, will join the team in training camp and compete for a roster slot, though as a two-way player he may log significant time for Chicago’s G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls in Hoffman Estates.
For Kansas last season, Dotson averaged 18.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 4.0 APG with 2.1 SPG. Dotson was John Hollinger of The Athletic‘s highest-rated undrafted player, and was actually listed at No. 15 overall in Hollinger’s pre-draft rankings. Williams, meanwhile, was No. 14.
Dotson’s biggest assets are his scoring and his speed. At the NBA Draft combine earlier in November, he recorded the second-fastest three-quarter-court sprint of the past ten years at 3.02 seconds, per CJ Moore of The Athletic. 2019 lottery pick Coby White and veteran Tomas Satoransky currently project to play the lion’s share of minutes at the point for the Bulls.
As a result of the decision, Valentine will be under contract for the 2020/21 season on a one-year, $4.64MM deal. He’ll have a de facto no-trade clause for the season and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2021 once the contract expires.
The Bulls’ decision to extend a qualifying offer to Valentine was somewhat surprising. After a promising 2017/18, he has only appeared in 36 games over the last two years due to injuries. He averaged 6.8 PPG and 2.1 RPG on .409/.336/.750 in 13.6 minutes per contest for Chicago last season.
New president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas reportedly values Valentine’s shooting ability, which played a big part in the Bulls’ decision to make him a restricted free agent. The 27-year-old knocked down 38.6% of his three-point attempts in his last full season in ’17/18.
Free agent contracts generally can’t be officially completed until after the moratorium at the start of each league year, but signing a qualifying offer is one of the few transactions that is permitted in that window.