Bulls Rumors

Central Notes: Jerome, Pistons, J. Smith, Connaughton, Bulls

Frustrated by his slow recovery from a severe right ankle sprain, Cavaliers guard Ty Jerome has adjusted his treatment plan in the hopes of accelerating his return to the court, reports Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscriber link).

As Fedor details, Jerome recently had the ankle immobilized within a cast, which he’ll wear for about a week. The hope is that he’ll be able to resume individual workouts after having the cast removed.

“He is recovering,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said on Tuesday. “They’re doing different steps with him and trying some new things, different things in order to help him. He’s doing another treatment now and I’ll let the medical staff talk about timeline when they put all that together. He’s trying something different than just the normal rehab.”

Jerome has long been a favorite of Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman, according to Fedor. When he signed a two-year deal with the team this past summer, the plan was for him to be mentored by veteran point guard Ricky Rubio.

Instead, due to Rubio’s absence, Jerome was thrust into the backup point guard role to open the season, then suffered the ankle injury in just his second game as a Cavalier. While it hasn’t been an ideal start to his time in Cleveland, Jerome is trying to look at the bright side, telling Fedor, “Guess it’s better to be injured early rather than late.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Following a team-record 15th consecutive loss on Wednesday, Pistons head coach Monty Williams suggested that “this group struggles with adversity,” which is one reason why the slump has only gotten worse, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic expects lineup changes to be around the corner, with Bojan Bogdanovic likely to start when he makes his season debut — that could happen as soon as this Thursday or Saturday, says Edwards.
  • Pacers center Jalen Smith‘s leg injury isn’t as serious as the team initially feared, but he has been diagnosed with a left knee bone bruise and a left heel contusion and will miss at least the next two games, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Isaiah Jackson is the leading candidate to take Smith’s spot in the rotation, while two-way player Oscar Tshiebwe is being called up from the G League to provide depth, Dopirak adds.
  • In an in-depth story for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jim Owczarski takes a look at the journey Pat Connaughton has taken to secure his place in the NBA as a reliable role player for the Bucks, as well as the work he has done in Milwaukee off the court.
  • While it’s one thing to be beaten by more talented teams, the slumping Bulls have also had more “low-effort moments” during their recent losing streak, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Donovan, Karnisovas

The Bulls‘ final chance to make a statement in the in-season tournament ended with a 27-point loss at Boston and that wasn’t the extent of the bad news, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Zach LaVine left the game midway through the third quarter with foot soreness, a condition that caused him to miss last Wednesday’s contest at Oklahoma City. DeMar DeRozan also got pulled from the game in the third quarter after getting knocked down on a foul and experiencing pain in his left ankle.

It has been a frustrating season for Chicago, which went 0-4 in the tournament and has now dropped eight of its last nine games. With trade rumors swirling around several players, LaVine said it’s important to focus on each game rather than the bigger picture.

“You go out there and play, man,” said LaVine, who added that he’s “day to day” with the soreness. “You got a lot of season left. You don’t play the scoreboard. You look at the standings, obviously. But you try to win every game you step into and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Coach Billy Donovan tried a lineup change on Tuesday, starting Patrick Williams and moving Alex Caruso to the bench to stabilize the second unit, notes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Donovan continues to search for a spark that will snap the team out of its early-season funk. ‘‘Yeah, I take ownership in this, too, in terms of what I’ve got to do,” he told reporters. “I’m not obviously making the decisions that maybe (president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas) is making or Jerry and Michael (Reinsdorf) are making, and I’m not making decisions on the court that the players are making. But what do I have control over? What’s my responsibility? Where can I get better and how can I improve to help? I’m a big believer in you are what your record says you are. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Well, we had a couple of tough losses, and we could be .500.’ No, this is what we are, and how can we get better?’’
  • Blame for the Bulls’ failure should be directed at Karnisovas, who assembled a roster that ranks 26th in offense and 22nd in defense, states Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Mayberry argues that Karnisovas should have broken up the core of the team at the February trade deadline and could have done more in free agency than just signing Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter.
  • This season will be defined more by what Karnisovas can do on the trade market rather than wins and losses, Johnson states in a separate story. League sources tell Johnson that the organization is focused on finding an acceptable trade for LaVine, and Karnisovas is telling teams calling about other players that he wants to see what his roster looks like after a LaVine deal before beginning any of those discussions.

Warriors Notes: Moody, Thompson, Green, Paul, Payton

Moses Moody hit several big shots in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, but he wasn’t on the floor for the closing minutes as the Warriors fell to the Kings. That’s something coach Steve Kerr may have to change if the third-year guard remains productive, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.

Moody scored 11 points in the first seven minutes of the quarter, making all four of his shot attempts. However, Kerr opted to replace him with Andrew Wiggins with 4:26 remaining.

“Moses was awesome tonight,” Kerr said. “We needed (Wiggins) on the floor for defense against (De’Aaron) Fox, and we decided to go with Klay (Thompson) and our vets. We thought about keeping him out there. But we made the move that we made.”

Kerr’s loyalty to his veterans cost the Warriors an important division game and a possibly a chance to reach the in-season tournament quarterfinals, according to Marcus Thompson. With Moody and rookie Brandin Podziemski both playing well, Thompson believes Kerr will eventually have to trust them with a game on the line.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry remains as productive as ever, but Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are no longer playing at a championship level, contends Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. He notes that Thompson has been forcing shots and can’t stay in front of quicker players on defense, while Green’s intensity has been out of control lately, resulting in a five-game suspension for an incident with Rudy Gobert and a near ejection for mocking the officials in Tuesday’s game. O’Connor’s recommendation is for the Warriors to shake up their roster with a trade, using Chris Paul‘s salary and some of their young talent. He suggests targets such as the RaptorsPascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, the BullsAlex Caruso, the WizardsKyle Kuzma, or possibly Lauri Markkanen from the Jazz or Kawhi Leonard or Paul George from the Clippers if those teams continue to struggle.
  • Golden State could be heading toward a difficult place with Thompson if he can’t shake his early-season slump, observes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. Thompson has an expiring contract, and if he can’t prove that he’s worth the four-year, $220MM extension that he reportedly expects, his only choices next summer will be to either leave the Warriors or re-sign for significantly less.
  • A pair of injuries added to the team’s woes in Tuesday’s loss, notes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Paul was ruled out with lower left leg soreness shortly after halftime, and Gary Payton II hobbled to the locker room with a right calf injury late in the third quarter.

Western Rumors: Rockets, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Brogdon

After making several significant changes to their roster during the 2023 offseason, the Rockets figure to remain active on the trade market during the season. League sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Houston has interest in pursuing further roster upgrades, with Victor Oladipo, Jock Landale, Jeff Green, and draft picks among the team’s potential trade chips.

None of those three players are owed guaranteed money beyond 2023/24 and all are being paid between $8-10MM this season, making them logical salary-matching pieces. Forward Jae’Sean Tate has also generated exploratory interest from playoff-caliber clubs in recent years, according to Scotto, who adds that Reggie Bullock also had several suitors before signing with Houston, making him a name to watch too.

One player we shouldn’t expect to end up in Houston? Bulls guard Zach LaVine. Scotto says the Rockets aren’t involved in the LaVine sweepstakes.

Scotto has more trade-related items of interest from around the Western Conference. Here are a few:

  • Sharpshooter Luke Kennard and forward John Konchar are among the Grizzlies players who are candidates to be dealt before February’s deadline, Scotto writes, identifying the Celtics, Warriors, and Lakers as some of the teams that have “kept tabs” on Konchar.
  • Rival executives think the Jazz may attempt to stabilize their backcourt by acquiring a veteran point guard, according to Scotto. While rookie Keyonte George has played well, he’s more of a combo guard, Scotto explains, naming Talen Horton-Tucker and Kelly Olynyk as a couple potential trade candidates on Utah’s roster.
  • Keegan Murray is the Kings player whom potential trade partners would covet most, but Sacramento views the young forward as an important part of its core and would be more inclined to move future first-round picks in any deal for an impact player, per Scotto.
  • Three executives who spoke to Scotto believe the Trail Blazers could land a protected 2024 first-round pick – or a similar asset – if they decide to trade Malcolm Brogdon this season.

L.A. Notes: Lakers, Trade Targets, Coffey, Hyland, Harden

Appearing on Hoops Tonight (Twitter video link), Jovan Buha of The Athletic confirmed that the Lakers have some interest in Bulls guard Zach LaVine, but said there are a couple other Chicago players who may be higher on Los Angeles’ wish list.

“I’ve actually heard that they’re more interested in DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso,” Buha said. “AC, he’s the one that got away. Lakers fans, it still bothers them. Inside the organization, it’s a very divisive topic. And then DeMar is someone that the Lakers have courted for several years. Both of those guys are on more manageable contracts (than LaVine).

“… I think both of those guys make more sense within what the Lakers need. There’s real interest in all three guys, but from what I’ve been told, DeMar and Alex are higher on their priority list.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two L.A. teams:

  • Within a comprehensive look at potential trade candidates around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says that rival executives believe D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura are among the Lakers players worth monitoring as the trade deadline nears. Scotto also cites one exec who suggests keeping an eye on the possibility of an Amir Coffey trade if the Clippers want to try to reduce their tax bill at all.
  • No Clippers players have had their minutes more affected by James Harden‘s arrival than Bones Hyland. He averaged 26.2 minutes per night before Harden’s debut; since then, he has logged 12.9 MPG with six DNPs. As Janis Carr of The Orange County Register details, head coach Tyronn Lue has told Hyland his opportunities will come and the young guard is determined to remain patient. “Obviously everybody would be (bothered), especially for someone who wants to play like myself,” Hyland said. “But at the end of the day, sometimes the coaches see different things and maybe it’s not my time for a reason. … My whole life I try to stay positive, so I don’t let little things throw me off or change my attitude and stuff like that.”
  • Speaking today to reporters, Lue said that he isn’t considering a starting lineup change but that he’s thinking about tweaking his rotation, adding that the Clippers need Harden to be “more aggressive” (Twitter thread via Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times).

Central Rumors: Pistons, Bulls, Hield, Cavaliers

Veteran forward Bojan Bogdanovic is expected to be the Pistons trade candidate who generates the most interest from rival teams this season, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears from league sources that the club turned down two first-round picks from a contender in an offer for Bogdanovic last season.

It’s unclear what sort of protections those first-rounders might’ve had, but head coach Monty Williams “loves” Bogdanovic, per Scotto, so Detroit may set a high asking price for him again at the 2024 deadline.

Alec Burks, Monte Morris, and Killian Hayes are among the other Pistons players who figure to draw trade interest this winter, Scotto writes. League sources tell HoopsHype that Detroit had exploratory talks earlier this year with the Rockets about a trade that would have sent Burks to Houston in exchange for several second-round picks and Kevin Porter Jr. (who would’ve been waived).

Here are a few more of Scotto’s trade-related rumors and notes from around the Central:

  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso would be a hot commodity on the trade market if he’s available, but rival executives who spoke to Scotto say Chicago still hasn’t shown a willingness to move him. Multiple execs believe the Bulls could get a first-round pick and a rotation player for Caruso, Scotto notes.
  • How much might the Bulls get in exchange for Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan? “I think Zach LaVine can get a first back, maybe another first-round pick if it’s in this draft since it’s so weak,” one executive told Scotto. “DeMar DeRozan is worth a first in this draft in the 20s since it’s a weak draft, and he’s unrestricted at the end of the season. He can be a third scorer on a winning team.” Scotto says the Bulls are currently valuing players who could help them win immediately, rather than looking to tear down the roster and stockpile future draft picks.
  • Although Buddy Hield was identified in September as a potential trade candidate, the Pacers have set a high asking price for the veteran sharpshooter and don’t appear particularly eager to move him, according to Scotto. Five NBA executives who spoke to HoopsHype suggested it would take a first-round pick and a rotation player to pry Hield away from Indiana. Rival teams are also monitoring veteran Pacers guard, T.J. McConnell, Scotto adds.
  • Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert had their names pop up in trade speculation last season, but the Cavaliers want to keep both players through the 2024 deadline, barring a deal that moves the club closer to title contention, per Scotto.

Players, Coaches Gripe About Tournament’s Point Differential Tiebreaker

As teams battled for a spot in the quarterfinals of the NBA’s first in-season tournament, point differential served as an important tiebreaker. It was used in several instances to determine the winner of a group, a conference’s wild card team, and the seeding of certain quarterfinalists.

That sort of tiebreaker is necessary in the round robin stage of an event that sees 30 teams playing just four games, since there will be many identical records and several instances in which head-to-head record won’t suffice.

However, a number of players and coaches around the NBA weren’t thrilled by the late-game situations created by the focus on point differential, as ESPN details. Knicks forward Josh Hart was one player to express dissatisfaction with the idea that his team had to try to run up the score on Tuesday vs. Charlotte in order to advance.

“It was interesting. I don’t really like it,” Hart said. “We were focused, at first, just about winning. The last couple of minutes it feels weird. At a certain point, you just start chasing points, doing all that. So it kind of messes with the integrity of the game a little bit.”

Teams like the Celtics and Cavaliers, meanwhile, kept their starters on the floor in Tuesday’s games well past the point that the outcomes had been decided in the hopes of widening their respective leads and improving their overall point differentials. Echoing Hart, both Jaylen Brown and Donovan Mitchell referred to it as “a little weird.”

“It’s tough because that’s just not how the game is supposed to be played,” Brown said.

Hawks head coach Quin Snyder, who pulled his starters with about four minutes left vs. Cleveland, said the situation wasn’t “ideal,” while Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was unhappy about Boston padding its lead by repeatedly fouling Andre Drummond in the fourth quarter to send the big man to the free throw line (he made one of six attempts).

“I also understand the situation he’s in too. He’s got to coach his team and do what’s right,” Donovan said of Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla. ”But I think it was putting Andre in a tough spot down 30 points. But this is from the league. This is what the league has done, making this point differential thing.”

Concerns about the effect the point differential tiebreaker had near the end of certain games arose last Friday as well. DeMar DeRozan was ejected late in a loss to Toronto for taking exception to the Raptors attempting to score when the shot clock was off. In that case, Toronto had already been eliminated from qualifying for the quarterfinals, but appeared to be unaware of that fact.

Assuming the in-season tournament returns in 2024/25, it will be interesting to see if the NBA tweaks its tiebreaker rules to address concerns from players and coaches, or if the league will simply count on everyone getting more accustomed to the format and learning to live with it.

Making total points allowed a tiebreaker rather than point differential would be one way to eliminate the incentive for teams to run up the score in a blowout. However, a change along those lines could result in unwanted side effects, including slowing down the pace of tournament games.

Schedule For NBA Tournament Non-Qualifiers Set

The NBA in-season tournament will reach the quarterfinal stage next week and the eight qualifiers and their seeds were finalized on Tuesday. The 22 teams that failed to advance had two holes in their schedules that needed to be filled.

Those matchups were determined late Tuesday evening, with each team receiving a home and away contest, NBA Communications tweets. The newly-scheduled games will take place next Wednesday (December 6) and Friday (Dec. 8).

The Cavaliers and Magic, who missed the quarterfinals despite their 3-1 tournament records, will face each other in Cleveland on Wednesday. Cleveland will then visit the Heat (2-2 tournament) on Friday.

The Nets, who also had a 3-1 tournament record, wound up with a road game against the Hawks (1-3) and home game against the Wizards (0-4)

The Sixers, who finished 2-2 in the tournament, drew a road game against the Wizards and a home game against the Hawks.

In the West, the Timberwolves were the only 3-1 tournament team that didn’t reach the quarterfinals. They’ll host the Spurs (0-4) and visit the Grizzlies (0-4).

The defending champion Nuggets will visit Los Angeles to face the Clippers (1-3), then head home to take on the Rockets (2-2). The Warriors, who were knocked out of contention by Sacramento on Tuesday, drew a home game against the Trail Blazers (1-3) and a road contest against the Thunder (1-3).

Here’s the full schedule for next Wednesday and Friday:

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  • Orlando at Cleveland
  • Memphis at Detroit
  • Miami at Toronto
  • Philadelphia at Washington
  • Brooklyn at Atlanta
  • San Antonio at Minnesota
  • Charlotte at Chicago
  • Oklahoma City at Houston
  • Utah at Dallas
  • Portland at Golden State
  • Denver at LA Clippers

Friday, Dec. 8

  • Toronto at Charlotte
  • Detroit at Orlando
  • Atlanta at Philadelphia
  • Washington at Brooklyn
  • Cleveland at Miami
  • Minnesota at Memphis
  • Golden State at Oklahoma City
  • Chicago at San Antonio
  • Houston at Denver
  • LA Clippers at Utah
  • Dallas at Portland

Two more regular season games will be added to the NBA’s schedule after the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament are complete, since the four teams that lose those matchups will require an 82nd game on their respective schedules.

Pacific Notes: Monk, Murray, Lakers, LaVine, Booker

Kings guard Malik Monk isn’t fretting over the fact that he’s in his walk year, he told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. Monk is the only Sacramento rotation player in the final year of his contract.

“I really don’t worry about that. Because I know if I just go out there and perform how I perform, and do the things I’ve been doing, it’ll work out for me,” Monk said.

Monk, who is averaging 13.2 points and 5.0 assists, is making $9.9MM this season. He’s in line for a substantial raise and that could cause issues for the Kings, Biderman notes. They are expected to be approximately $20MM below the luxury tax next summer and will have to weigh whether to approach or surpass that figure in order to re-sign Monk.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Keegan Murray was able to go through a full practice on Monday, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link), but the second-year forward remained sidelined for Tuesday’s game against Golden State, KTXL’s Sean Cunningham tweets. He’s been nagged by irritation to the sacroiliac joint in his lower back.
  • Expect the Lakers to express interest in the Bulls’ Zach LaVine, Shams Charania said on FanDuel TV (Twitter link). However, Charania believes the Lakers will take a “patient” approach and wouldn’t be able to swing that type of deal until some of the free agents they signed over the summer become trade-eligible. Charania believes the Bulls would demand the Lakers’ top young guard. “The Bulls, I’m sure, would covet Austin Reaves in any potential Zach LaVine trade,” he said.
  • With Chris Paul gone, Suns star Devin Booker has taken on the dual roles of being a top scorer and primary play-maker. He’s thriving with the added responsibility, Gerald Bourguet of GoPhnx.com notes. Booker is averaging 29.4 points, 8.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game and is scoring efficiently. “He came in scoring 70 against the Celtics pretty early in his career, so yeah, I don’t wanna say he’s just grown and grown as a scorer,” coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s always kind of had that killer instinct, but I think leadership, seeing all the different coverages that you see as an elite player over the years, it just gets you sharper with how to attack them.”

Karnisovas Frustrated, "Not Running" From Poor Start

Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas briefly addressed the media on Tuesday about his team’s slow start. Karnisovas expressed his disappointment and took his share of the blame for the team’s struggles, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays.