Bulls Rumors

Teams Lining Up For No. 3 Pick If Kings Pass On Doncic

The Mavericks, Magic, Bulls, Knicks, and Clippers have expressed interest in moving into the Hawks’ No. 3 slot to select either EuroLeague guard Luka Doncic or possibly Texas center Mohamed Bamba if the Kings pass on Doncic at No. 2, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Those teams, along with the Nuggets, have also talked to the Grizzlies at the No. 4 spot. The Celtics don’t appear to be a serious contender for either pick, O’Connor adds.

Here’s some other tidbits from O’Connor’s story:

  • The Hornets’ willingness to deal Kemba Walker has waned since they reached an agreement with the Nets to trade Dwight Howard for Timofey Mozgov. The Cavaliers have shown interest in solving their point guard dilemma by acquiring Walker.
  • The Clippers could select Miami (Fla.) guard Lonnie Walker with one of their first-rounders and then ship him to the Hawks. The Clippers have the No. 12 and No. 13 picks in the lottery.
  • The Bucks are trying to package the No. 17 pick with point guard Matthew Dellavedova‘s contract. Dellavedova has two years and $19.2MM remaining on his deal. Milwaukee would trade down in the draft in that scenario and not exit altogether.
  • The Timberwolves have a strong interest in Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo with the No. 20 pick.
  • There are rumblings that the Bulls made a promise to draft Boise State shooting guard Chandler Hutchison. That would have to be at No. 22 unless they make a deal.
  • The Trail Blazers and Lakers are interested in IMG Academy shooting guard Anfernee Simons with their late first-round picks.
  • Kentucky small forward Jarred Vanderbilt, Latvian forward Rodions Kurucs, and Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham are believed to have received draft promises.

Seven Teams Discussing No. 4 Pick With Grizzlies

The Grizzlies remain in discussions with a number of clubs about the possibility of a trade involving the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. Givony identifies the Mavericks, Magic, Bulls, Knicks, Nuggets, Celtics, and Clippers as teams that have shown “varying degrees of interest” in making a deal.

Memphis has been exploring the idea of trading the No. 4 selection throughout the pre-draft process, and would like to include Chandler Parsons‘ unwanted contract in any swap. According to Givony, Parsons would likely be part of any deal Memphis makes involving that fourth overall pick.

Sources tell Givony that the Grizzlies don’t want to move out of the lottery altogether, so teams picking within a few spots of Memphis will likely have the best odds of making a deal, which could be bad news for a club like Boston. According to Givony, the Grizzlies have their eye on Wendell Carter Jr. as a potential target, so they may not want to drop too far — Carter is considered a probable top-10 pick.

A trade involving the Grizzlies and Magic, who hold the No. 6 pick, might appeal to Memphis if Orlando is willing to include Evan Fournier, per Givony. However, the Magic are hesitant to do so, preferring to offer up Bismack Biyombo. We heard earlier on Wednesday evening that the Knicks have considered a move up – perhaps to No. 4 – for Mohamed Bamba.

It’s possible that trade talks will go right down to the wire, since teams interested in moving up will likely want to make sure that their preferred prospect is available at No. 4.

For what it’s worth, Kevin O’Connor reported earlier in the evening (via Twitter) that the Mavs, Magic, Bulls, Knicks, Clippers, and Celtics have also explored the possibility of moving up to No. 3 in a trade with the Hawks. O’Connor suggested that Luka Doncic or Bamba would be the targets in that spot.

Deveney’s Latest: Draft, Raptors, Gilgeous-Alexander

While all five teams at the top of the draft have reportedly been open to the idea of moving down, the odds of any of those teams actually trading a top-five pick may be slim. As Sean Deveney of The Sporting News details, teams that have explored trading up have found the asking price for a top-five selection to be extremely high.

“This is a good draft, a very good draft at the top,” one league source told Deveney. “But the value that teams are placing on these picks is a little unreasonable in some cases.”

The Sixers, Cavaliers, Bulls, and Celtics are among the teams that have looked into trading up. The Clippers, who own the 12th and 13th picks, have also had multiple discussions about that possibility, but if they stay where they are, there’s a sense that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, and Robert Williams will be among their top targets, per Deveney.

Here’s more from Deveney’s latest round-up of draft rumors:

  • While the Raptors were believed to be considering moving into the lottery to land Gilgeous-Alexander, their trade options are limited, according to Deveney. League sources tell Deveney that Toronto’s most likely deal is a salary dump of Norman Powell.
  • Speaking of Gilgeous-Alexander, he has been a mystery man during the pre-draft process. Appearing on Wednesday at media day, he didn’t shed much light on what he has been up to, telling reporters that he “can’t say” how many teams – or which teams – he has worked out for (Twitter link via Deveney).
  • The Warriors will likely to look to buy a second-round pick, but at least one general manager tells Deveney – perhaps half-seriously – that he hopes teams aren’t eager to accommodate the defending champs. “If anyone sells them a pick, they ought to have their head checked,” the GM joked. “Once that first round is over, everyone needs to just not pick up the phone if [Warriors GM Bob] Myers is calling.”
  • Deveney identifies Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. as one of the wild cards near the top of the draft, suggesting that Carter could go as high as No. 4 to the Grizzlies.

Bulls Eyeing Mohamed Bamba?

There are a number of signs that the Bulls may be focusing on Mohamed Bamba as a prime target in Thursday night’s draft, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. As Johnson details, the club has had “consistent contact” with Bamba throughout the pre-draft process, with team president Michael Reinsdorf among those who has talked to the young center.

According to Johnson, the Bulls have been intrigued by Bamba’s “game-changing defensive potential” from the start of the pre-draft process. However, there’s a sense around the NBA that Chicago may have to trade up if the club wants to be assured of landing Bamba.

Bulls Forward Paul Zipser Doubts He’ll Return

Forward Paul Zipser doesn’t believe he’ll be back with the Bulls next season, he told a German newspaper in a story that was relayed by BlogABull.com.

Zipser has a non-guaranteed contract of approximately $1.545MM next season that becomes guaranteed if he remains on the roster through July 18th.

Zipser said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Bulls decide to let him go before the guarantee kicks in. Even if they do guarantee his salary, he doubts they’ll keep him.

The 6’8” Zipser saw his playing time dip in his second NBA season. He averaged 4.0 PPG and shot just 34.6% from the field while playing 15.2 MPG in 54 appearances. In his rookie campaign, he averaged 5.4 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 19.2 MPG while playing 44 games.

Health is also a concern, as Zipser had surgery to repair a broken left foot last month. According to Zipser, the injury was a stress fracture.

Zipser told the Rhein Neckar newspaper that foot pain was a major reason for his dropoff in performance.

“If your foot hurts, you simply can’t play as hard as normally. You don’t want to suffer a serious injury and be out for some time,” Zipser said according to the English translation provided by BlogABull. “It was difficult to focus on the game – I didn’t manage that very well.”

Zipser also said the Bulls’ decision to go into tank mode caused great consternation, though he didn’t have an issue with coach Fred Hoiberg.

“That finally destroyed the morale of the players. But even before you could notice that some decisions didn’t make any sense with regards to having a successful season,” he said. “The conversations with the coach were always very honest, I really appreciate him.”

Central Draft Notes: Bulls, Bucks, Pistons

The Bulls have the pieces to move into the Top 5 of the draft but it’s unknown whether they like any prospect enough to do that, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls could package their picks at No. 7 and No. 22 and power forward Bobby Portis to make a deal with the Hawks at No. 3 or the Grizzlies at No. 4. Memphis, though, might want to unload Chandler Parsons contract, in which case the Bulls probably wouldn’t have to include Portis, Strotman continues. With Lauri Markkanen the long-term solution at power forward, the Bulls can afford to deal Portis, who might become a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t receive a contract extension, Strotman adds.

In other draft-related musings involving Central Division clubs:

  • If the Bulls retain their No. 22 pick, they should avoid Duke sharpshooter Grayson Allen and Villanova big man Omari Spellman, Scott Phillips of NBC Sports Chicago opines. Allen’s temperamental behavior during his college career is something the Bulls don’t need with an already young roster, while Spellman’s skills do not complement Markkanen because he’s not a rim protector, Phillips continues. De’Anthony Melton (USC), Mitchell Robinson (Western Kentucky) and Anfernee Simons are three other late first-round prospects the Bulls should pass on, Phillips adds.
  • The Bucks could select Michigan big man Moritz Wagner with the No. 17 pick, Gery Woelfel of WoelfelsPressBox.com speculates. The Bucks need a physical frontcourt player who can shoot from outside and Wagner would bring that, Woelfel continues. While most draft experts peg Wagner as a late first- or early second-round selection, he could move into the middle of the first round because of his offensive skills, Woelfel adds.
  • Missouri State forward Alize Johnson and Purdue guard Dakota Mathias are two of the players the Pistons might consider with their second-round pick, according to Ansar Khan of MLive. Both players came in for workouts this week. Detroit traded away its first-round pick in the Blake Griffin deal with the Clippers.

Southwest Rumors: Potapenko, Cousins, Mavs Draft, Rockets

Vitaly Potapenko and Greg Buckner are among the assistants named to J.B. Bickerstaff’s staff with the Grizzlies, according to a team press release. Potapenko had been the Cavaliers’ assistant director of player development since 2013, while Buckner is a holdover from last season’s staff. As previously announced, Jerry Stackhouse will also be a top assistant for Bickerstaff. Stackhouse, who coached the Raptors’ G League the past two seasons, interviewed for several head coaching jobs. Chad Forcier, an assistant under Frank Vogel with the Magic the last two seasons, has also joined the staff along with Nick Van Exel and Adam Mazarei.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • DeMarcus Cousins will most likely stay put with the Pelicans but there are three other Western Conference teams where the big man would be a good fit, HoopsHype tweets. The Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs are the most likely landing spots for Cousins if he leaves New Orleans, HoopsHype adds.
  • A draft night trade with the Bulls might make sense for the Mavericks, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News speculates. Dallas owns the No. 5 pick with Chicago slotted at No. 7. If Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young go a little higher than anticipated, the Mavs could move down and either Mohamed Bamba, Wendell Carter or Jaren Jackson would still be on the board, Cowlishaw points out.
  • Rockets fans should lower their expectations of potentially landing LeBron James or Paul George and simply hope GM Daryl Morey can upgrade a  luxury-tax team with precious few young assets, Sean Deveney of Sports Illustrated opines. Giving Chris Paul a max contract will be a tough pill but one they’ll have to swallow to remain a prime contender, Deveney adds.

Notable Trade Exceptions Available This Offseason

For NBA teams lacking the cap room to make impact additions to their roster this offseason, traded player exceptions represent one tool available to accommodate that sort of acquisition.

As we explain in our glossary entry, traded player exceptions are created when a team trades away a single player without immediately taking salary back in return. The club then has up to one year in which it can acquire one or more players whose combined salaries amount to no more than the traded player’s salary (plus $100K).

That means sizable traded player exceptions created during the 2017 offseason are on track to expire in the coming weeks or months, so teams will have to use them or lose them during the 2018 offseason. Trade exceptions generated during the 2017/18 regular season prior to the February deadline will be available through the offseason and into the 2018/19 season.

The full list of available traded player exceptions can be found right here, but here are a few notable TPEs worth keeping an eye on during the coming offseason:

Portland Trail Blazers
Value of traded player exception: $12,969,502
Expiry date: 7/25/18
Created when they traded Allen Crabbe to the Nets.

The Trail Blazers already have more than $110MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for 2018/19, and that figure doesn’t include a potential new contract for Jusuf Nurkic. So unless they’re able to significantly cut costs elsewhere, it may not be realistic for the Blazers to use their $13MM trade exception to take on another sizable contract.

Still, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey talked earlier this offseason about feeling as if Portland has been too “protective” of some of its assets, including its trade exception. So it sounds like he’ll explore possible uses for it, even if the club ends up not finding a viable deal.

Chicago Bulls
Value of traded player exception: $12,500,000
Expiry date: 2/1/19
Created when they traded Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans.

The Bulls have been in an odd spot from a cap perspective for the last year, having carried a variety of exceptions that technically made them an over-the-cap team even though their players salaries have never exceeded $99MM. Chicago will have another opportunity to dip below the cap this offseason, and it seems likely that the club will do so, which would mean forfeiting this exception.

Toronto Raptors
Value of traded player exception: $11,800,000
Expiry date: 7/13/18
Created when they traded DeMarre Carroll to the Nets.

The Raptors, who also have a $6,125,440 exception left over from last July’s Cory Joseph deal, are in a similar spot to the Blazers. While their TPEs are good tools to improve the roster in theory, the Raptors have a potential luxury-tax bill to worry about. As such, adding salary without sending out any in return probably isn’t practical for Toronto, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these exceptions expire.

It’s worth noting that are ways for the Raptors – and other teams on this list – to roll over at least one significant TPE for another year. For instance, let’s say Toronto dealt a player like Norman Powell for someone making about $10-11MM in 2018/19. In that scenario, the Raps could acquire the incoming player with the Carroll TPE and create a new exception worth Powell’s salary.

Los Angeles Clippers
Value of traded player exception: $7,273,631
Expiry date: 6/28/18
Created when they traded Chris Paul to the Rockets.

The Clippers have less than two weeks to use this exception, created in last June’s CP3 blockbuster. This limits their options, since many deals won’t be made until the new league year begins in July. I think this exception is a good bet to go unused.

Detroit Pistons
Value of traded player exception: $7,000,000
Expiry date: 1/29/19
Created when they traded Boban Marjanovic to the Clippers.

With nearly $112MM in guaranteed money on their 2018/19 cap, the Pistons have a little more flexibility than teams like the Blazers and Raptors, but not by much. For instance, Detroit likely wouldn’t be able to use its full mid-level exception and acquire a $7MM player using this TPE. However, if the Pistons can’t find a player they like on the free agent market worth a mid-level investment, this exception could provide an alternate path to adding a bench piece.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Value of traded player exception: $5,811,114
Expiry date: 8/22/18
Created when they traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics.

There are a ton of moving pieces in play for the Cavaliers‘ offseason, so this modest exception will get overlooked. Still, it could be a useful tool to try to acquire help for LeBron James if he stays — or to help accommodate some roster reshuffling if he departs.

Strained Hip Caused Porter To Cancel Workout

1:11pm: Porter’s representatives sent out a statement this afternoon to teams planning to attend his workout, Givony tweets. “Porter will be evaluated again tonight and if the doctor feels Michael is moving well enough to go through the medical evaluation tomorrow, then we are going to proceed with the evaluation at 3pm CST tomorrow,” it read.

Also from Porter’s camp: “After being shut down to do strengthening/core stabilization work for his first 4 weeks in Chicago, and then being ramped up as hard as he was the last 3 weeks, Michael developed some inflammation that wrapped around his nerve and caused massive spasms. After being shut down to do strengthening/core stabilization work for his first 4 weeks in Chicago, and then being ramped up as hard as he was the last 3 weeks, Michael developed some inflammation that wrapped around his nerve and caused massive spasms.” (Twitter links)

12:21pm: Porter underwent an MRI that showed no physical problem and he is feeling better, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. A decision is expected later today on whether his workout will be rescheduled.

JUNE 14, 10:40am: Michael Porter Jr. called off Friday’s scheduled pro day in Chicago after suffering a strained hip, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Porter was experiencing muscle spasms yesterday and was unable to get out of bed.

The planned workout could be rescheduled, depending how Porter responds to treatment, but Givony notes that time is running short with just a week left before the draft. Several lottery teams that planned to attend the event were notified of the cancellation Wednesday afternoon. They were going to bring their own medical staffs to examine Porter, which is an unusual move for a pro day.

Porter has been zooming up draft boards lately and now appears likely to be taken in the top seven, according to Givony. The Kings, Grizzlies and Mavericks appear to be the most interested teams, and the Bulls appear ready to grab him at No. 7 if he falls that far.

Medical concerns have haunted Porter since the college season began in November. He injured his back in his first game with Missouri, prompting microdiscectomy surgery that sidelined him until the SEC tournament. He refused to undergo medical examinations at the draft combine, and his first pro day was delayed a week to give him more time to heal.

Porter stopped all basketball activity once the season ended, Givony adds, and concentrated on rehab. He lost strength due to the injury, especially in his left leg, and received medical clearance to play just two weeks before the first pro day on June 8. He reportedly felt just “50%” physically for that session, but impressed scouts with his shooting and overall performance.

The Bulls conducted a medical exam on Porter, with the results released to all 30 NBA teams. Givony relays that multiple team representatives have said there are no major causes for concern in the report.

“There doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with him right now,” an unidentified executive said. “But a conservative doctor could still [be concerned about] what might happen down the road.”

Draft Updates: Z. Smith, Huerter, Allen, Brunson

The Lakers are “super infatuated” with Zhaire Smith and have held several meetings with the Texas Tech guard, tweets Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Smith has worked out for a number of teams, but L.A. is excited about his potential fit in its backcourt.

The Lakers, who don’t pick until No. 25, will have to trade up to have a shot at Smith. The 19-year-old averaged 11.3 points per game as a freshman with the Red Raiders and is projected to go to the Suns with the 16th selection in the latest mock draft compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

There’s more draft-related news to pass along:

  • Maryland’s Kevin Huerter, a potential first-round pick, is expected to miss two months after having surgery to fix torn ligaments in his right hand, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Projected at No. 21 in Givony’s mock draft, Huerter has been rising on draft boards since an impressive performance at the combine. He averaged 14.8 points per game for the Terrapins and shot 41.7% from 3-point range.
  • Duke’s Grayson Allen will work out for the Timberwolves Thursday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Allen has already auditioned for the Sixers, Celtics, Lakers and Jazz, among others, and made a strong impression at the combine and his pro day.
  • Donte Ingram of Loyola-Chicago will also take part in a session Thursday with the Wolves, Wolfson adds (Twitter link). Ingram had a recent workout with the Grizzlies.
  • Oklahoma’s Trae Young will work out for the Bulls on Thursday, tweets ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
  • Villanova’s Jalen Brunson will have an individual workout for the Pacers Thursday, the team announced on its website.
  • Six players will work out for the Nuggets Thursday, tweets Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Scheduled to attend are UCLA’s Thomas Welsh, Idaho’s Victor Sanders and Iowa State’s Donovan Jackson, along with Dayon Goodman of Westminster (Utah), Todd Withers of Queens (North Carolina) and Tryggvi Hlinason of Valencia Basket.
  • European sources are confident that Serbian center Dusan Ristic will be taken as a draft-and-stash player, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando (Twitter link).