Chicago Bulls

Urbina: Bulls Should Be Proactive At Deadline

  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype identifies six teams that he believes should be active at the trade deadline, including three sellers (Bulls, Lakers, Grizzlies) and three buyers (Cavaliers, Pacers, Bucks).

Cristiano Felicio, Paul Zipser Join Windy City Bulls

Five Trade Candidates Who Can Veto Deals

Only two NBA players – LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony – technically have no-trade clauses included in their current contracts. However, there are several players around the league with the ability to block trades that would involve them.

A player who re-signs with his previous team on a one-year contract – or a two-year deal with an option year – is given no-trade protection, and so is a player who accepts his qualifying offer after his rookie deal expire. If one of those players is dealt, he’d lose his Bird or Early Bird rights, which is a key reason he must approve a move.

A player who signed an offer sheet and had that offer matched by his previous team can also veto trades, and can’t be sent to the team that attempted to sign him during that same league year. That means, for instance, that the Wizards can’t trade Otto Porter to the Nets this season.

There are 17 players around the NBA that meet one of those criteria, bringing the number of players with a no-trade clause – either official or unofficial – to 19. While most of those players probably aren’t going anywhere at the trade deadline anyway, there are a handful of trade candidates who would have to consent to a move, creating an added wrinkle as those players’ teams consider their trade options.

Here are some notable players whose consent is required in order to trade them:

  1. Nikola Mirotic verticalNikola Mirotic, PF (Bulls): We’ve covered Mirotic’s unofficial no-trade clause many times over the last few weeks, but it’s worth noting that his situation is a little different than anyone else’s on this list. Mirotic’s contract is actually a two-year pact, with a team option for the second year. So while he has veto power for now, that would disappear if the Bulls were to pick up his $12.5MM option for 2018/19. If the Bulls find a trade they like for Mirotic, he could use his veto power as leverage, pushing the club to exercise that option. And he might get his wish — any team willing to give up something of value for the veteran forward might not mind locking him in for an extra year as part of the deal.
  2. Nerlens Noel, C (Mavericks): As we noted on Thursday when we identified Noel as a trade candidate in the Southwest, the young center’s value is complicated by the fact that he’s currently sidelined with a thumb injury. Noel may be back in early February though, in which case potential suitors would have a chance to see if he’s healthy before pursuing a deal. The union between Noel and the Mavericks has been a rocky one, and it seems unlikely to turn into a long-term relationship, so if Dallas finds a taker for the 23-year-old, I expect he’d sign off, even if it means losing his Bird rights — those Bird rights probably won’t matter much this offseason if the Mavs don’t plan to retain him.
  3. Alex Len, C (Suns): Like Noel, Len had trouble finding an offer sheet on the restricted free agent market last summer and ultimately signed his qualifying offer. Unlike Noel though, Len has had a regular role and a solid year, averaging 8.5 PPG with career highs in RPG (8.3) and FG% (.552). The Suns have a bit of a logjam in the middle, and Len might have more trade value than Greg Monroe or Tyson Chandler, but Monroe is on an expiring contract and Chandler is 35 years old, making them more expendable for the rebuilding Suns. In other words, even though he’ll be a free agent again in July, Len remains the center most likely to stick in Phoenix for the next several years. I don’t expect the team will ask him to approve a trade.
  4. Ersan Ilyasova, PF (Hawks): The Hawks are reportedly seeking a high second-round pick in exchange for Ilyasova, and that price doesn’t seem unreasonable for a productive stretch four on an affordable contract, even if that contract will expire this summer. While Ilyasova may hesitate to surrender his Bird rights by approving a trade, those Bird rights aren’t as valuable to him as they would be to a star player, since Ilyasova is unlikely to earn more than the mid-level in free agency. The veteran sharpshooter has also led a nomadic NBA existence in recent years, playing for five different teams since the start of the 2015/16 season, so he’s accustomed to bouncing around and may not mind leaving the 13-31 Hawks to join a contender.
  5. Shabazz Muhammad, SF (Timberwolves): Muhammad hasn’t been mentioned in any trade rumors yet, but he can’t be thrilled with the way this season has played out for him in Minnesota. After failing to find a lucrative deal on the free agent market in the offseason, the 25-year-old accepted a one-year, prove-it deal from the Timberwolves, and has fallen out of the rotation over the course of the season — he has played just 17 minutes since the start of December. Muhammad isn’t a great defender or distributor, and he has been ineffective as a scorer this season (.376/.211/.750 shooting), so he’ll have little to no trade value. Still, he’s only earning the minimum, so there may be a team willing to roll the dice. It’s also worth mentioning that Muhammad’s deal includes a player option for 2018/19, which may be a minor motivating factor for the Wolves to explore a deal rather than keeping him around for depth purposes — the team’s roster will get more expensive next season, so removing even a modest amount of potential guaranteed money for a non-essential player could help.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kris Dunn Out Indefinitely After Entering Concussion Protocol

The Bulls will be without sophomore guard Kris Dunn for an indefinite period of time after he entered the league’s concussion protocol on Wednesday, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune writes.

Dunn fell awkwardly after a dunk Wednesday night, landing face first on the United Center floor. Initial test results suggested that Dunn had been cleared of concussion symptoms, but he did fall hard enough to chip and dislocate his two front teeth.

Dunn will not travel with the team when it leaves for a three-game road trip on Friday.

In what’s been widely regarded as a breakout season, Dunn has averaged 13.7 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game for the Bulls. Backup point guard Jerian Grant is expected to slide into the starting lineup during Dunn’s absence.

Kyler’s Latest: Jordan, Kings, Mirotic, Whiteside

The streaky Clippers, who lost nine straight games back in November, have now won a season-high six consecutive contests, re-inserting themselves in the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Even though DeAndre Jordan has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the Clips’ last three wins, the streak seems to bode well for his chances of sticking in Los Angeles through the trade deadline.

As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, Clippers ownership and management doesn’t seem at all eager to blow up the roster. For now, the club is focused on seeing if it’s capable of competing in the West, preferring to wait until a bit closer to the deadline to evaluate all of its options.

If the Clippers do change course by February 8, the Bucks and Rockets figure to be among the teams with interest in Jordan, whose contract situation is worth monitoring. According to Kyler, there’s a belief that the veteran center won’t be able to top his $24.12MM player option as a free agent, meaning it’s possible he could decide to opt in for 2018/19. That possibility may affect how the Clippers and potential trade partners view Jordan at the deadline.

Here’s more from Kyler:

  • The Kings‘ veteran players are all potential trade candidates at the deadline, though some are more likely to be moved than others. George Hill, for example, won’t have much value, given his contract situation, his injury history, and his underwhelming play this season. Sources close to the situation tell Kyler that Sacramento seems to be trying to help its veterans find better situations as those players fall out of the team’s regular rotation.
  • Kyler hears that Nikola Mirotic‘s camp is pushing for the Bulls to pick up the forward’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. Until that team option is exercised, Mirotic has the ability to block a trade, giving him some leverage if Chicago wants to complete a deal. League sources tell Kyler that the Bulls have “gotten pretty far down the road” in talks with the Jazz and Pistons about Mirotic.
  • There’s “growing talk” around the NBA that the Heat would be open to the idea of moving Hassan Whiteside for the right mix of contracts and young players, Kyler writes. The Bucks and Cavaliers, both on the lookout for a center, would be obvious suitors, but it would tough for either team to make a deal, given Whiteside’s large cap hit ($23.78MM). John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert are among the players whose contracts might have to be included for Milwaukee or Cleveland to make a deal work, which doesn’t sound overly appealing for Miami.
  • The Mavericks are “dangling” some expiring contracts and appear to be seeking a promising prospect on a rookie scale deal, along with future picks, says Kyler. Dallas also has cap flexibility to take on a contract or two.

Bulls Gauging Interest In Jerian Grant

While Nikola Mirotic has been the subject of most recent trade rumors out of Chicago, he’s not the only player on the roster who could be on the move before the deadline. According to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, who cites one team executive from each conference, the Bulls have gauged potential trade interest in point guard Jerian Grant.

Grant, 25, has averaged 7.8 PPG and 4.7 APG in 44 games this season for the Bulls. Although he opened the 2017/18 campaign as Chicago’s starting point guard, the former Notre Dame standout has seen his role reduced as of late as Kris Dunn assumed starting duties.

While Dunn has taken over some of Grant’s minutes, other Bulls may eat into his playing time going forward as well. Zach LaVine is back in the lineup and is expected to get some opportunities to handle the ball. Additionally, Cameron Payne is progressing toward a return from a foot injury, so Chicago will likely want to take an extended look at him in the second half to see how he fits in the club’s long-term plans.

Ultimately, Grant may be somewhat expendable, so it makes sense that the Bulls are exploring the market for possible deals. While the club probably shouldn’t expect a significant return for the ex-Knick, he does have a team-friendly contract. Grant will earn about $1.71MM this year and $2.64MM next season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency in 2019.

Latest On Nikola Mirotic

How much longer will Nikola Mirotic remain on the Bulls? It sounds as if the team is in no rush to deal the power forward, with a source telling Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times that the organization will continue to be patient with the trade market, leaving “ample time” for potential buyers to make offers.

The Jazz, Pistons, and Blazers have been linked to Mirotic, with Utah appearing to be the most serious suitor. The two teams discussed a Mirotic-Derrick Favors swap, though it’s unclear if Utah is willing to offer any additional compensation in the swap. Chicago’s front office has “made it clear” that it desires a first-round pick in exchange for the 26-year-old.

It was previously reported that Mirotic, who’s now eligible to be dealt, may like the idea of playing for the Jazz. He has the ability to veto any trade, though he claims he’s not getting involved in trade discussions at this time.

“I didn’t talk to [the Bulls’ front office recently],” Mirotic said. “Probably my agents are talking, so I don’t know so far what’s going on, but I know my name is going to be out there. I’m doing my job, and I’m sure they’re doing their job, and we’re both going to do what’s best for the team.”

The Bulls have thrived since Mirotic returned to the lineup, going 14-5 in the games he has played. The power forward is averaging 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 45.0% from downtown this season.

Mirotic Finds Motivation From Trade Chatter

  • Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic is now eligible to be dealt and admitted to reporters, including ESPN’s Nick Friedell, that he’s motivated by the trade chatter. He signed a two-year, $27MM contract in September that includes a team option for next season. That made him ineligible to be moved until mid-January. “This is kind of some motivation for me,” he said. “I know it sounds weird. But people are talking, ‘OK, Niko be gone’ and ‘Bye bye, Niko’ or whatever. But for me, it’s OK, just do what you’ve got to do. Play well and try to do your best until the last day and not be distracted.”

Nikola Mirotic, 15 Others Become Trade-Eligible

Today is January 15, which means that trade restrictions have lifted for most of the rest of the NBA’s 2017 offseason signees. While the majority of those ’17 free agents became trade-eligible on December 15, there was a small subset of free agent signees whose trade ineligibility lasted for another month.

The 16 players whose trade restrictions lift today meet a specific set of criteria: Not only did they re-sign with their previous teams this offseason, but they received raises of at least 20%, their salaries are worth more than the minimum, and their teams were over the cap, using Bird or Early Bird rights to sign them.

The most notable name in this group is Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic. He’s not the best player on the list — Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry would be among those vying for that honor. But Mirotic is the most likely player to be dealt out of the 16 guys becoming trade-eligible today. He has been linked to a handful of teams already, including the Jazz, Pistons, and Trail Blazers.

Here are the 16 players becoming trade-eligible today:

With three and a half weeks left until this season’s February 8 trade deadline, nearly all of the NBA’s players are now eligible to be dealt. The only players still ineligible to be moved are those who signed free agent contracts later than October 15, plus certain players who signed contract extensions in the offseason.

Hawks guard Isaiah Taylor (January 17), Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson (January 19), and Pelicans guard Jameer Nelson (January 22) are now the only remaining players who will become trade-eligible between today and February 8. For the full list of players who won’t become trade-eligible before this year’s deadline, click here.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Mirotic, Valentine

After an 11-month absence, Zach LaVine made his Bulls debut Saturday night. Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes that the solid showing serves as an excellent first step for the player who remains the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade.

LaVine put up what seemed like an effortless 14 points in just 19 minutes of action in his first game of the year, but it’s his general playing style that will make Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg‘s life easier as the young team looks to develop into a winner.

“He’s such a smooth player and has a lot of confidence,” Hoiberg said. “To get out there back on the floor and with his teammates, I thought he played very effective and efficient. He played within himself.”

There’s more out of the Central Division tonight:

  • In the same NBC Sports Chicago feature, Goodwill writes that the 22-year-old LaVine has and wants to be considered “the guy.” “I always thought of myself on being able to be ‘the guy.’ And being able to go out there, put the team on your back, city on your back, and I want to work to be that guy,” LaVine said.
  • Although the team has thrived since his return, Nikola Mirotic remains intent on leaving the Bulls via trade, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. There is a sense that Mirotic and the team have reached an impasse when it comes to repairing the tension between him and Bobby Portis.
  • The return of Zach LaVine has bumped Denzel Valentine to the second-unit. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes that the 24-year-old handled the move professionally. Head coach Fred Hoiberg opted to push Valentine to the second unit, instead of Justin Holiday, because he has fared better with the team’s bench players and can be featured more as a playmaker alongside them.
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