Chicago Bulls

Paxson, Forman Will Meet With Wade

LeBron James‘ future in Cleveland could be tied to the Brooklyn Nets’ performance this season, writes Harvey Araton of The New York Times. The value of the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder that the Cavaliers received in the Kyrie Irving trade won’t be known until much later in the season. If Brooklyn finishes last in the league again, the Cavs will have a 25% shot at the number one selection and their choice of players such as Michael Porter Jr., Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley.

Although rumors have been persistent that James will be headed to the Lakers next summer, Araton speculates that scenario might change if Cleveland is in position to add another franchise player. If Isaiah Thomas returns to All-Star form after his hip injury, Jae Crowder improves the perimeter defense and James returns to the Finals for the eighth straight year, he might have a difficult time saying good-bye to Cleveland.

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • Pacers center Al Jefferson lost a significant amount of weight in preparation for his second season in Indiana, relays Scott Agness of VigilantSports. The 32-year-old opted for a vegetarian diet after posting his worst season in more than a decade, averaging 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in 66 games. “He looks incredible, man,” said teammate Myles Turner“I think he’s dropped 40 pounds. When you see him you’ll see [how] he’s really trimmed down a lot. He’s moving well, he’s running the floor.”
  • The Pacers are counting on youthful energy to carry them through the season after most of the organization’s veteran presence was lost over the summer, relays Mark Montieth of NBA.com. In addition to Paul George, who was traded to Oklahoma City, Indiana cut ties with Jeff TeagueRodney Stuckey, Monta Ellis, Aaron Brooks and Lavoy Allen. “Everybody wants to talk about the whole Paul thing, but we’ve blocked all that out,” said Glenn Robinson III. “We’re looked at as an underdog team, but we’re coming in very hungry. I’m excited for this team. It seems we all have our minds in a great place and are ready to get better.”
  • Lance Stephenson, who came back to Indiana in March, will be used as a sixth man, Montieth adds in the same piece.
  • Bulls vice president John Paxson and GM Gar Forman will meet with Dwyane Wade when he returns to Chicago to discuss his future with the team and a possible buyout, according to CSN Chicago. Paxson insists he and Forman were honest about their plans for the offseason during Wade’s exit meeting after the playoffs.

No Updates On Mirotic; Collins Clarifies Role

  • Nikola Mirotic remains on the market, albeit as a restricted free agent, and executive Bulls VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson indicates that the power forward’s qualifying offer is still on the table, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com tweets. The power forward will make approximately $7.23MM this upcoming season should he accept his qualifying offer, and has until October 1 to do so.
  • The Bulls hired Doug Collins as a senior advisor on Tuesday, and he expects to do just that — advise. During his introductory press conference, the former head coach indicated that he won’t return to the sidelines to coach the Bulls “under any circumstances,” and stressed that he won’t have decision-making power in the front office (Twitter links via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune).

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Examine Revenue Sharing System

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst have published an expansive and well-researched report on NBA teams’ finances, providing details on the league’s revenue sharing system, the impact from national and local television deals, and how a lack of net income for NBA franchises could push the league toward considering relocation or expansion.

The report is wide-ranging and detailed, so we’re going to tackle it by dividing it up into several sections, but it’s certainly worth reading in full to get a better picture of whether things stand in the NBA. Let’s dive in…

Which teams are losing money?

  • Nine teams reportedly lost money last season, even after revenue sharing. Those clubs were the Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Magic, Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs. The latter two teams – Cleveland and San Antonio – initially came out ahead, but paid into the league’s revenue sharing program, pushing them into the red.
  • Meanwhile, the Hornets, Kings, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers also would have lost money based on net income if not for revenue sharing, according to Lowe and Windhorst.
  • As a league, the NBA is still doing very well — the overall net income for the 30 teams combined was $530MM, per ESPN. That number also only takes into account basketball income, and doesn’t include income generated via non-basketball events for teams that own their arenas.
  • The players’ union and its economists have long been skeptical of NBA teams’ bookkeeping, alleging that clubs are using techniques to make themselves appear less profitable than they actually are, Windhorst and Lowe note. The union has the power to conduct its own audit of several teams per season, and it has begun to take advantage of that power — according to ESPN, the union audited five teams last season, and the new CBA will allow up to 10 teams to be audited going forward.

How does the gap between large and small market teams impact income?

  • Even after paying $49MM in revenue sharing, the Lakers finished the 2016/17 with a $115MM profit in terms of net income, per ESPN. That was the highest profit in the NBA, ahead of the second-place Warriors, and could be attributed in large part to the $149MM the Lakers received from their huge local media rights deals.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies earned a league-low $9.4MM in local media rights, which significantly affected their bottom line — even after receiving $32MM in revenue sharing, Memphis lost money for the season. The Grizzlies will start a new TV deal this year that should help boost their revenue, but it still won’t come anywhere close to matching deals like the Lakers‘.
  • The biggest local TV deals help drive up the NBA’s salary cap, with teams like the Lakers and Knicks earning in excess of $100MM from their media agreements. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks made $10MM more on their TV deal than the six lowest-earning teams combined.
  • As one owner explained to ESPN, “National revenues drive up the cap, but local revenues are needed to keep up with player salaries. If a team can’t generate enough local revenues, they lose money.”
  • Playoff revenue from a big-market team like the Warriors also helps push up the salary cap. Sources tell Lowe and Windhorst that Golden State made about $44.3MM in net income from just nine home playoff games last season, more than doubling the playoff revenue of the next-best team (the Cavaliers at about $20MM).

How is revenue sharing affecting teams’ earnings?

  • Ten teams paid into the NBA’s revenue sharing system in 2016/17, with 15 teams receiving that money. The Sixers, Raptors, Nets, Heat, and Mavericks neither paid nor received any revenue sharing money. Four teams – the Warriors, Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks – accounted for $144MM of the total $201MM paid in revenue sharing.
  • While there’s general agreement throughout the NBA that revenue sharing is working as intended, some teams have “bristled about the current scale of monetary redistribution,” according to ESPN. “The need for revenue sharing was supposed to be for special circumstances, not permanent subsidies,” one large-market team owner said.
  • The Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Bucks, and Jazz have each received at least $15MM apiece in each of the last four years via revenue sharing.
  • However, not all small-market teams receive revenue-sharing money — if a team outperforms its expectations based on market size, it forfeits its right to that money. For instance, the Thunder and Spurs have each paid into revenue sharing for the last six years.

Why might league-wide income issues lead to relocation or expansion?

  • At least one team owner has raised the idea of expansion, since an expansion fee for a new franchise could exceed $1 billion and it wouldn’t be subject to splitting 50/50 with players. A $1 billion expansion fee split 30 ways would work out to $33MM+ per team.
  • Meanwhile, larger-market teams who aren’t thrilled about their revenue-sharing fees have suggested that small-market clubs losing money every year should consider relocating to bigger markets, sources tell ESPN.
  • As Lowe and Windhorst observe, the Pistons – who lost more money than any other team last season – are undergoing a relocation of sorts, moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, in the hopes that the move will help boost revenue.

What are the next steps? Are changes coming?

  • The gap between the most and least profitable NBA teams is expected to be addressed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting next week, per Lowe and Windhorst. Team owners have scheduled a half-day review of the league’s revenue sharing system.
  • Obviously, large- and small-market teams view the issue differently. While some large-market teams have complained about the revenue sharing system, they’re outnumbered, with smaller-market teams pushing those more successful clubs to share more of their profits, according to ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is one of the loudest voices pushing for more “robust” revenue sharing, sources tell ESPN. Some team owners have argued that the system should ensure all teams make a profit, while one even suggested every team should be guaranteed a $20MM profit. There will be “pushback” on those ideas, Lowe and Windhorst note. “This is a club where everyone knows the rules when they buy in,” one owner said.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some teams have floated the idea of limiting the amount of revenue sharing money a team can receive if it has been taking payments for several consecutive years.
  • Any change to the revenue sharing system that is formally proposed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting would require a simple majority (16 votes to 14) to pass.

Bulls Hire Doug Collins As Senior Advisor

The Bulls have hired former NBA head coach Doug Collins to a front office role, announcing today in a press release that Collins is joining the organization as a senior advisor of basketball operations. Collins will report to Bulls executive VP of basketball ops John Paxson, according to the team.

“Doug will be great in this capacity for our organization. The position of ‘senior advisor’ has proven to work well around the NBA in recent years, and I am confident the same will hold true with the Bulls,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “The fact that our relationship goes back more than 30 years certainly helps, but he is especially qualified to assist our leadership in rebuilding the Bulls.”

In a statement of his own, Paxson suggested that Collins will “regularly contribute observations, insights and suggestions” to the Bulls’ front office, with Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com (Twitter link) likening Collins’ new role to the one that Jerry West previously held with the Warriors — and now holds with the Clippers.

Collins, of course, began his NBA coaching career more than three decades ago for the Bulls. He was named Chicago’s head coach in 1986, and held that position until 1989. Collins later went on to coach the Pistons, Wizards, and Sixers, with his most recent coaching stint in Philadelphia coming to an end in 2013. He has served as an ESPN analyst in recent years.

David Nwaba Aims To Stick With Bulls

Bulls Notes: Wade, Hoiberg, Forman, Dunn

Dwyane Wade hasn’t contacted the Bulls’ front office about his desire for a buyout and is hoping the team makes the first move, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Wade made his feelings clear that he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project after Chicago traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota in June. However, he is reluctant to give up much of the $23.8MM salary for the upcoming season that he opted into and apparently believes he can get a better deal if Bulls management takes the initiative on buyout talks.

A recent report said Wade hasn’t been in contact with anyone from the front office since the Butler deal and that he felt misled because he was given assurances that the Bulls would try to remain competitive before he opted in. At 35, Wade is by far the oldest and most expensive player on Chicago’s roster and he clearly doesn’t fit the team’s youth movement. How far each side is willing to continue before buyout talks begin will be among the most interesting storylines of the new season.

Cowley shares more information out of Chicago:

  • Expectations will be different for coach Fred Hoiberg with the revamped roster, but he still has to show progress to keep his job. Hoiberg has been under fire from fans and the media since coming to Chicago two years ago and was publicly criticized by Butler early in his first season. Cowley calls it “sink-or-swim time” for Hoiberg, who has to turn a young roster into the type of team he envisioned when he was hired.
  • GM Gar Forman’s fate is probably tied to Hoiberg’s, Cowley adds. Forman, who made the decision to bring Hoiberg out of the college ranks, is already unpopular with Bulls’ fans, some of whom paid to put up a billboard in July calling for the firing of him and president of basketball operations John Paxson.
  • Kris Dunn, part of the package acquired in exchange for Butler, has an open path toward being the starting point guard. The fifth pick of the 2016 draft, Dunn had a disappointing rookie season in Minnesota, but the Bulls have no obvious successor to Rajon Rondo.
  • The Bulls are happy with what they have seen from first-round pick Lauri Markkanen during summer league and EuroBasket. The seventh overall selection will be “a key foundation piece” of the rebuild.
  • Robin Lopez is the team’s most valuable trade commodity and seems likely to be moved during the season. The 29-year-old center averaged 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in his first season with the Bulls after being acquired in a deal with the Knicks.

Bulls Will Get At Least One Shot At Current Lottery

  •  The Bulls should get at least one shot at a top draft pick before lottery reform is implemented, writes Mark Schanowski of CSNChicago. Chicago launched a rebuilding project by trading Jimmy Butler this summer and seems headed toward one of the league’s worst records. Even if owners approve the latest proposal to reform the lottery, the changes won’t take effect until 2019, meaning next summer’s draft will be conducted under the current system. If the Bulls finish with the worst record in the league this season, they will have a 25% shot at the top pick in June. Schanowski notes that the team will have $40MM to $50MM in cap space next summer, which could speed up the rebuilding process if combined with an elite draft choice.

Wade Won't Force Buyout; Pargo's New G League Role; Stone's Opportunity

While there’s reason to believe that Dwyane Wade would graciously accept a buyout from the Bulls, he’s not going to put up a fuss about it, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Wade, after all, has 23.8 million reasons to put up with being a good sport for the rest of the season.

It’s been said that Wade started hoping for a buyout following the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. If that deal serves as the symbolic beginning of Chicago’s rebuild, then it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense for the Bulls, as an organization, to continue paying such an exorbitant amount for a 35-year-old that isn’t particularly motivated to stay there.

Wade averaged a respectable 18.3 points per game for the Bulls last season and could no doubt contribute to a contender should he be bought out and freed up to sign with one. That said, the 15-year-veteran has a solid reputation, not to mention a legacy, to uphold during the final years of his career.

Bulls Had Interest In Re-Signing Anthony Morrow

Bulls Sign Diamond Stone

10:02am: The Bulls have made it official, issuing a press release to announce Stone’s deal.

8:02am: The Bulls are bringing former Maryland center Diamond Stone to training camp, according to Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days, who reports (via Twitter) that Stone has agreed to a two-year, partially guaranteed deal with the club.

According to Reichert (via Twitter), Stone’s guarantee doesn’t exceed $50K, making him eligible to become an affiliate player for the Windy City Bulls this season if he doesn’t make Chicago’s regular season roster.

Stone, 20, was the 40th overall pick in 2016, acquired on draft night by the Clippers, who sent the No. 33 pick to New Orleans for Nos. 39 and 40. However, the young center barely played during his rookie season, appearing briefly in seven games for L.A. Stone saw a little more action in the G League, averaging 16.2 PPG and 7.0 RPG in 13 total games for the Santa Cruz Warriors and Salt Lake City Stars.

The Clippers sent Stone to Atlanta in the three-way July trade that landed Danilo Gallinari in L.A. However, like Jamal Crawford, who also went from the Clips to the Hawks in the deal, Stone was subsequently waived by Atlanta, despite his guaranteed salary for 2017/18.

The Bulls currently only have 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts, so it’s possible Stone will be given the opportunity to win a regular season roster spot. However, Nikola Mirotic figures to fill the club’s 14th roster spot if and when he re-signs, and Stone will face competition from other non-guaranteed players – such as David Nwaba – for the final opening, if Chicago even carries a full 15-man roster. Stone currently seems more likely to land in the G League after he spends the preseason with the Bulls.

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