Bulls Rumors

Bulls Notes: Parker, Ulis, Blakeney, Paxson

Bringing in Jabari Parker is a risk the Bulls may wind up regretting, writes Darnell Maybury of The Athletic. Even though just the first season of his two-year, $40MM contract is guaranteed, Chicago now has 10 players age 24 or younger who may be tempted to put personal concerns ahead of the team agenda.

Bobby Portis and Cameron Payne will both be in their fourth seasons, Maybury notes, and will be looking at a final chance to put up big numbers before restricted free agency. Zach LaVine will try to prove he’s worth his new four-year, $78MM deal and Denzel Valentine has been open about his desire to be a starter. That presents a lot of challenges for coach Fred Hoiberg to balance heading into the new season.

Maybury also warns that the addition of Parker could also be detrimental to the development of Lauri Markkanen, which he states should be the Bulls’ top objective.

There’s more today out of Chicago:

  • Parker put on a show Saturday at a pickup game organized by the Chicago Basketball Club, relays Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. Parker was impressive with his shooting, passing and ballhandling and offered hope that he has fully recovered from his latest ACL surgery. Also participating in the game was former Suns point guard Tyler Ulis, a Chicago native whom Walton suggests the Bulls may be interested in.
  • To clear cap room for Parker, the Bulls waived Sean Kilpatrick and rescinded their qualifying offer for David Nwaba, leading Ben Bokun of NBC Sports Chicago to question the reasoning of cutting ties with those players and signing summer league standout Antonio Blakeney to a two-year deal. A two-way player for the Bulls last season, Blakeney appeared in 19 NBA games and averaged 7.9 points. Chicago’s front office also got a close look at him in the G League, where he was named Rookie of the Year and made the all-star team.
  • VP of basketball operations John Paxson is happy with how quickly the organization has been able to assemble a group of young talent, although he recognizes that doesn’t automatically make the Bulls a contender, writes Ashish Mathur of AmicoHoops. “This year, a lot of our success will be determined by how big of a jump Zach, Kris [Dunn] and Lauri make,” Paxson said. “We knew that going into this offseason. Now you add Jabari, Wendell [Carter] and Chandler [Hutchison] and you feel like you’re making some progress.”

Rawle Alkins Agrees To Two-Way Deal With Bulls

The Bulls have agreed to a two-way deal with undrafted guard Rawle Alkins, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. The Arizona product spent the past few weeks with the Raptors‘ Summer League team.

Toronto liked Alkins’ summer performance where he averaged 9.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 2.0 APG. The Raptors offered Alkins a camp invitation but he chose the deal with the higher guaranteed money, per  TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.

As a two-way player, Alkins will spend most of his time with the Bulls’ G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls. However, he is permitted to spend up to 45 days with the NBA team. The Bulls have the option to convert Alkins’ deal into a standard NBA deal if they choose.

In his sophomore season with the Wildcats, Alkins averaged 13.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 2.5 APG. Entering the 2018 NBA Draft, Alkins was ranked as the 49th-best prospect on Jonathan Givony’s top-100 list at ESPN.com.

Chinese Teams Interested In Jahlil Okafor?

Jahlil Okafor appears to have offers waiting in China if he can’t find an NBA team to sign him, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

The third player taken in the 2015 draft, Okafor washed out in Philadelphia and didn’t play much after being traded to the Nets in December. He got into just 26 games with Brooklyn and averaged 6.4 PPG in 12.6 minutes per night.

Okafor is working out in Miami, but the Heat aren’t interested in signing him, Carchia writes. We detailed several other franchises that have apparently withdrawn their interest earlier this week, including the Nets, Pacers and Bulls. However, four teams sent representatives to Okafor’s recent workout in Las Vegas and he remains hopeful of catching on with someone before training camps open.

Nets Considered An Offer To Jabari Parker

  • The Nets considered making an offer to free agent Jabari Parker before he signed with the Bulls, Lewis adds in the same story. They decided against it because of the price tag and a recent comment Parker made in a radio interview that “They don’t pay players to play defense.” Brooklyn opted for a pair of trades with the Nuggets and Suns that brought in Kenneth Faried and Jared Dudley.

Julyan Stone Signs Deal With Reyer Venezia

After being traded from the Hornets to the Bulls and then waived in order to make room for the Jabari Parker signing, Julyan Stone is heading back to Italy, having signed a contract with his former club, Reyer Venezia, per Sportando (Twitter link).

Stone, 29, went undrafted in 2011 before signing a two-year deal with the Nuggets. He signed a one-year contract with the Raptors for the 2013/14 season and then spent several seasons overseas before coming back to the NBA in 2017, signing a two-year contract with the Hornets.

During his four-season NBA career, Stone has only averaged 1.1 points in 7.2 minutes per game, but has appeared in 70 total contests. He will look to help Reyer reclaim the Lega Basket Serie A title after helping them win the championship in 2017.

Bulls Sign Antonio Blakeney To NBA Contract

JULY 19: The Bulls have officially signed Blakeney, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 18: Bulls two-way player Antonio Blakeney will be promoted to Chicago’s 15-man NBA roster, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, who reports that the team intends to sign Blakeney to a minimum-salary contract.

Blakeney, who spent the entire 2017/18 season on a two-way deal with the Bulls, appeared in just 19 games for the club, spending most of his time with the Windy City Bulls in the G League.

The former LSU standout was one of the G League’s best players in 2017/18, posting an impressive 32.0 PPG to go along with 6.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, and 1.2 SPG in 32 games. Blakeney’s performance earned him NBAGL Rookie of the Year honors for the 2017/18 season.

As Johnson details, Blakeney projects to be Chicago’s third point guard behind Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne. If Dunn and Payne stay healthy, Blakeney may continue to spend time with the Windy City Bulls, since his NBA role could be limited.

Blakeney will get a guaranteed two-year, minimum-salary deal, per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It’ll be worth about $2.94MM in total.

More Reactions, Notes On Jabari Parker’s Bulls Deal

In the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst discuss Jabari Parker‘s move from Milwaukee to Chicago at length, suggesting that if Giannis Antetokounmpo badly wanted the Bucks to keep Parker, the team would have found a way to do it.

Despite Parker’s end-of-season dismissal of the idea that the Bucks ever offered an extension in the range of $18MM per year, both Lowe and Windhorst insist that was the case, though they acknowledge that a handful of scenarios were discussed, and Milwaukee’s multiyear offers from last fall may not have been fully guaranteed. In any case, Parker managed to exceed that annual salary on his new deal with the Bulls, albeit on a shorter-term contract.

Before he signed with the Bulls, Parker received interest from the Kings and the Nets, according to Windhorst, who suggests that Brooklyn kicked the tires on the veteran forward after lining up the Jeremy Lin trade with Atlanta. However, the Nets ultimately decided Parker’s price was too high and used their remaining cap room to take on unwanted contracts and draft picks in a deal with Denver, helping clear the path for Parker to land in Chicago.

Here’s more on Parker’s move back to his hometown:

  • Parker “means more playing for the Bulls than he ever could anywhere else,” according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com, who suggests that the former No. 2 overall pick is already “the most recognizable face on the team.” The on-court fit may not be as strong as the optics, but the Bulls are at a stage in their rebuild where it makes sense to take a chance on Parker, says Woo.
  • There’s reason to believe that Parker isn’t yet a finished product, since his development has been slowed by multiple knee injuries, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Still, Johnson acknowledges that the Bulls may have to “win some shootouts” next season, since Parker won’t improve a mediocre defense.
  • According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, it will be important for the Bulls to limit Robin Lopez‘s minutes in 2018/19. As O’Connor explains, Lopez isn’t part of the “future equation” in Chicago, and there are only so many minutes to go around in the team’s frontcourt. The less Lopez plays, the more minutes Parker could see at the four, which is probably his best position.
  • Parker tells Nick Friedell of ESPN.com that Chicago native and former Bulls MVP Derrick Rose is “still a hero for a lot of people, including myself.” However, Rose’s time as a Bull didn’t end well, prompting Friedell to explore whether Parker could have more success with his hometown team.

Latest On Jahlil Okafor

Jahlil Okafor is an unrestricted free agent this summer, but hasn’t exactly been a hot commodity among teams looking for frontcourt help — this is our first story about the former third overall pick since free agency began 17 days ago.

Still, Okafor appears to be generating at least a little interest. Sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that Okafor worked out for four teams in Las Vegas last Wednesday, and remains “hopeful” about signing an NBA contract before camps open in September.

It’s not clear which teams were in attendance at Okafor’s workout last week, but Deveney rules out a few clubs. According to the Sporting News scribe, Okafor had drawn some interest from the Pacers and Bulls earlier in the year, but neither team was at last week’s workout. The former Duke standout also won’t be returning to the Nets next season, Deveney adds.

Okafor, originally a Sixer, averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG during his rookie season in 2015/16, but has seen his playing time and production decline since then. After being traded to Brooklyn this past season, he posted 6.4 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 26 contests (12.6 MPG) with the Nets.

As TNT’s David Aldridge details, Okafor has been working this summer with Miami-based trainer Idan Ravin, who has been “reconstructing” Okafor’s jump shot and looking to expand the 22-year-old’s offensive game. We’ll see if that work helps earn him another NBA shot this fall.

Marshall Plumlee, Two Others Become UFAs

Three players who finished the 2017/18 season on two-way contracts and received qualifying offers from their respective clubs have now become unrestricted free agents. According to RealGM’s transactions log, the Bucks, Bulls, and Rockets rescinded qualifying offers for Marshall Plumlee, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Markel Brown, respectively.

Plumlee, who turned 26 on Saturday, signed a two-way deal with the Bucks in January and appeared in just eight games for the NBA club. He averaged 11.8 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 13 games for the Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s G League affiliate. Plumlee posted a farewell Instagram message to the Bucks on Monday, suggesting he won’t return to the club.

Arcidiacono appeared in 24 games for the Bulls last season, but wasn’t expected to be part of Chicago’s point guard picture in 2018/19 with Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne both healthy. As for Brown, the former second-round pick appeared in only four games for Houston, but averaged 15.9 PPG and 5.0 RPG in nine games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

As our tracker shows, the Bulls and Rockets are each believed to have one two-way contract slot open, while the Bucks have two open slots — one may be filled by Xavier Munford, whose two-way qualifying offer remains on the table.

Players whose two-way contracts expire can be tendered qualifying offers that are equivalent to a one-year, two-way contract offer, with $50K guaranteed. Those QOs make them restricted free agents. Munford, Jabari Bird (Celtics), Tyrone Wallace (Clippers), and Darrun Hilliard (Spurs) are the only two-way RFAs still on the market.

Forman Makes Good On Two-Year Promise

  • The team option on Jabari Parker‘s two-year contract gives the Bulls flexibility during free agency next summer, Kevin Anderson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. With a projected rise in the salary cap, the Bulls could free up enough cap space to sign a top-level free agent even if they decide to keep Parker. That could be accomplished by allowing Bobby Portis and Cameron Payne to become unrestricted free agents if they are not signed to extensions. If they decide to let Parker go next summer, they could have between $35MM-$53MM in cap space during free agency, Anderson adds.
  • GM Gar Forman’s promise two years ago to make the Bulls younger and more athletic is coming to fruition, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago writes. By drafting Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. in the lottery, trading for Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and signing Jabari Parker as a free agent, the average age of the projected lineup is 22, Walton points out. The team can now play at a quicker pace and cover more space defensively, Walton adds.