Bulls Rumors

Central Notes: Wiseman, Green, Donovan, Haliburton, Turner

Pistons center James Wiseman is going to make it a priority this offseason to improve his strength with a weightlifting regimen, per head coach Dwane Casey (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press).

First selected with the No. 2 pick out of Memphis in 2020, Wiseman failed to find his footing with the Warriors and was flipped to Detroit at the trade deadline in a four-team transaction. Since being sent to the rebuilding Pistons, the seven-footer has enjoyed a much more active role, averaging 13.4 PPG on 55.2% shooting, along with 8.7 RPG and 0.8 BPG across 26.0 MPG.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bucks two-way rookie guard A.J. Green has an interesting history with Milwaukee as a city, as Lori Nickel of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. His father, Kyle Green, served as an assistant coach at Marquette during the 2003/04 NCAA season. Kyle Green left his post to become a head coach at Lewis University in Chicago. The Iowa Barnstormers, A.J. Green’s AAU team, meanwhile, played at a tournament in Milwaukee while he was in high school. “I had an idea of what the city was like,” A.J. said. “Obviously, good basketball, good players, and good people. I knew that Milwaukee liked me, but it was not a sure thing. I’m so glad it was here.”
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has faced some criticism for an underwhelming season, but he’s earning praise from several of his best players, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s definitely underrated, underappreciated on the outside,’’ All-Star DeMar DeRozan said. ‘‘He’s easy-going, and as much as he’s locked into the game and pays attention to the small things, it’s incredible. His play-calling, his schemes — he puts a lot into the game that too many people don’t see.’’ At 36-40, the Bulls are currently the tenth seed in the East and are on the cusp of a play-in tournament berth.
  • Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton and sharpshooting center Myles Turner could be shut down for the rest of the season, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “They’ll be listed however they’re listed game-to-game,” head coach Rick Carlisle said following a team practice today. “If you’re asking if it’s possible that they don’t play anymore, yeah, it’s possible. It’s not impossible that one of them would play, but we’re going game to game with it.” Turner has missed the team’s last three games with a sore left ankle and sore lower back, while Haliburton has been absent for the last two due to a right ankle sprain and sore left elbow. Indiana is currently 3.5 games behind the Bulls for the No. 10 seed in the East.

Central Notes: Drummond, G. Allen, Mobley, Casey

After Bulls center Andre Drummond posted on Twitter on Tuesday that he was deleting his social media apps in order to “focus on my mental health,” he was listed as out for Wednesday’s game vs. the Lakers for personal reasons.

According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said he sent a text message to Drummond to let him know “we’re all here to try to help him.” Donovan added that there’s optimism that the big man will be with the team when it travels to Charlotte for a Friday game against the Hornets.

“Your heart goes out for anybody. I think a lot of times as we come here and play games, there’s also a human side and personal side to all these guys. And you feel bad when anybody is going through something like that,” Donovan said. “I think you try to give as much support as you can. We have the resources inside the organization to help.”

Bulls star DeMar DeRozan is among the NBA players who have spoken in recent years about dealing with mental health issues and depression. DeRozan said his approach with Drummond will be to give him space but let him know he’s available if his teammate wants to talk.

“Give him my positive words and let him know we’re all there for him,” DeRozan said. “That’s the most we can do. Allow him to open up on his terms.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen earned a $425K bonus when he appeared in his 70th game of the season on Wednesday night, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Because Allen only played 66 games in 2021/22, that bonus has been considered unlikely, but it will now be considered likely in 2023/24, bumping his cap hit for next season from $8.5MM to $8.925MM.
  • Michael Pina of The Ringer takes an in-depth look at Evan Mobley‘s trajectory toward stardom, exploring the ongoing development and potential ceiling of the Cavaliers big man. “It’s rare to find somebody so mature right away on both ends of the court,” teammate Ricky Rubio said of Mobley. “I wouldn’t be surprised if his career ended up in the Hall of Fame.”
  • In a pair of mailbags for The Athletic, James L. Edwards fields Pistons-related questions on potential trade targets, the team’s crowded frontcourt, Dwane Casey‘s future, and much more. Regarding Casey, Edwards believes it’s more likely than not that the veteran coach will be back for next season, perhaps with a mandate to at least make the play-in tournament in 2023/24.

Could Bulls Trade For 2023 First-Rounder?

  • With the Trail Blazers set to miss the postseason again, the Bulls won’t get the lottery-protected first-round pick owed to them by Portland this season, and Chicago’s own top-four protected first-rounder appears ticketed for Orlando. However, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago wonders if the Bulls could end up with a first-rounder in 2023 by negotiating a trade with the Blazers, who are on track to receive the Knicks’ first-round pick. As Johnson observes, Portland may want to reacquire its own first-rounder, which remains lottery-protected through 2028, in order to regain flexibility for future trades.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Chicago Bulls

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents during the 2023 offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of Bulls players.

Coby White, G

  • 2022/23: $7.4MM
  • 2023/24: RFA
  • Stock: Up

White is a tricky player to gauge because he’s playing fewer minutes and taking fewer shots, so on the surface his numbers look worse. If you actually watch him play though, it’s clear that he has improved in meaningful ways.

For example, when he entered the league he was basically a low-efficiency gunner who didn’t provide a whole lot else. His ball-handling, decision-making and defense have all improved, and he has a much better feel for making plays within the flow of the game.

White, who was recently praised by head coach Billy Donovan, has seen his name has pop up in trade rumors the past couple seasons, but the fact that the Bulls held onto him through the deadline leads me to believe they’ll give him a $7,744,600 qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.

Lonzo Ball might miss all of next season following a third left knee surgery, making guard depth a priority. White just turned 23 years old last month – I think they’ll bring him back.

Nikola Vucevic, C

  • 2022/23: $22MM
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Neutral

Vucevic’s counting stats in 2022/23 (17.5 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.3 APG) are virtually identical to last year’s (17.6 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 3.2 APG), but he’s scoring much more efficiently, mostly due to a career-high 58.7% on twos — he’s averaging about the same amount of points on 1.8 fewer shot attempts per game.

The veteran center has always been a quality defensive rebounder, but he is limited in other aspects defensively, particularly when it comes to protecting the paint – among centers who contest five-plus shots at the rim, he allows opponents to shoot 67.9% on those looks, which is the second-worst mark in the league, according to NBA.com. Chicago’s offense has been better when Vucevic is playing, but the team’s defense is significantly worse.

It’s hard to see Vucevic getting much more than his current $22MM salary from the Bulls or any other team. That said, he’s more or less the same player he was when he signed the deal, just four years older, and obviously the Bulls value him, otherwise they wouldn’t have traded for him a couple years ago. Maybe a short-term deal at a similar price could be in play – he will remain extension-eligible until June 30.

Patrick Beverley, G

  • 2022/23: $13MM + prorated minimum
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Down

Beverley’s free agency situation is strange. On one hand, the Bulls have gone 10-5 with him in the starting lineup – a very good mark, particularly for a team that has been wildly inconsistent in 2022/23.

He is an above average rebounder for a player his size (he’s 6’1″), pulling down 5.9 boards in 28 minutes thus far with the Bulls, though that seems unsustainable (it would match his career high from ’16/17). He has also done a very good job taking care of the ball, recording a 4.07-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio with Chicago.

So why is Beverley’s stock down? He is only shooting 34% from deep in ‘22/23 – 31.5% with Chicago thus far – after shooting 34.3% last season. His career rate is 37.4%, but it’s a little concerning that he’s been below average two years in a row, because he isn’t much of a scoring threat otherwise (he’s averaging 6.3 points per game, his lowest total since his rookie year in ‘12/13).

Three other factors are working against him. One, he’s on his fifth team in under a year, having been traded three times before reaching a buyout agreement with Orlando. Second, he’ll turn 35 years old this summer, so it’s hard to see him getting more than a one- or two-year contract.

Finally, he lost his Bird rights when he was bought out, so the Bulls will be limited in what they can offer him – they could give him a 120% raise on his current minimum salary, which would be around $3.1MM, but otherwise they would have to dip into one of their exceptions (mid-level or bi-annual) to give him more than the minimum. I suspect they’ll pursue a younger target with the MLE.

Long story short, there’s no realistic way the Bulls can offer him anything close to the combined $13.8MM he made this season, and I definitely don’t see another team approaching that figure.

Javonte Green, F

  • 2022/23: Minimum salary
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Neutral

If you had asked me earlier this season about Green’s stock, I would have said he was owed a raise on his minimum-salary contract – the Bulls have been better with him on the court each of the past two seasons. He brings a much-needed infusion of energy, toughness, and defensive versatility to a team that has been oddly apathetic at times.

The main reason his stock is neutral instead of up is his knee injury, which he has been slow to recover from. He underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure in January, and it was initially reported that he was expected to miss about a month. Instead, he was out for about two-and-a-half months, and after playing two games last week, he’s on the shelf again.

Donovan said on Sunday that Green has been dealing with discomfort the day after playing, which is troubling. Green punches above his weight due to his explosive athleticism, but he’s only 6’4″ – hopefully this injury doesn’t affect that part of his game, because he’s a limited offensive player. Here’s to hoping he makes a full recovery.

Injury Notes: Brunson, Bulls, Cavaliers, KAT, Grizzlies

Knicks starting point guard Jalen Brunson will miss his second straight game on Monday with a sprained right hand, the team has announced (Twitter link).

The 6’1″ Brunson is enjoying a career season with his new club. Across 65 healthy games, he’s averaging 23.8 PPG on .489/.411/.833 shooting. The 26-year-old is also averaging 6.2 APG, 3.6 RPG and 0.9 SPG for New York.

Reserve guard Derrick Rose, who has been out of the rotation since the calendar rolled over to 2023, will also be inactive for this evening’s bout against the Rockets due to an illness, the Knicks add.

Here are some more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Bulls forward Javonte Green, who continues to recover from a January knee surgery after making a brief return to the lineup last week, will be out tonight against the Clippers, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Johnson adds that veteran Chicago guard Alex Caruso is considered questionable to play.
  • Several Cavaliers players comprise the club’s injury report ahead of the team’s game Tuesday against the Hawks, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links). Starting center Jarrett Allen is questionable with a groin strain, while starting small forward Isaac Okoro is also questionable due to a sore knee. Swingman Danny Green and point guard Raul Neto will not play. Wing Dean Wade is doubtful to play through an illness. Isaiah Mobley, Sam Merrill and Dylan Windler are all going to be working with Cleveland’s NBAGL affiliate, the Cleveland Charge.
  • Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns will sit out tonight’s game against the Kings as he manages his right calf strain injury on the second night of a back-to-back, the team has announced (Twitter link). Two-way player Matt Ryan is out with an illness. All-Star shooting guard Anthony Edwards is questionable due to a sprained right ankle. Guard Jaylen Nowell is also questionable with a left knee tendinopathy.
  • At least five Grizzlies players will be shelved for Tuesday’s contest against the Magic, Memphis has announced (via Twitter). Beyond Brandon Clarke, who’s out for the year with a left Achilles tear, Ziaire Williams, Vince Williams, Jake LaRavia and Steven Adams are all also sidelined. All-Star point guard Ja Morant is considered doubtful to play due to a sore right thigh.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Green, White, Beverley

Bulls All-Star small forward DeMar DeRozan is making his return to the lineup on Sunday after sitting out Friday’s win over the Trail Blazers with a right quad injury, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I feel good,” DeRozan said. “Everything’s a go. Regular-scheduled programming. It was just really sore after those three marathons that I ran. But I’m good, got a lot of treatment these last couple days—ice, recovery.”

DeRozan missed five games earlier this season with the same injury, which he reaggravated in a Wednesday loss to the Sixers, opting to leave early.

“I’ve been feeling it since January,” DeRozan added. “I just find ways to get through most of the games. Just that game was the worst as far as soreness. It takes a lot for me to sit out a game. I just wanted to take care of it these last couple days and get rid of the soreness.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • After appearing in two games with the Bulls this week following a two-month absence, Javonte Green appears to have suffered a setback in his recovery from knee surgery. Green has now sat for two straight games, and head coach Billy Donovan stated that the forward is struggling with “soreness and discomfort” the day after playing, Johnson tweets. Donovan has not indicated that the team intends to shut Green down for the rest of the year. After today, Chicago will have just eight games left in the regular season.
  • Donovan is convinced that young Bulls reserve combo guard Coby White, already a good shooter, has taken his defensive game to the next level this season, Johnson writes in a separate piece. “He’s playmaking,” Donovan said. “He’s passing. He’s driving. He’s making good decisions. He’s defending. He’s playing two ways.” White will be a restricted free agent this summer, and is making a case for Chicago to retain him with his improved play.
  • The next three games for the Bulls and starting point guard Patrick Beverley will be against two of Beverley’s former teams, the Lakers (twice) and Clippers. Beverley is hoping to knock the Lakers down the standings from their current No. 8 seed in the West, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “They’ve gotten better after the trade,” Beverley said of the Lakers. “The Bulls after the All-Star break, we’ve gotten better, and that’s what it’s all about. At the end of the day, we’re playing basketball. We’re not out there a UFC fighter or a boxing match. We’re able to compete at the highest level, and to do it on a stage in L.A. is always fun.’’

Mayberry: Seven Bulls Most Affected By Ball's Uncertain Future

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic identifies the seven members of the Bulls most impacted by Lonzo Ball‘s uncertain future. Mayberry’s picks range from center Nikola Vucevic, whose free agency decision this summer could be influenced by Ball’s long-term absence, to president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas, whose questionable roster decisions are increasingly under the microscope.

Bulls’ Ball Had Knee Surgery, Out Indefinitely; Green To Return

Bulls guard Lonzo Ball underwent successful knee surgery on Monday, head coach Billy Donovan told reporters, including Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

We understand it’s going to be an uphill battle for him, but we know he’s going to do everything possible to get back on the court,” Donovan said.

According to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link), Donovan referred to Ball’s recovery timeline as “indefinite” and the team will prepare for next season’s training camp with the mentality that Ball will not be available.

Ball was set to receive a cartilage transplant in his left knee after two previous surgeries were unable to clear up persistent discomfort when he tried to ramp up his on-court activities. The 25-year-old has been sidelined since January 14, 2022, when he tore his meniscus.

This third surgery was something of a last resort, as there were reportedly concerns about Ball’s ability to resume playing. He could miss all of 2023/24 after missing the entire ’22/23 season.

In other health-related news for the Bulls, guard Alex Caruso will miss Monday’s game against Philadelphia, tweets Bulls radio play-by-play announcer Chuck Swirsky. He had previously been listed as questionable. As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes (via Twitter), Caruso aggravated a left midfoot strain on Saturday, which caused him to leave the victory early.

On a positive note, forward Javonte Green will make his return to the lineup — he last played on December 31. Green underwent surgery in January, an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his right knee. An impending free agent, Green had been slow to recover, but was recently practicing with the team’s G League affiliate.

Beverley's Impact Goes Beyond Numbers

  • Guard Patrick Beverley is averaging 6.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists since signing with the Bulls as a free agent. His impact has been far greater than his numbers, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “I just love his presence, his competitiveness,” coach Billy Donovan said. “The way he comes in on a back-to-back telling guys, ‘We got to be ready to play.’ I love his message and disposition and the way he is every day. He has a great motor, great enthusiasm, loves the game and loves competing. I love being around him.”

Bulls Notes: Ball, Replacements, DeRozan, Green

There are concerns that Lonzo Ball might miss all of next season after deciding to undergo a cartilage transplant in his left knee. Bulls coach Billy Donovan didn’t offer a specific prognosis, but he admitted Ball is facing “a long rehab,” writes Andrew Seligman of The Associated Press.

“For me to say, ‘I have no hope that he’s ever gonna play here again’ or ‘Yeah, he’s definitely going to be back,’ I just don’t know,” Donovan told reporters on Friday.

The procedure will be the third for Ball on his left knee in the past 14 months. He hasn’t played since January of 2022, but Donovan said his work ethic and attitude haven’t changed.

“Even though he comes in, he’s around the team for a period of time, there is a lot of time that he’s away from everybody,” Donovan said. “Just having to come to grips of not playing is really, really hard, I think, probably for him to absorb. But he handles himself incredibly well. He’s so consistent all the time with his spirit and disposition and what he’s tried to do every step of the way to get back.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Ball’s latest setback will force the Bulls to address their point guard situation this summer, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who adds that it’s hard to understand why the team wasn’t more aggressive in finding a replacement at the trade deadline. With no cap space and limited draft assets, the trade market appears to be the team’s best option. Mayberry notes that it’s now more likely that the Bulls will try to re-sign some combination of free agent guards Patrick Beverley, Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White.
  • DeMar DeRozan didn’t consider sitting out tonight’s game after playing 52 minutes and scoring 49 points in Friday’s double-overtime contest, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. With 13 games remaining and the Bulls fighting for a play-in spot, DeRozan understands there’s no time for load management. “I hoop all summer for free,” he said. “Why not do it when you’re getting paid for it? I’m looking forward to it.”
  • Javonte Green is trending toward a return after missing more than two months following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Johnson tweets. Green was able to practice Friday with the Bulls’ G League affiliate, and Donovan said team doctors want to see how he responds to numerous practice sessions.