Coby White

Bulls Notes: LaVine, White, Jordan

The Bulls didn’t have the year they’d envisioned heading into the 2019/20 campaign. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic and league stoppage, Chicago was on its way to a third straight lottery appearance, and Zach LaVine is not happy with how the on-court situation was unfolding.

“To be blunt, I’m upset,” LaVine said (via Sam Smith of NBA.com). “We had high expectations coming into the season and it didn’t go our way anyway we could have thought of. We played through some adversity, but we didn’t go out there and do what we were supposed to do as a team.

“… I’ve been in the NBA six years now and it just gets frustrating. I want to be in the playoffs. We really [believed]. I haven’t played in a playoff game and it wears on you. That’s what you work so hard for and continue to play for.”

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • In the same piece, LaVine added that he has high hopes for rookie Coby White. The Bulls selected the point guard with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
  • Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports examines how the Bulls’ 2019 offseason signings panned out and what roles they may have with the club going forward. Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky were the highest-priced acquisitions.
  • ESPN has moved up its Michael Jordan documentary release date. “The Last Dance,” which is a 10-part series that takes an in-depth look at the Bulls’ dynasty, will debut on April 19.

Central Notes: Pacers, White, Cavs, Bone

Thanks in part to the Pacers collecting a $10MM insurance policy on Victor Oladipo, who missed all but 13 games of the postponed NBA season, Indiana’s payroll is scheduled to come in at $104.6MM, the league’s lowest mark. If COVID-19 affects league revenue significantly, the Pacers will be in one of the most comfortable financial situations in the NBA, as J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star reports.

Michael notes that a significant drop in league revenue, such as a 5% drop from the projected $115MM cap ($109.25MM) or a 10% decline ($103.5MM), could impede several teams, but the Pacers are stacked with several players on movable contracts.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bulls rookie point guard Coby White‘s late-season scoring streak (he averaged 23.7 PPG while connecting on 39.8%t of his 8.5 three-point looks) was one of the few positives in a generally dismal 22-43 season for Chicago. Morten Jensen of Forbes wonders what White’s performance means for his club going forward.
  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting the NBA on pause this month, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his assistants have been maintaining their (remote) connection to the young Cleveland squad, according to Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor.
  • Pistons rookie point guard Jordan Bone logged time with Detroit’s Grand Rapids G League club and the NBA squad this season, and remains an intriguing player for the team’s future, according to Pistons.com writer Keith Langlois.

Central Notes: Wood, Brogdon, Cavs, Bulls

Christian Wood will be reaching the unrestricted free agent market in 2020 on the heels of a career year, and the Pistons‘ big man isn’t pretending that he hasn’t thought about what the offseason might bring, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details.

“I know it’s a big summer for me,” Wood said on Tuesday. “I actually think I’m one of the best bigs in this free agency coming up with my ability to shoot and space the floor and be able to play the five and be able to guard and switch on the perimeter. I’ve just got to stay focused. I’ve got to keep with the same mindset, same attitude what I’m doing right now.”

While Wood should draw a good deal of interest on the open market this summer, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of remaining with the Pistons. The fact that Detroit is the team that finally gave him an opportunity to play a regular role is something he won’t forget as he considers his options, per Langlois.

“It’s a huge factor,” Wood said. “Especially with this team being one of the first to actually give me a legitimate chance and playing in games and believing in me and believing in what I do. Especially with (head coach Dwane) Casey, with us establishing a relationship early and throughout right now. It plays a big factor.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

Bulls Notes: White, Harrison, Boylen, Collins

Bulls coach Jim Boylen is reversing his stance on not starting rookie guard Coby White for the rest of the season, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. With the playoffs out of reach, White may be inserted into the starting lineup soon as the team focuses on developing players for next season.

“I think that day is probably coming,” Boylen said after practice this morning. “We’ve talked all year about developing and winning. Is that day coming? I would say, ‘Yes, probably.’ When, I’m not exactly sure.”

White is making a strong case for a starting role with his recent performance. He is averaging 27.7 points and 3.9 assists over the past seven games, and Schaefer notes that his defense and decision making have improved.

“He’s been great, man,” Zach LaVine said. “Just seeing his growth over the last month, he’s getting better every game. Even if it’s not like he’s getting 30 like he was, he’s still doing things that we’re progressing on. He’s growing every game.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Shaquille Harrison used his new-found 3-point stroke to put up a career-high 25 points last night, Schaefer writes in a separate story. He has made nine of his last 11 from beyond the arc after shooting 27.7% on 3-pointers for his career. With restricted free agency looming this summer, Harrison is looking for any edge he can find to prove his worth. “I was undrafted, I had a couple offers coming out of high school,” he said. “I’ve always been that last guy they’re looking at, and I knew I had to make an impression that one opportunity or chance I get. So, it’s usual for me, it’s nothing new. I take pride in that, a lot of guys can’t do that.”
  • Boylen is denying reports of a rift with senior advisor Doug Collins, relays K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. The dispute reportedly involves Collins’ presence at coaching staff meetings. “All my interaction with Doug has been very positive. He’s been in my meetings and on the floor with the team,” Boylen said. “I don’t control his schedule or if he’s here or not here. We’ve had a very good, close relationship since he’s been here.”
  • Despite another disappointing season, Boylen continues to have strong backing from ownership and executive vice president John Paxson, Johnson writes in another piece.

Bulls Notes: Boylen, Arcidiacono, Hutchison, Gafford

Frustration among Bulls players is being caused not only by eight straight losses, but by coach Jim Boylen’s unusual timeout strategy, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Boylen called a timeout last night with 30 seconds to play and his team trailing by 10 points. Television cameras seemed to capture Zach LaVine expressing bewilderment over the decision.

“He hasn’t said a word to me about it agitating him,” Boylen said of LaVine. “I don’t know if you’re reading his mind on that or if you’re just making that assumption that that’s what he’s upset about. He hasn’t said a word to me about it. He’s very respectful about me coaching the team and me trying to help the team. So you’ll have to ask him.”

Asked about Boylen’s strategy, LaVine responded, “That’s what he do, man. That’s what he do. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not the coach. He’s told me he likes working on things that we do in practice and things like that. He’s the head coach. He can call timeout if he wants to.”

Mayberry documents four other instances this month where Boylen has used timeouts in the closing seconds with his team hopelessly behind. He notes that players have been reluctant to buy into Boylen’s coaching methods, and his 36-79 record since taking over hasn’t helped. However, he retains the support of management and was given a two-year extension after last season.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Ryan Arcidiacono has made his first two starts of the season in the two games since the All-Star break, and he’s likely to continue in that role as long as Chandler Hutchison remains injured, Boylen tells K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“(Arcidiacono starting) keeps Coby (White) in that backup role, where he’s finding his voice and he’s learning to play that (lead guard) position,” Boylen said. “And I think that’s important too. Coby has more of a voice with that second group, and we’re asking him to run that group as efficiently as he can and learn.”
  • Hutchison got a cortisone shot in his injured right shoulder for the second time this season and expressed hope that he will be able to return, although he didn’t offer a target date, Johnson relays in a separate story. Hutchison also indicated offseason surgery may be necessary. “It’s something as a last resort kind of deal. With what’s going on with my shoulder, it could be used to clean it out. Or it could be something that heals on its own,” he said. “Right now, I’m hoping that with rest it’s something I can get to a point where it heals on its own. And then those talks will kind of advance if it gets to that point.”
  • Daniel Gafford tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that he hopes to use the final six weeks of the season to prove he’s worthy of a larger role in the rotation.

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Young, Valentine, White

Lauri Markkanen‘s latest injury not only damages the Bulls‘ hopes of reaching the playoffs, it prevents the organization from having clarity on an important long-term decision, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Markkanen will miss the next four-to-six weeks after doctors discovered an early stress reaction of his right pelvis during an MRI. It’s the latest blow to a depleted frontcourt that is already getting by without Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford and Otto Porter.

The injury figures to complicate offseason negotiations for Markkanen, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension. Johnson notes that because of injuries, Markkanen and Zach LaVine have played just 106 of a possible 210 games together since LaVine was acquired in a trade with Minnesota.

Short-term plans are for Thaddeus Young to move into the starting lineup at power forward, but Johnson argues that Chicago still needs to explore trade opportunities for Young prior to the February 6 deadline. Porter hopes to return after the All-Star break, while Markkanen’s prognosis would sideline him for 10 to 17 games.

There’s more tonight from Chicago:

  • The Bulls need to find a taker for Denzel Valentine before the deadline, Johnson contends in a separate piece. Valentine has hardly seen any playing time this month after being productive while averaging 15.5 minutes per game in December. Coach Jim Boylen has been vague in his reasons for not using Valentine, who has fully recovered from reconstructive ankle surgery that forced him to miss all of last season. At least one team has expressed interest in Valentine, sources tell Johnson.
  • Boylen won’t alter his way of doing things despite fan criticism and a poor win-loss record, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley noted a lot of empty seats at United Center for Friday’s game with the Kings, but Boylen insists that support for him and the team hasn’t declined. “The fans have been great to me,’’ he said. “For the most part, they understand what we’re trying to do. There’s always going to be people that don’t like where it’s at or where it’s going. I can’t control any of that. All I can control is my attitude, my work, my connection to this team. That’s what I’m going to try and do.’’
  • Markkanen’s injury probably won’t mean more minutes for rookie guard Coby White, Cowley adds in the same piece. Even though the Bulls might need more scoring, the focus for White will remain on development. “His plan won’t change much,’’ Boylen said. “He plays a different position than Markkanen. We’ll get Coby involved and keep developing him as a guard that can lead the team, but also score the ball. Keep pushing him to be a two-way player, which I think is really important for him.’’

Central Notes: Turner, White, Pistons, Dunn

Pacers big man Myles Turner is building confidence through production, with the 23-year-old stepping up in recent contests to help his team win five straight games, Scott Agness of The Athletic writes.

Turner has averaged 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game on 44% shooting for the season, with all three metrics regressing from last year.

“He’s getting a little bit more comfortable with playing at the four position on the offensive end of the floor — where he needs to go, where he’s going to get his opportunities and taking those opportunities when it presents itself,” coach Nate McMillan said on Turner’s gradual improvement this season. “It’s not that we’ve done anything different. I think he’s getting a little bit more comfortable with playing alongside of Domas.”

Turner has averaged 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds over the last five games, making an even bigger impact defensively over that stretch. As the Pacers continue to play without All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, it’s imperative that Turner keeps producing at a high level.

“I think it really stems from my mindset more than anything,” Turner said. “I see myself doing well, I find little ways to get myself going in the game whether it’s blocking shots or scoring, my confidence comes from production.”

Here’s more out of the Central:

  • Bulls guard Coby White has maintained a solid amount of confidence in his shot this season, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. White, who’s in his rookie season, emphasized the importance of remaining confident despite going through some tough stretches. “The coaching staff believes in me. So do my teammates. They tell me to keep shooting,” White said. “I’m a rookie. I’m only 19. I don’t use that as an excuse. But they always believe me. You’re going to go through slumps. It’s basketball. It’s how you react to it.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News examines the likely roster changes for the Pistons, who’ve struggled through the season’s first 30 games. Detroit currently owns the 11th best record in the East at 11-19, losing the past four games.
  • Kris Dunn has made a strong impact as a starter with the Bulls, Johnson writes in a different story for NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls have a 6-6 record since Dunn replaced Chandler Hutchison in the starting lineup, with Dunn recording nine points, four assists and four steals in a win over Detroit on Saturday. “He’s a freaking dawg,” teammate Zach LaVine said of Dunn. “He’s not scared of nothing. He’s going to talk his stuff. He’s one of the best defenders out there. He takes that challenge. He brings an energy and toughness to the team. He’ll even talk to me if I’m doing something wrong. He’ll pick me up and get me going. I love everything that he does.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Musa, Kerr, Knicks

Joel Embiid‘s numbers are down in the major categories and the Sixers center feels that must change in order for the team to get rolling, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid, who has missed four games during the Sixers’ 8-5 start, is averaging 22.9 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG. He averaged 27.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 1.9 BPG last season.“I need to do more,” Embiid said. “I felt like I haven’t done enough. So that’s what I think I need to do.”

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The role of Nets second-year shooting guard Dzanan Musa has expanded with Caris LeVert sidelined by a thumb injury, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. Musa has averaged 9.0 PPG in 21.0 MPG over the last four games. “We need his scoring on that second unit now, with no Caris,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “You can’t just have Spencer (Dinwiddie) out there taking every possession.” We’re going to need Musa to play well.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes the FIBA World Cup helped the Celtics get off to a fast start, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown all played for Team USA. “You could tell [Team USA] was a head start for them,” Kerr said. “You could tell over the summer that those guys would click, and they absolutely have.”
  • Small, quick guards have lit up the Knicks lately, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post notes. Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham, Chicago’s Coby White and Cleveland’s Collin Sexton have all enjoyed big games against them, forcing head coach David Fizdale to consider going smaller in his backcourt. “The battle that we are fighting is the speed guard who can shoot, those little guards that can get anywhere on the floor that can shoot the ball from the moon,” Fizdale said. “Those guys have been giving us headaches.”

Bulls Notes: Satoransky, Valentine, Kornet, LaVine

Bulls coach Jim Boylen hasn’t announced who will start at point guard but Tomas Satoransky seems to be leading the pack, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Satoransky, who is battling rookie Coby White and incumbent Kris Dunn for the job, was acquired from the Wizards in a sign-and-trade deal. Satoransky had 11 points and eight assists in 20 minutes against the Pelicans in a preseason outing earlier this week.

“Every day, there is more clarity on what you like, what you don’t like, who fits, who doesn’t fit. Not only in that (lead guard) position but other situations,” Boylen said. “We can’t play everybody. From Day One, I said we’re going to have to share and become a team where sacrifice is involved. That day is coming not just for that lead guard position but other ones, too.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • When swingman Denzel Valentine drove to the United Center on Monday, he got choked up en route to making his preseason debut, as he told Johnson in a separate story. Valentine missed last season after undergoing left ankle surgery. “I shed a tear on the way over to the arena,” Valentine said. “It’s just very emotional for me. This is my passion. This is what I love. It’s huge being healthy and being out there again.”
  • Big man Luke Kornet received a fully guaranteed two-year, $4.5MM deal from the Bulls in free agency but the possibility of being a rotation player was also a crucial factor in his decision, Johnson reports in another story. “A couple teams contacted me but I was able to talk to Coach Boylen for awhile and I got the feel they value what I do and understand the value of it,” Kornet said. “That got me excited.”
  • If the Bulls can make inroads in the win-loss column, Zach LaVine believes can receive All-Star recognition, as he told Eric Woodyard of ESPN“I had an All-Star-caliber year last year, but we had 22 wins so it got a little bit swept under the rug,” he said. “But that’s how it’s supposed to be when you have 20 wins. But if I continue to play the way I’m supposed to, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be an All-Star or All-NBA type guy.”

Eastern Notes: White, Poirier, Knicks, Wizards

Lottery pick Coby White has looked good in the first week of the Bulls‘ training camp, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Coach Jim Boylen said White can play either guard spot and appears to already have him penciled into the rotation. “We’ve added ballers to this team,’’ Boylen said. “Coby White, whether he’s a one, he’s a two, he’s a baller. … That’s what this roster is. We’ve got to do a good job using those guys and give them space and freedom to use what they have.’’

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • French center Vincent Poirier is looking to earn minutes with the Celtics through grit and determination, as he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Poirier signed a two-year contract to compete for a role with one of the East’s top teams after playing in Spain last season. “You have a couple of guys who make all the dirty jobs,” he said. “If not, you cannot win. You have to be great at what you can do, and what I can do is all the dirty jobs.”
  • Knicks coach David Fizdale has a dilemma on his hands regarding the point guard spot, as Barbara Barker of Newsday details. With Dennis Smith Jr., Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina vying for minutes at the position, choosing a starter may be the toughest decision of the preseason for Fizdale. Utilizing two point guards at the same time will be a serious consideration.
  • Developing good habits with a young roster is the first step toward improvement for the Wizards, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Washington is trying to establish a better culture after the front office and roster changes that were made this offseason. “The season’s going to go quick and the bench is going shorten and Coach (Scott Brooks) is going to want guys who know what he wants and get it done,” guard Bradley Beal said. “So, as long as we’re able to keep those good habits up of being on time, being early, getting the work in and then applying it on the court and getting it done, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”