Coby White

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.”

Bulls Notes: Young, Point Guards, Hutchison, WCJ

Veteran forward Thaddeus Young played in the postseason in each of his last three seasons in Indiana, and has appeared in the playoffs in eight of his 12 NBA seasons in total. However, as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he opted to sign with the Bulls, who were coming off a 22-win season.

Speaking today to reporters, including Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), Young said he received interest from potential championships contenders in free agency, but liked the idea of becoming a veteran leader in Chicago. According to Young, he intends to bring energy and veteran leadership to the club and to be the sort of player who can speak up in the locker room and hold everyone accountable (Twitter link via Strotman).

While joining the Bulls may have appealed to Young for the reasons he mentioned, it’s probably also safe to assume that most of those title contenders who expressed interest in him this summer weren’t able to match the $13MM+ annual salary he received from Chicago.

Here’s more from the Bulls on Media Day:

  • Head coach Jim Boylen said the point guard situation in Chicago will “work its way out” in terms of minutes and that the Bulls’ players have embraced the competition, tweets Strotman. Tomas Satoransky, Coby White, Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Shaquille Harrison are all expected to be in the point guard mix.
  • The Bulls’ goal in 2019/20 is to make the playoffs, Boylen declared today (Twitter link via Strotman). The club finished 19 games back of the No. 8 seed last season.
  • Chandler Hutchison, who suffered a hamstring strain earlier this month, is “going to be out for a little bit,” per head of basketball operations John Paxson (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune). Paxson also noted that Luke Kornet has turf toe and will miss a few days.
  • Wendell Carter Jr., on the other hand, said today that he feels 100% – and better than he has for the last five or six years – after undergoing core muscle surgery during the offseason, tweets Strotman.

Eastern Notes: Bulls, Frazier, Oladipo, Stoudemire

Bulls head coach Jim Boylen is excited about the new players his team brought in this offseason, and he hopes that the additions of veterans Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky alongside rookies Coby White and Daniel Gafford will allow him to deploy a deeper roster during the 2019/20 season, writes Sean Highkin of NBC Sports Chicago.

“What we (the Bulls) talked about is we wanted to bring in high character depth that could support our current roster,” Boylen said. “I also wanted a team that was duplicit and redundant so we could play the same way (when we go to our bench).”

Specifically, Boylen spoke on how the last couple years’ lack of depth caused the Bulls to rely on G League level players whenever stars like Zach LaVine or Lauri Markkanen were out with injury or sickness.

“We’ve struggled the last couple years to play on a night when we had injury or illness, where we had to change our style of play before the game. I don’t want that (for the Bulls). The good teams don’t have that.”

There’s more news out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Veteran point guard Tim Frazier is eager for the opportunity that awaits him with the Pistons, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. While Frazier may see limited minutes behind Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose, Detroit sees value in having a young and experienced option in case Jackson or Rose get hurt.
  • As Jackie MacMullan of ESPN explains, Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has seen his appreciation for basketball grow as he’s been sidelined with a ruptured right quadriceps tendon. Regarding watching his team’s performance during the playoffs last season, Oladipo said “It was so hard. It makes you appreciate the game more, your teammates more, even yourself more… Sometimes we don’t realize our own impact. You take it for granted. I won’t ever do that again.”
  • The Knicks do not plan on signing former NBA All-Star big man Amar’e Stoudemire to a contract for the 2019/20 season, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post. Stoudemire worked out for the Knicks and 14 other teams in Las Vegas on Monday. He last played in the NBA for the Heat during the 2015/16 season.

Bulls Sign Coby White To Rookie Contract

The Bulls have signed guard Coby White to his rookie contract, the team announced today in a press release. White was selected by the club No. 7 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.

For White, he’s set to earn $5.3MM in the first year of his deal, which is 120% of the rookie scale amount for the seventh pick. Chicago will have point guards White, Tomas Satoransky and Kris Dunn under contract entering next season.

White, 19, appeared in 35 games with the University of North Carolina last season, holding per-game averages of 16.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He’s set to start summer league with the Bulls later in the week.

Knicks Notes: Durant, Wilkes, Draft, Cavanaugh

The Knicks will do their homework on Kevin Durant before committing to a max offer, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The team will request access to Durant’s medical records and will evaluate his long-term chances for a full recovery from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in the NBA Finals.

New York’s front office recognizes that Durant will be 32 by the time he can play again in 2020/21 and may be dealing with a “load management” situation that will limit both the number of games he can play and his minutes in each one.

Sources tell Berman that the Knicks believe they’re still in the running for Kawhi Leonard, even though he seems more likely to stay in Toronto or go to one of the Los Angeles teams, and Kyrie Irving, who is rumored to be headed to Brooklyn.

There’s more from New York City:

  • After agreeing to sign UCLA forward Kris Wilkes to a two-way contract, GM Scott Perry said the team never expected him to be available, Berman relays in a separate story. Wilkes was projected as a second-round pick after leading the Bruins in scoring at 17.4 points per game. “Kind of surprised (Wilkes) didn’t get drafted, similar to Allonzo Trier last year,’’ Perry said. “Winning player, can score, 6-8, highly rated player coming out of high school. Exciting to add him to our mix and see how we can develop him.”
  • The Knicks were convinced about taking R.J. Barrett with the No. 3 pick, even though they worked out Darius Garland and Coby White shortly before the draft, relays Ian Begley of SNY.TV. Perry explained that the team was taking advantage of having the players in town. “You want to get a chance to see as many prospects as you can,” he said. “Learn more about them, learn their stories. Also further evaluate, you dot your final I’s and crossing the final T’s. So that’s what went into our thinking.”
  • Tyler Cavanaugh, who spent this season on a two-way contract with the Jazz, will join the Knicks’ Summer League team, tweets Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. The 25-year-old power forward got into just 11 NBA games during the year, spending most of his time in the G League. He played 39 games for the Hawks in 2017/18, starting on a two-way deal before earning a standard contract.

Central Notes: Dunn, Leuer, Doumbouya, Bucks, J.R. Smith

Bulls executive VP John Paxson insists that Kris Dunn still has a role despite the addition of North Carolina point guard Coby White with the team’s lottery selection, K.C. Johnson of Chicago Tribune reports. “We still value Kris very much,” Paxson said. “But competition is a part of this business. You have to have that. The goal for us is to be deeper, more talented. You see in our game today, the successful teams have versatile rosters. … And, hey, if he comes in, as we hope, in training camp in great shape and ready to roll, he has every chance to earn any spot he wants — just like any of our guys do.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It’s uncertain whether veteran power forward Jon Leuer will play for the Bucks, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets. Milwaukee traded Tony Snell and its first-round pick to the Pistons for Leuer in an effort to clear cap space. Leuer is in the final year of his contract. GM Jon Horst told Leuer and his agent that he could be included in a future trade, Velazquez adds. Leuer appeared in 41 games last season after injuries limited him to eight games the previous season.
  • The Pistons were stunned that forward Sekou Doumbouya slipped just outside the lottery, allowing them to pick him with the No. 15 selection, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. The Pistons watched him work out in Dallas but were convinced they had no chance to draft him. “He kept dropping and we had Plan A in place and we didn’t expect him to be there. Then Plan B came into place and it was the best plan of all — because we had him ranked very high on the board,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We were there at the workout in Dallas and we thought we were wasting our time because we saw all the teams in front of us.”
  • The Bucks didn’t get any players in the draft but it was for lack of trying, Velazquez reports in another tweet. The Bucks made calls on every second-round pick but didn’t want to give up future picks and discovered that it’s much tougher to simply buy picks now.
  • The Cavaliers were unable to unload J.R. Smith on draft night and it’s likely he’ll be waived before his contract becomes fully guaranteed at the end of the month, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports. Cleveland doesn’t want to go over the luxury-tax line. Acquiring a player on a multi-year contract whose salary pushed them over the line was a deal breaker. Only $3.87MM of Smith’s $15.68MM salary is guaranteed.