Coby White

Central Notes: White, LaVine, Stewart, Bitadze 

New Bulls coach Billy Donovan won’t accept excuses for a subpar performance, like the 30-point loss Friday night in Milwaukee, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Donovan was particularly unhappy with his starting backcourt of Coby White and Zach LaVine, who combined for nine turnovers.

“They’re the ones who have to be the driving force behind the identity which we need to play and we did not play to that identity,’’ Donovan said. “It’s five guys on the court doing it together, but also I think a big part of that is the guys who have the ball in their hands as they start to make decisions and get the ball up the floor quickly and get us into things, we’ve got to be able to do that and sustain that for a period of time. I thought collectively we were unable to do that.”

Cowley notes that Donovan has talked since training camp about the important roles White and LaVine will play, but both have been inconsistent during the team’s 2-4 start. White is in his second NBA season and his first as a starter, while LaVine has one year left on his current contract. Cowley suggests that the way both players perform now will determine their future in Chicago.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls rookie Patrick Williams welcomed the challenge of guarding two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, according to Rob Schaeffer of NBC Sports. Williams said he’s ready to face “the best players, night in night out,” and Donovan thought it would be a good learning experience for the 19-year-old.
  • Pistons rookie Isaiah Stewart is drawing comparisons to Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace for his tenaciousness as a rebounder, according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Through his first three NBA games, Stewart is tied for the league lead in offensive rebounding with 4.0 per night. “To me, it’s just wanting it more than the next guy and just not being denied,” he said. “It’s just a part of me. It’s who I am. If you put me out on the floor, it’s what you’re going to get out of me.”
  • The Pacers expect second-year center Goga Bitadze to make his season debut soon after being sidelined by a Grade 2 right ankle sprain, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. “He’s moving a little bit more every day,” coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “I’m not sure on the time frame when he’ll be back yet. I wouldn’t think too much longer.”

Bulls Exercise Options On White, Carter, Hutchison

The Bulls have exercised the third-year team option on guard Coby White and fourth-year options on Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison for the 2021/22 season, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic tweets.

Chicago’s decisions on White and Carter, lottery picks and members of the starting five, were mere formalities. The Bulls’ decision on Hutchison wasn’t a slam dunk, though he’s projected to be a rotation player this season.

White, the seventh pick in last year’s draft, will receive $5,837,760 during the 2021/22 season. White averaged 13.2 PPG and 2.7 APG in 25.8 MPG as a rookie.

Carter, who was taken at the same spot in the 2018 draft, will receive a guaranteed $6,920,027 in 2021/22 while Hutchison will make $4,019,459.

Carter was limited to 43 games last season due to a thumb injury. He averaged 11.3 PPG and 9.4 RPG in 29.2 MPG.

Hutchison underwent shoulder surgery in March after play was halted. Hutchison, who was the No. 22 pick in 2018, had both of his two professional seasons cut short by health issues. In total, he has appeared in just 72 games (19.8 MPG), averaging 6.2 PPG and 4.1 RPG on .458/.295/.595 shooting since arriving in Chicago.

Bulls Notes: White, Young, Temple, Williams

Coby White got the start at point guard in the Bulls‘ preseason opener, but he has a long way to go to earn that job on a regular basis, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. White had an uneven game, finishing with 15 points and six assists in 23 minutes, but he missed his first three shots as Chicago fell into an early 17-point hole.

White’s main competition for the spot will be Tomas Satoransky, who started 64 games last season. New head coach Billy Donovan said he will make the decision based not only on White’s individual performance, but how he affects his teammates.

“As a point guard, it’s not always going to be about how well (White is) playing but how well the group is playing,” Donovan said. “And I think that’s his maturation — that’s the process he has to go through in terms of understanding that he has to be a connector. And it’s not only him — it’s the group that’s out there together. How can they make each other better? How can they function with one another? How can they play off each other? How can they make the game easier for each other? That’s going to be the biggest thing.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Veteran forward Thaddeus Young was scratched from Friday’s game because of a lower leg infection and won’t play Sunday night either, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Young is listed as day to day, but has no set timetable to return. “He’s doing much better, which is good. Things haven’t gotten worse,” Donovan said. “But I think the doctors want to keep a close eye on him with that infection and just make sure he’s healing properly.”
  • Garrett Temple is still in the league’s COVID-19 protocol and it’s uncertain when he might be able to return, Schaefer adds in the same story. Temple tested positive on November 28.
  • The Bulls like what they saw from lottery pick Patrick Williams in his first NBA game, according to Sam Smith of NBA.com. Williams came off the bench with 12 points and three rebounds in 25 minutes. “I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player,” Donovan said. “He has a really good feel for the game. He very rarely forces shots, he makes good decisions, he’s a good passer. He is really good when he gets into that elbow, paint area where he can shoot those one-handed lean-in shots. I’m sure he was a little anxious and nervous, but he’s got a good pace and good way he plays and he can get into the mid range. I thought he played very well considering the fact that there was no real Summer League or build up to training camp, and he had to come here after the draft and get started.”

Central Notes: Pistons, Bucks, Coby White, Pacers

The Pistons currently hold the seventh pick in the 2020 draft, but like many teams may consider trading back to add future draft equity. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic examines several hypothetical deals Detroit might make.

Although guards Killian Hayes and Tyrese Haliburton have been considered as possibilities were Detroit to stay put, Edwards opines that several high-quality players could still be available if the Pistons trade lower in the lottery. Edwards views the Celtics, who have three first-round draft picks, as optimal trade partners.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Though the Bucks carried a stellar defense and the best record in the league into the playoffs, the team was quickly dispensed in the second round of the 2020 playoffs by the fifth-seeded Heat. Eric Nehm of The Athletic weighs several trade and free agent options for shoring up Milwaukee’s frontcourt. Center Brook Lopez made an All-Defensive team this year, but Nehm considers flipping Lopez for a more aggressive pick-and-roll defender like Pacers big man Myles Turner, or adding someone like Danilo Gallinari, Markieff Morris, or Harry Giles in free agency.
  • Bulls guard Coby White, who made the 2020 All-Rookie Second Team, may be ready to take a leap during his sophomore campaign, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.
  • As we previously relayed, Pacers ownership anticipates scheduling three finalists for meetings prior to the end of October. Former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, current Pelicans assistant Chris Finch, and current Heat assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn could be in the mix for those three interviews.

Central Notes: White, Casey, Pacers, Cavaliers

Bulls guard Coby White has his sights set on becoming a full-time starter with the franchise next season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.

White, 20, was selected No. 7 overall by the franchise in 2019, impressing onlookers in his rookie campaign this season. He averaged 13.2 points, 2.7 assists and 25.8 minutes per game, coming off the bench in every contest but one. He’s spent significant time in the gym and weight room since the NBA season was postponed due to COVID-19.

“Work out, that’s about it,’’ White said when asked about his recent routine. “I was able to hoop a little bit when I was home, but I’ve been back in Chicago for two or three months. Really, all I can do is come to the gym, work out, kind of doing the same thing every day — one player per basket, get some stuff done in the weight room. Other than that, it’s all it’s really been.’’

White recognizes the importance of staying ready, since Kris Dunn – who started in 32 of 51 games this season – is set to reach restricted free agency. Players were still working out individually as of Friday, according to Cowley, with full intrasquad scrimmages scheduled to begin later this week.

“I think the big thing is just all coming together, getting a feel for each other,’’ White said. “Just getting that team chemistry back. We’ve been away from each other for so long and we haven’t played with each other in so long, so for us to just get back all on the court together it’ll be good for us. And you know, with everything going on in the world, some of us haven’t really played basketball or been down and played five-on-five in so long, so in that aspect it’ll be good. Cause for a lot of us basketball is our therapy.’’

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The Pistons are eyeing a short route back to winning, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press details. Detroit finished with a 20-46 record this season, suffering from multiple key injuries and setbacks along the way. “We’re not really rebuilding here in Detroit,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “I think our basketball fans deserve a lot. We like to use the word ‘retooling,’ ‘restoring’ as much as ‘rebuilding.’ It doesn’t have to take a long time because if our young guys are making the progress we expect them to make, it shouldn’t be a long-term restoring.”
  • Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files examines what Pacers players are hoping to see from their next head coach. Indiana fired Nate McMillan from his position in August, ending his four-year tenure as head coach of the team. “It’s up to me to step up to the plate and find the right person to lead the locker room again and be creative as a new-age coach,” team president Kevin Pritchard said last month.
  • Kelsey Russo of The Athletic poses a number of questions the Cavaliers hope to answer in the team’s upcoming training camp, including how Dylan Windler is adjusting to playing and whether Collin Sexton‘s game has evolved off the ball. The first day of group training begins on Wednesday, September 23, marking roughly six months since players last played 5-on-5 in Cleveland. Andre Drummond (personal reasons) will miss the team’s camp, according to Russo, while impending free agents Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova also won’t participate.

Bulls Notes: Unseld, Coaching Candidates, FA Targets

Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. made a stronger case for the Bulls‘ head coaching vacancy after Denver defeated the Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski notes that Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas, who worked in Denver’s front office with Unseld, already thought highly of him. The 44-year-old assistant coach also received a ringing endorsement from Nuggets head coach Mike Malone after their victory in Game 7. “Wes Unseld should be a head coach,” Malone said.

Unseld is reportedly among 10 candidates who were a part of Karnisovas’ original list for the Bulls’ head coaching job.

Here’s more from the Windy City:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago evaluates the 10 candidates connected to the Bulls’ head coaching vacancy. Johnson notes that outside of former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and former Thunder head coach Billy Donovan, the rest of the candidates are assistant coaches. Former Bulls coach Jim Boylen was an assistant before getting promoted to head coach.
  • Bulls rookie point guard Coby White potentially divulged some inside information about the team’s head coaching search on Wednesday, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. White was asked by reporters what he wants in the next head coach and mentioned the team’s timeline for the position. “We haven’t talked about the new coach because it’s so spread out right now. They haven’t really narrowed it down to the people that — I think, don’t they narrow it down Friday or something like that?” According to Cowley, there are indications that Chicago has moved on to the second round of interviews, with the first round reportedly wrapping up last week.
  • In his latest mailbag, Sam Smith of Bulls.com takes a look at some potential free agent targets for Chicago. Smith writes that if veteran forward Otto Porter opts into his $28MM player option, the Bulls will be over the salary cap. Therefore, the team will likely be out of the running for a top-tier free agent until next offseason. That being said, Smith likes Markieff Morris or Marcus Morris, along with Davis Bertans, and possibly former first-round pick Emmanuel Mudiay.

Ja Morant, Kendrick Nunn Headline All-Rookie Team

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, who previously won the Rookie of the Year award, was the only player unanimously selected to this year’s All-Rookie First Team, the league announced in a press release.  A panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters selected the team.

Heat guard Kendrick Nunn collected the second-most First Team votes (98) and total points (197). Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, Pelicans forward and top overall draft pick Zion Williamson, and Warriors forward Eric Paschall rounded out the First Team.

Morant and Clarke became the first Grizzlies duo named to the All-Rookie First Team since the 2001/02 season, when Pau Gasol and Shane Battier earned the honor. Nunn is the first Heat player named to the First Team since Michael Beasley in 2008/09.

Heat guard Tyler Herro, Raptors guard Terence Davis II, Bulls guard Coby White, Hornets forward P.J. Washington, and Wizards forward Rui Hachimura gained All-Rookie Second Team honors.

Knicks wing and third overall pick RJ Barrett finished 13 points behind Hachimura for the final spot on the Second Team, with Sixers forward Matisse Thybulle narrowly missing a spot as well.

The voting was conducted based on regular-season games played prior to the restart.

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: