Cristiano Felicio

Central Notes: Cavs, LeBron, Felicio, Kennard

Like many teams this season, the Cavaliers have been bit by the injury bug, with All-Star Kevin Love the most glaring omission from the line-up for most of this year’s campaign. In a recent game against Chicago, the Cavs were without six rotation players – Love, Kyle Korver, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, Tristan Thompson, and Cedi Osman.

Moreover, Cavaliers’ head coach Tyronn Lue remains out with health issues. Yet, things are now beginning to turn around. Osman and Korver remain out, but Love returned earlier this week and, as reported by Joe Vardon of The Plain Dealer, Nance Jr., Hood, and Thompson all returned for tonight’s game against Phoenix, albeit on minutes restrictions.

Vardon adds that there is still no word on whether Lue will join the Cavaliers on an upcoming three-game road trip, with interim coach Larry Drew stating, “I haven’t heard anything. I’m just going to proceed and take it a game at a time until I hear something different.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • In another article for The Plain Dealer, Vardon details LeBron James‘ response to Cavaliers‘ fans putting up a billboard in James’ favor in his hometown of Akron, OH. “I haven’t seen it, but, like I said before, it’s very flattering. It’s just, I don’t know, it’s very humbling. I know my hometown, so, I already know there’s no place like Akron, that’s for sure.”
  • Sam Smith of Bulls.com takes a look at how Bulls‘ big man Cristiano Felicio is looking to improve his game to show he deserves the $32MM contract Chicago gave him over the summer. “I know a lot of people talk whatever they want to. I am not focusing on them. I am just focusing on myself and trying to get better. I know I wasn’t playing well at the beginning of the season (but) now they are giving me an opportunity again, and I am trying to show, go out and show them I can play.”
  • It may have taken awhile, but Pistons‘ rookie shooting guard Luke Kennard is now firmly entrenched in the Pistons’ rotation and is an important part of Detroit’s future, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Teammate Blake Griffin likes what he’s seen out of Kennard lately, saying, “He’s been great this stretch. Not only scoring the ball but running offense with poise when he has it, playing good defense, being in passing lanes, passing the ball well. He’s done everything. He’s very capable of doing that and it’s been huge for us.”

Bulls Notes: Lineup Changes, Payne, Forman

With 25 games left in their season, the Bulls are focusing on the future, as VP John Paxson explained to reporters on Tuesday (link via Sam Smith of Bulls.com). That means that Cristiano Felicio will move into the starting lineup on Thursday in place of veteran center Robin Lopez, while David Nwaba will supplant Justin Holiday.

“The hard part from our standpoint is you can’t play 12 guys. Nine or 10 is the most,” Paxson said. “We’re going to start looking at blocks of games where we’ll be having a few guys who haven’t been playing much or at all have a significant role. The whole goal in our position is to evaluate what we have on this roster.

“The hard thing when you do things like this is you’re asking certain people to sacrifice roles and minutes,” Paxson continued. “It’s veteran guys. That’s never an easy thing. As I told them, I, along with [GM] Gar [Forman], we’re entrusted with the future of the organization. So these last 25 games, we’re going to evaluate what we have on this roster by playing more the guys we haven’t seen much this year.”

Let’s round up a few more Bulls notes…

  • Cameron Payne, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury, is set to make his 2017/18 debut on Thursday, writes Madeline Kenney of The Chicago Sun-Times. Payne figures to cut into Jerian Grant‘s playing time.
  • With John Paxson once again addressing reporters on Tuesday, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times explores where Gar Forman has been “hiding” this season. According to Cowley, Paxson comes across as more “honest and transparent” than Forman, which is why the VP has handled most of the team’s media responsibilities this season. However, Forman is still very much involved in basketball operations and is by no means being pushed out of the organization.
  • Justin Holiday is trying to take his reduced role in stride, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. “I have to deal with it, be professional about it,” Holiday said. “Regardless of the situation or the reason, I have to carry myself a certain way because that’s how I do things. How I react and carry myself in this will be a good leadership situation for the young guys to see and follow the example if it does happen to them.”
  • The $600K fine Mark Cuban received for publicly discussing the benefits of losing is exactly why Paxson and other members of the Bulls organization will dance around the subject of tanking, says Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago.

Central Notes: Bulls, Nelson, J.R. Smith, Pacers

The Bulls need to get more serious about tanking and start making moves to improve their lottery chances, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com argues. Cristiano Felicio, Paul Zipser, Noah Vonleh and Cameron Payne should receive a lot more playing time, while veterans like Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday should have their minutes reduced, Friedell says. Holding out Zach LaVine on the second game of back-to-backs would also facilitate the cause, Friedell adds.

Also around the Central Division:

  • Small forward James Ennis and point guard Jameer Nelson have jumped right into the Pistons’ rotation after being acquired just before the trade deadline. Ennis, who was traded by the Grizzlies for forward Brice Johnson and a future second-round pick, has averaged 9.5 PPG and 17.5 MPG over the past two games. Nelson, who was traded by the Bulls for Willie Reed and future draft considerations, has averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.0 APG in 19.5 MPG during his first two games with Detroit.
  • Nelson, 35, told Hoops Rumors and other reporters that he’d like to continue playing after this season. The Pistons point guard be an unrestricted free agent this summer.  “I never want to put a limit or a time frame on my career,” he said. “My body feels good, my mind is right. So I’ll just continue to work. My body and mind will tell me when it’s time for me to go. I think there will be a lot of teams that will need a guy like me next season.”
  • Pacers players lobbied GM Kevin Pritchard to stand pat during the trade deadline, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star relays. Pritchard was approached by six players, who told him they wanted to see what they could accomplish with the current mix. “They feel like they are overachieving and had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Pritchard said during a press conference. “They wanted to have the opportunity to finish this out and try to get into the playoffs. … That carried a lot of weight with me.”
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith held onto his roster spot and retained his starting job, but he admits he was sweating out the deadline, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports. “My name was being thrown around a lot out there, so it was nerve-wracking for sure,” Smith said. “When you see six guys getting traded and there’s still more than an hour to the trade deadline, there’s no telling what can happen.” Smith is owed $30.3MM over the next two seasons, which made his contract difficult to move, McMenamin notes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/12/18

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Timberwolves have recalled rookie center Justin Patton from the G League, according to the team (Twitter link). Patton has yet to make his NBA debut, but looked good for the Iowa Wolves on Sunday, scoring a team-high 21 points.
  • Newly-acquired Raptors shooting guard Malachi Richardson has been assigned to the G League, the team announced today (via Twitter). Richardson doesn’t figure to get much run for a Toronto team with a deep bench, but he should have a chance to play major minutes for the Raptors 905 against Maine on Monday night.
  • The Bulls assigned a trio of players to the G League today, according to the club (Twitter link). Kris Dunn, Cristiano Felicio, and Noah Vonleh were sent to the Windy City Bulls for practice and will be recalled after that, the team announced.
  • Patrick McCaw, who has been spending time in the G League to get more minutes, was recalled by the Warriors today, the team confirmed in a press release. The Santa Cruz Warriors scored 131 points on Sunday, but McCaw had just six of them, on 2-of-11 shooting.

Bulls Notes: Payne, Vonleh, Butler, Felicio

Cameron Payne, who hasn’t played since having offseason surgery on his right foot, is expected back after the All-Star break, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. Coach Fred Hoiberg and VP of basketball operations John Paxson have stated that Payne will receive playing time whenever he is ready.

Payne has appeared in just 11 games for Chicago since being acquired from the Thunder at the 2017 trade deadline. He was assigned to the Bulls’ Windy City team in the G League earlier this week to shake off some rust before returning to the NBA club.

Taken 14th overall by the Thunder in the 2015 draft, Payne has yet to find success at the NBA level. He averaged 5.2 points and 1.8 assists last season in 31 games with Oklahoma City and Chicago.

There’s more tonight from the Windy City:

  • Newly acquired forward Noah Vonleh is sitting out tonight’s game and may not play until after the break, according to Friedell (Twitter link). Hoiberg wants him to get some practice time to get used to the Bulls’ system, and there may not be an opportunity for that until after Wednesday when the team will have eight straight days off.
  • Before the Timberwolves came to town Friday, Paxson discussed the Jimmy Butler trade, saying it has worked out well for both teams, Friedell relays in a full story. The Bulls sent Butler and Justin Patton to Minnesota on draft night for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. “We’re really happy,” Paxson said. “I won’t speak for Minnesota, but you got an All-Star player in Jimmy Butler that can go along with their young core. It seems to have addressed the desires of both teams. In this business, if you can do that, that’s a good thing.”
  • The lack of progress by backup center Cristiano Felicio has been puzzling, Sam Smith of NBA.com writes in a mailbag column. After two promising seasons, Felicio was rewarded with a four-year, $32MM deal last summer. But his numbers have gone down across the board, with averages of 3.8 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 13 minutes per night. Smith believes Felicio’s reluctance to shoot has hurt his game.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/19/18

Here are the G League moves from around the Association today:

Nikola Mirotic, 15 Others Become Trade-Eligible

Today is January 15, which means that trade restrictions have lifted for most of the rest of the NBA’s 2017 offseason signees. While the majority of those ’17 free agents became trade-eligible on December 15, there was a small subset of free agent signees whose trade ineligibility lasted for another month.

The 16 players whose trade restrictions lift today meet a specific set of criteria: Not only did they re-sign with their previous teams this offseason, but they received raises of at least 20%, their salaries are worth more than the minimum, and their teams were over the cap, using Bird or Early Bird rights to sign them.

The most notable name in this group is Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic. He’s not the best player on the list — Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry would be among those vying for that honor. But Mirotic is the most likely player to be dealt out of the 16 guys becoming trade-eligible today. He has been linked to a handful of teams already, including the Jazz, Pistons, and Trail Blazers.

Here are the 16 players becoming trade-eligible today:

With three and a half weeks left until this season’s February 8 trade deadline, nearly all of the NBA’s players are now eligible to be dealt. The only players still ineligible to be moved are those who signed free agent contracts later than October 15, plus certain players who signed contract extensions in the offseason.

Hawks guard Isaiah Taylor (January 17), Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson (January 19), and Pelicans guard Jameer Nelson (January 22) are now the only remaining players who will become trade-eligible between today and February 8. For the full list of players who won’t become trade-eligible before this year’s deadline, click here.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/5/2018

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

7:08pm:

12:52pm:

  • Bulls power forward Cristiano Felicio signed a four-year, $32MM deal in July, but he has been seeing more action in the G League than the NBA as of late. The club announced today (via Twitter) that Felicio has been assigned to the Windy City Bulls for the fifth time in the last month. The 25-year-old figures to suit up for Chicago’s affiliate in tonight’s game against Fort Wayne before being recalled to the NBA.
  • The Magic have re-assigned Khem Birch and Wesley Iwundu to the G League, the team announced today (Twitter link). The duo will get a chance to play for the Lakeland Magic tonight as they host Santa Cruz.
  • Justin Jackson and Georgios Papagiannis have been sent to the Reno Bighorns by the Kings, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Sacramento’s affiliate hosts Northern Arizona tonight.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/29/17

Here are the G-League moves from around the NBA today:

  • The Spurs have recalled Derrick White from the Austin Spurs, according to the team’s website. White has played in seven games with the G League club and he’s averaging 11.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 22.3 minutes per game.
  • The Bulls have recalled big man Cristiano Felicio from the team’s G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Felicio, 25, has played well on both of his G League assignments, including a 22-point, 14-rebound, six-block performance in Windy City’s recent win over the Canton Charge. Felicio has appeared in 23 games for the Bulls.
  • The Thunder recalled guard Terrance Ferguson from the organization’s G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a press release. OKC’s first-round pick from this year’s NBA Draft has appeared in 21 games this season and averaged 1.3 PPG in 6.7 minutes per game.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/17/17

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA: