DeMar DeRozan

Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan Named Players Of The Week

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant and Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan have been named the NBA’s Players of the Week for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, the league announced today (via Twitter).

Morant led the Grizzlies to three consecutive victories during the week of December 27 – January 2, including an impressive road win in Phoenix, plus home wins over the Lakers and Spurs. He had a 41-point, 10-rebound double-double in the win over the Lakers last Wednesday and averaged 34.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 4.7 APG for the week. Incredibly, he also shot 80.0% on three-pointers (12-for-15).

While DeRozan’s per-game numbers (27.8 PPG, 7.3 APG, 5.3 RPG) perhaps weren’t quite as impressive as Morant’s, the Bulls star had the more memorable week, capped by game-winning shots on Friday and Saturday. DeRozan’s Bulls had a 4-0 week, as he became the first player in NBA history to hit buzzer-beating game-winners on back-to-back nights.

It’s the second time this season DeRozan has been named the East’s Player of the Week. He beat out fellow nominees Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love, and Pascal Siakam to earn the award. The other nominees in the West were LeBron James, Eric Bledsoe, and Jordan Clarkson (Twitter link).

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Fleming, White, Ball, Caruso

With buzzer-beating shots on Friday and Saturday to pull out a pair of thrilling road wins, DeMar DeRozan became the first player in NBA history to accomplish that feat on back-to-back nights. He has done something even more valuable, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, changing the culture of the Bulls, who now have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s an honor to be trusted in the fourth quarter,” DeRozan said. “Whether things are going or going bad, my teammates always lean on me to be that calm presence to kind of bring us home. I always bring that calm presence as much as I can in the fourth quarter, letting guys understand as long we got time, we got a chance.”

The addition of DeRozan during the offseason was a huge step in transforming a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2017. He began talking to Zach LaVine about teaming up during free agency, Johnson adds, and their partnership grew during preseason workouts in Los Angeles and Chicago.

“The chemistry came really, really fast and really easy,” LaVine said. “We don’t have any egos. Regardless of who has it going that night or who has it going in a quarter, we’ll both come together and look for other guys and get them involved throughout the game and just try to figure out how to win the game. That’s been the first and foremost thing that has helped this team.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Chris Fleming has guided the Bulls to five straight victories while head coach Billy Donovan is in health and safety protocols, but he won’t mind going back to being an assistant when Donovan is ready to return (video link from NBC Sports). “Very fortunate enough to be able to experience this from a head coaching standpoint, and see the guys from maybe a little bit different side,” Fleming said after Saturday’s game.
  • Coby White has turned in his best performances of the season with Lonzo Ball in protocols and Alex Caruso sidelined with a sprained foot, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. White is averaging 18.5 points, 5.3 assists and 1.5 steals over the past four games.
  • There’s a good chance that Ball and Caruso will return for Monday’s game with the Magic, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. He adds that the Bulls are getting close to having a full team available after being hit hard by COVID-19 over the past month.

Central Notes: White, DeRozan, Caruso, Carlisle, Pangos

While COVID-19 disrupts rosters across the league, the Bulls are starting to get healthier, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports. Coby White, DeMar DeRozan and Javonte Green all cleared protocols this week and are expected to play Sunday against the Lakers. Derrick Jones Jr. left the protocols today and Matt Thomas is getting close, although he remains doubtful for Sunday.

White and DeRozan both said their symptoms were mild and agreed that their main issue was “boredom” while being away from the team. White, who was the first Chicago player to enter the protocols on December 1, said his experience was no worse than strep throat and the symptoms went away in two or three days. DeRozan tested positive five days after White, learning the news after a morning shootaround.

“It was one of those things, mixture of everything,” DeRozan said. “Frustration of not being able to go out there and play, trying to figure out why I don’t feel nothing, nothing’s wrong, how long I’m going to be out. Just a mixture of a lot of emotions. But at the end of the day, I just was like, ‘I’ve got to deal with it, something I’ve got to deal with,’ and went from there.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The two Bulls games that were postponed this week provided some benefits for the team, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Alex Caruso, who has been dealing with a sore right hamstring, is now fully recovered, according to coach Billy Donovan, and some players who had been seeing heavy minutes got a chance to rest.Lonzo (Ball) kind of stands out,” Donovan said.Zach (LaVine) is in health and safety protocols, but he was a guy that was logging a lot of minutes as well. So hopefully it gives those guys an opportunity to get their bodies a chance to recover some.”
  • Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, who tested positive for COVID-19 10 days ago, should be ready to return for Tuesday’s game, assistant Lloyd Pierce told James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Pierce has filled in for Carlisle during his four-game absence.
  • In an interview with Dionysis Aravantinos of HoopsHype, Cavaliers guard Kevin Pangos talks about adjusting to the NBA after playing six years in Europe.

Russell Westbrook, DeMar DeRozan Exit Protocols

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has cleared the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols and will be available for Friday’s game vs. Minnesota, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Westbrook just entered the protocols on Thursday, so his quick exit is great news for the Lakers. It sounds as if Westbrook may have registered a false positive and been cleared when he subsequently recorded multiple consecutive negative tests. The Lakers do still have a handful of players in the protocols, Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, and Kendrick Nunn.

Meanwhile, Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan has also exited the health and safety protocols, according to the team (Twitter link via Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago).

DeRozan was initially placed in the protocols back on December 6, so it seems safe to assume he actually contracted COVID-19. He may require a short ramp-up period for conditioning purposes before he clears his cardiac tests and is given the go-ahead to return to game action.

The Bulls, who had two games postponed this week, are scheduled to resume play on Sunday in Chicago vs. the Lakers. They still have seven players in the protocols for the time being.

Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan Enters Protocols

Bulls swingman DeMar DeRozan has entered into the league’s health and safety protocols, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. The team plays the Nuggets on Monday.

Just hours before the announcement, DeRozan was named the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week. DeRozan posted averages 30.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 4.0 APG while shooting 58.7% from the floor in wins over Charlotte, New York, and Brooklyn.

He’s the fourth Bulls player who has entered protocols this season, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic tweets.

DeRozan will need to produce two consecutive negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart, or be isolated for at least 10 days. It’s obviously a big blow in the short term for a much-improved team that owns a 16-8 record. Following tonight’s home game, Chicago goes on a two-game road trip to Cleveland (Wednesday) and Miami (Saturday).

If DeRozan must sit out for 10 days, he’d also miss next Tuesday’s home game against Detroit and the Nov. 16 road game at Toronto.

A sign-and-trade acquisition from San Antonio, DeRozan has enjoyed an All-Star caliber season. He’s averaging 26.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 4.1 APG in 24 starts with his new team.

Donovan Mitchell, DeMar DeRozan Named Players Of The Week

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Bulls guard/forward DeMar DeRozan have been named the NBA’s Players of the Week for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, the league announced today (Twitter link).

Mitchell’s Jazz and DeRozan’s Bulls were both 3-0 during the week of Nov. 29 — Dec. 5. Mitchell averaged 33.0 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 1.67 SPG with a 57.1/43.3/93.3 shooting line, while DeRozan put up 30.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 4.0 APG while shooting 58.7% from the floor in wins over Charlotte, New York, and Brooklyn.

The other nominees for the awards were Nikola Jokic, Dejounte Murray, Jae’Sean Tate, and Christian Wood in the West, along with Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Kevin Durant, and Jayson Tatum in the East (via Twitter).

Central Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Lonzo, Rubio, DiVincenzo

The 16-8 Bulls are off to a terrific start to the season, led by strong play from stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes that they looked like the best tandem in the league in road wins over the two New York teams on Nov. 2 and 4. DeRozan says the two players are relentless in their pursuit of success.

A commitment that we talked about long before we even played on the court was just having each other’s back, being there for one another,” DeRozan said. “That’s all I needed to hear. That’s all he needed to hear from me. As long as we could walk, we’re going to be out there and try to lead this team to be as successful as we can.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Within the same column, Mayberry notes that sign-and-trade acquisition Lonzo Ball has been inconsistent from game-to-game shooting from deep, but he doesn’t appear to lack confidence, which is key. Mayberry says the Bulls need the threat of Lonzo’s shooting in order to space the floor for DeRozan and LaVine. Overall, Ball is shooting a career-high 42.3% from three on 7.0 attempts per game.
  • Ricky Rubio was initially displeased when he found out he was traded to the Cavaliers last summer, but he’s played a key role in the team’s surprising start and is happy with how things have worked out, according to Joe Vardon and Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “In the past, I would get traded and get frustrated, like, ‘Oh I have to start over again in my role,'” Rubio said. “And I was frustrated because of my ego. But when you set your ego aside and you just make the best of the role that you have and take advantage of that, there’s no better thing to do on a team than everybody accepting what they have to do.”
  • Fourth-year guard Donte DiVincenzo is nearing a return for the Bucks, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). DiVincenzo has been assigned to the Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s G League affiliate, and Charania says DiVincenzo could make his season debut in December. He’s been recovering from left ankle surgery. DiVincenzo will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Bucks tender him a qualifying offer.

Bulls Notes: Vucevic, DeRozan, Caruso, Eversley 

Nikola Vucevic‘s 30-point outburst against the Hornets this week may be an indication that he’s settling into his new role with the Bulls, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. After years of being the first option in Orlando, Vucevic had to adjust to playing with a prolific scorer in Zach LaVine after he was traded at the March deadline. The adjustments continued after Chicago added DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in free agency.

Vucevic’s usage rate has hovered at about 22% since the season began. That’s down from 28.2% during his time with the Bulls last season and is significantly lower than what it used to be with the Magic. He acknowledged that he’s still figuring out his new role on offense.

“I was the main guy in Orlando for years and the ball was always with me. I knew I was going to get my shots regardless of how the game was going. Now it’s a little different,” Vucevic said. “We have more talent and more guys on the ball. Just have to find my spots and make sure I don’t get in their way and also for them to get used to playing with a big man like me.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • DeRozan has taken over the role of closing out games since joining the Bulls, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. He’s leading the NBA with an average of 7.5 points in the fourth quarter of games and scoring clutch baskets when the team needs them most. “It just makes everything so much easier,” LaVine said. “Not all the pressure is on you. I have a bailout anytime, and I think I can speak for him; vice versa. Just being able to give it to him in certain areas, or just the ultimate trust of sometimes just giving him the ball and getting out the way, and ‘I’ll be here if you need me.’” 
  • Alex Caruso‘s gritty style of play feels much more at home in Chicago than it did in Los Angeles, observes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Caruso has transformed the Bulls’ defense and leads the league in both steals and deflections per game. “The stuff that I do isn’t always glamorous,” he said. “It doesn’t always get highlighted. You might have seen a dunk or two over the years, like a pass to LeBron (James) or (Anthony Davis), but the stuff I do isn’t sexy. It’s stuff that wins basketball games.”
  • Bulls general manager Marc Eversley has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Neil Olshey with the Trail Blazers, but he remains focused on his current team and the talk is likely just speculation, Cowley tweets.

Bulls Notes: Vucevic, Carter, White, DeRozan

There was plenty of nostalgia for Bulls center Nikola Vucevic on Friday night as he returned to Orlando for the first time since being traded in March, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Vucevic, who spent eight-and-a-half seasons with the Magic, got a warm reception from fans during player introductions and again after a video tribute.

“It was definitely emotional just being back in this building and seeing all the people I’ve met throughout the years and friendships I’ve built,” Vucevic said. “It was a lot to take in for sure.  … It’s a special place for me and it always will be special for me to come back.”

Vucevic nearly missed his return to Orlando because of COVID-19, but he was able to start playing again Wednesday after being sidelined for about two weeks. After posting 16 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes against the Magic, he said his comeback is going well.

“It’s been a little better than I thought it would be, for sure. But I’m still not there 100%, which is expected,” Vucevic said of his conditioning. “It’s difficult because it’s not like an injury where you can do the bike or lift. For 10 days, I was not allowed to do anything. As much as I enjoy laying on my couch, after 10 days it’s not easy to come back. Just gotta work through it.”

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Wendell Carter Jr. was surprised to be sent to Orlando in the trade for Vucevic, but he said he’ll be “forever grateful” to the Bulls for drafting him with the seventh pick in 2018, Johnson tweets.
  • With 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting, Coby White turned in his best performance Friday in the seven games since returning from shoulder surgery, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. White has also looked more active on defense than he was in his first two NBA seasons, according to Schaefer. “It’s been a real focus point since I’ve been back,” White said. “We’re so good defensively, I’m just trying to fit in.”
  • DeMar DeRozan has transformed his game by moving to power forward, per Seerat Sohi of The Ringer. The switch has been happening gradually over the last two seasons, but it became necessary after DeRozan signed with a Bulls team that already had Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso in the backcourt.

Central Notes: DeRozan, Jones Jr., Allen, Cunningham, J. Jackson

The Bulls are off to an outstanding 10-4 start and sign-and-trade acquisition DeMar DeRozan is a huge reason why. DeRozan scored 38 points against the Lakers on Monday, shooting 15-for-23 from the field, 2-for-5 from deep, and 6-of-6 from the line while adding six assists to an all-around great performance. Jamal Collier of ESPN writes that DeRozan is carrying “so many chips” on his shoulder, which he uses as motivation.

I can go down the list of just being counted out, being looked over,” DeRozan said. “So many chips that’s on my shoulder that I carry. And just wanting to be a winner and wanting to enjoy this ride. We can’t play this game forever, so I want to get as much as I can out of it.”

Through 14 games, DeRozan is averaging 26.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 35.3 minutes per contest, with a stellar .510/.371/.873 shooting line. Now 32, DeRozan says he’s never viewed his age as an issue and his new team is allowing him to be the best version of himself on the court.

I never looked at age as being an issue,” DeRozan said. “I never looked at it. People put the age limit on everything, and I never did. The way I worked, the way I take care of my body, the way I prepare, I knew what I was capable of doing. I just took different roads the last couple years of playing basketball, trying to do the right thing, figuring it out.

This time, just knowing my ability was always there, I never lost confidence. I never thought I couldn’t be who I was before. Chicago allowed me to completely be myself.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr., an unrestricted free agent in 2022, recently spoke to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. With Nikola Vucevic sidelined, Jones has been getting minutes as a backup center, which is a new experience for him at the NBA level. Jones says he’s happy to defend anyone on the court. “Me personally, I’m not tripping. I love being on the floor, so any opportunity I get to be out there and just be able to contribute to winning and competing that’s all I want to do. I’m a competitor at the end of the day. I don’t care if I have to guard a five or a guard,” Jones said.
  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen, acquired via trade in the offseason, is loving his time in Milwaukee, writes Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I know I’ve only been in Milwaukee and with the Bucks a short time but I’m really excited to have this extension here. It’s an incredible culture, incredible group of guys here. I’m really happy to be part of this group and extending my time here,” Allen said. He signed a two-year extension prior to the season and is averaging a career high 16.0 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14 games (29.9 minutes per game), with a .451/.438/.920 shooting line. He’s third in the NBA in three-pointers made.
  • Despite battling an injury to start his rookie campaign, Pistons first overall pick Cade Cunningham remains ever-confident in his abilities on and off the court, writes Keith Langlois of Cunningham says he’s constantly adding to his game. “Every game, I feel like I add something to the hard drive and something to my game,” Cunningham said. “I’ve learned so much about me as a person and me as a player since I got to the NBA. It’s promising for me, at least, to stay confident and just believe in myself for the future.” Cunningham had 25 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists on Monday against the Kings.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News details how Pistons forward Josh Jackson found his way home to Detroit, and now he’s finding his way with the team. Jackson, an unrestricted free agent in 2022, says he grew up a Pistons fan. “It just kind of makes me feel like everything came full circle for me. Obviously, this was the team I grew up watching pretty much all of my early years,” Jackson said.