DeMar DeRozan

Central Notes: Sexton, Osman, Windler, DeRozan, Ingles

If the Cavaliers resolve their contractual differences with restricted free agent Collin Sexton, it will likely impact another player on a guaranteed contract, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes in his latest mailbag. Adding Sexton would put the team one over the 15-man roster limit.

The Cavaliers would prefer not waive Lamar Stevens and Dean Wade, who are on non-guaranteed deals. Instead, the team would likely look to move either Cedi Osman and Dylan Windler, perhaps in a trade with an asset or two attached to a team like Indiana or San Antonio, who have cap space.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan felt the Bulls weren’t “ready for adversity” last season when injuries piled up, he told Draymond Green on his podcast (hat tip to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). “We kind of fell apart. We lost ourselves obviously through health,” he said. “Regardless, I think I told one of the young guys after All-Star break, I said this is the moment when you see what teams are serious. He didn’t know what I meant by that. For us to hit the wall that we hit showed that we wasn’t ready for adversity.”
  • During the same podcast, DeRozan spoke of how criticism aimed at the Bulls for engineering a sign-and-trade with San Antonio fueled his highly productive season. He averaged a career-high 27.9 PPG. “My whole career has kind of been based off that (criticism). But I never let it bring me completely down. It knocked me down. But I got back up,” he said. “And for me, that moment of going to Chicago, I just told myself, ‘This is a new opportunity. I’m going to make the most out of it in every type of way.’”
  • The Bucks had plenty of other options with their taxpayer mid-level exception. So why did they choose Joe Ingles, who is recovering from a torn ACL? According to Eric Nehm of The Athletic, they felt Ingles was the most complete player available to them.

2021/2022 All-NBA Teams Announced

The 2021/22 All-NBA teams have officially been announced by the NBA. For the fourth straight season, Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was unanimously selected to the All-NBA First Team by a voter panel of 100 media members. Antetokounmpo, 27, is making his sixth All-NBA team overall.

Antetokounmpo, reigning MVP Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, and Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic received the most votes. Suns All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker and Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid rounded out the list of top five vote-getters. Because the All-NBA teams, unlike the All-Star squads, require just one center per team, Embiid was relegated to an All-NBA Second Team placing.

Below is a list of the three All-NBA teams. Vote tallies are listed in parentheses next to player names. Five points were awarded to players for a First Team Vote, three points netted for a Second Team vote, and one for a Third Team vote. Antetokounmpo earned a perfect 500 points.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, Heat center Bam Adebayo and small forward Jimmy Butler, Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, Bucks guards Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane, Suns small forward Mikal Bridges, Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, and Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet all received All-NBA votes. Surprisingly, Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who played in just 29 games this season, also received a single vote.

As we previously outlined, the All-NBA selections come with significant financial ramifications. As a result of being named to All-NBA teams, Booker and Towns have become eligible for super-max extensions that would begin in 2024/25. If they’re signed this offseason, those deals would be for four years and would start at 35% of the ’24/25 cap. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (via Twitter), they currently project to be worth $211MM apiece.

Young’s five-year contract extension, which was signed last August and will go into effect in 2022/23, will now be worth 30% of next season’s cap instead of 25% by virtue of his All-NBA selection. Based on a projected $122MM cap, that means it’ll be worth about $212MM instead of $177MM.

Jokic had already met the super-max requirements prior to this announcement, since he won last year’s MVP award — he’s eligible to sign a five-year, super-max extension this offseason and has said he plans to do so. Doncic, who signed a maximum-salary contract extension last summer, also previously met the super-max criteria by earning All-NBA nods in 2020 and 2021.

Notable players who are not eligible this offseason for super-max deals include Morant and Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine. As Marks tweets, Morant needs to make the All-NBA team again in 2023 to qualify for a starting salary worth 30% of the cap (instead of 25%) on his next deal.

LaVine, a free agent this offseason, would have been eligible to earn up to 35% of next season’s cap from the Bulls if he had made an All-NBA team, but will instead be able to earn no more than 30% of the ’22/23 cap on his next contract.

With their inclusions, Morant, Booker, and Young are making their All-NBA team debuts. Meanwhile, on the other side of the NBA aging curve, two 37-year-old veterans further cemented their Hall of Fame credentials during the 2021/22 season. James made his 18th All-NBA team, while Paul was named to his 11th All-NBA team.

Nikola Jokic Repeats As Most Valuable Player

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has won his second straight Most Valuable Player Award, topping the SixersJoel Embiid and the BucksGiannis Antetokounmpo by a comfortable margin, the NBA announced in a press release.

Jokic received 65 first-place votes and 875 total points, putting him well ahead of Embiid, who finished second with 26 first-place votes and 706 points. Antetokounmpo came in third with nine first-place votes and 595 points.

Nobody else received a first-place vote, but Suns guard Devin Booker was fourth with 216 points and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was fifth at 146 points. With 100 total voters, the balloting system awarded 10 points for a first-place vote, seven points for second, five points for third, three points for fourth and one point for fifth.

Other players receiving votes were the Celtics‘ Jayson Tatum (43 points), the GrizzliesJa Morant (10), the Warriors‘ Stephen Curry (4), the SunsChris Paul (2), the BullsDeMar DeRozan (1), the LakersLeBron James (1) and the NetsKevin Durant (1).

Jokic is the 13th player to win MVP honors in back-to-back seasons. He averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 74 games and helped the Nuggets earn the sixth seed in the West despite the absence of Jamal Murray and  Michael Porter Jr. Jokic was named Western Conference Player of the Month twice this season and reached the All-Star Game for the fourth straight year.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Monday that Jokic would win the award.

Central Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Holiday, Hill, Bucks, Pacers

Should the Bulls be worried about Zach LaVine going to another team as an unrestricted free agent this summer? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores that topic, noting that while Chicago can offer LaVine more years and money (five years, $212MM) than other teams (four years, $157MM), the two-time All-Star was noncommittal at his end-of-season media session.

I’ve been here for the last five years, and I’ve really enjoyed my time,” LaVine said. “I think the city – and I hope everybody – understands how much I care about the Bulls and what I’ve done for the city and things like that.

Obviously, you guys have been a really soft spot in my heart, and I have to do this as a business decision as a man, not to just be viewed one way, and be, like, ‘I’m automatically coming back’ or ‘I’m automatically leaving.’ It’s unrestricted free agency. For my family and me, I have to go into this like it’s a decision where I have to be open-eyed.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • In a question and answer session with Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan said he thinks Bucks guard Jrue Holiday is the most underrated player in the NBA at the moment. “Wow, that’s a great one … most underrated … most underrated from my opinion and one of my favorite players to watch I would say is Jrue Holiday, yeah, Jrue Holiday,” DeRozan said.
  • Bucks veteran guard George Hill is listed as probable for Saturday’s Game 3 against the Celtics, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Hill has been dealing with an abdominal strain and has yet to play this postseason, but he was able to practice on Thursday and could see some action today.
  • Jamal Collier of ESPN lists four keys to the Bucks repeating as NBA champions this season. One key is making up for the production of injured star Khris Middleton, who’s sidelined with a sprained MCL. “Khris clearly is a huge part of what we do, but we have a lot of talented guys on our team,” Brook Lopez said. “We’re going to see a lot of different guys, I think, stepping up on different nights.”
  • Keifer Sykes recently spoke to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star about his rookie season with the Pacers. Sykes was waived by the team just before the season ended. “I did everything that I could do,” Sykes said. “Even when I look up and think about the day I got cut, the night before, after that (last home) game, I was in the gym until like 12 or 1 a.m., so I squeezed everything I got out of the Pacers thing. That’s not gonna stop me from having camps back home and finishing it with this one. I’m very much at peace with the situation. … A lot of players don’t have peace in free agency.”
  • Sykes was waived to accommodate standard deals for undrafted Pacers rookies Terry Taylor and Duane Washington, who were both promoted from two-way contracts. Taylor said it was a dream come true, as Boyd relays in another story. “My agent called me and was like, ‘Yo, we’re gonna get this done Thursday (April 7),’ so he was telling me congrats,” Taylor said. “After we hung up the phone, I just prayed because it finally happened. My dream came true.”

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Roster Decisions, Offseason

Speaking today to reporters, including K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter links), Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said his hope is to have Zach LaVine in Chicago going forward and that he’s confident the two sides can work out a new deal, given their strong relationship. LaVine will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Addressing LaVine’s left knee injury, which was a nagging issue for much of the 2021/22 season, Karnisovas suggested it’s unlikely to be a major factor in free agency negotiations and that a final determination hasn’t been made on whether the All-Star guard will require surgery. As Johnson notes, an MRI on the knee showed nothing structurally wrong that would create long-term concern, but surgery still appears likely.

In his own session with the media, LaVine confirmed that he’s going to meet with his doctor in Los Angeles to determine the best plan of action for his knee (Twitter link via Johnson). He also stated that free agency is a “big decision” for him and his family and that he intends to take his time to consider all his options (Twitter link via Johnson).

While LaVine said he’ll leave it to his agent and the Bulls’ front office to try to work out a deal, he admitted that being a maximum-salary player is important to him, tweets Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago: I see myself as a top guy in this league and I think I’ve proven that over the last four years.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Besides retaining LaVine, Karnisovas likes the idea of keeping the Bulls’ roster mostly intact and making minor changes around the edges, tweets Schaefer. Hopefully we can keep the core together and work around the margins,” Karnisovas said.
  • Lonzo Ball is on board with Karnisovas’ plan to maintain the current core, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com. “I would love to run it back,” Ball said. “I was unhealthy this year. (Alex) Caruso went down. Pat(rick Williams) was pretty much out all the way until the playoffs. Everyone knows Zach was playing hurt pretty much this whole year. If everybody can get healthy and come back, I don’t see why we couldn’t run it back.” DeMar DeRozan added that he has “the utmost trust and faith in the front office to do the job,” Smith writes.
  • In his Bulls offseason preview, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype examines LaVine’s free agency, a possible extension for Nikola Vucevic, and more.

Central Notes: Bagley, Jones, Wright, Dragic, Bulls

The Pistons are prepared to make a three-year offer to restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III, James Edwards III of The Athletic reports. He fit a need for an athletic big man, which is why they traded for him just before the deadline. However, Bagley may seek a shorter deal and test the open market if his stock rises, so that he can get a bigger payday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It has been reported that the Cavaliers would entertain a reunion with free agent guard Ricky Rubio. However, there are other options on the table to provide backcourt depth, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavs are also expected to show interest in several other unrestricted free agents, including Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, Raul Neto and Goran Dragic, says Fedor.
  • Which players should the Bulls retain and which ones should they shed? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes a closer look at that topic in a player-by-player breakdown. Mayberry’s position on unrestricted free agent Zach LaVine? He’s one of the keepers.
  • DeMar DeRozan said he’s open to recruiting players to Chicago, but Bulls coach Billy Donovan said no matter what happens in the offseason, expectations need to be tempered, Jon Greenberg of The Athletic writes. “I think you have to be careful, and what I mean by that is, we got off to a really, really good start this year,” he said. “And it was really impressive to me with a new group that hadn’t had a lot of time together that they could jell and mesh the way they did. We’ll actually have to work harder going into this offseason and next year to even get back to this point.”

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, LaVine, Continuity, Williams, White

Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan says he has no doubt that All-Star teammate Zach LaVine deserves a max contract this summer, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. As an unrestricted free agent with seven years of experience, LaVine is eligible for a five-year deal from Chicago worth approximately $212MM.

Yeah. Max player, max talent, max everything,” DeRozan said when asked if LaVine is a max-worthy player after the Bulls’ season-ending loss to the Bucks Wednesday night. “He’s one of those players in this league that you don’t see too often. I tell him all the time how envious I am of the things he’s able to do. He deserves everything that’s coming to him for sure.”

DeRozan added that LaVine is extremely competitive in everything he does, on and off the court.

(He’s) just the ultimate competitor,” DeRozan said of LaVine. “That’s the best way I can sum it up. No matter what it is. I remember, we played tic tac toe on the plane, and I kept beating him and he wouldn’t leave me alone until he beat me. And that’s just him on the court as well.”

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • Center Nikola Vucevic said the front office and coaches stressed continuity in his season-ending exit interview following the team’s playoff ouster. “They want to have continuity, that’s for sure,” Vucevic said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “As far as moves they can make, I don’t really know that. That’s their job.”
  • DeRozan also believes the team’s core will return next season, but that doesn’t mean management won’t look to improve the roster if the opportunity presents itself (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). “Just like we’re competitors, they are as well — for the right reasons,” DeRozan said.
  • Forward Patrick Williams says he’s looking to improve his consistency next season and has studied DeRozan’s habits to learn how to prepare as a pro. For his part, DeRozan says he plans to invite Williams and other teammates to work out with him in L.A. this summer (all Twitter links courtesy of Johnson and Schaefer from NBC Sports Chicago).
  • Coby White, who’s eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, said management told him to keep working on his ball-handling and to build up his strength in order to become a better defender, as Schaefer relays (via Twitter).

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Vucevic, Bradley, DeRozan

A new contract for Zach LaVine will be among the Bulls‘ top priorities for the offseason, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. LaVine, who has been a bargain on the four-year, $80MM offer sheet that Chicago matched in 2018, ranked 58th in the league in salary this season at $19.5MM, Marks notes.

Coming off back-to-back All-Star appearances, LaVine is eligible for a five-year max contract worth approximately $212MM. The only concern for the Bulls is durability, Marks adds, as LaVine missed 15 games this season, which was the fewest in his five years in Chicago.

Eleven of those games were due to soreness in his left knee, which had to be surgically repaired in 2017, and LaVine will likely have surgery on the knee again this offseason. His current contract contains a clause that protects the Bulls in case of a catastrophic injury to the knee, but the team shouldn’t expect him to agree to that in a new deal, according to Marks.

Marks cites five teams — the Pistons, Pacers, Magic, Spurs and Trail Blazers — that project to have enough cap space to make LaVine a $36.6MM max offer.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Another major decision is a potential four-year, $118MM extension for center Nikola Vucevic, Marks states in the same piece. Vucevic, who was acquired at the 2021 trade deadline, regressed somewhat in his first full season with the Bulls, finishing fifth worst in the league in effective field goal percentage among players who took at least 500 shots and declining in three-point shooting from 40% to 31%. Marks suggests he might receive a two-year, $40MM extension similar to what Clint Capela got from the Hawks last year.
  • Tony Bradley, who started 10 games at center this season, has until June 29 to decide on his $2MM player option for 2022/23, Marks adds. Bradley only averaged 10 minutes per night in 55 games in his first season in Chicago, and he can make $100K more next season on a veteran’s minimum contract.
  • LaVine missed tonight’s game after being placed in health and safety protocols, and it may have been difficult for him to return if the Bulls had extended the series. “He’s pretty sick,” coach Billy Donovan said. “… He’s definitely under the weather, just in my communication with him.” (video link from NBC Sports Chicago)
  • Even though it ended with a first-round loss, DeMar DeRozan was very happy with his first season as a Bull, tweets KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “Perfect. Couldn’t have went a better way,” DeRozan said. “It’s been a great year to say the least. Just being around the front office, teammates, city. Everything has been something more than I could’ve imagined.”

Central Notes: LeVert, DeRozan, LaVine, Bucks

An untimely injury prevented Caris LeVert from providing the help the Cavaliers needed for their injured backcourt, but he hopes to be part of the organization for many years to come, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. LeVert, who was acquired from the Pacers at the trade deadline, missed nearly a month with a sprained foot he suffered after just four games with his new team. He wound up playing 19 games for the Cavs and wants to be part of the long-term future in Cleveland.

“This is where I want to be,” said LeVert, who will be eligible for an extension this summer. “They know that. The front office knows that. My teammates know that. I don’t know what’s going to happen with that contract extension, but I know where my heart is, I know where I want to be. We’ll see what happens going forward.”

After being traded twice during his six years in the NBA, LeVert likes the idea of stability. At 27, he fits in well with the rest of the Cavaliers’ young roster, although the team faces a decision on whether there’s room for both him and free agent guard Collin Sexton. The front office had been hoping to see how LeVert fits alongside Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Lauri Markkanen, but injuries kept that group from playing together until the final game of the Cavs’ season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan had several options in free agency, but he picked the Bulls because he wanted to help rebuild a franchise that had fallen on hard times, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. DeRozan posted a career-best scoring season and led the Bulls back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. “I’m big on the underdog mentality. A lot of people run from those challenges. Me, I really want to see what I’m made of in those moments. You leave your own mark that way. I’m always big on that,” DeRozan said. “I want to go somewhere and leave my mark or start something that hasn’t been done. To me, that’s more honorable. You started it and took on the challenge.”
  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine is finally in the playoffs after seven years of playing for losing teams, notes Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune. LaVine hopes the postseason will be a regular occurrence after a chaotic start to his NBA career. “It was very mind-opening to me when I got here — this guy’s had six different coaches,” coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s played on different teams. And he hasn’t necessarily been a part of a lot of success. Zach’s has always wanted to win. It’s always been important to him. I’m happy for him because you see the work he puts in.”
  • Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscriber link) looks at three reasons why the Bucks can repeat as NBA champions and three reasons that they might not.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, LaVine, Losing Streak, Ball, Caruso

After another blowout loss on Friday night, this time at the hands of the Hornets by a score of 133-117, Bulls stars DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine didn’t mince words about the way the team performed, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Charlotte started the game 11-for-11 from the field and scored 79 points in the first half, the most Chicago has allowed in a half this season.

We got our a—- beat. Simple as that,” DeRozan said. “They attacked us. We couldn’t guard them. They had their way.”

Fans at the United Center booed the Bulls at a couple separate points during the listless performance, and LaVine said those boos were earned.

To be honest, they should (boo). It’s embarrassing,” LaVine said. “We’re a really good basketball team and we’re not playing like it. They (the fans) know that. We know that. It’s understandable. We understand they have our back. But we have to play better.”

Chicago has lost four straight heading into Sunday’s finale at Minnesota and is locked into the No. 6 seed in the East after Toronto beat Houston on Friday. LaVine said the mood in the locker room isn’t great right now, according to Jamal Collier of ESPN.

Everybody is upset, man. We’re getting our a– kicked. They just jumped on us,” LaVine said. “We singing the same story, and I always try to be very uplifting and try to see the bright side, but I’m tired of talking. We say a lot of words and we say the right thing, but we got to figure it out. We’re not doing that, plain and simple.”

As Schaefer notes, the Bulls are struggling at the worst possible time with the playoffs looming — they’re just 7-15 since the All-Star break and playing poorly on both ends of the court, with the fifth-worst point differential in the league during that span.

Here’s more on Chicago:

  • DeRozan said he’s not interested in resting for the finale, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “There’s nothing like having a rhythm while playing,” DeRozan said after Wednesday’s loss. “I’m going to continue to play this thing out, and hopefully we’re going in the right direction come next week. It’s going to come. It sucks right now over the last couple of weeks, but I have the utmost confidence in the guys.”
  • LaVine was less certain about his status for Sunday’s game, but said he’d rather play if he can, as Schaefer relays. “We’ll evaluate it. I don’t know yet,” LaVine said. “I’ve been playing injured the whole year. I want to continue to fight. But I’m gonna listen to the medical staff, my team, and figure out what’s best for us moving forward. But I plan on trying to play.” LaVine has been battling left knee soreness throughout the season.
  • Head coach Billy Donovan said Lonzo Ball will continue to rehab in Chicago with the goal of reducing discomfort in his surgically repaired left knee, but a second surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, Cowley writes in a separate story. “I have not heard anything, or no one has told anything to me that he will need another surgery,” Donovan said. “So I don’t necessarily believe that is going to take place.” Ball was ruled out for the season on Wednesday after experiencing a couple setbacks during rehab.
  • Within the same article, Donovan said Alex Caruso is still dealing with back problems. “He still has some mobility issues, discomfort,” Donovan said. “He’s been hampered with the back for some time now.” As Cowley observes, it sounds like Caruso might not be 100% for the playoffs — he has missed the past two games while dealing with the injury.