Denzel Valentine

Bulls Evaluating Whether Dunn, Others Are Part Of Core

The Bulls are still trying to determine whether Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis, and Denzel Valentine will be a part of their core going forward, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. As Cowley observes, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. are building blocks in Chicago, but the team has yet to make any long-term decisions on Dunn, Portis, and Valentine.

While the Bulls may have had aspirations of playoff contention coming into the season, the team is off to a 7-23 start and will be prioritizing player development and long-term roster planning going forward. Valentine will be out for the season with an ankle injury, but Chicago should have plenty of opportunities to evaluate Dunn and Portis, who both returned to the court last week after rehabbing injuries of their own.

Dunn, who posted 13.4 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 4.3 RPG in 2017/18 during his first season with the Bulls, has appeared in just four games so far this season due to a sprained MCL. Although the former fifth overall pick came off the bench upon returning from that injury, he reclaimed a starting job on Saturday with LaVine sidelined, and responded with a team-high 24 points in a road win over San Antonio.

Dunn has another season left on his rookie contract after this year, so the Bulls won’t have to make any final decisions on him during the 2019 offseason. That may not be the case for Portis though, since the power forward is eligible for restricted free agency next summer.

By all accounts, Bulls management is very fond of Portis, who was praised last season for his attitude and hard work even after punching teammate Nikola Mirotic during a practice. Portis is also a member of the club’s recently-formed leadership committee. Still, he didn’t receive a contract extension when he became eligible during the 2018 offseason, so his future with the franchise is somewhat uncertain. He’ll have to prove this season that he can be a good fit in a frontcourt that figures to predominantly feature Markkanen and Carter going forward.

Denzel Valentine Out For Season

Bulls shooting guard Denzel Valentine has officially been ruled out for the remainder of the 2018/19 season, per a release from the team.

Valentine underwent a left ankle stabilization procedure yesterday and is anticipated to return to full basketball activities in approximately six months – towards the end of May, 2019.

The last selection in the lottery in the 2016 NBA Draft, Valentine had a promising season in 2017/18, but saw his campaign end due to injury last year as well after undergoing an arthroscopic debridement on his left knee.

Despite the setback, Valentine is “fully confident” that he’ll get back to 100%, perhaps for the first time during his NBA career.

Central Notes: Valentine, Holiday, GRIII, Smith

Bulls wing Denzel Valentine, who is scheduled to be sidelined for four to six months upon undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery, spoke to reporters this week about his injury, explaining that he’s thinking big picture in addressing his lingering left ankle issues.

When I come back, it’s going to be a brand new ankle,” Valentine said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve been pretty much having ankle issues ever since my rookie year, so I mean, I think I’m going to be fine. I think I’m going to take my game to another level because I’m going to be more stable in my ankle. It will take a whole year, get my body right, which I haven’t been able to do since college, really. I’ve just been on the go, on the go, on the go, so it could be a blessing in disguise is how I have to look at it.”

It will be a long and painful road to recovery for Valentine, who likely won’t play at all during the 2018/19 season. However, he added that he’s “fully confident” that he’ll eventually get back to 100%, adding that he’s unsure if he’s ever actually been 100% healthy during his NBA career up until this point.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers 2018 first-rounder Aaron Holiday was out of the rotation for the first month of the season, but he has been making his case for regular minutes lately, as Scott Agness of The Athletic writes. With Victor Oladipo sidelined this week, Holiday has averaged 14.0 PPG on .520/.400/.769 shooting in three games (20.1 MPG), which will make it hard to send him back to the bench when Oladipo returns.
  • Glenn Robinson III, a 39.3% three-point shooter during his three years with the Pacers, got off to a bit of a slow start with the Pistons. However, Robinson – who is shooting 33.3% from downtown so far this season – tells Chris McCosky of The Detroit News that he’s still confident he’ll be a good fit in Detroit once he gets fully up to speed after missing most of the 2017/18 season.
  • J.R. Smith will remain away from the Cavaliers while they try to trade him, and in the view of Chris Fedor of, the club is better off without him. On Wednesday, we asked you what’s next for Smith.

Bulls’ Denzel Valentine To Miss 4-6 Months

Bulls shooting guard Denzel Valentine appears unlikely to play at all during the 2018/19 season, with the team announcing today (via Twitter) that the 25-year-old has been diagnosed with “ongoing ankle instability.” Valentine will undergo a surgical reconstruction of his troublesome left ankle, according to the team.

The Bulls’ announcement notes that Valentine is expected to make a full recovery, with a timetable of about four to six months. If he’s able to get healthy in four months, the third-year guard could get back on the court this season, but that seems like a long shot.

A five- or six-month timeline would extend beyond Chicago’s regular season finale. The team, which is unlikely to be in the playoff mix down the stretch, will likely play it safe with Valentine and hold him out until the 2019/20 season.

If the Bulls rule out Valentine for the season following his surgery, the could apply for a disabled player exception. However, even if it’s approved, it would only be worth half of his $2.28MM salary, which would significantly limit its usefulness.

Valentine, the 14th overall pick in the 2016 draft, had a promising season in 2017/18, averaging 10.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 3.2 APG with a .417/.386/.745 shooting line in 77 contests (27.2 MPG). However, he has been plagued by left ankle issues this fall, with a report earlier this month indicating that it wasn’t responding well to treatment.

Valentine is one of several young Bulls who has been slowed by health problems in 2018/19 so far, joining Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn on the sidelines. Based on the most recent updates on each of them, Portis, Markkanen, and Dunn should still be on track to return before the end of the 2018 calendar year.

Bulls Notes: Valentine, Hoiberg, Parker, Mirotic

Denzel Valentine has yet to appear in a game this season for the Bulls, and his 2018/19 debut isn’t imminent. As The Chicago Sun-Times relays (via Twitter), executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson indicated on Wednesday that Valentine’s left ankle isn’t responding well, prompting the team to pump the brakes on his rehab and rule him out indefinitely.

With Valentine still on the shelf, the team figures to continue relying on rookie Chandler Hutchison in a regular rotation role. Chicago also appears to qualify for the hardship provision, which allows an injury-ravaged team to add a 16th man to its 15-man roster when it’s missing at least four players. Valentine, Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis, and Lauri Markkanen are all in the midst of extended absences for the Bulls, but there has been no word on the team applying for or receiving that roster exception.

Here’s more from out of Chicago:

  • It looks like there’s a real possibility that the 2018/19 season could be Fred Hoiberg‘s last with the Bulls, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. If that happens, GM Gar Forman should follow Hoiberg out the door, Cowley argues.
  • Hoiberg had a heated discussion with Jabari Parker during Wednesday’s loss, according to Cowley, who notes that Parker jogged down the floor on back-to-back defensive possessions before Hoiberg called timeout and had words with him.
  • Bulls center Wendell Carter, a former Duke Blue Devil, raved about his alma mater’s 2018/19 roster, suggesting that he believes Zion Williamson will “translate perfectly” to the NBA, as Cowley details. However, Carter doesn’t want to see the Bulls go into tank mode to try to land one of those top Duke prospects in next year’s draft. “I feel like we’ve just got to try to win every game,” he said. “If we lose, but we’re playing hard, that’s one thing, but I wouldn’t feel good losing games on purpose.”
  • In yet another article for The Sun-Times, Cowley revisits Nikola Mirotic‘s time in Chicago, suggesting that the front office “couldn’t wait to deal him” and some of his teammates “weren’t exactly sad” that Bobby Portis punched him during a practice last fall. Hoiberg and Robin Lopez spoke highly of Mirotic, however.
  • Sam Smith of explores where things stand for two-way player Tyler Ulis, who finds himself on the Windy City Bulls after spending the last two seasons as an NBA rotation player.

Bulls Exercise Options On Markkanen, Dunn, Valentine

The Bulls have exercised their 2019/20 team options on three players, announcing today in a press release that Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Denzel Valentine have all had their salaries guaranteed for next season.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2019/20 Rookie Scale Team Options]

Dunn and Valentine were 2016 draft picks, so their options for 2019/20 are for the fourth and final year of their respective rookie scale contracts. Dunn’s will have a cap charge of $5,348,007, while Valentine’s is worth $3,377,569. Both players will be eligible for rookie scale extensions during the 2019 offseason before entering the last year of their rookie deals. If they don’t sign extensions, they’ll remain on track for restricted free agency in 2020.

Markkanen’s $5,300,400 option is for his third year, meaning the Bulls will have one more option decision to make on his rookie contract next October. He won’t be extension-eligible until 2020.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, all three of these young players are currently injured, with Markkanen sidelined by an elbow injury, Dunn recovering from an MCL sprain, and Valentine battling an ankle issue. Barring setbacks, all three players could get back on the court for Chicago within the next four or five weeks.

Injury Updates: Knox, Hayward, Barton, Valentine

Knicks rookie Kevin Knox could miss up to a month of action after spraining his left ankle Saturday night, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The injury took place late in the first quarter in a collision with Celtics guard Terry Rozier. Knox had to be helped to the locker room for x-rays, and the initial timetable for recovery has been set at two to four weeks.

It’s a tough way to start a career for the 19-year-old, who was originally pegged to be a starter before an uneven performance in the preseason. The Knicks are still counting on Knox to be an important contributor and want to give him as much court time as possible to help him adjust to the NBA.

“I had a real bad feeling in my gut when he went down,” coach David Fizdale told Marc Berman of The New York Post. “From my angle, I could basically see the [ankle] hit the floor, roll to the floor. I knew right away when he stayed down it was a good one. I feel for the kid. He’s had his fair share of adversity already. That’s what I joked to him about. ‘Welcome to the NBA. You play like crap. You play great [in Brooklyn], then you get hurt.’ It’s the roller coaster of our league. This is good for him. He’s going to learn from this.”

The new season is still in its first week, but there’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Gordon Hayward sat out Saturday’s game with “general soreness” in the area of his surgically repaired left ankle, notes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. The Celtics forward, who is playing limited minutes, felt pain in the ankle after Friday’s game in Toronto. “We didn’t plan on that,” coach Brad Stevens said about playing without Hayward. “This is something we’ll take game by game, night by night. Obviously with the minutes restriction we’re monitoring it very closely. It’s general soreness, so not overly concerned about it.”
  • An MRI is scheduled today for Nuggets guard Will Barton, who had to be taken off the court in a wheelchair after hurting his hip Saturday, according to an ESPN report. Barton fell to the floor after making a layup in the third quarter and said he heard a pop when he started to jump. Barton signed a four-year, $54MM deal over the summer and entered this season as a full-time starter for the first time in his career.
  • Bulls swingman Denzel Valentine is trying to stay positive despite the latest setback in his recovery from a sprained left ankle, relays Sam Smith of Coach Fred Hoiberg said Valentine’s condition will be re-evaluated in another 10 days to two weeks. “I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand deal,” Valentine said. “I can’t sit here and be negative. I’ve just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”

Bulls’ Denzel Valentine May Miss Several Weeks

The sprained left ankle that has been bothering Bulls swingman Denzel Valentine since early in training camp continues to be an issue, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed tonight that Valentine has a bone bruise in the ankle and will be re-evaluated by the medical staff in two weeks. His return to action could be much further away.

Valentine came into camp hoping to build on his strong performance last season, but the injury has prevented that from happening. He hurt the ankle during the first week of camp and has been trying to get back on the court ever since.

The 14th player picked in the 2016 draft, Valentine emerged as a valuable part of the rotation last season. He appeared in 77 games, starting 37, and posted a 10.2/5.1/3.2 line in about 27 minutes per night.

Central Rumors: Jackson, Valentine, Nwaba, Robinson

Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson has progressed to 5-on-5, full-contact practices, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Jackson suffered a high ankle sprain in December. Even though he returned during the second half of the season, spent much of the summer working with the training staff to fully recover. “We’re going to be smart and slow with him but I love where he is right now,” coach Dwane Casey told Beard and other media members. “He looked good. His timing is off a bit from not being out there. He knew exactly what we were doing because he paid attention. His game conditioning is getting there.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls swingman Denzel Valentine suffered a moderate ankle sprain during the first week of training camp, according to the team’s website. Valentine will be re-evaluated in 1-2 weeks, the release adds. The injury could put Valentine’s rotation spot in jeopardy. He’s fighting for playing time on the wing with Justin Holiday, Chandler Hutchison and JaKarr Sampson, among others, behind starters Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker.
  • Shooting guard David Nwaba had a two-year offer from the Pacers but he opted for a one-year deal with the Cavaliers, he revealed to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Nwaba became an unrestricted free agent after the Bulls rescinded his qualifying offer. “Indiana wanted me for two years, but Cleveland seemed like a better fit,” Nwaba told Fedor. “Young guys as well as veterans on this team, so I thought it was a perfect fit and knew I was going to get my opportunity here.”
  • Glenn Robinson III is eager to jump start his career after an ankle injury marred his final year with the Pacers, Ansar Khan of reports. The swingman signed a two-year, $8.35MM deal with the Pistons that included a team option. “My shooting ability and being able to defend my position is going to be huge for us,” Robinson said. “It’s going to be up to Coach (Casey) who he puts in that starting wing spot, but I think the most important thing to me is finishing games.”

Central Notes: Valentine, McMillan, Morris, Pistons

The Bulls’ starting lineup seems set but there will be a couple of key position battles in training camp, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes. Justin Holiday and Denzel Valentine will be angling for playing time at small forward behind Jabari Parker, while Cameron Payne could have an unexpectedly tough battle with Ryan Arcidiacono as the main backup at point guard. Cristiano Felicio also needs to carve out a role and earn some of his $8,470,980 salary, Cowley adds. ‘‘The thing I’m excited about with training camp is it’s going to be open competition,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers needed to extend coach Nate McMillan to prevent a lame-duck situation next season, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star explains. McMillan agreed to an extension through the 2020/21 season. It was also necessary for a franchise that preaches culture and loyalty to reward its coach for a job well-done last season, Michael continues. The Pacers overcame the lack of true stretch four as well as a shooter at the backup shooting guard spot. Their wings were also somewhat limited offensively and they were undersized in the backcourt, Michael adds.
  • If Jaylen Morris can improve his perimeter shooting, the Bucks will be rewarded for signing him to a two-way contract, according to Dakota Schmidt of Morris is adept at attacking the basket and finishing at the rim and is also a solid defender, Schmidt continues. The 22-year-old wing will also benefit from working with assistant Ben Sullivan, who has helped numerous players with their shooting stroke, Schmidt adds.
  • The Pistons’ 15-man roster appears to be set after a low-key July that included the free agent signings of three reserves, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press relays. Ellis breaks down the roster player-by-player in the story.