Denzel Valentine

Central Notes: LaVine, Bulls, Valentine, Cavaliers

The Bulls and star guard Zach LaVine have yet to reach an agreement on a contract extension, something the 26-year-old is simply viewing as a product of business, he told Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (video link).

“It’s business. At the end of the day, I have my own things that I want to go after,” he said. “I have a lot of different motivations in my life that I try to use on the court, but I’m focused on this next upcoming year, seeing how good that I can help this team win and obviously keep developing myself and getting better as a player.”

Should the sides fail to reach an extension, LaVine would become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The All-Star guard is set to make just $19.5MM in his deal this coming season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Speaking of the Bulls, LaVine is excited to play with his new teammates this fall, Sean Deveney of Forbes writes. Chicago added DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Derrick Jones Jr. and others this summer, upgrading its roster alongside LaVine and Nikola Vucevic“I think we have a great group of guys and talent going in there,” LaVine said. “Especially when you have high expectations—you want to live up to those. I want to start early from the ground, get everybody on the same page, obviously we have a lot of new players, a lot of new personalities. We have expectations this year, but we have to go out there and show people why we want to go out there and win.”
  • The Cavaliers‘ two-year deal with Denzel Valentine is partially guaranteed in the first season and non-guaranteed in the second, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Valentine is expected to compete for a role at shooting guard and small forward this season. He spent the last five years with the Bulls, averaging 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 19.8 minutes per game on 39% shooting from the field and 36% shooting from three-point range.
  • Cleveland is likely to make one more minor signing for training camp, Fedor notes (via Twitter). As we previously reported, the Cavaliers recently finalized training camp contracts with both RJ Nembhard and Mitch Ballock. The team also signed Tre Scott and Tacko Fall to camp deals earlier this month.

Cavs To Sign Denzel Valentine To Two-Year Deal

The Cavaliers are signing swingman Denzel Valentine to a two-year contract, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.

Valentine’s interest in Cleveland had previously been reported.

Valentine, 27, spent the first five years of his NBA career in Chicago. He had a promising 2017/18 season (10.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, .386 3PT%), but missed all of the ’18/19 campaign due to an ankle injury and has provided inconsistent production since that point.

The news that Cleveland is bringing in Valentine coincides with the team deciding to waive Damyean Dotson. Valentine will compete for minutes at the shooting guard and small forward spots.

Cavs Rumors: Simmons, Love, Frontcourt, Valentine, Mathews, Windler

The Cavaliers, who have been mentioned throughout the summer as a possible Ben Simmons suitor, continue to have interest in landing the Sixers star, writes Marc Stein of Substack.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com mentioned Cleveland’s pursuit of the three time All-Star today as well, adding that the Cavs could enter the fray as a third team in a Simmons trade in order to acquire either Simmons or a different asset, like they did in the James Harden trade to acquire Jarrett Allen (Taurean Prince was also acquired by the Cavs in the Harden deal, and was recently traded to the Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio).

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers continue to be in a tough spot with Kevin Love, Fedor notes. Love played just 25 games last season and his impact on the court has diminished over the course of his contract, which still has two years and $60MM remaining. Such a hefty sum will make it difficult to trade Love without attaching assets, which doesn’t interest the Cavs unless they feel the situation becomes untenable. Fedor adds that the previously rumored buyout talks went nowhere, which means the team and player are stuck with each other — for now.
  • Evan Mobley is the presumed starting power forward for the Cavs, with $100MM man Allen slotting in at center, Fedor opines, which would make newly-acquired Lauri Markkanen the team’s de facto sixth man. How coach J.B. Bickerstaff manages the frontcourt situation is worth monitoring for a number of reasons, particularly because Markkanen was disappointed about coming off the bench for the Bulls last season, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. According to Fedor, the Cavs have talked about having Mobley, Allen, and Markkanen each playing about 26-30 minutes per night.
  • The Cavs continue to look for wing depth and shooting, Fedor notes, which is crucial to the team’s offensive development. The Cavs were one of the worst shooting teams in the league last season, ranking 25th in FG%, 26th in FT%, 29th in 3PT made, 28th 3PT attempts, and 30th in 3PT%. Sources tell Fedor that Denzel Valentine is interested in Cleveland and that Garrison Mathews could be another possible target.
  • Dylan Windler, who underwent surgery in April on his left knee, isn’t a lock to be ready for the start of training camp, says Fedor.

Cavs Rumors: Valentine, Reddish, Hartenstein, Kabengele

The Cavaliers remain on the hunt for a wing who can play rotation minutes, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reports that Denzel Valentine is among the free agents drawing interest from the team.

Valentine, 27, spent the first five years of his NBA career in Chicago. He had a promising 2017/18 season (10.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, .386 3PT%), but missed all of the ’18/19 campaign due to an ankle injury and has provided inconsistent production since then.

Here’s more on the Cavaliers from Fedor:

  • The Cavs have interest in adding a third point guard and/or a backup center. However, Fedor believes addressing the wing remains Cleveland’s top priority — the point guard spot would be next, followed by the five.
  • The Cavs have been exploring the trade market as they search for another wing, but appear unwilling to part with a first-round pick – even if it’s protected – for any of the currently-available options, Fedor writes. The club has been in contact with the Hawks about Cam Reddish, Fedor adds.
  • Sources tell Cleveland.com that the door remains open for free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein to re-sign with the Cavs. Assistant GM Mike Gansey watched Hartenstein work out for teams in Las Vegas, according to Fedor, who says the Thunder, Clippers, and Nets also had reps in attendance. If the Cavs were to sign Hartenstein or another center, Mfiondu Kabengele‘s roster spot would be in jeopardy, Fedor notes.

Bulls Notes: Caruso, Dosunmu, Simonovic, Valentine, Williams, DeRozan

Alex Caruso‘s four-year, $37MM contract has a $3MM guarantee in the fourth season, ESPN’s Bobby Marks reveals in an Instagram video. The Bulls used up $8.6MM of their $9.536MM mid-level exeption for Caruso’s first-year salary, giving them just enough room to sign No. 38 overall pick Ayo Dosunmu, Marks adds.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • Second-round pick Marko Simonovic had an impressive summer league debut, contributing 13 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes against New Orleans, Sam Smith of the team’s website writes. “This is everything new for me,” said Simonovic, a 6’11” power forward. “I’m coming from Europe and everything is different. But I feel really good and people tell me I look good. I think next season I can help the team.”
  • The Bulls have renounced their rights to Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio, according to the RealGM transactions log. While that doesn’t rule out the possibility of re-signing those players, Chicago needed to renounce the rights to them and seven other players to complete all its off-season moves. Felicio signed with a club in Germany earlier this week.
  • Patrick Williams believes he can learn plenty from DeMar DeRozan, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. “He’s a really good wing in this league. Mostly, I want to be at the level that he’s at,” Williams said. “When he gets here, I’ll definitely ask him some questions about how he plays in the mid-post and kind of what he sees after an important possession. I’m definitely excited to learn from not only him but everyone else as well.” DeRozan was officially acquired on Wednesday.
  • In turn, DeRozan is impressed with the talent level on the roster, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes. “Great organization. The history behind it is definitely amazing. But for sure, the talent,” he said. “Looking at players like Zach (LaVine), I’ve been a fan of Zach since he’s been in the league. Just looking at the overall squad. Seeing (Nikola) Vučević there, that was my teammate in college. So, it’s been great.”

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, Caruso, Cavs, Trent, Batum, Bradley

The Pelicans are viewed as the most likely of Kyle Lowry‘s prospective suitors to guarantee a third year in their offer to the veteran point guard, sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. However, it’s the Heat that are considered the current frontrunners to land Lowry.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms as much in his latest report, suggesting that the Heat are ready and willing to attach assets to Goran Dragic to entice the Raptors to accept a sign-and-trade offer, with Precious Achiuwa and draft picks among the pieces that could be in play. According to Wojnarowski, the Pelicans and Mavericks – rumored to be two of Lowry’s most aggressive suitors – are beginning to consider other options as they look for a starting point guard.

Here are a few more updates on free agents, with the start of the 2021 free agent period less than 24 hours away:

Central Notes: Vucevic, Bulls, Joseph, Ellington, Warren

Nikola Vucevic didn’t shoot three-pointers when he entered the league in 2011, but it’s become a big part of his offensive game in recent years, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes. The All-Star center has drained 44.1% of his long-range shots since joining the Bulls. “I think it’s also the way the NBA has been going, and I had to adjust,” he said. “I used to shoot a lot of mid-ranges. That’s not as much a part of the way teams play, so I had to make an adjustment and evolve.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Lauri Markkanen, Daniel Theis, Denzel Valentine and Tomas Satoransky are among the players who likely won’t remain with the Bulls next season, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic speculates. Mayberry takes a look at each player and predicts whether they’ll be part of the front office’s plans.
  • The Pistons snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating Memphis on Thursday. It’s no coincidence that veterans guards Cory Joseph and Wayne Ellington suited up, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. That duo scored 18 points apiece and Joseph added 11 assists. “Guys were kind of hanging their head and losing confidence a little bit,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “We understand – we’re rebuilding. But you’ve got to compete to win each night.” Ellington will be a free agent after the season, while Joseph’s $12.6MM contract is only partially guaranteed.
  • There were conflicting reports this week about whether T.J. Warren asked for a trade and his feelings toward Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren. J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link) cites a new source who says that Warren is happy in Indiana, noting that Warren has been featured offensively and will be paid like a main cog. Warren also likes playing in a smaller market and the franchise’s plans for him, regardless of who’s coaching the team, Michael’s source adds.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Central Division:

Frank Jackson, Pistons, 22, SG/PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, two-way ($449K) deal in 2020

An early second-round pick in 2017, Jackson was a rotation player with the Pelicans for two seasons after missing his first year with a foot injury. New Orleans let him walk in the offseason and the Thunder cut him in training camp, but Jackson has revived his career on a two-way contract with the Pistons.

Rather than playing the point, Jackson has thrived in an off-the-ball role under Dwane Casey. He has scored 14 or more points in six of the last eight games, including a go-ahead basket in the final minute against Cleveland on Monday.

It seems a good bet that Jackson, who has dramatically improved his 3-point shooting, will receive a qualifying offer from Detroit’s front office and become a restricted free agent this summer.

Denzel Valentine, Bulls, 27, SF/SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $4.64MM deal in 2020

Valentine is one of those low-turnover, glue guys that coaches feel comfortable putting on the floor but who doesn’t dent the stat sheet. He has been in Billy Donovan’s rotation most of the season but his shooting numbers remain subpar (38.4% overall, 33.0% from deep). Valentine signed his qualifying offer to stay in Chicago after an unspectacular 2019/20 season. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will likely be looking at offers below the QO he inked in the fall. Chicago’s late lottery pick in 2016 might benefit from a change of scenery.

Doug McDermott, Pacers, 29, SF/PF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $22MM deal in 2018

Dougie McBuckets is one of the cooler nicknames in the league and for much of the season, he’s lived up to it. Currently dealing with an ankle sprain, McDermott is averaging a career-high 12.9 PPG and 3.6 RPG. He’s been more than just a long-range gunner, as 56% of his shot attempts have come from inside the arc. A career 40.7% shooter from deep, McDermott has been a solid rotation player for Indiana since the club signed him to a three-year deal three years ago. He’ll return to unrestricted free agency this summer and could be looking at similar offers.

Bryn Forbes, Bucks, 27, SG, (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $4.79MM deal in 2020

Forbes started the past two seasons in San Antonio but he’s probably best suited in his current role as a second-unit scorer with Milwaukee. Forbes is averaging 9.6 PPG in 19.3 MPG while making a career-best 43.7% of his 3-point attempts. He’ll have an interesting decision this summer, as he holds a $2.45MM option on his contract for next season. If Forbes remains in the rotation and performs well in the postseason, the undrafted guard out of Michigan State will position himself to nix that option in order to pursue multiyear offers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Love, Carter, Stewart, Valentine

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (right calf strain) is progressing in his rehab and could be getting closer to a return, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes.

No specific timetable has been set for Love, who has missed the past 16 games. The Cavaliers have opened the season with a 9-10 record in his absence, mostly starting Larry Nance Jr. in his place.

“He’s doing light stuff on the court now and our expectation is he’ll do even more,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Then we’ll get a fair judge of where he is once he gets on the floor.”

Love, 32, is coming off a campaign that saw him average 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 31.8 minutes per game. He’s in the second season of a four-year, $120MM extension signed during the summer of 2018.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The injury to Wendell Carter Jr. will force rotation changes for the Bulls, Sam Smith of Bulls.com writes. Carter recently sustained a quad contusion and is expected to miss multiple weeks. “There may be some lineups that maybe we need Gaff (Daniel Gafford) out there, Cris (Cristiano Felicio) out there,” coach Billy Donovan said. “It could be a variety of different things. I think we’re going to have to be prepared to have significant and different rotations based on matchups and who we’re playing against.”
  • Pistons rookie Isaiah Stewart embodies the spirit of Detroit, James Edwards of The Athletic writes. Stewart, a tough-minded 19-year-old forward, is averaging 4.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 17.6 minutes through 18 games, showing potential on both ends of the floor. “When you play against him, you’re going to go against a ball of energy,” coach Dwane Casey said, “and you better bring your work boots and hard hat to go against him because he is going to bring it.”
  • Bulls forward Denzel Valentine has benefited from the team’s offseason coaching change, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Valentine appears to be in a much better situation than he was a year ago, with the former No. 14 pick now getting meaningful minutes off the bench. “Man, I actually do think about that,’’ Valentine said. “It’s just funny because at this time last year, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Granted, it’s different seasons. I was in and out of the lineup. It’s just crazy that things come full circle. You never know what can happen in this business. All you can do is bring a positive mindset and work hard every day. That’s what I try to do, no matter the situation. Obviously, it can be hard if you’re not playing or stuff like I went through last year. But I just have to control what I can control, and the rest will take care of itself.’’

Central Notes: Bulls, Holiday, Nance, Dellavedova, Exum

The Bulls will be without six players when they travel to Oklahoma City this week for a pair of preseason games, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. In addition to Garrett Temple (coronavirus), Denzel Valentine (hamstring strain), and Thaddeus Young (lower leg infection), the club will also be missing Devon Dotson, Adam Mokoka, and Tomas Satoransky, who are simply listed as “not with team.”

As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago noted on Sunday when those three players – and Noah Vonleh – were given excused absences for the Bulls’ previous exhibition contest, those vague designations will likely become common over the course of the 2020/21 season as teams navigate the NBA’s coronavirus protocols.

While Vonleh eventually confirmed he had tested positive for COVID-19, that doesn’t mean the same is true of Dotson, Mokoka, and Satoransky. It’s possible they’re being kept away from the Bulls temporarily for contact tracing purposes, or even for a reason unrelated to the coronavirus. With teams not formally announcing which of their players have tested positive for the virus, we may be left to speculate in situations like this throughout the coming season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Now that the Bucks have secured a commitment from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) wonders if an extension for Jrue Holiday might be next up on the team’s to-do list. Since he was recently traded, Holiday can only get a 5% raise and one extra year (beyond his 2021/22 player option) for now, but those restrictions will lift on February 26, allowing for more money and more years.
  • Cavaliers veterans Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova are entering the NBA’s concussion protocol and neither player will travel to New York for the club’s final two preseason games, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
  • Dante Exum, who had 23 points and five assists and was a plus-33 in Monday’s win over Indiana, has solidified his spot as the Cavaliers‘ backup point guard entering the season, Fedor writes in a separate story for Cleveland.com. Exum, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, is entering a contract year.