Derrick Jones

Bulls Notes: Bench, Drummond, Ball, Williams, DeRozan

The Bulls‘ bench came up big again on Wednesday in the team’s win over Indiana, scoring a season-high 43 points, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Alex Caruso, Goran Dragic, Andre Drummond, Javonte Green, Derrick Jones, and Coby White have all been regular contributors outside of the starting five, with the team frequently running out lineups that feature Zach LaVine and four reserves.

On Wednesday, Dragic was a game-high plus-19, while Caruso (+18), Drummond (+16), and Jones (+16) were right behind him. LaVine (+12), who saw action with those second units, was the only starter who had a positive rating.

“We mesh really well because everybody does what they do at a high level. And I think it complements each other really well,” Caruso said. “Drum gives us that inside presence—great screener, great rebounder, rim protection. Me on the outside kind of stirring everybody up on defense whether it’s Woo (Green) or D.J. helping out with the four-man doing the same thing. And then any of the guards that are in with us, whether it’s Coby, Goran or Zach, doing a good job making decisive decisions.”

Of the Bulls’ lineups that have played at least 10 minutes so far this season, none have performed better than the five-man group of Caruso, Dragic, LaVine, Jones, and Drummond, which has outscored opponents 42-21 in 17 minutes of play.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Drummond, who referred to Chicago’s second unit as “pretty much a starting lineup,” also dubbed himself “the best rebounder of the past century,” Johnson writes for NBC Sports Chicago. And, as Johnson points out, Drummond may have a statistical case for that title, given that his career average of 13.2 rebounds per game ranks first among players since 2000, as does his 24.68% rebounding percentage. The big man is averaging 9.4 RPG this season despite playing just 15.6 MPG.
  • It has been four weeks since the Bulls announced they would reevaluate Lonzo Ball in four-to-six weeks following his knee surgery, but head coach Billy Donovan didn’t have any concrete updates on Wednesday, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I have not heard anything as of yet with that,” Donovan said. “He’s doing good. He feels like he’s progressing. He’s pretty optimistic and positive about everything. I think the biggest thing with the surgery is the incision healing in order to continue to make progress, and I just don’t know how far along he is in that process.”
  • While Patrick Williams‘ inconsistent start to the season has raised questions about his spot in the starting lineup, it doesn’t sound like Donovan intends to move him to the bench anytime soon, Cowley writes in another Sun-Times story. “I do think that with it being early in the season, taking four or five games and saying, ‘OK, we’re scrapping this,’ you never get a chance to see and maybe get enough information to make those decisions,” Donovan said.
  • In a conversation with David Aldridge of The Athletic, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan spoke about embracing his role as a veteran mentor and enjoying a strong second act to his NBA career after being devastated by the trade that sent him to San Antonio following nine seasons in Toronto. “It’s definitely gratifying from the standpoint that I hope I can be an inspiration for guys who lose confidence in themselves. Or they hit a rock in the road, and (are) struggling to figure it out,” DeRozan said. “There’s always a way. You can’t get down on yourself mentally, you can’t doubt yourself. You can’t get caught up into what everybody else may say and the expectations they put on you. As long as you have the ultimate belief in you and your work ethic, that’s the only thing that matters, that will pay off.”

Bulls Notes: Jones, Reserves, Caruso, Williams

After being held out of the Bulls‘ first two games, Derrick Jones Jr. is trying to prove he deserves regular playing time, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Jones helped change the course of Monday’s win over the Celtics, scoring 10 points in the second quarter during his eight minutes on the court as Chicago turned a nine-point deficit into a seven-point lead. He also made an impact on defense as Boston managed just 15 points in the quarter.

Schaefer notes that Jones might not still be with the Bulls if their offseason pursuit of free agent Danilo Gallinari had been successful. Instead, Gallinari signed with the Celtics and Jones returned to Chicago on a one-year, $3.3MM contract that could turn into a bargain.

“I’ve been through this many times throughout my career,” Jones said of having to fight for a rotation role. “It’s not the first time. I’m good. … Always working. We stay in the gym, even the guys that get low minutes, we stay in the gym.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Jones wasn’t the only Bulls reserve who played well Monday, notes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The team also got contributions from Goran Dragic, Alex Caruso, Javonte Green and Andre Drummond as Chicago’s bench has been an early-season bright spot. “We dug ourselves a hole in that second quarter, but I give our second unit a lot of credit,” coach Billy Donovan said. “I thought those guys came in and really played with great energy and great enthusiasm and kind of turned the game.”
  • Caruso isn’t on an official minutes restriction, but Donovan is closely monitoring his playing time, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Last season, Caruso averaged more minutes in losses than in wins, and the coaching staff wants to make sure he doesn’t burn himself out with his aggressive style of play.
  • Patrick Williams‘ frustrating start to the season continued Monday, but he’s not in any immediate danger of losing his starting spot, according to Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune. Williams played just 15 minutes against Boston, contributing four points and three rebounds, but Donovan offered support after the game. “Since he’s gotten into the league, he’s been always guarding the team’s best players and he’s always taken it on,” Donovan said. “He’s never batted an eye. I think he has really incredible potential in the future and we all believe in him. This is a process where the more that keeps getting thrown at him competitively, he has to respond.”

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, White, Jones

Second-year Bulls point guard Ayo Dosunmu has a chance to be the team’s starter at the position, at least until the return of a surgically repaired Lonzo Ball later in the season, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Though Alex Caruso, the stronger defensive player, will most likely take over ball-handling duties to close out games, Caruso’s aggressive approach on defense (he was whistled for five fouls in a preseason game Tuesday) may compel head coach Billy Donovan to ensure he remains available to close out games — starting Dosunmu at the point would allow Caruso to avoid getting into early foul trouble.

Caruso has taken Dosunmu under his wing, imparting sage advice on the younger player.

“He’s a helluva player so there’s not too much you have to tell him about his game to get him going,” Caruso said. “Just make sure he stays motivated and ready.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • An MRI on the knee of Bulls reserve guard Coby White did not indicate any long-term damage, and he is set to suit up for Chicago’s next preseason contest Friday, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The Bulls will face off against the Denver Nuggets for their second game of the 2022 preseason.
  • Backup Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr. expressed his enthusiasm about having returned to Chicago as a free agent this summer, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“Once me and Coach (Donovan) had a conversation on the phone, it was a no-brainer,” Jones said. “I felt like we left a lot on the table last year and I wanted to come back and see if we could have another run at it… (Donovan) told me just to be me, be physical in the paint, get downhill as much as I can, take the shots that I get and just be aggressive.” Johnson notes that Chicago opted to bring Jones back after ‘tweener forward Danilo Gallinari agreed to a deal with the Celtics and the Bulls were unable to add oft-injured veteran forward T.J. Warren, who joined the Nets on a veteran’s minimum contract.

Contract Details: Drummond, Jones, LaVine, Cancar, Martin, Nurkic

The two-year contracts that Andre Drummond and Derrick Jones signed with the Bulls have virtually identical terms. Both players will earn guaranteed $3.2MM salaries in 2022/23, with $3.36MM player options for the ’23/24 season, Hoops Rumors has learned. The only real difference between the two deals is how the Bulls completed them — Drummond received a portion of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, while Jones was re-signed using his Non-Bird rights.

Here are more details on recently signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • Zach LaVine‘s five-year, maximum-salary contract with the Bulls includes a 15% trade kicker, Hoops Rumors has learned. For 2022/23, at least, that kicker will be inconsequential since LaVine is already earning the max, but it could be a factor later in his deal if the annual salary cap increases outpace his annual 8% raises.
  • Vlatko Cancar‘s three-year contract with the Nuggets features matching $2,234,359 cap hits in each of the first two seasons, plus a $2,346,606 team option for 2024/25. The first two years are guaranteed.
  • Heat forward Caleb Martin received a starting salary of $6,479,000, which is the full portion of the taxpayer mid-level exception. Miami remains below the tax apron, so the team can use the rest of the non-taxpayer MLE (approximately $4MM more) if it so chooses. Martin also got a third-year player option and a 15% trade kicker on his new three-year deal.
  • Jusuf Nurkic‘s four-year, $70MM contract with the Trail Blazers is fully guaranteed and is structured with standard 8% annual raises. It starts at $15,625,000 in 2022/23 and increases to $19,375,000 by year four in ’25/26.

Bulls Notes: Terry, LaVine, Jones, Eastern Conference

It didn’t take long for first-round pick Dalen Terry to earn the respect of his new Bulls teammates, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. In his first practice with Chicago’s Summer League squad, Terry showed why he had a reputation as a maximum-effort player at Arizona.

Second-year forward Patrick Williams singled out Terry as the strongest competitor at today’s practice. That recognition was installed by coach John Bryant, who is trying to make the Summer League experience as competitive as possible.

“It means everything,” Terry said. “I appreciate Pat for doing that. It gave me a little bit more confidence. He was a rookie last year and he’s been through what I’ve been through, obviously. For him to do that, it’s definitely a nod and respect to him. I appreciate him for saying that.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Zach LaVine‘s new max contract was necessary for the Bulls to maintain roster stability, Mayberry contends in a separate story. While the investment could top $215MM, LaVine is a two-time All-Star who’s still in his prime at age 27 and he gives the team a foundation to build around.
  • Derrick Jones Jr. wasn’t in the Bulls’ long-range plans when they acquired him from Portland last summer, but he played well enough to earn a new contract, Mayberry adds. Jones was taken as a throw-in to get a first-round pick in a three-team deal that also involved Cleveland. Injuries and COVID-19 created a chance for him to play and he proved useful as a small-ball center. The Bulls pursued Danilo Gallinari before re-signing Jones, Mayberry notes, but Gallinari decided to join the Celtics.
  • The Bulls are putting together a successful offseason, but so are several other teams in the Eastern Conference playoff race, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley rates the offseason progress of the top nine teams in the East, giving an A to the Celtics and A-minuses to the Bucks and Hawks. Chicago gets a C, as Cowley is skeptical about the philosophy of keeping the current roster together after a quick playoff exit.

Bulls Re-Sign Derrick Jones To Two-Year Deal

JULY 6: Jones is officially back under contract with the Bulls, according to a Twitter announcement from the team.

JULY 1: The Bulls and Derrick Jones have agreed to a new two-year contract that will keep the free agent forward in Chicago, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, Jones’ two-year deal will be worth $6.6MM, with a second-year player option.

Chicago held Jones’ Early Bird rights, but a deal completed using the Early Bird exception can’t include a second-year option, so the team is likely renouncing its Early Bird rights and making Jones a Non-Bird free agent. The Bulls would then be able to complete the signing without dipping into their mid-level exception.

Jones, 25, appeared in 51 games for Chicago in 2021/22 after being acquired from Portland in an offseason trade. He averaged 5.6 PPG and 3.3 RPG on .538/.328/.800 shooting in 17.6 minutes per contest.

While Jones hasn’t made a major impact on the offensive end since entering the NBA in 2016, his athleticism and his ability to guard multiple positions on defense have continued to earn him regular minutes.

The Bulls now project to be about $3.5MM below the luxury tax line with 14 players under contract, tweets Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype.

Central Notes: Jones Jr., Allen, Jackson, LaVine, Bagley

The Bulls were furious at the Bucks’ Grayson Allen after his hard foul against Alex Caruso in January resulted in Caruso fracturing his right wrist. Derrick Jones Jr. appeared to exact some revenge on Friday, though Jones claims his flagrant foul against Allen wasn’t intentional, ESPN’s Jamal Collier writes.

“I’m not a dirty player. Honestly, I talked to every ref that was there (Friday),” the Bulls forward said. “I didn’t think that was a flagrant. They said I hit him in his head. I didn’t even feel it. I just felt him bump my hip and fall. That’s all I felt.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons reserve guard Frank Jackson missed Friday’s game with a bilateral lumbar spine spasm, according to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Jackson underwent an MRI, Sankofa adds (Twitter link). The Pistons hold a $3.15MM option on Jackson’s contract for next season. He has only appeared in one game since Feb. 11.
  • It would be surprising if Zach LaVine bolted the Bulls during free agency this offseason, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago opines. LaVine loves living in Chicago and playing for Billy Donovan. He has also repeatedly praised the front office for upgrading the roster, while the ownership group is committed to paying him.
  • Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III had a strong outing after missing three games due to a sprained ankle, Keith Langlois of notes. Bagley, who will enter free agency this summer, had 18 points and eight rebounds off the bench and is thrilled he got traded to Detroit. “When I first got here, the energy was good,” he said. “You can feel it. You can feel how everybody’s connecting. On the road, team dinners, coming together. It’s a great feeling. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Central Notes: Jones Jr., Duarte, Cavaliers, Smith

Bulls wing Derrick Jones Jr. is determined to play through the pain of a fractured right index finger, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The Bulls are already playing without Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams and Javonte Green due to injuries.

When Jones initially broke his finger in January, he was given a six-to-eight week recovery timeline. However, the Bulls later issued an update saying the forward would be able to return sooner if he was able to play with a splint. That was less than three weeks ago.

Jones returned on Saturday against the Thunder, playing 23 minutes off the bench. In addition to a finger injury, he was also dealing with a knee injury he suffered a couple weeks before breaking his finger, so this was his first action in a month.

“Personally, I love to compete, and me being out since January 12 has been eating me alive on the inside,” Jones said. “I was just waiting for this pain to die down a little bit so I could hop back out there. Soon as it went away a little bit, I was right back out there tonight.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers rookie Chris Duarte will miss the team’s next two games after jamming his toe, Scott Agness of FieldHouse Files tweets. Duarte exited early in Sunday’s game against Minnesota due to the injury. It could impact his availability for the Rising Stars Game, which takes place on Friday, Agness notes.
  • The Cavaliers‘ loss to the Sixers on Saturday was a valuable experience for the team, Chris Fedor of writes. Cleveland lost the road game 93-103, allowing Joel Embiid to finish with a 40-point triple-double. “The intensity of which you’re going to have to play at in order to compete with teams like this down the stretch,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after being asked what could be taken from the loss, according to Fedor. “It was a clear message from the beginning of the game the intensity that they were coming with, the physicality that they played with. These are the tests that we talk about, and these are the lessons that we have to learn.”
  • Despite joining the Pacers on the day of a game, Jalen Smith showed promise in his debut on Sunday, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star writes. Smith finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, logging 23 minutes. Indiana acquired him and a 2022 second-round pick from Phoenix in exchange for Torrey Craig last week.

Derrick Jones Jr. Breaks Finger, Likely Out 6-8 Weeks

JANUARY 26: Jones will be evaluated “in about a week” to determine whether he can play while wearing the splint on his right index finger, according to coach Billy Donovan, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays (via Twitter). The Bulls said in their press release that Jones could return to action sooner than six-to-eight weeks if he’s able to play with the splint, Schaefer notes.

JANUARY 25: During a workout at the Bulls practice facility while rehabbing from a bone bruise in his right knee, Chicago reserve forward Derrick Jones Jr. broke his right index finger, the team has announced.

Chicago adds that Jones will be unavailable for approximately the next six-to-eight weeks. The fractured digit is currently in a splint. Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago notes that Jones has injured his non-shooting hand.

Jones was two weeks into his recovery from the bone bruise, and had been projected to return in another two-to-four weeks prior to fracturing his finger. In 31 games this season, Jones is averaging fairly modest counting stats of 6.3 PPG and 3.4 RPG across 17.2 MPG for the Bulls. He is also connecting on a career-best 40.5% of his 1.2 three-point attempts per game. The numbers belie the true extent of his impact for Chicago.

His extreme athleticism and 7′ wingspan have made Jones a versatile defender off the bench for the Bulls. The springy 6’5″ forward, still just 24, has emerged as an intriguing small-ball center option for head coach Billy Donovan in certain Chicago lineups.

The injury woes continue for Chicago. Though All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine and power forward Javonte Green recently returned to the team’s lineup in a 111-110 victory over the Thunder after their own injury absences, several Bulls players remain sidelined with long-term ailments. Guards Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso just underwent surgeries and will also be unavailable for at least the next six weeks of games. Starting power forward Patrick Williams has missed all but five games this season with a dislocated wrist, and will return at the earliest in April.

Jones and his expiring $9.7MM contract were viewed as favorable trade fodder for the Bulls. Were the Bulls to try to offload a young player on a rookie deal for a veteran upgrade as the NBA nears the February 10 trade deadline, Jones could be used to match salaries. With his fate for the next two months now more bleak, it will be interesting to see how this impacts the roster construction choices of Chicago president Arturas Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley. Chicago has been hit particularly hard at the point guard and power forward spots.

At 29-17, the Bulls are currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Zooming out, the team has gone a mere 3-7 in its last 10 games as the injuries have begun to pile up and is just four games ahead of the 26-22 Hornets, the seventh seed in the East.

Derrick Jones Jr. Suffers Bone Bruise In Knee, Out 2-4 Weeks

6:13pm: The Bulls announced that Jones will miss two-to-four weeks with the bone bruise instead of the originally reported four-to-six, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

1:02pm: Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr. will miss four-to-six weeks with a bone bruise in his right knee, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Jones suffered the injury on an awkward landing 36 seconds into Wednesday’s game against the Nets, writes Jamal Collier of ESPN. He had to be helped to the locker room, and the team announced that he wouldn’t return.

Jones has started Chicago’s last six games while Javonte Green has been sidelined with a groin strain. After coming to the Bulls in an offseason trade, Jones is averaging 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds through 31 games.

Chicago is also missing guard Alex Caruso, another member of its rotation, who remains in the league’s health and safety protocols and isn’t expected back for Friday’s game.

“It’s going to be tough because you can’t replace those guys,” Zach LaVine said. “It’s always been a next-man-up mentality that we’ve had. It’s something we’re going to have to do because it’s not like anybody is going to feel sorry for us having some guys out. Everybody’s had guys out.”