Goran Dragic

Injury Updates: LaMelo, Martin, Dragic, Gallinari, Ingram

Star Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball will not play in tonight’s contest against the Jazz, per Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Ball has been sidelined since the 18th due to ankle and wrist injuries. Ball has missed 25 games thus far this year with various ailments, mostly related to his left ankle.

When he has been available, Ball has put up solid numbers. The 6’7″ guard is averaging 23.5 PPG on .409/.370/.875 shooting splits, 8.2 APG, 5.2 RPG and 1.1 SPG for the 13-34 Hornets.

Boone adds that Charlotte small forward Cody Martin, who has appeared in just seven games all year due to a knee injury, has also been ruled out for this evening as a result of left knee soreness.

We have more injury news:

  • Bulls reserve point guard Goran Dragic will miss tonight’s game against the Hawks and possibly all of the team’s forthcoming three-game road trip, reports K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (via Twitter). Bulls head coach Billy Donovan indicated that, should Dragic begin to feel better, there is a chance he catches up with the team later on during the road jaunt.
  • Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla offered a minor update on the recovery of injured forward Danilo Gallinari, who tore his ACL before the start of the season, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). “I saw him jogging on the treadmill and I was like, ‘I haven’t seen you run much faster than that in a game,'” Mazzulla joked. “So I thought he was playing tonight.” The Celtics still expect Gallinari to miss the whole 2022/23 season.
  • The Pelicans are “hopeful” that star forward Brandon Ingram can rejoin his club at some point during New Orleans’ current stretch of home games, per Erin Summers of the ACC Stars podcast (via Twitter). “I’m going to see how I feel, but that’s the plan,” Ingram said of his return timeline (Twitter link). Ingram has been unavailable since November 25 due to a toe contusion. Summers adds that Naji Marshall played in half of the team’s practice, and that All-Star forward Zion Williamson will undergo imaging this week.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Olympics, Dragic, Trade Deadline

DeMar DeRozan‘s next game will be the 1,000th of his career, putting him in a relatively small group of players to reach that number, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. DeRozan will be the 143rd player in the league’s 76-year history to appear in 1,000 games, although eight others have done it when combining ABA records. He credits the work ethic and love of sports he developed at an early age for helping him to remain in the league for so long.

“I have never, ever taken this for granted,” he said. “That’s one thing I stress to the younger guys now. I look back on my career, the amount of players I played with that just kind of suddenly disappear in the wind. As much as I love this game, when you look at it from that perspective, the game can be taken away from you at any minute.”

DeRozan, 33, has one year left on his current contract at $28.6MM. He told Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that family considerations will play an important role in how long he decides to extend his career.

“We miss so much time sacrificing that we’ll never be able to get back with our kids,” he said after his children accompanied him on the team’s trip to Paris this week. “I want to be there for them, my daughters and my son. Give them everything that I went through. That will play a factor more than anything.’’

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • DeRozan indicated that he would be interested in returning to Paris for the 2024 Olympics if the opportunity arises, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “It’ll be tough to say no,” said DeRozan, who won a gold medal with Team USA in 2016.
  • In a separate piece, Cowley points to Goran Dragic calling out the team for a lack of togetherness as the most pivotal moment of the season. Dragic’s harsh assessment came after Chicago gave up 150 points in a loss to Minnesota, and the Bulls are 10-6 since then. “I say you confront it, you call it out and you try to expose it,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. “And I appreciated Goran saying what he said because at the time, I think there was a lot of accuracy to what he was saying.’’
  • The Bulls have an opportunity to redefine their team heading into next month’s trade deadline, observes Danny Leroux of The Athletic. He notes that offers for DeRozan might be at their peak now because teams will want the opportunity to negotiate his next contract.

Central Notes: Dragic, Vucevic, Ingles, Haliburton, Pistons

Goran Dragic believes teammate Nikola Vucevic is being unfairly blamed for the Bulls‘ disappointing season, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Vucevic isn’t putting up the numbers that he did in Orlando before Chicago acquired him in a 2021 trade, but Dragic believes it’s because the big man is on a team with more scorers.

Dragic compares the situation with the time he spent in Miami with Chris Bosh, who was being criticized by fans for his decreased production, even though he adjusted his game to help the Heat win two titles.

“When you have to do what Chris or Vooch is doing, it’s not possible to live up to previous expectations,’’ Dragic said. “There’s only one ball and three guys that can score. Each guy can score in different ways from a different position. At the end of the day it should be just about winning. Miami conquered that. A guy like CB that sacrifices like that, that might be one of the biggest keys to them getting those championships.’’

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks forward Joe Ingles put together his best game Friday since returning from an ACL tear, posting 14 points, five rebounds and 10 assists in a win over Minnesota, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The performance in his sixth game back made Ingles feel like all the rehab work was worth it. “I would have gone home very happy tonight if we won, especially after the last few games, but just to feel a bit more like myself, getting up the minutes a little more from what I’ve been able to play,” he said. “In the end, you’re helping these guys out to win a game. That’s what I’m here to do — to help create and playmake for these guys and make shots when I can and be annoying on defense and that’s just what I try (to do). Tonight was probably the most natural I felt out there.”
  • After the Pacers pulled out a one-point win over the Clippers on Saturday afternoon, Tyrese Haliburton suggested that the team has benefited from adversity, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “Losing,” Haliburton responded when asked what has made Indiana better at closing out games. “I think as a young team you need that.” 
  • The Pistons‘ only appearance on TNT this season has been taken away, according to Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. A January 10 contest against the Sixers has been replaced by a Thunder-Heat matchup that night. The Pistons’ league-worst record and the loss of Cade Cunningham has made the team less attractive for national television, notes Curtis, who adds that Detroit will still appear on NBA TV on January 19 and March 23.

Scotto’s Latest: Bulls, Mavs, Suns, Muscala, Wright

A number of NBA executives who have spoken to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype are “closely monitoring” the Bulls, Scotto told co-host Yossi Gozlan in the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast. With Chicago off to an underwhelming 9-14 start and with no indication of when Lonzo Ball might be back on the court, teams are curious to see whether the club might become a seller.

There’s “a lot” of league-wide interest in DeMar DeRozan, according to Scotto, who says Nikola Vucevic is another name that figures to pop up in trade rumors over the next couple months. Scotto adds that some teams would have interest in Zach LaVine too, but the Bulls seem unlikely to move him midway through the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract.

Having signed with the Bulls over the summer, Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond will become trade-eligible on December 15, and Scotto suggests they could be worth keeping an eye on if Chicago does decide to sell, since both players are low-cost veterans who could slide into rotation roles on playoff teams.

Here are a few more highlights from the podcast:

  • With JaVale McGee out of the rotation, it’s possible the Mavericks could peruse the trade market in search of another center. According to Scotto, if Dallas does look into that possibility, any trade target would have to be an upgrade defensively and a contrast to Christian Wood.
  • Scotto has heard from some executives that the Suns ideally don’t want to add any extra salary to their books in a Jae Crowder trade. Crowder is on an expiring $10.2MM deal.
  • Thunder big man Mike Muscala drew interest from about 10 teams as a free agent this past offseason, so if Oklahoma City is willing to make him available, he’d likely be a popular low-cost target, says Scotto. Due to the terms of his contract, Muscala has the ability to veto any trade that involves him.
  • The Wizards hope to get Delon Wright within the next two weeks, per Scotto. A weekend report suggested the veteran guard could even be back in action this week.

Bulls Notes: Ball, LaVine, Dragić, White, Drummond

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan provided a positive update on Lonzo Ball on Friday night, though he admitted that there’s still no timetable for the point guard’s return, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. As Johnson notes, it has been a little more than five weeks since the team announced that Ball would be reevaluated in four-to-six weeks following another knee surgery.

Everything is very, very optimistic right now. I think there are things that he is able to do that he feels a lot freer that he did prior to the surgery,” Donovan said. “The biggest part was allowing the incision inside of his knee to heal. And then he started to do some things. He has done some running on a treadmill in the water, which is a positive sign. There are things he’s doing that he wasn’t able to do.

Don’t have any timeline on when he’ll really be able to ramp up, but things have progressed. And everything that I’ve gotten from the medical guys has been positive. Obviously, he’s a ways away from running and cutting and doing all those things. But there is optimism that this hopefully has helped him.”

According to Johnson, Donovan said Ball’s discomfort has eased, but until he begins running and cutting again, the team won’t really know where he stands as far as a potential timetable, since Ball will still need to work on conditioning after missing so much time. He last played on January 14.

Ball’s knee issues date back to a torn meniscus that limited him to just 35 games last season. He was originally projected to return a few weeks after the surgery, but a bone bruise disrupted his rehab process.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Two-time All-Star Zach LaVine (knee) was able to play his third game in four nights in Friday’s loss to the Celtics, which is a positive development. However, it appears as though he’s still trying to regain his finishing ability near the basket, with Johnson noting (via Twitter) that LaVine took exclusively jump shots in the first half. When Johnson (Twitter link) asked LaVine after the game if he felt he had his normal explosion on drives, LaVine said he doesn’t, but he’s not worried about it. “Obviously, I’m not all the way back yet. I feel that. I’m not going to lie. But it’s coming. I’m not scared or anything like that. It’s seven games in. I feel fine,” he said.
  • Veteran point guard Goran Dragić, a free agent addition over the summer, says he loves his fit with the Bulls after a tumultuous ’21/22 season. “I enjoy it so much here. You get to a new team, new city, new people, and it’s such a nice vibe for me,” Dragić told Johnson in an interview for NBC Sports Chicago. “Good communication with Billy, who is a great coach. I just feel happy. I think that’s the most important thing, especially at the end of your career. That you’re productive and happy.” The 36-year-old also said he’d consider continuing his career beyond this season as long as he’s healthy.
  • In addition to Ball, Donovan also provided updates on guard Coby White (thigh) and center Andre Drummond (shoulder sprain), who remain sidelined. According to Johnson (Twitter link), Donovan said White has “a significant deep thigh contusion” and is still in a lot of pain, while Drummond is having difficult raising his arm above his head. He didn’t suffer a torn labrum or dislocation like the team feared he might have, but he’s not close to returning to action.

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.”

Central Notes: LeVert, Bagley, McGruder, Dragic

The Cavaliers haven’t decided on their starting small forward, but Caris LeVert appears to be the favorite to win the job, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. LeVert has put together a strong preseason, and he gives Cleveland a third dynamic scorer to team with Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.

“He’s been as selfless as you can imagine, just trying to make it work,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of LeVert. “Sometimes to a point where we want to push him to do more, and that’s going to be a matter of time. When you’re playing with Donovan and Darius, he understands that he’s going to do more facilitating at times, but he also is going to recognize that we want him to play to his strength.”

When training camp began, Bickerstaff said six players had a chance to claim the final starting spot. Dylan Windler has been out for the past week with an ankle injury, Lamar Stevens hasn’t played much in the preseason and Cedi Osman is struggling with his shot. Fedor believes the battle is down to three players, with Dean Wade and Isaac Okoro as LeVert’s main competitors.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • After a disappointing start to his career in Sacramento, Marvin Bagley III welcomed a second chance with the Pistons. In an interview with Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype, Bagley talked about the trade that sent him to Detroit and the new contract he signed this summer. “I came in with an open mind. I didn’t know what to expect when I got traded here,” he said. “When I got here, I played my game and was able to be myself. Coach (Dwane) Casey helped me out a lot. The guys on the team welcomed me when I got here. I feel like I caught up pretty quickly and was able to go out, play and be a part of the games towards the end of the year. To start off the season with the team and go through a full training camp is exciting.”
  • Rodney McGruder is enjoying his role as a veteran leader on a young Pistons team, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. That role factored into Detroit’s decision to re-sign the 31-year-old guard, Curtis adds.
  • At 36, Goran Dragic is savoring the latter part of his time in the NBA, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “This means I just want to enjoy basketball,” said Dragic, who signed with the Bulls in August. “I’m probably close to the end of my career. I just want to enjoy it and win games. I think this is a really awesome group that I’m a part of. Everybody is such a nice guy and having fun. And of course, now it’s all on us to start winning and it’s going to be much easier.”

Mavs Notes: Wood, McGee, THJ, Ntilikina, Green, Dinwiddie, More

Christian Wood, the biggest addition of the Mavericks‘ offseason, is expected to primarily play a sixth man role in Dallas, head coach Jason Kidd told reporters today (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN).

This is my first time hearing about it,” Wood said during his own media session (Twitter link via MacMahon). However, he said that his focus with his new team will be on winning and he’s not overly concerned about whether he starts or comes off the bench.

While it may come as a bit of a surprise that Dallas wants Wood to come off the bench, MacMahon notes (via Twitter) that – as he reported at the time – the Mavs told JaVale McGee when they recruited him in free agency that they envisioned him as their starting center. It seems that plan remains on course.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • During his Monday media session, Tim Hardaway Jr. pronounced himself “100%” healthy after missing most of last season due to foot surgery, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News relays (video link via Twitter). Kidd confirmed that Hardaway has been back in Dallas playing pick-up games for the last week and said the forward is “ready to go,” tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Frank Ntilikina and Josh Green are candidates to be Dallas’ third ball-handler behind Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie, Kidd said today (Twitter link via Landon Thomas). Speaking of Dinwiddie, he’s feeling good as he enters his first full season as a Maverick and concludes his first full healthy offseason following his ACL injury. “It’s night and day,” Dinwiddie said of his ACL now compared to last year (Twitter link via Caplan). “Not even close.”
  • New Bulls guard Goran Dragic confirmed today that he talked with the Mavericks as a free agent this summer, but said he was “never close” to a deal with Dallas (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic).
  • Dorian Finney-Smith joked today that he would’ve been upset if Jalen Brunson had remained in Dallas instead of accepting the Knicks’ four-year, $104MM offer. “Man, you see how much money they gave him?” Finney-Smith said (Twitter link via Caplan). “I would’ve been mad if he stayed here.”

Bulls Notes: Point Guard, Dragic, LaVine, Front Office

With Lonzo Ball undergoing another procedure on his knee and preparing to be sidelined for the start of the 2022/23 season, the Bulls will have to come up with a plan for how to replace his production at point guard, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who examines the top candidates to take Ball’s spot in the starting lineup.

As Mayberry outlines, Alex Caruso probably makes the most sense as Ball’s short-term replacement, given his experience, leadership, and defensive abilities. While Caruso isn’t a big-time offensive player, that wouldn’t be a problem if he’s playing alongside Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Still, like Ball, Caruso has an injury history and shouldn’t be leaned on too heavily, since having both players on the shelf would seriously limit the effectiveness of Chicago’s backcourt, Mayberry writes. Ayo Dosunmu, Goran Dragic, and Coby White are the other candidates to take Ball’s place in the starting five.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • In another story for The Athletic, Mayberry poses 10 questions that will shape the Bulls’ season, including whether LaVine can realistically take his game to another level after signing a five-year, maximum-salary contract.
  • While Dragic and Andre Drummond were solid veteran signings, it remains to be seen whether they’ll help specifically address the Bulls’ shooting and rim protection, two needs management publicly acknowledged entering the offseason, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • The honeymoon period is just about over for the Bulls’ front office led by Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley as they enter their third season in Chicago, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Cowley, Karnisovas has proven he’s an “organizational-changer,” but the Bulls will have to continue moving toward title contention rather than peaking as a middle-of-the-pack playoff team.
  • The Bulls have a new jersey sponsor, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago, who writes that a Motorola Mobility patch will replace the Zenni Optical logo on the team’s jerseys starting this season.

Eastern Notes: Giannis, Dragic, LaVine, Celtics

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo did some weight training and is expected to practice on Sunday with Greece, according to EuroHoops. Antetokounmpo recently suffered a minor ankle sprain, but he seems to be proceeding without any issues.

“We decided to do just an optional training session,” Greek national team assistant coach Sotiris Manolopoulos said. “We left it up to the players to come and make some shots. Giannis did his own training at the hotel and tomorrow will practice without any issues. He is healthy.”

Antetokounmpo sustained the injury on Thursday. With the NBA season around the corner, this is good news for Bucks fans, as they’re hoping to see Milwaukee start the season without any interruptions and win a second championship in three years.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference today:

  • Bulls guard Goran Dragic recently came to the defense of Antetokoummpo in light of Gilbert Arenas‘ negative comments, EuroHoops relays. “Giannis is the MVP. Gilbert Arenas is not,” Dragic said as part of a larger quote. “Was he ever the MVP? I don’t think so. So he can’t talk about Giannis. Giannis won the championship, won the MVP award. He has been the defensive player of the year.” Arenas previously stated that Antetokounmpo “doesn’t understand basketball yet” and downplayed the Bucks star’s 2021 championship.
  • Zach LaVine‘s lucrative new contract will created added pressure on the Bulls star this season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. LaVine signed a five-year, $215MM deal with the team in July, cementing his future in Chicago. He averaged 24.4 points per game last season, shooting 48% from the floor and 39% from three-point range. The Bulls will be looking to contend once again this season.
  • Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com examines a number of Celtics topics in his latest mailbag. Among the subjects Bulpett discusses is whether Payton Pritchard should play more. With Boston adding Malcolm Brogdon this offseason, Pritchard’s role is arguably more unclear, but he remains an effective option off the bench.