Jabari Parker

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 Bulls.com 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 Notes: Lopez, Parker, Carter

Although the Bulls are fans of Robin Lopez, he’s a traditional rim-protecting center who struggles when asked to switch onto smaller players, writes Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. According to Walton, given the Bulls’ recent emphasis on switching on defense and Lopez’s expiring contract, the veteran center makes sense as a trade chip this season.

Walton suggests that if the Bulls can get anything of value in return for Lopez (especially draft picks), they’d like to do so, rather than risk losing him in free agency. Walton explores a few potential fits for Lopez, identifying the Suns, Lakers, and Pistons as a few teams that could use a player with his skill set.

While there’s been no indication that those specific teams would have interest, we heard last week that Lopez is available “all day, every day for the right asset.” So we’ll see which teams inquire as February’s trade deadline gets closer.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The Jabari Parker experiment hasn’t exactly been a success for the Bulls so far, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. In Cowley’s view, Parker “acts and plays like someone who would rather be elsewhere.” The former No. 2 overall pick has a $20MM team option on his contract for 2019/20, which seems unlikely to be exercised unless his offensive production and consistency improve significantly over the course of the season.
  • Wendell Carter Jr. looks like he’s on his way to becoming the most important part of the Bulls’ rebuild, according to Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago, who argues that Carter’s defensive prowess should make him a legitimate Rookie of the Year contender.
  • For all the latest updates out of Chicago, be sure to check out our Bulls team page.

Central Notes: Griffin, Jackson, Leaf, Parker

After dealing with various injuries in recent seasons, Blake Griffin is healthy and looking to regain respect by leading the Pistons back to the playoffs this season. Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press writes about how Griffin’s game has evolved and adapted in recent seasons to account for his decline in athleticism. Gone are the nightly posterizing dunks, with a reliable 3-point shot and improved playmaking abilities in their place.

Ellis also details the injuries Griffin has suffered in recent seasons, as well as the work he put in over the offseason to improve his game and his durability. In 25 games with the Pistons last season, Griffin averaged 19.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while knocking down 34.8% of his 3-pointers.

With Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson all healthy, the Pistons are hopeful that the trio can lead them back to the playoffs in the weakened Eastern Conference. While the Pistons struggled after trading for Griffin, they didn’t get a true look at how good they can be with a healthy team. With new head coach Dwane Casey leading the way, there is optimism throughout the organization.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • Speaking of Griffin and Jackson, Casey revealed that there is no minutes restriction for either player, according to Keith Langlois, the editor of the Pistons‘ website (via Twitter). This is a good indication that both players are fully healthy and in game shape to begin the season.
  • Following a “no comment” response from Jabari Parker when asked if he would accept any role given to him, Will Perdue of NBC Sports Chicago writes that Parker can only be a positive addition to the Bulls if he puts the team ahead of his individual goals and desires. Parker struggled throughout the preseason, but has an opportunity to rebound his value in Chicago this season.
  • Mark Montieth answered several Pacers-related questions in a mailbag for the team’s website. In it he addresses T.J. Leaf‘s potential role this season, with it likely being a 10th or 11th man due to the team’s depth and Leaf’s youth as the Pacers look to build on last season’s surprising success.

Eastern Notes: Parker, Howard, Irving, Sixers

Things aren’t off to a great start this fall for the Bulls‘ big-name free agent acquisition, Jabari Parker. Head coach Fred Hoiberg adjusted his starting lineup this week, moving Parker to the bench, and it paid dividends in the team’s 104-89 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday, as K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune details. While Hoiberg initially said his new lineup was “just an experiment,” Johnson hears from sources that the coach has had discussions with his staff about whether to move Parker out of the starting lineup, and sounded today like he might be committed to that change.

“With the second unit — and I talked to Jabari about this — we used him in more of a facilitating role and put the ball in his hands as really kind of a point forward. I liked the look of it,” said the Bulls’ head coach, per Johnson. “We’ll continue to evaluate. But I did like the look of both groups.”

Addressing the change on Thursday, Parker – who has started 150 of his 183 career regular season games – didn’t sound overly enthusiastic about coming off the bench for the Bulls. According to Johnson, the former No. 2 overall pick provided a “no comment” when asked if he’d be willing to take whatever role at this stage in his career, and said playing a reserve role would be a “huge adjustment for me.” However, he also added, “I’ve just got to change with the times.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Dwight Howard‘s availability for the Wizards to start the season remains in question. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington wrote earlier this week that Howard had suffered a setback and visited a back specialist, while sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Howard had sustained a piriformis (buttocks) injury. While Howard will reportedly receive an injection to relieve the pain, the injury isn’t considered serious, according to Charania, so Washington should get its big free agent addition on the court before too long.
  • Discussing his decision to ask the Cavaliers for a trade, Kyrie Irving called it the “best thing” he’s done. Howard Beck of Bleacher Report has that quote and much more in an in-depth feature on the Celtics‘ starting point guard.
  • After promoting Elton Brand to general manager last month, the Sixers have named a new interim GM for their G League team, announcing today in a press release that Matt Lilly will serve as head of basketball operations for the Delaware Blue Coats. Brand previously held that position.

NBA GMs Weigh In On 2018/19 Season

NBA.com has completed its annual survey of NBA general managers, with John Schuhmann of NBA.com asking each of the league’s 30 GMs to answer an array of questions about the league’s top teams, players, and coaches. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors are once again viewed by the NBA’s general managers as the overwhelming favorites to be the last team standing, with 26 of 30 GMs (87%) picking Golden State to win the NBA championship for the fourth time in five years.

While there are many responses in the GM survey worth checking out, we’ll focus on rounding up some of the more noteworthy ones related to rosters and player movement. Let’s dive in…

  • LeBron James (30%) and Kevin Durant (27%) are viewed as the frontrunners for the 2018/19 MVP award, but two younger players led the voting for the player GMs would most want to build a franchise around starting today. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (30%) and Pelicans big man Anthony Davis (23%) led the way in that category. Interestingly, Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t receive a single vote this year after leading the way with 29% of the vote in 2017.
  • The Lakers‘ signing of James helped them earn 70% of the vote for the team that made the best overall moves this offseason. The Raptors, buoyed by their acquisition of Kawhi Leonard, finished second at 20%.
  • A ton of different signings and trade acquisitions received votes for the most underrated addition of the summer, with the Pacers‘ signing of Tyreke Evans barely leading the way with four votes. The Spurs‘ trade for DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls‘ signing of Jabari Parker, the Pelicans‘ addition of Julius Randle, and the Thunder‘s acquisition of Dennis Schroder received three votes apiece.
  • DeMarcus Cousins‘ decision to join the Warriors (35%) was considered the most surprising move of the offseason, followed by the Spurs/Raptors blockbuster trade (29%) and Paul George remaining with the Thunder (19%).
  • While Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is the strong frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, GMs expect Suns center Deandre Ayton and Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. to be the best players five years from now. Meanwhile, the Clippers‘ selection of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 11 was viewed by the most GMs as the steal of the draft.
  • The Sixers (47%) and Celtics (33%) dominated voting for the teams with the most promising young cores.

Jabari Parker Talks About His Departure From Milwaukee

Jabari Parker was never given a clear explanation from the Bucks on why they were willing to rescind their qualifying offer and let him sign elsewhere, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The former No. 2 overall pick signed with the Bulls during the offseason and isn’t looking for answers from his former squad.

“I don’t think it’s my responsibility to create all type of different scenarios in my head,’’ Parker said. “I just take it for what it is, eliminates my confusion, and I just move on, just because it’s not as important right now.’’

Parker added that he enjoyed his time in Milwaukee but is “bitter” about how it ended.

“I wasn’t planning on leaving so soon, especially like being there four years,’’ Parker said. “I love that group and all the training staff, medical staff. It just made it home. Every moment that I had, really involved in the community, was always out. But they went in a different direction, which I understand. … things happen. It’s the business.’’

Parker’s new deal is worth $40MM over two years, though the Bulls hold an option on year two. The Chicago native has impressed his new club so far this preseason, starting in place of Lauri Markkanen, who will be sidelined for up to two months with an elbow injury.

“He’s picking things up and he’s learning two positions, which isn’t easy to do when you’re in a new system.,” Hoiberg said. “He’s got a lot left in the tank, absolutely.’’

Central Rumors: Jackson, Holiday, LaVine, Sumner

Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson is still scraping off the rust after spending the summer rehabbing a high ankle sprain, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Jackson, who originally suffered the injury in late December, returned to basketball activities on Thursday and participated in a public scrimmage on Saturday. He showed some quickness during the scrimmage but took a passive approach offensively, Ellis notes. “He’s looked really good,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s still rusty in certain areas, reading situations defensively, but I’m very pleased at where he is.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pairing Justin Holiday and Jabari Parker at the forward spots could prove to be a successful stopgap measure for the Bulls, according to the analysis of NBC Sports Chicago’s Michael Walton. The Bulls are searching for ways to make up for the absence of Lauri Markkanen, who is out 6-8 weeks with an elbow injury. Holiday is a quality defender and 3-point shooter who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He should mesh well with a high usage player like Parker, who excels offensively. Parker’s ability to score on the break will allow Holiday to be more aggressive defensively and look for steals, Walton adds.
  • Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine feels a greater responsibility after signing a multi-year contract, as Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago reports. The front office matched his Kings’ four-year, $78MM offer sheet in July and LaVine wants to be looked upon as a leader. “We have so many scorers, though, so if any of us have an off day I think we’ll be able to pick up the slack really easily,” he said. “I know I’m here to be a leader and put the ball in the hoop and become a complete player.”
  • The Pacers’ second-round picks from the past two drafts have impressed in camp, Mark Monteith of the team’s website writes. Center Ike Anigbogu, guard Edmond Sumner and forward Alize Johnson will likely spend most of the season in the G League but coach Nate McMillan likes their progress. “They’ve had really good training camps,” McMillan told Monteith. “I really like what I see from those guys.”

Parker Bullish About Young Bulls’ Chemistry

Some may look at the signing of Jabari Parker as a bit of a double-edged sword, writes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, but Parker sees his addition to the Bulls as another weapon for head coach Fred Hoiberg to utilize as opposed to another body who may take shots away from the threesome of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen.

“Those days we had in the gym two weeks ago were very central for us and especially for me,” Parker said. “I got a chance to see those guys up front. It’s different playing with them than against them. I finally got a chance to know here I need to be on the floor and my strengths and things I need to work on.”

“It’s going to take time, like anything else. I can’t put a date on it. But once we figure out each other and start to jell, we’ll see results. Chemistry is key with those guys. The ball is going to be in their hands a lot. Hopefully I can feed off them.”

Luckily for the Bulls, Parker, Markkanen, and LaVine all shoot at roughly the same frequency. For his career, Parker has taken 12.6 shot attempts per game, while Markkanen attempted 12.7 shots per game as a rookie and LaVine has averaged 11.7 attempts in the NBA since being drafted in 2014. Meanwhile, Dunn will be tasked with making sure the ball gets distributed as needed.

“Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been playing with these guys, getting a feel of each player,” Dunn said. “I have great chemistry with Lauri. Zach, he’s easy to play with because he’s a knockdown shooter. Jabari, he’s an unselfish player, a slasher. And Wendell (Carter Jr.) is another unselfish player who doesn’t need the ball.”

Dunn, LaVine, Parker, and Markkanen will likely all start next to veteran Robin Lopez, but Carter’s minutes should increase as the season goes on, with sixth man Bobby Portis rounding out the team’s young core. Parker will also be able to slide to power forward and play alongside Portis or Carter when Markkanen is on the bench.

Central Notes: Parker, G. Robinson, Bullock, McMillan

Signing Jabari Parker away from the Bucks was a low-risk, high-reward move that could significantly raise the Bulls‘ talent level, writes Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders in that site’s season preview for Chicago. Parker got a two-year, $40MM deal that Milwaukee elected not to match. However, only the first season is guaranteed, so the Bulls can treat it like an expiring contract if things don’t work out.

Parker provided some reasons for optimism last season after returning from ACL surgery on his left knee. He averaged 12.6 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 31 games while shooting 48% from the field and 38% from 3-point range. There are still questions about his defense, which may improve after a summer off to rest the knee, and he will have to adjust to the small forward spot in Chicago.

In the same preview, the Basketball Insiders crew tabs rookie Wendell Carter as the Bulls’ best defensive player and states that Fred Hoiberg is finally getting to coach the style of team he envisioned when he took the job.

There’s more today from the Central Division:

  • Glenn Robinson III’s 3-point shooting may help him win a starting job with the Pistons, Keith Langlois of NBA.com notes in a mailbag column. Robinson and Stanley Johnson are the only natural small forwards on Detroit’s roster, and while Johnson is the better defender, Robinson has the size and athleticism to help on that end of the court. New coach Dwane Casey plans to emphasize 3-pointers, which gives Robinson a chance for significant playing time, whether as a starter or reserve.
  • The Pistons could have a tough time keeping Reggie Bullock next summer without making some roster moves to free up cap space, Langlois adds in the same piece. Bullock and  Johnson are both headed toward free agency, but Johnson will be restricted if Detroit makes a qualifying offer. Bullock will be seeking a raise from this year’s $2.5MM salary, and the team already has nearly $105MM committed for 2019/20.
  • Nate McMillan became just the second coach in Pacers history to receive a contract extension when his new deal was announced this week, observes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. McMillan far exceeded expectations last year in leading Indiana to a 48-win season after the team traded away Paul George.

Central Notes: Stephenson, Parker, Stefanski, Griffin

Lance Stephenson has left the Pacers again, but just like last time it may not be forever, writes Dana Benbow for The Indianapolis Star. Stephenson, who signed a one-year deal with the Lakers this summer, was asked about a possible return during a party he threw Wednesday to say goodbye to Indianapolis.

“Oh, of course. This is home. Of course,” he responded. “I would always want to come back here.”

Stephenson was among Indiana’s most productive reserves last season, appearing in all 82 games and posting a 9.2/5.2/2.9 line. His previous stints with other teams — the Hornets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Pelicans and Timberwolves — produced mostly disappointing results.

“We stayed in constant communication with him,” team president Kevin Pritchard said. “At the end of the day, Lance gave us some great years. We love Lance. We love Lance on the court, we love Lance off the court.” 

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Mike Budenholzer may be having “buyer’s remorse” over taking the Bucks‘ head coaching job after the loss of free agent Jabari Parker, suggests Gery Woelfel of WoelfelsPressBox in his latest podcast. He adds that the entire organization was counting on Parker to stay and never expected him to get an offer in the $20MM range like the Bulls gave him.
  • The Bucks are still hoping to make a deal before the season starts, Woelfel adds in the same discussion. He names John Henson, Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell as the players most likely to go, but says Eric Bledsoe has also been mentioned as a trade candidate.
  • Ed Stefanski has made a lot of progress in his first 100 days as a senior advisor to the Pistons, notes Chris Schwegler of NBA.com. The most significant moves were the hiring of reigning Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, adding Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown through the draft and signing free agents Glenn Robinson III, Jose Calderon and Zaza Pachulia.
  • Blake Griffin is looking healthy during his summer workouts at UCLA, relays Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. A knee injury limited Griffin to 58 games last year between the Clippers and Pistons, and he hasn’t played more than 67 in a season since 2013/14.