Kris Dunn

Bulls Notes: Record Loss, Hoiberg, Dunn, Arcidiacono

New Bulls coach Jim Boylen didn’t hold back his criticism after Saturday’s 56-point loss to the Celtics, the worst defeat in franchise history, relays Malika Andrews of ESPN.

“I think your play is embarrassing,” said Boylen, who pulled his five starters for the night three minutes into the third quarter. “… I worked for [Spurs head coach] Gregg Popovich. He subbed five guys a ton of times. Nobody says a word to him about it. He felt that was best for the team. I felt that was best for the team where we were at. I wanted to give the other guys a chance to see if they could right the ship a little bit. If I don’t like the five guys out there, if I don’t like the combination, I’m going to look at a new combination. Take them all out, let them sit there and think about it.”

There was plenty to think about, and none of it was good. Chicago fell behind 17-0 and went more than six minutes of the first quarter without scoring. The deficit was 32 points when Boylen decided to pull Ryan Arcidiacono, Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter, who combined for 27 points on the night, the lowest total for a Bulls starting lineup in 11 years. Fans booed loudly throughout the game as the team fell to 6-21.

“We don’t have that internal toughness yet to play at this level consistently,” Boylen said afterward.

There’s more this morning from Chicago:

  • Bulls management claims that former coach Fred Hoiberg was dismissed because he lost his influence with his players, but the real reason was a deteriorating relationship with GM Gar Forman, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Bobby Portis was the latest player to come to Hoiberg’s defense Saturday. “He’s a players’ coach, lets guys go out there and do what they do, get better,” Portis said. “Me, personally, he helped me develop my game a lot, so I credit a lot of things toward him. To say that he lost the respect of the locker room, I don’t think that’s a good way to put it.’’
  • Portis and Kris Dunn are both close to returning from knee injuries, although neither played Saturday. Dunn’s return will mark a critical time in his career, as he becomes eligible for a rookie contract extension at the end of the season, Cowley notes in a separate story. Dunn has been effective since coming to Chicago last year, but it’s not clear if the front office is fully invested in him as the point guard of the future. Cowley states that the team had a private workout with Trae Young before the draft and considered taking Collin Sexton with the seventh pick before opting for Carter.
  • Arcidiacono’s high-energy game has made him an effective fill-in during Dunn’s absence, writes Sam Smith of NBA.com.

Kris Dunn, Bobby Portis Set To Return Soon?

On Thursday afternoon, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic reported that both Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis were on the verge of returning to the Bulls lineup soon and that head coach Jim Boylen intimated the team was contemplating playing the pair as early as last night’s win over the Thunder.

Of course, last night came and went with neither Dunn nor Portis taking the floor, and per Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, neither player is a sure bet to play against the Celtics tonight either.

“They had a good day and that’s about all I’ve got,” Boylen said yesterday in regard to tonight’s game. “We have to wait until they respond (Saturday) morning. They have their check-in and we go from there. (But) they got through (Friday) and did well.”

Last we heard about two weeks ago, both Dunn and Portis were able to work out for the first time, which was the most either had done since being injured, but neither player was ready for any type of contact, per former coach Fred Hoiberg.

Dunn, 24, sprained his right MCL against the Mavericks in the third game of the season (his first) on October 22 and has not played since. Meanwhile, Portis, 23, suffered the same injury two nights later. Likewise, he has been out of the lineup since the injury.

Per Boylen, both Portis and Dunn will have their minutes restricted whenever they return.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Markkanen, Hoiberg, Tanking

Zach LaVine isn’t surprised by the success he’s having this season, and neither is his former coach in Minnesota, writes Kurt Youngblood of The Star Tribune. A key piece of the deal that brought Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves in the summer of 2017, LaVine is having a breakthrough season after getting a $78MM payday in July when the Bulls matched a four-year offer sheet from the Kings. He has responded by averaging 25.5 points per game, ninth best in the league.

“You work hard, you expect good things,” LaVine said.

LaVine appeared headed for stardom with the Wolves before being sidelined with a torn ACL in February of 2017. Minnesota opted to part with him to bring in Butler, but coach Tom Thibodeau still keeps an eye on LaVine’s progress.

“I think last year you saw glimpses of what he could do,” Thibodeau said. “I think now that he’s healthy, he’s gone to a different level. He loves the game. Those types of guys always get better.’’

There’s more this morning out of Chicago:

  • Three key players are making progress in returning from injuries, relays Dan Santaromita of NBC Sports Chicago. Lauri Markkanen is ready for “controlled contact” at practice as he rehabs a right elbow injury. Although there’s no timetable for him to return, Bulls coaches were encouraged by the way he shot at Friday’s practice. Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis, who are both sidelined with sprained MCLs, were both able to work out Friday. “That’s the most that Kris Dunn and Bobby have done really since the injury, so really just continue to ramp up their activities,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Those guys are not ready for any type of contact yet.”
  • Even though the Bulls appear headed for the lottery again after a 5-15 start, Hoiberg continues to stress the importance of trying to win every game, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Hoiberg remains optimistic that getting back to full strength will spark a surge similar to what the team did last December when Nikola Mirotic returned. “If you do go out there and get a couple wins … they lift everyone’s spirits because our guys are going out there and working hard in practices, and to be able to get over the hump is big for these guys and their development,’’ Hoiberg said. “For young players to see that when they continue to work, good things can happen.”
  • In a column, Cowley takes the opposite approach, noting that the organization needs to commit to tanking to have a shot at drafting a star such as Duke freshman Zion Williamson.

Injury Updates: Nowitzki, Markkanen, Leonard, Harkless

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is targeting next month for his season debut, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Nowitzki provided an update today on his condition as he continues rehab work after having surgery on his left ankle in April. “Hopefully somewhere in December, I’ll be ready,” he said, although he hasn’t been able to participate in a full practice since the operation.

Nowitzki saw some action in a “staff game” today, playing against interns and younger members of the coaching staff. “I wasn’t the best player out there, so I have some work to do,” he said.

Nowitzki, who turned 40 over the summer, remained effective last season, playing 77 games and averaging 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per night. He has indicated that this may be his final NBA season, although he hasn’t made a formal announcement.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen continues to make progress in his return from a right elbow injury and could start practicing with contact next week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Coach Fred Hoiberg said Markkanen has made major improvements with his conditioning. He suffered a high-grade lateral elbow sprain during training camp.
  • Hoiberg added that Kris Dunn is ahead of Bobby Portis in recovering from knee injuries that they suffered within days of each other (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors are moving closer to using Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games, coach Nick Nurse told Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun (Twitter link). Nurse added that the team’s strategy with Leonard over the first quarter of the season has been successful, and there have been no problems when he has been asked to play a lot of minutes. “He feels good,” Nurse added of Leonard, who was limited to nine games with the Spurs last season because of a quad injury.
  • The RaptorsC.J. Miles missed his fifth straight game tonight with a groin strain, but he should be back soon, Wolstat adds (Twitter link).
  • Maurice Harkless is returning to the Trail Blazers‘ lineup tonight after missing 13 games with a sore left knee, tweets Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.

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.

Central Notes: Kennard, Dunn, Asik, Evans

Pistons coach Dwane Casey will use a variety of players to replace reserve guard Luke Kennard, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports. Kennard suffered a separated shoulder against Cleveland on Thursday and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Rookies Bruce Brown, Khyri Thomas and Zach Lofton along with Glenn Robinson III and Jose Calderon will take turns filling up Kennard’s rotation minutes until he returns.

“It’ll be matchup driven,” Casey said of the Pistons’ plans to fill Kennard’s minutes. “Glenn does a good job of chasing guys. Some guys have trouble against length. That will be Glenn. But Bruce, he’s capable of really guarding a lot of different people. Khyri Thomas, too. Luke going down is an opportunity for Khyri, Jose to be ready. … That’s why we have 15 on the roster. We’ll have to make a decision whether we want to bring up (two-way player) Zach Lofton. This is why you stay ready for your opportunity.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls point guard Kris Dunn had no idea how badly he injured his knee until he returned home from Dallas, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Dunn will be out 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain in his left knee. He originally thought it was just a bruise but the pain increased on the flight home on Monday and the knee locked up on him when he returned home. An MRI the next morning revealed the severity of the injury. “I think it’s unlucky. It comes with the game,” Dunn said. “I can either cry about it or try to work my way around it. I’m going to stay positive, be a man about it.”
  • The Bulls decided not to use the stretch provision on the $3MM guarantee for Omer Asik‘s 2019 salary, ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirms (Twitter link). Chicago ate the approximately $11.3MM owed to Asik this season and waived him over the weekend. The team could have chosen to stretch out the $3MM guarantee for next season over a three-year period. However, the $3MM cap hit could be erased entirely if the 32-year-old Asik is deemed medically ineligible to play. Asik is out indefinitely with inflammatory arthritis.
  • Tyreke Evans will sit out Saturday’s game against Cleveland for violating team rules, the Pacers announced in a press release. Evans, who signed a one-year, $12MM contract as a free agent this summer, said that he was late for practice and expressed remorse. “This is the most professional and team-oriented organization I have been with in my career,” he said. “They deserve my best every day and I am disappointed in myself for causing a distraction that prevents me from being able to help my team tomorrow. I will do better.”

Bulls’ Kris Dunn Out 4-6 Weeks With MCL Sprain

Bulls starting point guard Kris Dunn will be sidelined for the next four to six weeks after suffering a sprained MCL, the team announced today (via Twitter). The injury occurred in the second quarter of Monday’s loss to Dallas, per head coach Fred Hoiberg (Twitter link via The Chicago Sun-Times).

Dunn, who missed the start of the season due to the birth of his child, was making his regular season debut on Monday. While he was able to stay in and finish the game after sustaining the injury, he’ll now be out of action until at least late November, according to the team.

With Dunn set to return within six weeks or so, the Bulls are unlikely to make a roster move to acquire point guard depth, particularly since they already did so over the weekend — the club added Shaquille Harrison to a group that also includes Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono, and those three guards figure to handle the position in Dunn’s absence. Tyler Ulis may also see some action, but he’s on a two-way contract, so any day he plays or practices with the team will count toward his 45-day NBA limit.

Payne, who started Chicago’s first two games of the season, is the best bet to claim Dunn’s spot in the starting five. All three of the Bulls’ reserve point guards will be looking to make an impression on team management with Dunn on the shelf, as Payne is in a contract year and Harrison and Arcidiacono don’t have fully guaranteed salaries.

The Bulls will now be without Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, and Denzel Valentine for the time being as they look to rebound from an 0-3 start.

Central Notes: Jackson, Arcidiacono, Frazier, Bucks Arena

Pistons coach Dwane Casey plans to play his point guards Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith together on a regular basis this season, as he told the Free Press and other media outlets. Casey paired them up during stretches of the second and fourth quarters during the team’s 103-100 season-opening win over Brooklyn. “I really liked it,” Casey said. “I think Ish and Reggie together gives us a different pick-and-roll look, an opportunity to have multiple pick-and-rolls and two attackers. … It really gives us some energy, juice, speed, quickness and attackers.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Guards Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis could receive extensive playing time as the Bulls search for answers behind starting point guard Kris Dunn and at the off-guard position, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Arcidiacono, whose $1,349,383 salary doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January 10th, collected eight points and eight assists in 28 minutes during the team’s opener. Ulis, who received a two-way contract this week after being claimed off waivers, could spark the second unit. “He’s ready. He’s done a good job in practice,” coach Fred Hoiberg said of Ulis.
  • The Bucks saved a little money — $18,321 to be exact — when guard Tim Frazier was claimed off waivers by the Pelicans, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. New Orleans inherited Frazier’s $1.5MM non-guaranteed contract. He was Milwaukee’s final roster cut prior to opening night.
  • The Bucks franchise would have relocated if the new Fiserv Forum hadn’t been built, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. Milwaukee played its first regular-season game there on Friday. “We were going to do everything we could to stay in Milwaukee,” Bucks co-owner Mark Lasry said. “That was ultimately something that was outside our control in that the NBA wanted a new arena, and if we couldn’t get one, they would have forced us to move.” When the current ownership group bought the Bucks for $550MM in 2014, the purchase agreement included a clause allowing the league to buy back the team for potential relocation if the new owners didn’t get a formal arena construction plan in place, Zillgitt adds.

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: Beilein, James, Finals, Dunn

Michigan coach John Beilein was not offered the Pistons head coaching job before he withdrew his candidacy on Wednesday, Brendan Quinn of The Athletic reports. Beilein was one of the finalists along with ex-Raptors coach Dwane Casey and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka. Beilein was uncomfortable with the attention that he received when his name surfaced publicly and grew tired of the dragged-out process. But he admitted he would have strongly considered taking the NBA job if it had been offered. “I just said, let’s just move forward. I’ll make their decision easier,” Beilein told Quinn. “I felt like, well, if they’re not certain — and I understand that, it’s OK — but if they’re not certain, then I’m not going to be certain.”

In other developments involving Central Division teams:

  • Pressure from family members might be the only way that LeBron James stays with the Cavaliers after the NBA Finals, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. James has more of an inkling what he’ll do this summer than he’s revealed publicly, Stein continues. Joining forces with close friend Chris Paul is a strong possibility, Stein adds, whether he goes to the Rockets or they sign with another team with enough salary-cap space to pull it off.
  • The Cavaliers are frustrated to be down 3-0 in theFinals against a more vulnerable Warriors team than they faced last year, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. One unnamed player even told Lloyd the series would be completely opposite if Kyrie Irving had not been traded to the Celtics. “We’d be up 3-0 if Kyrie was still here,” the player said. “I have no doubt.”
  • It’s possible the Bulls will draft a point guard, in part because they’re unhappy with Kris Dunn‘s work habits, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Multiple sources told Cowley that the coaching staff and front office believe Dunn has been “shortcutting’’ his way through May and the first week of June. This is a surprise, Cowley adds, because Dunn was considered a workout warrior with the Timberwolves and showed the same traits last summer after he was traded to Chicago.