Kris Dunn

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Grant, Dunn, Pistons

The Bucks are now 3-0 since trading for Eric Bledsoe, and the veteran point guard believes even better things are ahead for his new club. Prior to Milwaukee’s win over the Grizzlies on Monday night, Bledsoe told Ashish Mathur of AmicoHoops.net that he’s still getting back in shape and getting familiar with his new teammates.

“It’s only going to get better,” Bledsoe said. “It’s only two games, bro. I can’t really go off two games. I haven’t played in two, three weeks. I’m still trying to get back into the flow of things. But as the season goes on, we’ll learn more about each other and our tendencies and where we like the ball.”

Meanwhile, Bledsoe’s arrival has pushed Malcolm Brogdon into a bench role, which has actually worked out well for the Bucks, who can no longer count on Greg Monroe to anchor the second unit. As Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, Milwaukee’s new-look bench has produced solid results so far, with Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova sharing ball-handling duties.

  • While the Bulls‘ power forward situation has drawn most of the headlines as of late, the club’s point guard situation is also worth watching, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who says that head coach Fred Hoiberg is still looking for “his” point guard. Jerian Grant and Kris Dunn are among the point guards vying for the lead role, and both players are expected to be in the starting lineup on Wednesday, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • The Pistons have been one of the NBA’s most pleasantly surprising teams in the first month of the 2017/18 season, but that hasn’t yet translated to good attendance numbers for the team’s new downtown arena. Rod Beard of The Detroit News takes a closer look.
  • Earlier this afternoon, I previewed the 2018 salary cap situations for all five Central teams.

Bulls Rumors: Portis, Grant, Lopez, Markkanen

Bobby Portis will jump into the Bulls’ rotation when his eight-game suspension ends on Tuesday, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com. Portis, who was punished for punching and injuring teammate Nikola Mirotic during a scrimmage scuffle, will back up rookie Lauri Markkanen at power forward. “We do plan on Bobby being the backup four,” coach Fred Hoiberg told Smith and other media members. “We’ll see how the flow of the game is going and see if we can slide him down to the five and allow he and Lauri to play together for a stretch.” Hoiberg said the second unit needs the boost that Portis can provide. “Every time he steps on the floor and we need a jolt of energy, he can provide that for us,” he said. “He needs to continue to do those little things that have made him successful when he’s been on the floor his first couple years in the league.”

In other items concerning the Bulls:

  • Jerian Grant is looking more comfortable at point guard and has emerged as a true competitor to Kris Dunn for the starting job, as Smith examines in a separate piece. Grant posted a near triple-double against the Pelicans on Saturday with 13 points, eight rebounds and nine rebounds while Dunn played only 17 minutes and shot 2-for-9 from the field. “I was able to push the ball and find my teammates,” Grant told Smith and other reporters. “If I continue to do that we can win some games and be in a game with a team like that.”
  • Center Robin Lopez believes the team’s younger players shouldn’t simply be handed playing time, as he expressed to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times“There’s something to be said for earning minutes,’’ Lopez said. “It kind of builds character. It’s just not going to work out perfectly all the time, but I’m a proponent of that.’’
  • Markkanen ranks second only to the Sixers’ Ben Simmons as a Rookie of the Year candidate, according to Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago.

Bulls Notes: Dunn, Grant, Payne, Mirotic

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg declared an “open” competition for the starting point guard slot after tonight’s 32-point loss to the Thunder, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. Kris Dunn, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Minnesota, made his season debut after missing the first four games with a dislocated finger. Dunn fell on the finger, but Hoiberg said he was “fine” after the game.

Jerian Grant started his fifth straight game, but has been less than stellar as Chicago has compiled a 1-4 record. He was averaging 10.8 points and 7.3 assists coming into tonight, but was shooting 39.5% from the field and was just 1 of 10 from 3-point range. He missed all seven of his shots against OKC and finished with two points. Kay Felder, who was claimed off waivers earlier this month, is the third point guard.

There’s more news from Chicago:

  • Cameron Payne could become another candidate for that starting spot when he returns from offseason foot surgery. The Bulls’ decision to pick up his option Friday indicates they still see him as part of the future, notes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Payne saw limited playing time after being acquired from the Thunder at February’s deadline. “The thing with Cam, obviously came in during the middle of the season,’’ Hoiberg said, “came at a tough time. The biggest thing we saw, especially in the playoff prep when he was playing the role of Isaiah Thomas, he really showed an ability to get downhill, spray the ball out.’’ The team doesn’t expect Payne back on the court before the start of 2018.
  • Nikola Mirotic, who is still recovering from the damage caused by a punch from Bobby Portis, has been cleared for supervised activity at the team facility, but hasn’t started yet, tweets Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago. Hoiberg said it may happen tomorrow or Monday.
  • David Nwaba, who won a roster spot after being claimed off waivers in July, is making a case for more playing time, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The second-year guard is impressing teammates with his commitment to defense. “David is one of the best shot contesters I’ve played against,” said Justin Holiday. “Remember when he blocked [Kyle] Korver‘s shot? How many do you see block Korver’s shot?”

Bulls Exercise Options On Bobby Portis, Four Others

The Bulls have exercised options on all five of their eligible players, the team announced in a press release. That was the plan all along, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets.

Returning on third-year options in 2018/19 will be Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine while all of Jerian Grant, Cameron Payne and Bobby Portis will be back on fourth-year options.

While it makes sense for a rebuilding team to retain young players with promise, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago tweeted on October 18 that the club hadn’t, at that point, made a decision about Portis.

Portis infamously hospitalized Nikola Mirotic in a team practice on October 17 and several stories have emerged in the last few days about internal doubts that the two will ever be able to co-exist in a Bulls locker room again.

As far as asset management goes, however, it makes sense for the Bulls to pick up the options on all of the capable young players as doing so doesn’t preclude them from making any moves with Mirotic, of Portis for that matter, in the future.

The exercised options of Dunn and Valentine are obvious choices. Both players, highly regarded entering their rookie campaigns in 2016/17, have shown flashes of why they were so revered in college. The raw but malleable assets are exactly the type of building blocks that a team in Chicago’s current position ought to be collecting.

In contrast, Grant, the club’s starting point guard thus far in 2018/19, is the most heavily utilized player of the bunch. Grant has posted averages of 10.8 points and an impressive 7.3 assists per game in a full starter’s workload through four games. He may end up ceding time and opportunity to Dunn, who is expected to return in a reserve role soon, but has done a fine job establishing himself in his third season.

The decision to exercise Payne’s fourth-year option seems natural considering that the team marketed him as a potential point guard of the future last season.

As the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson noted in a separate tweet, there remains internal belief that Payne could have an impact on the rebuilding team if he’s able to maintain his health. Payne has played just 88 games throughout the first three years of his career.

Injury Notes: Fultz, Dunn, Blazers, J. Hernangomez

While we at Hoops Rumors tend to avoid extensively covering day-to-day injuries and other minor ailments, we do make an effort to pass along word of slightly longer-term injuries that could have an impact on a team’s rotation or roster.

Markelle Fultz‘ shoulder issue doesn’t fit that bill yet, but it sounds like it might at some point. As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports, agent Raymond Brothers confirmed that Fultz has had fluid drained from his right shoulder and plans to visit a specialist soon.

“He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball,” Brothers said of his client. “He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.”

Considering how cautious the Sixers have been in recent years with injuries, it’s somewhat surprising that Fultz is playing at all for the team to start the season. However, according to Wojnarowski, no decision has been made yet for this year’s first overall pick to miss games. The 76ers are weighing their options, says Sarah Todd of Philly.com.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Kris Dunn, who has yet to make his debut for the Bulls, will come off the bench when he returns to the court, head coach Fred Hoiberg said today (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune). Dunn is expected to play his first game for Chicago on either Thursday or Saturday.
  • Entering a contract year, Noah Vonleh is targeting a November 1 return from shoulder surgery, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. That would give the Trail Blazers a fully healthy NBA roster, though two-way player C.J. Wilcox will be sidelined for a while — the team announced in a press release that Wilcox is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing a successful arthroscopy on his right knee.
  • Nuggets forward Juan Hernangomez has been diagnosed with mononucleosis, the team confirmed on Tuesday in a press release. There’s no specific timeline for Hernangomez’ return yet, but according to the Nuggets, he didn’t travel with the club on its current four-game road trip.
  • Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, frustrated by an ankle injury, is hoping to rejoin the club on its current six-game road trip, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. In the meantime, Lucas Nogueira, who is in a contract year, will enjoy an increased role, Smith notes in a separate article.

Bulls Notes: Pondexter, Portis, Dunn

After a tumultuous two years on the sidelines, Bulls forward Quincy Pondexter made an emotional return to the court in Chicago’s season opener, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The 29-year-old missed the last two seasons recovering from a knee injury, as well as a life-threatening MRSA infection.

Just last January one of Pondexter’s knee surgeries went south, resulting in the guard nearly dying in a New York hospital due to the antibiotic-resistant infection. “It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. This journey has been amazing.

Pondexter scored eight points in his return but despite a prolific three-point shot, the veteran’s biggest contribution to the young Bulls will likely be his leadership. Pondexter has served as a valued role player for the Pelicans and the Grizzlies and will look to continue where he left off in 2014/15.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Head coach Fred Hoiberg told Nick Friedell of ESPN that Bobby Portis apologized to his teammates in a recent team meeting.
  • There are too many variables at play for Bulls President of Basketball Operations John Paxson to put a timeline on the team’s rebuild, Cody Westerlund of 670 The Score tweets.
  • If the Bulls were hoping for a quiet 2017/18 season to develop young players and establish a new culture, that vanished the moment Bobby Portis punched Nikola Mirotic, Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Now the club in transition will be viewed under a microscope.
  • Second-year guard Kris Dunn could make his season debut as early as next week, NBA writer Sean Highkin tweets. Dunn had been expected to be sidelined 2-to-4 weeks as recently as last week.

Central Notes: Bulls, Pistons, Smith

The Bulls finally embraced a rebuild this offseason so there will be no shortage of attention paid to how they manage each and every asset from this point forward. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the club will be particularly patient with injuries to key young players considering that now more than ever the club can afford to lose ball games.

Between the lingering effects of Zach LaVine‘s 2016/17 ACL injury and preseason setbacks to both Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, the new look Bulls are awfully banged up ahead of the 2017 season opener and may not even see the court together until as late as December.

I think it’s just about being patient,” Dunn, acquired in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler from the Bulls to Minnesota, said. “Lauri, he was in Finland, so there was a lot of strain on his back from all the games they played [in the EuroBasket tournament]. Zach, with his injury, you try to take it slow with him because he’s a big piece to this team. And me, I’m just slowly trying to get back. So it’s just a slow thing.

To that effect, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg has said that his starting lineup when the season begins on Tuesday will consist of Jerian Grant, Justin Holiday, Nikola Mirotic, Paul Zipser and Robin Lopez.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • When Derrick Rose signed a minimum contract with the Cavaliers, he did so as a bet on himself. “I get a chance to reintroduce myself back to the league. I get to bet on myself. That was one of the reasons I came here, I get to bet on myself. And I’m from Chicago, I’ve got that hustling side; it’s in me, man,” he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • While Pistons projects Luke Kennard and Henry Ellenson figure to make an impact on the team eventually, they’ll have to beat out defensive-minded veterans Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver for minutes, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site writes. Both Tolliver and Bullock provide plenty of intangible skill that make life easier for the second unit.
  • The announcement that Dwyane Wade would be the Cavaliers‘ starting shooting guard didn’t go over well with J.R. Smith. “We talked about it,” Smith told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “It wasn’t the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we’ll get through it together.

Bulls Notes: Rose, Wade, Dunn, Lineup

With Dwyane Wade poised to start at shooting guard this season for the Cavaliers, he and Derrick Rose will share the backcourt in Cleveland. The pairing is one that the Bulls badly wanted to create themselves back in 2010, and Rose said today that he made an effort to bring Wade – along with LeBron James and Chris Bosh – to Chicago. As Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details, the former No. 1 overall pick recorded a video to recruit the trio.

“Oh yeah, yeah, I tried,” Rose said, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “People always said that I didn’t recruit. I tried to recruit. I put out the video, but, it wasn’t for me to say that. I felt like it was for the organization to say that.”

Rose, who received some criticism during his time with the Bulls for not making a stronger effort to recruit free agents, said today that he doesn’t know whether Wade, James, and Bosh ever watched the video he recorded.

“(The Bulls) didn’t say anything about it,” Rose said. “They sent it, I don’t know if they really actually looked at it or played the video, but, I made the video, but at the time it really wasn’t for me to say that.”

Here’s more from out of Chicago:

  • There are no hard feelings between the Bulls’ young players and Wade, despite an incident last season in which the veteran guard – along with Jimmy Butler – questioned his teammates’ desire to win. We never had any conflict with Dwyane,” Nikola Mirotic said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “Just after that game, they had some tough declarations, Jimmy and D-Wade. But that was all. It’s a part of the game. They were hot. There was disappointment about the game. We all understand. But inside the locker room and in the practices, they were terrific with us. So there’s nothing to complain about.”
  • Bulls reporter Sean Highkin (Twitter link) hears that the Bulls expect point guard Kris Dunn to be sidelined for two to four weeks due to a dislocated finger.
  • While it hasn’t been set in stone yet, all signs are pointing toward the Bulls opening the season with Jerian Grant, Justin Holiday, Paul Zipser, Mirotic, and Robin Lopez in their starting lineup. K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune has the details.

Central Notes: Bulls, Smith, Johnson

The Bulls have fully embraced a rebuild and it’s centered around Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman declared as much at media day, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

We’re in a position now where we have supportive ownership, we’ve defined our direction and we’re looking forward,” Paxson said. “That’s all Gar and I can do every day.

The three players mentioned were all acquired a draft day deal between the Bulls and Timberwolves that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. The change of course to embrace a rebuild came after a season of trade rumors and speculation that the organization should dismantle its core (among other things).

I do think we can win our fans’ trust back by showing them we can put a group of young players out there who care and show them there’s promise ahead,” Paxson said.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • For now at least, J.R. Smith is the starting shooting guard on the Cavaliers, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. “I’m not going to sit here and get into a ‘blank’ measuring contest with Dwyane Wade,” Smith said. “I’m not going to win that. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to continue to work hard for our team and however they choose to do it, that’s who it’s going to be.”
  • Citing mental maturation and a commitment to improving, Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy is optimistic about third-year forward Stanley Johnson‘s progress, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site writes. Van Gundy also praised rookie Luke Kennard‘s performance at training camp thus far.
  • There’s a case to be made for Cavaliers forward LeBron James winning the MVP this season. Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes that the 15-year veteran is coming off one of the best offseasons he’s had since he came into the league.

 

Bulls Notes: Wade, Hoiberg, Forman, Dunn

Dwyane Wade hasn’t contacted the Bulls’ front office about his desire for a buyout and is hoping the team makes the first move, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Wade made his feelings clear that he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding project after Chicago traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota in June. However, he is reluctant to give up much of the $23.8MM salary for the upcoming season that he opted into and apparently believes he can get a better deal if Bulls management takes the initiative on buyout talks.

A recent report said Wade hasn’t been in contact with anyone from the front office since the Butler deal and that he felt misled because he was given assurances that the Bulls would try to remain competitive before he opted in. At 35, Wade is by far the oldest and most expensive player on Chicago’s roster and he clearly doesn’t fit the team’s youth movement. How far each side is willing to continue before buyout talks begin will be among the most interesting storylines of the new season.

Cowley shares more information out of Chicago:

  • Expectations will be different for coach Fred Hoiberg with the revamped roster, but he still has to show progress to keep his job. Hoiberg has been under fire from fans and the media since coming to Chicago two years ago and was publicly criticized by Butler early in his first season. Cowley calls it “sink-or-swim time” for Hoiberg, who has to turn a young roster into the type of team he envisioned when he was hired.
  • GM Gar Forman’s fate is probably tied to Hoiberg’s, Cowley adds. Forman, who made the decision to bring Hoiberg out of the college ranks, is already unpopular with Bulls’ fans, some of whom paid to put up a billboard in July calling for the firing of him and president of basketball operations John Paxson.
  • Kris Dunn, part of the package acquired in exchange for Butler, has an open path toward being the starting point guard. The fifth pick of the 2016 draft, Dunn had a disappointing rookie season in Minnesota, but the Bulls have no obvious successor to Rajon Rondo.
  • The Bulls are happy with what they have seen from first-round pick Lauri Markkanen during summer league and EuroBasket. The seventh overall selection will be “a key foundation piece” of the rebuild.
  • Robin Lopez is the team’s most valuable trade commodity and seems likely to be moved during the season. The 29-year-old center averaged 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in his first season with the Bulls after being acquired in a deal with the Knicks.
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