Kris Dunn

Central Notes: Bulls, Griffin, Oladipo, Bucks

The Bulls will have to make decisions on three young players, including two 2016 lottery draft picks, when those players become eligible for restricted free agency during the 2020 offseason. Whether or not retaining Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, and Shaquille Harrison makes sense for Chicago’s new front office is up for some debate, per NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer.

Though the 26-year-old Dunn (the No. 5 pick out of Providence in 2016) is a strong defender, his awful shooting will limit his usefulness for the Bulls. Schaefer anticipates that Dunn will play out the 2020/21 season on his $7.1MM qualifying offer for the 2020/21 season without reaching a longer-term deal with the club.

Schaefer also expects Harrison to play out his significantly smaller minimum-salary qualifying offer. Schaefer is less optimistic about the Bulls keeping injury-prone Valentine (the No. 14 pick out of Michigan State in 2016), who has appeared in just 170 of 311 possible games across his four-year Bulls tenure.

There is more out of the Central Division:

  • For the underwhelming Pistons, a healthy Blake Griffin could fetch a better return on the trade market than center Andre Drummond was able to this season, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN details the ramifications of Pacers guard Victor Oladipo‘s decision to opt out of the NBA’s Orlando season restart. Aaron Holiday looks to absorb most of Oladipo’s minutes, and Pelton anticipates the point guard will start in the backcourt alongside Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon recently tested positive for COVID-19, but he expects to join the team in Orlando once he recovers.
  • During the NBA’s season pause, the team with the best record employed creative outside-the-box thinking to stay active, per Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Nickel details the 53-12 Bucks‘ intriguing practices. “It’s been weird,” All-Star Khris Middleton told reporters in a conference call today. “Usually we’re all encouraging each other, talking to each other, joking around with one another, playing music.”

Kris Dunn Meets Starter Criteria, Increases Value Of QO

Bulls guard Kris Dunn has been deemed to have met the starter criteria as a result of the shortened season, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). As a result, Dunn will receive a qualifying offer of $7,091,457 instead of $4,642,800 this offseason if Chicago wants to make him a restricted free agent.

We broke down Dunn’s situation in greater depth earlier this month, but the abridged version is this: A player eligible for restricted free agency receives a more lucrative qualifying offer if he starts 41 games or plays 2,000 minutes in the season before he reaches free agency, or if he averages 41 starts or 2,000 minutes in the two seasons before his free agency.

Dunn, who started 32 games this season and 76 in total over the last two years, fell slightly short of the 41-game-per-season requirement, but the criteria became prorated due to the Bulls only playing 65 of their 82 games this season. As a result, the former No. 5 overall pick was considered to have met the starter criteria, increasing the value of his qualifying offer.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the $2.5MM difference could have a real impact on Dunn’s free agency. It’s possible the Bulls will be less inclined to tender a qualifying offer now that it’s worth $7.1MM instead of $4.6MM. If they do move ahead with the QO, it’s possible Dunn will be more inclined to accept it.

If Chicago doesn’t tender a qualifying offer to Dunn, he’d become an unrestricted free agent.

As Marks and ESPN have previously reported, the NBA and NBPA also agreed to prorate the criteria for bonuses and incentives available to players in 2019/20, based on the shortened season. As a result, the following players have now achieved bonuses, according to Marks (Twitter link):

  • Rudy Gobert (Jazz): $250K for a rate of one rebound per 2.52 minutes in 62 games played.
    • Original criteria: A rate of one rebound per <3.2 minutes in 67 games.
  • Solomon Hill (Heat): $532K for 992 minutes played.
    • Original criteria: 1,000 minutes.
  • Jrue Holiday (Pelicans): $255K for 1,922 minutes played; $255K for 55 games played; $255K for 4.9 RPG in 55 games.
    • Original criteria: 2,075 minutes played; 66 games played; 3.15 RPG in 67 games.
  • Tyus Jones (Grizzlies): $858K for 32 wins.
    • Original criteria: 33 wins.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors): $200K for All-Star berth and 52 games played.
    • Original criteria: All-Star berth and 65 games played.
  • Patty Mills (Spurs): $250K for 149 three-pointers made.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM.
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers): $250K for 184 three-pointers made and .375 3PT%.
    • Original criteria: 185 3PM; .370 3PT%.

Potential 2020 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.

A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2018/19 and 32 in 2019/20, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

In 2017, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – centers Alex Len and Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,642,800.

As the Nos. 9, 10, and 14 picks in the 2016 draft, Poeltl, Maker, and Valentine won’t be hit particularly hard by falling short of the starter criteria. Their projected qualifying offers would have ranged from approximately $5.09MM to $4.7MM, respectively, so a dip to $4.64MM shouldn’t have a major impact on their respective free agencies. Of the three players, only Poeltl looks like a lock to even receive a QO.

The top-14 pick whose situation remains unclear:

Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding this season, the usual definition of the starter criteria becomes a little more complicated. For instance, if a player started 40 games, but his team’s season ended after 65 games, should he be credited with having met the starter criteria based on the fact that he was “on pace” to do so over a full 82-game season?

There’s only one player who technically didn’t meet the starter criteria but was on pace to do so: Bulls guard Kris Dunn. After starting 44 games in 2018/19, Dunn started 32 of Chicago’s games this year, for a total of 76 over the last two seasons. If his starts this season were prorated over a full 82 games, he would have met the starter criteria.

The NBA and NBPA have agreed to prorate the criteria for performance bonuses and incentives in player contracts — it would make sense for the same rules to apply to Dunn. However, as we discussed last week, the fourth-year guard had a knee injury that was expected to sideline him for the rest of the season before COVID-19 threw the schedule into disarray. The Bulls, who had control over Dunn’s ability to make the last six starts he needed, may push back against the idea that proration should allow him to surpass the starter-criteria threshold.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks tells Hoops Rumors that Dunn will likely be deemed to have met the starter criteria, in which case his qualifying offer will be worth $7,091,457. If that changes, the value of his QO would dip to $4,642,800.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Saric was a 12th overall pick and met the starter criteria with 50 starts this season, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $5,087,871 instead of $4,791,213. No other players fit the bill this year — many of the best players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2016 have already been extended, while the others didn’t have major roles or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Entering the season, Malik Beasley – who logged nearly 1,900 minutes in 2018/19 – looked like the strongest candidate to join Saric in this group. However, Beasley had an inconsistent role in the Nuggets’ rotation before being traded to the Timberwolves, and ended up making just 14 starts (all with Minnesota), with 1,209 total minutes played.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

No second-round picks or undrafted free agents eligible for restricted free agency met the starter criteria this season, which would have put them in line for a qualifying offer worth $3,126,948.

Actually, Bogdan Bogdanovic (Kings) technically qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will be worth $10,661,733 based on other criteria, rendering the starter criteria irrelevant for him.

De’Anthony Melton, Kenrich Williams, Torrey Craig, and Jevon Carter were some of the other top candidates to meet the starter criteria among second-rounders and UDFAs, but none ultimately recorded more than 1,011 minutes (Melton) or 18 starts (Williams).

As a result, those players – and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents – won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Salary information from Basketball Insiders used in the creation of this post.

One Key Question Surrounding Kris Dunn’s Free Agency

Bulls guard Kris Dunn won’t be one of this offseason’s marquee free agents, and a possible depressed market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic may limit his earning potential. However, the former first-round pick should be an intriguing option for teams looking to improve their backcourt defense.

Dunn was Chicago’s best perimeter defender in 2019/20 making a legit case for an All-Defense nod as he led all qualified players with 2.9 steals per 36 minutes. He also wasn’t a major offensive liability, reducing his turnovers to 1.3 per game and posting a career-best .444 FG% as his usage rate declined.

However, there’s one key question looming over Dunn’s free agency that may dictate how his market plays out and what sort of deal he ends up signing. As a 2016 first-round pick, he’s eligible for restricted free agency this offseason, but the Bulls will have to tender him a qualifying offer in order to make him restricted, and the amount of that QO remains up in the air.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Qualifying Offers]

The amount of Dunn’s qualifying offer – which is essentially a one-year contract offer that gives the Bulls the right of first refusal – hinges on whether or not he has met the starter criteria. If he has met the starter criteria, his QO will be worth $7,091,457. If he falls short, the value of the QO dips to $4,642,800.

We provide more details on the starter criteria in our glossary entry on the subject, but in Dunn’s case, it’s important to know that he would have met the starter criteria if he had started a total of 82 games over the last two seasons (an average of 41 per season). After starting 44 games in 2018/19, Dunn started just 32 games this year, for a total of 76.

However, the Bulls will only end up playing a total of 65 regular season games in 2019/20 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the suspension of the season. Dunn’s camp could argue that his 32 starts should be prorated over a full 82-game schedule — in that case, he’d be credited for a total of 40 starts, increasing his two-year total to 84 and meeting the starter criteria.

The Bulls, on the other hand, could rightly argue that a knee injury which sidelined Dunn before the season was suspended was expected to keep him out of action for the rest of the club’s season if it had ended on April 15, as initially expected. In other words, there would have been no way for him to get those last few starts he was “projected” for.

It’s a tricky situation, and I’m not sure how the NBA will handle it. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks wrote recently, requirements for certain incentives and bonuses are expected to be prorated to account for the shortened season to make things fair to players who fell just short of those incentives and would’ve met them given a full 82 games. But the starter criteria is a separate issue, and there are reasonable arguments on both sides — especially since the Bulls may not have started Dunn again even if he’d been able to return from his injury.

For a restricted free agent like Brandon Ingram, who most certainly won’t accept his qualifying offer, this would be a non-issue. But for the Bulls and Dunn, the difference between a $4.6MM qualifying offer and one worth $7.1MM is significant, especially since there’s not expected to be a ton of league-wide money available for free agents this offseason.

Would the Bulls still tender Dunn a qualifying offer if the price is $7.1MM? If not, the 26-year-old would become an unrestricted free agent. Would Dunn accept a $7.1MM qualifying offer if it’s on the table? I don’t think that’s out of the question, considering it’s not far off from a mid-level salary. Conversely, I think the Bulls would be far more inclined to offer a $4.6MM QO, while Dunn would be less likely to accept it.

It’s not unreasonable to believe that a $2.5MM difference in potential qualifying offers could reshape what Dunn’s free agency looks like, so it’ll be fascinating to see how the NBA and NBPA determine that price point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Dunn, Mykhailiuk, Pistons, Isaac

Lauri Markkanen’s fit in the Bulls’ offense is the biggest question facing the franchise, Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The organization must figure out if he can become a consistent 20-point, 10-rebound player. There will probably be little roster turnover but the organization is likely to allow point guard Kris Dunn to walk. The Bulls would have to give Dunn a $7.1MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent but they are already deep at point guard.

We have more Eastern Conference news:

  • Swingman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk at minimum established himself as a solid rotation player with the potential to be a key piece for the Pistons, according to Keith Langlois of the team’s website. Mykhailiuk doused the perception that he’s just a 3-point shooter by displaying his offensive versatility this season, including times when he functioned as a primary ballhandler. The team holds a $1.66MM option on Mykhailiuk’s contract for next season and there is little question that they’ll exercise it, Langlois adds.
  • The Pistons will have a top-10 draft pick and they’ve been buried in film study during the hiatus, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Detroit had the fifth-worst record when play was halted. “The whole league is watching video,” senior advisor Ed Stefanski said. “We’ve seen some (of the top prospects). Everyone has a bank of information on players, so we’re all in the same boat.”
  • Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is continuing his rehab from a severe knee sprain, even though the team’s practice facility is shuttered, as Josh Robbins of The Athletic details. Isaac, who suffered the injury at the beginning of the calendar year, is following a workout program designed by the team’s training staff from his home. “They’ve got a detailed layout of everything that I’ve got to do,” he said. “They send it to me and I get it done. But it works. I like it that way. I know what I’ve got to do each day, and I put some music on and I knock it out.”

Central Notes: Dunn, Doumbouya, Middleton, Melo

Fourth-year Bulls point guard/wing Kris Dunn will be a restricted free agent this summer, and after a competent defensive showing during his 2019/20 tenure with the club, he may be an appealing, affordable bench addition for a number of teams on the market, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Though Chicago tried to move Dunn as recently as August 2019, Schaefer suggests that he may be worth keeping around.

Schaefer considers Dunn potentially netting an annual price tag in the range of $8-11MM this summer. The former No. 5 pick’s all-defense, almost-no-offense game may make him a better fit for a contender (the Clippers are reported to have interest in adding him) than for a rebuilding team like the Bulls.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Sekou Doumbouya, the No. 15 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, became a more essential piece of the Pistons rotation than they had initially anticipated due to a rash of injuries, as Pistons.com writer Keith Langlois details. The 6’8″ forward out of France appeared in 38 games during the abbreviated 2019/20 season for Detroit.
  • Bucks All-Star wing Khris Middleton was in the midst of a spectacular year when play was paused amidst the escalating COVID-19 pandemic, according to Eric Woodyard of ESPN. Middleton had a chance to join rarefied air with a potential 50/40/90 season in play. He was averaging 21.2 PPG for the 53-12 Bucks. Middleton was shooting 49.88% from the field, 41.8% from deep and 90.8% from the charity stripe. “I’ve never been on pace for 50/40/90,” he told Woodyard. “That’s just an elite scorer and elite shooter with those type numbers and efficiency.”
  • While speaking with his former Olympic teammate Dwyane Wade on Instagram Live, Trail Blazers power forward Carmelo Anthony claims he would have won multiple NBA championships had the Pistons drafted him instead of Darko Milicic with the No. 2 pick in 2003, as Nicola Lupo of Sportando notes. Anthony, a 10-time All-Star, was drafted by Denver with the No. 3 pick out of Syracuse. The Pistons went to two straight NBA Finals in 2004 and 2005, winning the title in ’04.

Clippers Notes: Free Agency, Dunn, Lue, Hiatus

The Clippers have a realistic opportunity to bring back their 11-man rotation next season, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Many of the decisions will come down to whether the organization wants to make a financial commitment to its current players or explore other options.

L.A. has Bird rights on Montrezl Harrell and can offer him a longer and more valuable contract than anyone else. The Clippers have Non-Bird rights on Marcus Morris, who was acquired from the Knicks last month, and can offer a new deal starting at $18MM per season. JaMychal Green has a $5MM player option, and the team might decide to use part of its mid-level exception to re-sign Reggie Jackson.

Buha adds that the loss of revenue from the shortened season could work in the Clippers’ favor by depressing a free agent market that’s already limited by the small number of teams with cap space. Harrell and Morris may not get the offers they would have under normal circumstances, while Green could decide to stick with his guaranteed money.

There’s more Clippers news to pass along:

  • There may be something to the rumors that Doc Rivers would like to add Bulls guard Kris Dunn as a defensive specialist next season, Buha states in the same piece. Dunn will be a restricted free agent if Chicago makes a $4.6MM qualifying offer, and he could be a nice backcourt partner for Lou Williams coming off the bench. The downsides are Dunn’s poor 3-point shooting — 25.9% this year — and his season-ending knee injury.
  • Speculation regarding Tyronn Lue as the next head coach of the Nets has died down while the league has been on hiatus, but Buha understands why Brooklyn would be interested. During his time in Cleveland, Lue proved he could win a title and he developed a strong relationship with Kyrie Irving. Buha identifies two other members of Rivers’ staff, Rex Kalamian and Sam Cassell, who might get head coaching offers soon.
  • The Clippers may benefit as much as anyone from having several weeks off, Buha suggests in a separate column. They are among the league’s oldest teams and injuries have been a concern, particularly for Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley. New additions Morris and Jackson will also get more time to learn Rivers’ system.

Clippers Notes: Dunn, George, Jackson

There has been buzz throughout the 2019/20 season that the Clippers are expected to be among the teams that will show interest in Kris Dunn when he reaches free agency this summer, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. It’s not clear how Dunn’s season-ending knee injury will affect L.A.’s potential interest, Johnson adds.

The Clippers’ interest level may also be impacted by how the Bulls handle Dunn’s situation — he’ll be a restricted free agent if Chicago extends a qualifying offer worth $4,642,800, which seems likely and which would increase the Bulls’ leverage.

While Dunn’s offensive numbers aren’t great, he was one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders when healthy, leading the league with 2.9 steals per 36 minutes. That would make him an intriguing fit on a Clippers roster that’s already packed with talented defenders, including Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Patrick Beverley.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • After he enjoyed a career year in 2018/19 in Oklahoma City, Paul George is still trying to get comfortable amidst an injury-plagued first season with the Clippers, writes Royce Young of ESPN. “I’m a work in progress,” George said on Tuesday. “It’s been a tough year being injured. Being in the rotation, being out of the rotation. And then just playing in a whole new system, new players, new teammates, new coaches, new playing style. So it’s been a bit of an adjustment for me.”
  • Reggie Jackson has had an impressive impact on the Clippers’ second unit since arriving from Detroit, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who notes that Jackson’s ball-handling ability has freed up Lou Williams to play off the ball more frequently.
  • In case you missed it, we identified Jackson as one of 2020’s best buyout-market signings in a Community Shootaround discussion earlier today.

Injury Updates: Dunn, LaVine, Curry, Oubre, Dedmon

The Bulls‘ frontcourt has been getting a little healthier lately, with Otto Porter and Wendell Carter returning to action within the last few days and Lauri Markkanen making good progress as well. However, the team isn’t in the clear yet when it comes to injuries, especially in the backcourt.

Speaking today to reporters, including K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), Bulls head coach Jim Boylen confirmed that Kris Dunn will miss the rest of the 2019/20 season. That update doesn’t come as a surprise — we heard nearly two weeks ago that Dunn’s season was in jeopardy as a result of his right MCL sprain. He’ll be eligible for restricted free agency this summer and won’t meet the starter criteria, which will reduce the value of his qualifying offer, as we detailed in that February story.

Meanwhile, the Bulls’ leading scorer, Zach LaVine, confirmed that he’ll remain on the shelf for Wednesday’s game in Minnesota after missing Monday’s contest vs. Dallas (video link via Tony Gill of NBC Sports Chicago). LaVine added that his quad strain will probably sideline him for about a week.

Here are more injury updates from across the NBA:

  • A Thursday return vs. Toronto is a possibility for Warriors star Stephen Curry, head coach Steve Kerr said today (video link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). Curry’s return date was pushed back after he originally targeted March 1, but it sounds like he’s pretty close.
  • Suns forward Kelly Oubre will undergo surgery on his torn right meniscus, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. Oubre’s recovery timetable remains unclear — an update is expected to be provided on Wednesday, per Arizona Sports 98.7.
  • The Hawks announced in a press release today that injured center Dewayne Dedmon (elbow) has been cleared to practice on Wednesday. GM Travis Schlenk said in an appearance on 92.9 FM in Atlanta that the Hawks “fully expect” Dedmon to be available on Friday (Twitter link via Kevin Chouinard).
  • Asked today if Derrick Rose will return this season, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey was noncommittal, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “We’ll just see how he feels. I wouldn’t put that in concrete,” Casey said. “… I don’t know what he would gain from it by coming back (for the final weeks). We haven’t made that decision yet.” Rose, who is recovering from a sprained ankle, will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Bulls’ Kris Dunn May Not Return This Season

FEBRUARY 19: The Bulls have issued a formal update on Dunn, announcing that he’ll continue his current rehab program for four-to-six weeks before “progressing to functional training.”

There are only eight weeks left in the regular season, so this update from the club certainly doesn’t contradict Johnson’s report (detailed below) that Dunn may not return this season.

FEBRUARY 17: The Bulls announced on February 4 that Kris Dunn‘s right MCL sprain would be re-evaluated in two weeks, which means an update from the team should be right around the corner. According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, there’s concern that the next update on Dunn won’t be a positive one.

Sources tell Johnson there’s a “growing belief” that Dunn is at risk of missing the rest of the 2019/20 season. As Johnson notes, a similar injury sidelined the fourth-year guard for 23 games last season. Dunn has missed four games so far and Chicago has just 27 contests remaining on its regular season schedule.

If Dunn can’t make it back to the court this spring, it would be a disappointing end to the season for the former fifth overall pick, who will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer. Dunn’s scoring and passing numbers (7.3 PPG, 3.4 APG) have dipped in 2019/20, but he has emerged as the Bulls’ go-to perimeter defender. His rate of 2.9 steals per 36 minutes leads the NBA.

Dunn is also just six starts away from meeting the starter criteria, which we explained in detail earlier today. If he doesn’t make six more starts, the 25-year-old will be eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,642,800 instead of $7,091,457.

We’ll have to wait for official word from the Bulls on Dunn’s status, but at the very least, it doesn’t sound like his return is at all imminent.