Kris Dunn

Bulls Notes: Dunn, Markkanen, Wings, Forman

On Tuesday, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about how Bulls point guard Kris Dunn wanted to know what team personnel – i.e. head coach Jim Boylen and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson – were thinking in regard to Dunn’s future with the team.

As Cowley put it, it’s up for debate whether or not Dunn has the skills to be a starter in this league for a team on the back-end of a rebuilding project. That is, a team that expects to start competing for the playoffs sooner rather than later. As such, the question becomes whether the Bulls are truly committed to Dunn.

“I haven’t really talked to them (about that)”, Dunn said. “So once I talk to them, I’ll get a sense of what they’re thinking… It’s a business. They’re going to do what they’re going to do. I’m just going to control what I can control. I’m excited to get back in the gym and do what I do.”

Fortunately or perhaps unfortunately for Dunn, he got a pretty straightforward answer from Paxson earlier today, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Per Johnson, Paxson told the media that the Bulls have not yet given up on Dunn, but that the team needed to get better at the point guard position and that Dunn will have the opportunity this summer to show that he can improve his game to where Paxson and Boylen feel it needs to be.

There’s more out of Chicago this evening:

  • An official update from the team reports that big man Lauri Markkanen, after completing thorough examinations from cardiologists at both Rush University Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University, has been cleared to resume full basketball-related activities. Medical testing revealed that Markkanen’s symptoms (e.g. rapid heart rate) were primarily related to a combination of dehydration and nutrient deficiency.
  • In addition to his comments regarding Dunn, Paxson also iterated today (via the Bulls’ official Twitter handle) how the team is looking to add versatility to the wing position this off-season, with some lineups next year featuring Markkanen at the five and Otto Porter Jr. at the four.
  • As part of his story on Boylen’s extension, Cowley notes that Paxson quickly shot down the idea of demoting general manager Gar Forman, stating that Forman’s job is safe and reiterating that “(Forman is) very good at what he does.”

Bulls Notes: Blakeney, Tanking, Dunn, Valentine

Injuries to starting Bulls guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine give their backups a chance to improve their prospects of making the roster next season, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Shaquille Harrison, Ryan Arcidiacono, Wayne Selden and Antonio Blakeney will get increased playing time.

Arcidiacono started the season slowly but is shooting 52% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc since the All-Star break, Strotman notes. The club can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $1.82MM qualifying offer.

Harrison, whose $1.59MM salary for next season is not guaranteed, is averaging 10.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 3.0 SPG while starting the last three games.

Blakeney’s $1.59MM contract is guaranteed for next season but that doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to be on the team next season, according to Strotman. He’s shooting just 42% from the field and averaging just 0.6 APG.

The Bulls can make Selden a restricted free agent by extending him a $1.93MM qualifying offer.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • The team appears to be in full tank mode entering the final eight games this season but coach Jim Boylen denies it, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “We’re trying to build a competitive spirit, a team that’s going to honor that Bulls across their chest and play for the city,” Boylen said. “We don’t feel shutting people down is a way to build that.”
  • Dunn is unlikely to play on Tuesday due to a back injury. He tried to tough it out against Utah on Saturday and earned kudos from his coach, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes.  “I want to give Kris credit for playing,” Boylen said. “He had more kinesio tape on him than a mummy. He tried to play and give us what he could. I love the fact that he tried it.”
  • Not only do the Bulls want rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison to play on their summer league team, they’ll also ask Denzel Valentine if he’s interested in participating, Johnson reports in another article. Valentine has not played this season following surgery to reconstruct his left ankle. The Bulls have discussed playing in both the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and the Utah Jazz Summer League in Salt Lake City, Johnson adds.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Dunn, Felicio, Boylen

Bulls head coach Jim Boylen and top scorer Zach LaVine told reporters earlier this week that they’d proceed cautiously with LaVine’s right knee injury, leading to some speculation that the team might consider shutting down the 24-year-old for the rest of the season. However, Boylen said today that LaVine is listed as probable on the injury report and will likely play vs. the Clippers on Friday, per K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

LaVine, who said on Monday that it wouldn’t be smart to “go out there and try to risk anything right now,” is feeling much better a few days later. While the Bulls may have briefly considered the possibility of shutting him down and playing it safe, LaVine always hoped to return for the season’s final four weeks.

“That’s just not who I am,” LaVine said, per Johnson (Twitter link). “[Shutting it down]’s not what I do. It’s going to be good for the team. We can get our chemistry down, continue to play well, build things for next year.”

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • Former fifth overall pick Kris Dunn has ceded some fourth-quarter minutes to Ryan Arcidiacono lately, prompting Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago to explore how much longer Dunn will be the Bulls’ No. 1 point guard. As Schanowski notes, Dunn is extension-eligible this offseason, but the team seems far more likely to address the position in the draft or free agency than to negotiate a long-term deal with the former Providence star.
  • Addressing the Dunn situation in his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune says he thinks there will be an open competition at the point guard spot in the fall, with Dunn going up against whoever the Bulls acquire in the offseason.
  • Within his mailbag, Johnson also discusses the Bulls’ draft options, possible frontcourt offseason targets, and the plan for Cristiano Felicio, among other topics.
  • In an ESPN.com video, Adrian Wojnarowski says the Bulls are pleased with their direction going forward and intend to build around the four-player core of LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, and Otto Porter. Wojnarowski also reiterates that Boylen will be back with the team next season, though he cautions there are no long-term guarantees for Chicago’s head coach.

The Deadline Deals That Didn’t Happen

The Raptors were close to acquiring Nikola Mirotic, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports on his podcast. The power forward would have been part of a three-team trade with the Pelicans and Magic in the proposed framework. Toronto didn’t have the expiring contracts that New Orleans was seeking and Mirotic was instead sent to the Bucks.

Toronto shifted its focus back to Marc Gasol and acquired the big man from Memphis in exchange for Jonas ValanciunasDelon WrightC.J. Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick.

The Hornets came close to acquiring Gasol before some “last-minute haggling,”  ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes. Charlotte had a lottery-protected first-round pick on the table for most of the week leading up to the deadline. Lowe passes along more deals that were discussed behind the scenes. Here are the highlights from his latest piece:

  • The Sixers offered two second-rounders to the Pelicans for Mirotic and prior to trading for Tobias Harris, Philadelphia and New Orleans discussed a Markelle Fultz-Mirotic swap. Fultz was dealt to the Magic for Jonathon Simmons and a pair of picks.
  • The Hornets pursued a deal for Harrison Barnes, dangling a first-round pick to the Mavericks, Lowe adds in the same piece. Dallas would have had to take back long-term money in the potential deal, something that it wasn’t willing to do.
  • The Nets and Grizzlies briefly discussed sending Allen Crabbe to Memphis along with a first-round pick (Denver’s 2019 selection) in exchange for Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green, sources tell Lowe. Tax concerns led Memphis to shy away from acquiring Crabbe, who will take home approximately $19MM next season.
  • Several teams attempted to pry Andrew Wiggins from the Wolves without giving up much in return. Minnesota was uninterested in giving Wiggins away.
  • Kris Dunn was available at the deadline but the Bulls weren’t looking to deal Zach LaVine. Lowe writes that Chicago may have only considered trading LaVine if it received an overwhelming offer, something that was unlikely to occur.

Bulls Notes: Lopez, Porter, Boylen, Portis

Although a report from ESPN on Thursday indicated that the Bulls and Robin Lopez are expected to engage in buyout talks now that the trade deadline has passed, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson sounds like he expects Lopez to stick with the franchise for the rest of the season, as K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune relays.

“My feeling right now — it can change — is Robin will be with us,” Paxson said. “Our players love him. He’s a great teammate. We don’t feel it’s an absolute given that we have to just buy a guy out to help another team.”

Paxson acknowledged that the Bulls would “have a discussion” if Lopez’s representatives requested a buyout, but stressed that the club loves having the veteran center around. Previous reports have suggested that Lopez would likely sign with the Warriors if he’s released, so perhaps the Bulls’ front office also isn’t exactly eager to help out the two-time defending champions.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • In explaining the trade for Otto Porter, Paxson said that the Bulls recognized they aren’t ready to pursue top free agents, which is why they didn’t mind committing future cap room to someone like Porter. “We’re not in the position to go after the big names, the franchise changers. We’re looking at things realistically,” Paxson said, per K.C. Johnson. “We also looked ahead to this summer, and even the summer beyond, at available wings and versatile players. There are no guarantees of getting players like that.”
  • The Bulls remain committed to having Jim Boylen continue as head coach of the team next season, Paxson said on Thursday (link via K.C. Johnson). “We’re working well together,” Paxson said. “Our objectives are the same. Jim’s doing the right things. From our seats, he’s promoting the right message to our players and what we expect.”
  • Speaking of Boylen, during a subsequent appearance on 670 The Score, Paxson pushed back on the narrative about the supposed near-mutiny that took place shortly after Boylen took over as the Bulls’ head coach, writes Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. Despite reports, Paxson said that Bulls players never contacted the NBPA about Boylen’s tactics.
  • While Paxson said on Thursday that the Bulls continue to evaluate Kris Dunn, it’s becoming clear that the team will need to further address the point guard spot at some point, writes Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. ESPN’s Zach Lowe previously reported that Dunn “was there to be had at the deadline.”
  • According to K.C. Johnson (Twitter link), before the Bulls traded Bobby Portis this week, they offered him a multiyear extension worth $40-50MM last fall. For four years, that’d be an annual average value around $10-12MM, but word around the league is that Portis will seek $16MM annually this summer, per Johnson.

Lowe’s Latest: Sixers, Mirotic, Hornets, Nets, More

The Buckstrade for Nikola Mirotic was made sweeter by the fact that the Sixers were in the hunt for the Pelicans‘ power forward before New Orleans opted to send him to Milwaukee, writes ESPN’s Zach Lowe in his post-deadline round-up.

According to Lowe, the Sixers offered a pair of second-round picks in their offer for Mirotic, which the Bucks bested by surrendering four second-rounders. Before the 76ers acquired Tobias Harris, they also discussed the general framework of a Mirotic/Markelle Fultz swap with the Pelicans, according to Lowe, who notes that it’s unclear whether those talks would have gotten serious if Philadelphia hadn’t completed its blockbuster deal for Harris.

Lowe’s article is packed with several more tidbits on the trade deadline, so we’ll round up the highlights here:

  • The Hornets came close to acquiring Marc Gasol from the Grizzlies for a package that would have included a lottery-protected pick, but the deal fell apart over “last-minute haggling” on the price, sources tell Lowe. Charlotte also pursued Harrison Barnes, but any offer that included a first-round pick would have also included multiyear salary the Mavericks didn’t want, Lowe reports.
  • Before the Grizzlies sent JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple to the Clippers, Memphis discussed a deal involving the duo for the Nets, according to Lowe, who says the return would’ve featured Allen Crabbe and Denver’s first-round pick. The Grizzlies, who had tax concerns, settled instead on L.A.’s offer, which didn’t include a draft pick.
  • At least one of the offers the Wizards received for Otto Porter featured a low first-round pick, but it would have been meant taking on multiyear money, per Lowe.
  • Kris Dunn probably could have been had at the deadline, but the Bulls likely wouldn’t have listened to inquiries on Zach LaVine unless someone had “overwhelmed” them, Lowe writes.
  • The Magic told teams in recent weeks that they wouldn’t part for Terrence Ross for anything less than a first-round pick, sources tell Lowe. Orlando ultimately kept Ross on its roster.
  • Jrue Holiday is a player worth keeping an eye on if and when the Pelicans eventually trade Anthony Davis. Sources tell Lowe that Holiday wants a chance to compete in the playoffs and is waiting to see what New Orleans gets in return for Davis.

Central Notes: Pacers, Love, Dunn

The Pacers, fresh off of a season-worst four-game losing streak, lack swagger without star Victor Oladipo, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star writes. And it’s not just at the end of close games.

Michael notes that plenty of the Pacers’ struggles could be addressed by the addition of an established shot-maker, the likes of which could very realistically be available when the buyer’s market typically ramps up after the trade deadline.

If a player like Wesley Matthews, who was recently acquired by the Knicks in their Kristaps Porzingis‘ trade, has his expiring contract bought out, he could be of great service to a team like the Pacers.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • For the first time in over three months, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is taking part in 5-on-5 contact practices, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. Love’s last taste of action was on Oct. 24, prior to undergoing surgery to repair a toe injury. Guard David Nwaba, who has missed 18 games of his own, did not fare as well in the practice — the Cavs have pulled back somewhat on his rehab process.
  • Despite reports that the Bulls will be gauging Kris Dunn‘s worth over the final 30 games of the regular season, the 24-year-old former fifth-overall pick is unfazed. The third-year-guard tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that he’ll compete anywhere he ends up, just as he has this year, through a knee injury and mid-season coaching change.
  • Newly appointed All-Star Khris Middleton had high praise for the Bucks organization, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. “For us,” Middleton told Velasquez, referring to himself and Giannis Antetokounmpo,”It’s not being in the right market, it’s being with the right team. This organization laid down everything that they can to make sure we succeeded.”

Lowe’s Latest: Rockets, Prince, Blazers, Heat

The Rockets and Cavaliers had discussions about sending Brandon Knight to Cleveland along with a first-round pick in exchange for Alec Burks. However, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com hears that those talks have ceased. Houston has also spoken with the Grizzlies about potential Knight deals.

Cleveland is selling Burks, Rodney Hood, and any other “indispensable asset” prior to the deadline, Lowe writes. The team is willing to take back future salary in exchange for picks.

Houston is expected to scour the market for deals leading up to the deadline with an eye on attaching a future first-rounder to Knight and Marquese Chriss. The Rockets would likely push for lottery protections on any picks that would convey past James Harden‘s prime.

Lowe’s latest piece contains trade nuggets from several teams in the league and we’ve already passed along news from the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley and Marc Gasol sweepstakes as well as the Magic’s pre-deadline plan. Here are the rest of the newsworthy notes from the ESPN piece:

  • The Hawks have made Taurean Prince available in trade talks, sources tell Lowe. Atlanta hasn’t received a ton of traction on Prince deals because of its asking price. The organization wants a young prospect and a pick in exchange for the small forward.
  • The Blazers have put their first-rounder on the table in trade talks, sources tell Lowe. Portland has reached out about Otto Porter Jr.‘s availability, though Wizards owner Ted Leonsis previously announced that the team would not be trading Porter before the deadline.
  • Porter has drawn interest from several teams. In addition to the Blazers, the Mavericks and Jazz have kept an eye on the situation. Dallas was interested in swapping Harrison Barnes for Porter prior to the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
  • Miami appears to be willing to move anyone but Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo for cap relief. Lowe expects the Heat to try to get at least a second-round pick for Wayne Ellington.
  • Lowe confirms a previous report that JaMychal Green, Justin Holiday, and Garrett Temple are all available. Holiday, who was acquired from the Bulls earlier this year, cost the Grizzlies two second-round picks.
  • The Kings have approximately $11MM in cap space available and they want to use it to pick up an asset. Lowe writes that it could be a draft pick or a player who will help them win this season.
  • Sacramento is willing to engage in trade talks about Willie Cauley-Stein, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Kings may simply let the center walk should he receive too high of an offer this offseason.
  • The Bulls are expected to listen to offers for anyone but Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. Lowe doesn’t expect Chicago to deal either Kris Dunn or Zach LaVine though, as the team’s asking price is anticipated to be too high.
  • The Nuggets own a pair of trade exceptions and have slightly less than $7MM in breathing room under the tax. They are open to taking on a salary dump if another team calls and has to shed a player in that price range.

Bulls Scouting Veteran Point Guards

The Bulls have been scouting veteran point guards, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who reports that the team isn’t just eyeing potential trade targets for the deadline, but is looking ahead to 2019’s free agent market for some “fiscally responsible” options. Cowley names Ricky Rubio and Darren Collison as a couple veteran guards who appear to fit that bill.

Chicago has given Kris Dunn the reins at point guard since acquiring him in the Jimmy Butler blockbuster with the Timberwolves during the summer of 2017. However, the 24-year-old has just been okay for the Bulls so far. Injuries have limited Dunn to 78 games since the trade, in which he has averaged 13.0 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 4.2 RPG with a .433/.328/.752 shooting line.

One scout tells Cowley that there’s talk of Dunn needing to be pushed by a proven veteran to see if he’ll “sink or swim” in reaching another level and becoming the Bulls’ point guard of the future. The franchise will face a decision on Dunn’s long-term future fairly soon. He becomes eligible for an extension during the 2019 offseason and can become a restricted free agent in 2020 if he’s not extended.

According to Cowley, one option being considered for the rest of this season if the Bulls don’t acquire a point guard at the deadline is to promote Walter Lemon Jr. from the Windy City Bulls to the NBA squad. Cowley, who describes Lemon as a “tough-minded guard that backs down from no one,” suggests that the former Pelican would be given the opportunity to compete with Dunn for minutes.

The Bulls only have about $54MM in guaranteed salary committed to their books for the 2019/20 season. While that doesn’t include cap holds for their first-round pick or various free agents, including Bobby Portis, they should still have plenty of space available to pursue a point guard in the offseason.

Bulls Notes: Hutchison, Parker, Anthony, Dunn

Serious injuries have now affected nearly every key piece of the Bulls‘ rebuilding effort, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The latest casualty is rookie Chandler Hutchison, who will be sidelined until at least the All-Star break with an “acute injury” to his right foot.

He joins Lauri Markkanen, who missed the first 23 games of the season with a right elbow injury, Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis, who both had extended absences with knee issues, Denzel Valentine, who is out for the year after ankle surgery, and Wendell Carter Jr., who may miss the rest of the season after thumb surgery.

The timing of Hutchison’s injury is unfortunate because he had just moved into the starting lineup when the Bulls traded Justin Holiday to Memphis.

“You see the confidence Hutch is playing with and the growth he has had, the confidence Wendell was playing with and the growth he has had,” coach Jim Boylen said. “And you forget about Denzel coming into his third year ready to go, pumped, had a great summer. So it’s gut-wrenching. It’s painful for them individually and painful for the team. It’s tough.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Boylen has several options at small forward while Hutchison is out, Johnson adds in the same piece. Jabari Parker could be moved back into that spot or the team could try a smaller lineup with Wayne Selden or Shaquille Harrison. Regardless, Parker should see steady playing time after about a month of hardly leaving the bench. “The dude’s special,” Zach LaVine said of Parker. “He’s one of the only dudes on the team who has averaged 20 points per game in the NBA. He’s one of the most talented dudes on the team. I’m happy for him. It’s a tough situation, but he’s handling it well.”
  • Chicago acquired Carmelo Anthony this week, but the move came five years later than the organization would have liked, Johnson notes in a separate story. The Bulls were serious suitors for Anthony when he was a free agent in 2014, and Johnson speculates that he could have been the missing piece to make the Bulls title contenders.
  • Parker and Robin Lopez have dominated the trade deadline speculation in Chicago, but the most important decision may involve Dunn, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The third-year point guard will become eligible for an extension this summer, and the Bulls have to decide soon whether he will be part of their future. Mayberry notes that the team recently scouted Murray State point guard Ja Morant, who now projects as a top five pick.