Lauri Markkanen

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.

Central Notes: Cavs’ Arena, Markkanen, Pistons

Approximately a week after announcing that they were pulling out of plans for a $140MM renovation project to Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavaliers indicated this week that they’ve recommitted to that project. The Cavs’ change of heart came on the heels of critics withdrawing petitions that would have required a referendum on the city of Cleveland’s contribution to the arena’s renovations, writes Karen Farkas of Cleveland.com.

With their commitment to the renovation project, the Cavs have also agreed to extend their lease at Quicken Loans Arena by an extra seven years, ensuring that the franchise will remain a tenant at the arena through 2034. Assuming construction on those renovations begins soon and stays on schedule, the Cavs may once again have a chance to host the 2020 or 2021 NBA All-Star Game, Farkas notes.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

  • In a pair of pieces for NBA.com, Shaun Powell takes a look back at the offseason moves by the Bucks and Bulls, noting that Milwaukee continues to focus on developing its talented young core, while Chicago’s Jimmy Butler trade signals that the Bulls are also trying to make youth a priority.
  • Speaking of that Butler trade, while many Bulls fans weren’t particularly fond of the return for their All-Star forward, rookie big man Lauri Markkanen is helping to ease that blow, according to Mike Schmitz of ESPN. As Schmitz details, the 20-year-old Markkanen has looked very impressive for Finland in Eurobasket play this offseason.
  • Within his latest mailbag at Pistons.com, Keith Langlois discusses Stan Van Gundy‘s use of his bench, Eric Moreland‘s potential, the new arena in Detroit, and several other Pistons-related topics.

Central Notes: Hawes, Markkanen, Bulls, ‘The Q’

Former Bucks center Spencer Hawes officially cleared waivers Saturday, tweets Keith Smith of Real GM. The veteran center was waived Thursday just before the deadline to stretch his salary, allowing Milwaukee to pay the $6MM he’s still owed in $2MM increments over the next three seasons. The 10-year veteran is now free to sign with anyone and has a little more than three weeks to find a team before training camps open. Hawes saw his playing time drop sharply after the Hornets traded him to the Bucks in February. He averaged just 9 minutes per game in Milwaukee, putting up 4.4 points and 2.4 rebounds.

There’s more this morning from the Central Division:

  • Bulls officials aren’t concerned about an injury that rookie Lauri Markkanen suffered during Saturday’s EuroBasket tournament, according to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago (Twitter link). Playing for Finland, Markkanen hurt his leg on a shot at the buzzer that could have tied the game and had to be helped off the court by teammates. However, the seventh pick in this year’s draft appears to be fine and is expected to play today.
  • A series of offseason moves has left the Bulls without the talent to compete for a playoff spot, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE in his “30 teams in 30 days” series. Chicago signaled the start of a rebuilding project on draft day when it traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the chance to draft Markkanen. That leaves the team with two veterans in Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez, surrounded by a lot of unproven talent. Blakely criticizes the front office for several bad deals that turned two first-round picks, four second-rounders and Taj Gibson into a group of youngsters with Cameron Payne as the “prize” addition.
  • A proposed $140MM renovation of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena is a good deal for the city, claims Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. He points out that the $70MM in public financing comes mainly from admission taxes on tickets, meaning it will be paid for by people who use the arena. The deal extends the Cavaliers‘ lease from 2027 to 2034.

Bulls Sign Lauri Markkanen To Rookie Contract

The Bulls have made it official with first-round pick Lauri Markkanen, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed the former Arizona big man to his rookie contract.

Markkanen, this year’s seventh overall pick, was acquired by the Bulls from the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler blockbuster, heading to Chicago along with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine in exchange for Butler and the 16th overall pick (Justin Patton).

Markkanen’s new deal, which will feature two guaranteed years followed by two team options, figures to pay him $3.822MM in year one, and about $20.39MM over the full four years, as our rookie scale chart shows. Those figures assume he signed for 120% of the rookie scale amount, which virtually every first-rounder does.

Assuming he plays out his full deal, Markkanen will be eligible for an extension in the 2020 offseason, and could become a restricted free agent in 2021 if he doesn’t re-up the year before.

Bulls Trade Jimmy Butler To Timberwolves

JUNE 22, 8:58pm: The trade is now official, with commissioner Adam Silver announcing it during the TV broadcast of tonight’s draft. The Wolves used the No. 16 pick on Creighton’s Justin Patton to complete the deal.

6:44pm: The Timberwolves are set to acquire Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, with K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tweeting that the two sides have reached an agreement in principle on a Butler deal.Jimmy Butler vertical

According to Johnson (via Twitter), the Bulls will receive Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 overall pick. The Wolves will also receive the No. 16 selection from Chicago. Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter) first reported that a deal was close.

The deal reunites Butler with Tom Thibodeau, his former coach in Chicago, who now serves as coach and president of basketball operations in Minnesota. Butler has been an All-Star the past three seasons and averaged 23.9 points and 6.2 rebounds with the Bulls this year.

The Timberwolves are taking on much more salary in the deal than they are unloading. They had about $24MM in available cap room after waiving Nikola Pekovic on Tuesday and receiving cap relief for his remaining salary.

Butler has three seasons left on the $95MM deal he signed with the Bulls in 2015. He is due to make nearly $18.7MM next year and more than $19.8MM in both 2018/19 and 2019/20. He also has a 5% trade bonus in his contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical, giving him an extra $1.8MM over the next three seasons.

In return, the Bulls will receive LaVine, a promising 22-year-old combo guard whose season ended in early February when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee; and Dunn, the fifth overall pick last year. Both players are on rookie contracts and were discussed when the two teams talked about a Butler trade a year ago. Chicago will also land Lauri Markkanen, the seventh overall pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Jackson, Ball, Ntilikina, Smith

Kansas forward Josh Jackson wanted to work out for the Celtics after they traded for the No. 3 pick, but couldn’t work out the scheduling, tweets Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The Celtics are reportedly deciding between Jackson and Duke forward Jayson Tatum if they decide to keep the pick, and Tatum held a workout in Boston on Monday.

Jackson added that he has spoken to Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown and believes they would form a good combination (Twitter link). The former Jayhawk also disputed a rumor that he refused to work out for the team unless he was promised Boston wouldn’t trade its pick (Twitter link).

There’s more as the top prospects met with the media today in New York:

  • Lonzo Ball confirmed to reporters his only pre-draft meeting was with the Lakers, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. Ball also believes L.A. traded D’Angelo Russell to open up a spot for him and he can see that “the Lakers have a plan.” He adds that the Lakers haven’t promised to take him, relays Adam Zagoria of Fanrag Sports (Twitter link), saying, “We’ll just find out tomorrow night.” Ball also explained why he turned down a session with the Celtics when they had the top pick, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “If it’s either play for the hometown or go No. 1, I’d rather play for the hometown,” Ball said.
  • Frank Ntilikina met with the Knicks front office today, including team president Phil Jackson, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The French point guard, who is reportedly in strong consideration with New York’s No. 8 pick, said the team wanted to meet him in person.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. also met with Jackson and the Knicks front office, Begley relays (Twitter link). The North Carolina State point guard believes he can be effective in the triangle offense.
  • Indiana’s OG Anunoby said doctors have assured him that he can resume basketball activities by October or early November, according to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Anunoby had surgery on his right knee after a season-ending injury in January.
  • Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen was a Timberwolves fan growing up, and Minnesota was among the four teams he worked out for, Fischer tweets. The others were the Mavericks, Celtics and Magic, and he had a meeting with the Knicks.
  • Gonzaga’s Zach Collins had private workouts with the Magic, Wolves, Kings, Mavericks and Suns, and a group session with the Lakers, Fischer relays (Twitter link).
  • Duke’s Luke Kennard held individual workouts for the Lakers, Pistons, Knicks and Mavericks (Twitter link).
  • The Nets and Bulls were among the teams to work out international big man Isaiah Hartenstein leading up to the draft, tweets David Pick.

Draft Notes: Mitchell, Jackson, Tatum, Ferguson

Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell will hold a last-minute workout for the Knicks today, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. The sophomore out of Louisville, whose session was originally scheduled for Tuesday, is being considered with the No 8 pick, Begley adds, along with French point guard Frank Ntilikina, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen and others. Team president Phil Jackson is intrigued by Mitchell’s defensive prowess and athleticism and likes the fact that he prefers to work out in a group setting to showcase his defense. Joining Mitchell today will be Villanova’s Josh Hart, Miami’s Davon Reed, Iowa State’s Naz Long and others.

There’s more draft news on the eve of the big event:

  • The Celtics have received Josh Jackson‘s medical records, but the Kansas forward still refuses to work out for the team, tweets Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Boston appears to be leaning toward Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick, Ford states, but no decision has been made.
  • Ford still has Jackson as the third selection in his latest mock draft, which was released today. Markelle Fultz remains No. 1, followed by Lonzo Ball, with the rest of the top 10 as Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Monk, Zach Collins and Markkanen.
  • Terrance Ferguson recently pulled out of workouts with the Pistons, Hawks and Bucks, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. It’s possible that Ferguson received a draft promise from the Nuggets or Nets or he may have been responding to poor workouts (Twitter link).
  • A 7-footer with a soft shooting touch, Markkanen is drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, writes Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Some scouts believe the 20-year-old Finnish star is the best 3-point shooter in the draft. “It’s probably not fair to him to have some young guy compared to a Hall of Fame player and champion,” Markkanen said of Nowitzki. “We have similarities because of the height, being from Europe and shooting. But I have a long way to go before I’m in the same category as him. Hopefully, I can get there one day.”
  • The Wizards will work out six players today, the team announced on its website. They are French center Alpha Kaba, Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain Jr., VCU’s JeQuan Lewis, Eastern Michigan’s Jalen Ross, Niagara’s Tahjere McCall and East Tennessee State’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Phil Jackson Not Ruling Out Kristaps Porzingis Trade

12:38pm: There’s growing skepticism among some executives who have been in touch with the Knicks about whether the club is serious about moving Porzingis, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Mannix tweets that New York’s asking price is “extremely high.”

[RELATED: Celtics interested in Kristaps Porzingis]

11:01am: Within his full report on Porzingis, Wojnarowski writes that the big man “remains determined” to stick with the Knicks and help turn the team around. However, Jackson has become “increasingly intrigued” by the possibility of testing the market for Porzingis. If the Knicks get serious about engaging teams and pursuing a deal, they’d want to acquire a front-line guard, says Wojnarowski.

Janis Porzingis, Kristaps’ brother and an employee at his agency, tells Begley that his brother wants to remain in New York “despite how the Knicks are treating their players.”

10:20am: Knicks president Phil Jackson has not ruled out the possibility of trading Kristaps Porzingis, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who reports (via Twitter) that a “frenzy of interest” is growing as teams become aware that Porzingis isn’t considered untouchable.

The Knicks have received several calls about Porzingis from teams in recent days, per Ian Begley of ESPN.com, who confirms (via Twitter) that New York hasn’t dismissed the possibility of a trade. Meanwhile, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that Jackson recently met with stretch-four prospect Lauri Markkanen, who would receive consideration with the No. 8 pick in the draft if New York were to move Porzingis.

Porzingis, who will turn 22 in August, is coming off a second NBA season in which he averaged 18.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 2.0 BPG, while making 35.7% of his three-pointers. His ability to protect the rim on defense and stretch the floor on offense makes Porzingis one of the most desirable young players in the league, so it’s no surprise that teams would be calling the Knicks if there’s a chance he’s available.

While I wouldn’t expect Jackson to move Porzingis, there have been some concerning signs on that front this year. Apparently displeased with the treatment of Carmelo Anthony and the dysfunction surrounding the team, Porzingis skipped his exit meeting with the Knicks at the end of the season. He then opted to spend his offseason in his home country of Latvia, where the Knicks have had a harder time staying in touch with him — according to Begley, no one from the team has been in contact with Porzingis since he skipped his exit meeting.

I’d still be shocked if Porzingis was on the move anytime soon, but this will obviously be a story we keep a close eye on going forward.

Mavs Notes: Noel, Draft, Harris

Having performed admirably during his half season with the Mavs and said all the right things to the media, Nerlens Noel is an excellent option to man the paint in Dallas for years to come. Unfortunately, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News explains, the restricted free agent will likely field significant offers from other teams this summer for those very same reasons.

In the last edition of his SportsDay series ranking notable available players, Sefko rounds up the five most appealing free agent options at the center position (he recently wrote about the top five power forwards and the top five small forwards). Noel, not surprisingly, is ranked No. 1 by Sefko, although Dewayne Dedmon, Greg Monroe, Nene Hilario and Tiago Splitter round out the list. The scribe adds that the athletic big man would work well in this era and could contribute to what the Mavericks are trying to accomplish.

In April, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News wrote about Noel’s time with the franchise since the trade deadline day deal that sent him from Philadelphia south. In it, Townsend quotes Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle saying that the available center has “got to get signed”.

I’ve been impressed with him,” Carlisle added in the Townsend piece. “He’s a very likable guy. Guys in the locker room took to him. He’s an exciting young talent, and I do think he can expand his game.

There’s more from the Mavs:

  • Count veteran point guard Devin Harris among those who admire how the Warriors built their dynasty. Harris recently told the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko that the Mavs should look to draft wisely and hone their talent. Harris adds that building through free agency should be a secondary option considering that there is so much competition with other franchises.
  • The Mavs have been busy working out possible draftees, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News tweets. On Thursday the team saw Zach Collins (projected to go No. 10 by NBADraft.net) and Lauri Markkanen (No. 11). Dallas holds the No. 9 pick in the June 22 NBA Draft.
  • Hoops fans may have to wait a while for the next great NBA team to come and unseat the Warriors and there’s no reason to believe that, when it happens, it will be any less of a surprise than when Golden State rose to prominence by drafting Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in consecutive drafts. Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News writes that it may not be the Mavs who take the throne in 2020 but, then again, it could be anybody.

Southwest Notes: Mavs, N. Kerr, Ntilikina

A recent Dallas Morning News report has rounded up a number of mock drafts and two common themes prevail as possibilities for the Mavs: Dallas could either draft point guard Frank Ntilikina to ultimately man the franchise’s playmaking duties or take a gamble on Lauri Markkanen, a sharp-shooting forward being likened to Dirk Nowitzki.

In Ntilikina the Mavs could get a potential point guard of the future, one that the team is said to have actively scouted thus far. The guard is being hailed for his perimeter defense, although the rest of the 18-year-old’s game may take time to develop.

Markkanen, in contrast, represents a different course of action for the Mavs. The modern-day stretch four is celebrated for his already impressive ability to shoot the ball and would benefit from the tutelage of Nowitzki.

Other potential Mavs target that come up in the report are Dennis Smith Jr., Jonathan Jeanne and Jonathan Isaac.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Nick Kerr will be serving in a video role with the Spurs after this season, Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News confirms. Nick is the son of Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
  • Vanderbilt center Luke Kornet is expected to work out with the Spurs on Monday, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. The 7’1″ senior could be a potential second-round target.
  • Consider Frank Ntilikina a safer bet than Dennis Smith Jr., says Matt Mosley of the Dallas Morning News. The scribe also mentions that he would be disappointed if the Mavs drafted Lauri Markkanen, citing the difficulties he could have replacing Dirk Nowitzki.
  • Another Dallas Morning News report takes a good, long look at Frank Ntilikina, collecting analysis published around the web. There’s an element of risk at play if the Mavs draft him, Dallas Morning News reporter Eddie Sefko says.
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