Otto Porter

Injury/Protocol Updates: Porzingis, Schröder, Graham, O. Porter

Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis (back) hasn’t played since February 14, but sounds likely to return on Saturday vs. Brooklyn after going through a full practice on Friday, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Porzingis also addressed the trade rumors that surfaced this week, telling reporters he’s not sure what’s happening “behind the scenes,” and that it’s out of his control. Team owner Mark Cuban and other members of the Mavs organization adamantly denied discussing Porzingis with any other teams.

“I shouldn’t be too worried about it,” Porzingis said. “It can only distract me at the end of the day. I try to focus on being in the moment, being here day to day and putting in the work with my teammates and getting better as a basketball player.”

As Porzingis readies for his return to court, here are a few injury- and protocol-related updates on other players:

  • After missing four games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Lakers guard Dennis Schröder has been cleared to return and is back in the starting lineup on Friday night, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham is out for a fourth consecutive game tonight due to a sore left knee, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Head coach James Borrego acknowledged earlier in the week that Graham may not be able to return prior to the All-Star break.
  • The back spasms that have kept Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. on the shelf for the last 12 games will keep him sidelined through the All-Star break, head coach Billy Donovan said on Friday, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The team also isn’t expecting Lauri Markkanen (shoulder) back until sometime after the break.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Cavs, Perry, Markkanen, Porter

The Celtics have a $28.5MM trade exception but in order to acquire an impact player, they’ll also likely have to part with draft picks, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe opines. Boston GM Danny Ainge has admitted he doesn’t feel the team as presently constituted is championship-caliber, and potential trade partners will demand multiple picks to part with a player that the Celtics covet.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Cavaliers are paying the price for injuries and other issues, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. They’re on a 10-game losing streak with Andre Drummond in limbo and three other frontcourt players — Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr. and Taurean Prince — out with injuries. Their reserve corps has been rendered ineffective. “Nobody is coming to bail us out. Nobody is coming to rescue us,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
  • Knicks executive Scott Perry has played an underrated role in building a more competitive team, Steve Popper of Newsday points out. He was instrumental in bringing in Julius Randle and some other veterans that have put them in playoff contention. The front office now has the assets to make a major deal, Popper adds.
  • It’s possible that Otto Porter Jr. (back) and Lauri Markkanen (right shoulder sprain) could return from their injuries prior to the All-Star break, but Bulls coach Billy Donovan doesn’t sound overly optimistic, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times“I think as this week unfolds and we get closer to the All-Star break, we’ll certainly have to look at OP because he hasn’t been able to do a lot of cardio stuff,’’ Donovan said. “I don’t know if either of those guys will be back before the All-Star Break or not. … I’d imagine both of those guys have been really, really diligent about working out and trying to take care of themselves, and doing what they can to keep their conditioning up.’’

Bulls Notes: Trade Deadline, Porter, LaVine, Williams

It hasn’t been scheduled yet, but Bulls management has an important meeting coming up to plot the team’s future, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago is part of a crowded field fighting for playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, and decisions will have to be made soon on whether to try for the postseason or build for the future.

“Nothing has been presented to me in terms of any ideas or suggestions of buying, selling or anything like that. I don’t have anything on that,’’ coach Billy Donovan said before Saturday’s game. “My focus has been on trying to continue to help the group get better and improve and to try to help the team get better. But I know in speaking to (executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas) that he wants to sit down and have a conversation at some point, probably a couple of weeks before we’re out from the trade deadline.’’

The Bulls, currently in ninth place in the conference, must decide whether to be buyers or sellers ahead of the March 25 deadline. Several teams are reportedly interested in veteran forward Thaddeus Young, and the team will have to determine whether it wants to keep building around Zach LaVine or listen to offers for a potential franchise-altering deal.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Starting center Wendell Carter Jr. is healthy again, but that’s the only positive news on the injury front, Cowley adds in a separate story. Lauri Markkanen remains sidelined by a sprained right shoulder that will likely keep him out of action until mid-March, and Otto Porter Jr. is still being bothered by back issues. “He’s done nothing in practice, but he has gotten shots up, and he has been doing more physically,’’ Donovan said of Porter. “Still do not know a timetable of when he’ll actually be back.”
  • Donovan made the case for LaVine to be added as an All-Star after his 38-point outburst Saturday night, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. The reserves are chosen by coaches and will be announced Tuesday. “When you look at players that are All-Stars, you are saying they are playing at a high level individually and they are also raising the level of the team,” Donovan said. “I think Zach has done that.”
  • Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports looks at how Patrick Williams‘ “stone cold” reputation has helped him move into the starting lineup as a rookie without a normal training camp or preseason.

Bulls Notes: Donovan, White, Markkanen, Porter Jr., Holmes

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan made a purposeful adjustment to start the second half of the team’s game on Wednesday, benching starters Coby White, Patrick Williams and Wendell Carter Jr., K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

Donovan opted to play Tomas Satoransky, Denzel Valentine and Thaddeus Young instead, choosing to reward the players that closed the second quarter on a high note defensively, according to Johnson. He eventually turned back to his starters, who fought back and closed out a 105-102 win over Detroit.

“I’m sure those guys are probably really disappointed they didn’t get a chance to start the third quarter,” Donovan said. “They see the way those other guys came out and the fact we kind of got back in the game, and now there’s a little more responsibility on them to do the things that they know they have control over. I give them credit for keeping their head in the game.”

There’s more out of Chicago today:

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores whether the Bulls should still believe in White as a starting point guard. White, the team’s No. 7 pick in 2019, has averaged 15.4 points, 5.4 assists and 33.5 minutes per game this season, shooting 40% from the floor and 35% from three-point range.
  • Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. have yet to start any on-court activities, Donovan said, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Porter (back) has been doing some strength and conditioning work, though no timetable has been issued for his return. Markkanen is still dealing with discomfort in his shoulder, with the Bulls issuing a two-to-four week timetable just over a week ago.
  • The Bulls expressed interest in big man Richaun Holmes during the free agency period of 2019, he mentioned on the HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto. “I had interest from a few different teams,” Holmes said. “I know the Bulls were there. That’s one team I remember off the top of my head. We were talking to a few different teams.” Holmes wound up signing a two-year deal, $10MM deal with the Kings that year. He’s set to enter unrestricted free agency again at season’s end.

Bulls Notes: Porter, Hutchison, Markkanen, Trade Market

Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. hasn’t played since February 1 because of a lower back issue and it doesn’t sound like he’ll return for a while, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Coach Billy Donovan said Porter has made only “incremental gains” in his rehab process and no timetable is in place for him to play again.

‘‘(Porter’s) still dealing with discomfort,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘It’s been very, very limited for him. Obviously, part of the rehab and recovery is to work on some strengthening and some mobility in his lower back, but he’s still dealing with some symptoms in his lower back. He’s made some incremental gains, but I wouldn’t say he’s really made some significant gains. Some of his rehab has been maybe limited to how he’s feeling a little bit, so there’s certain things he can do physically and other things he can’t do.’’

The Bulls are concerned that Porter’s back problems might be a recurring issue, according to Cowley. Porter is in the final year of his contract, so he’ll want to be careful not to damage his back any further heading into free agency.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Bulls aren’t putting any pressure on Chandler Hutchison, who is out indefinitely for personal reasons, Cowley adds in the same story. No details have been released on Hutchison’s situation, but Cowley says the team is giving him time to handle some personal matters. ‘‘He’s working on some of the things that are challenges right now, but a lot of it is going to be on his timetable on how he’s doing,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘But he’s in constant dialogue, he’s around the team, he’s around the guys and I have great respect for the way he’s handled himself and the line of communication, how open and honest he’s been. We’ll look forward to getting him back, but it’s really going to be on him to see how he’s progressing and how he’s doing.’’
  • Lauri Markkanen is sidelined two to four weeks with a sprained shoulder and he believes he can make his recovery time closer to two weeks, according to Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune. “When it happened, I was frustrated and disappointed,” Markkanen said. “I did everything on my part to not have this happen. That’s part of the game unfortunately. I feel better — I would say not every day, there are bumps in the road — but I do feel better now compared to when it happened.”
  • A 9-14 start could push the Bulls to become sellers on the trade market fairly soon, Cowley suggests in a separate story. He adds that no players should be considered untouchable, even first-round pick Patrick Williams.

Central Notes: Jackson, Bulls, Doumbouya, Cavaliers

Following injuries to rookie Killian Hayes and veteran reserve Derrick Rose, two-way Pistons point guard Frank Jackson, a late addition to Detroit’s roster last month, has stepped up in an expanded role, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Pistons head coach Dwane Casey commended the 22-year-old. “I really like Frank,” Casey said. “He’s a quick-twitch kid, an offensive player who’s tough on the ball and he has a lot of toughness about him.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr., recovering from a lower back strain incurred on January 8, returned to team practice today, according to Rob Schaeffer of NBC Sports Chicago. Reserves Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison, having tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the month, are in different stages of their recovery. Coach Billy Donovan noted that Hutchison, who had symptoms while ill with the virus, can return to Chicago’s practice facility. Satoransky remains in isolation, though Donovan said he was “a day or two away” from being permitted to use the Advocate Center.
  • Pistons are playing the long game with 20-year-old second-year forward Sekou Doumbouya, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Doumbouya has yet to earn rotation minutes behind veteran starters Jerami Grant and Blake Griffin. “It’s a process,” head coach Dwane Casey said of Doumbouya’s minutes. Doumbouya is also slotted behind young forwards Saddiq Bey and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.
  • Joe Vardon and Kelsey Russo of The Athletic posit that the Cavaliers have been winning their recent trades. They suggest that, following the acquisition of former Nets center Jarrett Allen yesterday, veteran center Andre Drummond, on an expiring deal, will now become a candidate for a trade or buyout. The team also added small forward Taurean Prince from Brooklyn. Russo and Vardon applaud the team’s various acquisitions of draft picks, young talent, and solid veterans.

Bulls Notes: Young, Williams, Markkanen, Porter

There’s no timetable for Thaddeus Young‘s return after a bout with MRSA, a bacterial infection, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago reports. The Bulls forward had his leg drained after it swelled up and it’s healing well but he didn’t play in any preseason games.

“There will probably be some sort of ramp-up period for [Young], so to speak, in terms of he’s missed some conditioning and a lot of practice,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He was dealing with a hamstring right around the time we started training camp. We’ll have to work to get him back.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • While the rest of the starting lineup seems set, the small forward position remains in flux, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times reports. Donovan is trying to choose between Otto Porter Jr. and lottery pick Patrick Williams and they bring different skills, Cowley notes.
  • Lauri Markkanen didn’t receive a rookie scale extension prior to Monday’s deadline but he could still be a part of the long-term future, Cowley writes in a separate story. The new front office regime and Donovan simply put off making that decision by seeing what Markkanen does this season and allowing him to set a market price as a restricted free agent. The two sides never got close to an extension agreement, Cowley adds.
  • Despite Porter’s massive $28.5MM expiring contract, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic predicts Chicago will move him at the trade deadline. The team would likely need to include multiple players, as any trade partner wouldn’t give up a high-salary starter for him.

Central Notes: Bulls, Porter, Hayes, Giannis

Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports takes a look at some of the key storylines facing the Bulls roster heading into training camp. Though the club’s personnel off the court underwent some drastic revisions, the current on-court product looks fairly similar, Schaefer notes.

Rookies Patrick Williams and Devon Dotson join free agent additions Garrett Temple and Noah Vonleh. Guards Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison are currently the only significant departures from the 2019/20 roster. Individual workouts commence this Tuesday, December 1, while team workouts kick off on December 6.

Schaeffer notes that the starting point guard position could be up for grabs in new head coach Billy Donovan‘s first training camp with the Bulls. Though second-year guard Coby White started the Bulls’ most recent game, Tomas Satoransky was the lead guard for the other 64 games of the 2019/20 season. The fates of deep-bench centers Cristiano Felicio and Luke Kornet and the club’s two-way players are narratives that offer some intrigue as well.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Bulls will need for starting small forward Otto Porter to prove he’s worth his contract in the final year of his lucrative deal and become a trade asset by the deadline, and for starting power forward Lauri Markkanen to develop a game that stagnated last season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
  • Former Pistons guard Will Bynum, now a trainer and founder of The Grind Family skills academy for basketball players, recently discussed his experience training new Detroit point guard Killian Hayes, according to Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press Pistons. “His lateral footwork is really, really good,” Bynum said. “His hands are quick. And he has the patience to defend really, really good rhythm players offensively.”
  • With his looming maximum salary extension now the talk of the league, Bucks MVP forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was set to depart his native Greece for the U.S. this weekend ahead of the team’s training camp kickoff, according to Antigoni Zachari of Eurohoops.

Otto Porter Jr. To Exercise 2020/21 Option

Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. plans to pick up his $28.4MM player option and return to Chicago for the 2020/21 season, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes tweets.

Porter, a seven-year NBA veteran, holds career averages of 11.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He was acquired by the Bulls in February of 2019 in exchange for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a 2023 second-round pick.

Viewed as the Bulls’ answer at small forward, Porter was limited to just 14 games in 2019/20 due to a foot injury. Now, his future in Chicago is up in the air — if he remains on the roster through next season, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.

Chicago could have multiple players enter restricted free agency later this week, including Kris Dunn ($7MM qualifying offer), Denzel Valentine ($4.69MM) and Shaquille Harrison ($2MM).

The team finished with a 22-43 record last season, good for fifth-worst in the Eastern Conference.

Bulls Notes: Eversley, Roster, Donovan, Porter

After making the postseason for 10 of 11 seasons, the Bulls have appeared in the playoffs just once in the past five years, finishing in the lottery in each of the last three seasons. The club’s new basketball operations decision-makers are very aware of that fact, with general manager Marc Eversley telling reporters on Wednesday that bringing the franchise “back to relevance” is one of the front office’s primary goals.

“This is the Chicago Bulls. It’s an iconic brand,” Eversley said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “There’s a tremendous amount of history. It’s a responsibility. And I think we’ve embraced that.”

The Bulls are coming off back-to-back 22-win seasons (albeit in 17 fewer games in 2019/20), but Eversley said on Wednesday that he feels as if there’s enough talent on the roster to comfortably exceed that figure next season.

“I like a lot of the players on this roster,” Eversley said. “I think if we put together an efficient, effective player development program, I think you will see a quick turnaround in terms of the output that these players give. By going out and getting a Billy Donovan, who brings a different voice to the gym. He brings winning. He brings leadership. He brings player development. And I think if you put that voice at the top of this thing, I think our players will grow.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • According to Eversley, the Bulls were patient in conducting their coaching search, interviewing 10 candidates before pivoting and becoming aggressive once Donovan became available. “It’s interesting because as we were going through the process, one of the things that we had talked about was we need to be thorough and practice patience. And when Billy became available, I think (executive VP of basketball operations) Arturas (Karnisovas) called an Uber and he wanted to head to O’Hare right away,” Eversley joked, according to Johnson. “His aggressiveness was thorough, but it was also well thought out. And he had reasons why he thought we need to attack this thing and gather as much information as possible about Billy.”
  • Otto Porter Jr., who was limited to 14 games in 2019/20 due to a left foot fracture, has looked great at the Bulls’ in-market mini-camp, Eversley said on Wednesday (link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). Porter is expected to pick up the $28.5MM player option on the final year of his contract.
  • In a separate article for The Athletic, Mayberry answers readers’ questions about the Donovan hiring, the possibility of a reunion with Joakim Noah, and the frontcourt pairing of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter, among other topics.