Otto Porter

Bulls Notes: Satoransky, Dunn, Valentine, WCJ

While Tomas Satoransky was ostensibly brought in this offseason to be the Bulls‘ starting point guard, his versatility presents some options for the franchise, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. As Strotman notes, Satoransky can play off the ball too, allowing the team to use him alongside its other point guards in some lineups.

Meanwhile, after being on the trade block for months, returning point guard Kris Dunn welcomes the opportunity to work with Satoransky and Coby White this fall rather than viewing the newest members of the Bulls’ backcourt as a threat, as K.C. Johnson writes for NBC Sports Chicago.

“Coby is young. I understand it’s going to take him time. He’s got room to grow. But he’s a talented player,” Dunn said. “Satoransky is a great player. He’s going to be a good piece to this team. He has more experience than me. He’s been in playoff games. He’s been a good teammate to me. Learn from those guys too. They might see something I don’t see on the court. It’s healthy.”

Here’s more from out of Chicago:

  • Denzel Valentine didn’t play a single game last season for the Bulls due to a left ankle injury, but he said this week that he’s “100% healthy” and just needs to work his way back into game shape, per Johnson. “Sitting out, I think I’m more mentally tough,” Valentine said. “I gained a lot of experience watching. I feel I’m a more mature and confident player now. I’m excited.”
  • Although the injuries don’t appear serious, Wendell Carter Jr. suffered a sprained left ankle and Daniel Gafford hyperextended his right elbow on the first day of camp, according to Johnson. The Bulls have had some bad injury luck in recent years, so that’s an ominous start to the fall for the club.
  • Count Otto Porter among those impressed by what he’s seen from the Bulls so far this fall, as Strotman outlines for NBC Sports Chicago. “A lot has changed. I think the mentality of this organization changed. Since I’ve come here, just what we want to do here has changed,” Porter said. “With that being said, I think everybody’s on the right page, I think with all the talent that we have, we’ve come early to put in that extra work to get to know everybody, every piece in here, even in the front office, because we want to do something special here.”

Bulls Notes: Satoransky, Porter, Blakeney, Harrison

The Bulls believe they pulled off a steal by landing Tomas Satoransky in a sign-and-trade with the Wizards, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago gave up a pair of second-round picks for the fourth-year combo guard after reaching a three-year, $30MM agreement with him in free agency. Satoransky was a restricted free agent, but his price tag was too high for Washington to match in the face of salary cap concerns.

Satoranksy averaged 8.9 points and 5.0 assists in 80 games last season and took over as the Wizards’ starting point guard after an injury sidelined John Wall midway through the season. But Bulls coach Jim Boylen said the intangibles that Santoransky brings are just as important.

“In my conversation with (vice president of basketball operations John Paxson) and (general manager Gar Forman), it was about what kind of character we can bring in that can still play, that can help us win because what we’ve needed is durability and availability. We haven’t had that,” Boylen said. “In looking out over the free agents and the guys we felt we could get, just looking at where Washington was and what they were trying to do, having some (cap) issues, he was the guy we targeted for all those characteristics I believe in.’’

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Bulls had a strong advocate for Satoransky in former teammate Otto Porter Jr., Crowley adds. Porter, who was acquired from Washington in a February trade, was also deemed expandable because the Wizards were looking to trim salary. “Otto loved him, and ‘Sato’ loved Otto,’’ Boylen said. “Otto is a big part of this team. His trade is not talked about enough. We were 7-5 in February because, first of all, we got rid of (Jabari Parker), and we added a guy who brings synergy and chemistry. Otto has that synergy and chemistry with ‘Sato.’’’
  • The impending release of Antonio Blakeney is good news for Shaquille Harrison, who is now ticketed for the 15th roster spot, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Harrison is entering his second season with the Bulls after putting together a 6.5/3.0/1.9 line in 73 games last year. He is scheduled to make $1,620,564 this season, but carries just a $175K guarantee until January 10, when all NBA contracts become fully guaranteed.
  • Once Blakeney hits waivers, he’ll be eligible to be claimed by any team except for the Warriors and Heat, who are both have hard cap restrictions, according to Marks (Twitter link). If he is claimed, Blakeney’s contract will carry a $1.6MM cap hit.

Central Notes: Rose, Hutchison, Bledsoe, Love

Derrick Rose signed with the Pistons this summer in pursuit a championship, he said in a Sirius XM NBA Radio interview (Twitter link). Rose, who inked a two-year, $15MM contract, feels the Pistons can contend in the Eastern Conference behind the big man duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. “While I’m in the game, I want to win a championship,” he said. “That’s what I really want to do. I’ve got all the accolades I wanted.  Now it’s time for me to get the one I really, really want. I’ve won at every level except for this level.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls swingman Chandler Hutchison suffered a left hamstring strain while working out this week, according to a post on the team’s website. While the injury doesn’t appear serious, it’s a reminder of the team’s lack of depth along the wings, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Hutchison is slated as a backup to Otto Porter at small forward while Antonio Blakeney and Denzel Valentine, who was injured all of last season, are the top options behind shooting guard Zach LaVine.
  • Trade restrictions on Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe lifted this week, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. Bledsoe couldn’t be dealt for six months after he signed a four-year, $70M extension on March 4. However, there are no indications Milwaukee, one of the favorites to win the championship, is looking to move Bledsoe.
  • Kevin Love is organizing a minicamp for his Cavaliers teammates in New York next week, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reports. Cedi Osman and Matthew Dellavedova won’t be able to make it, since they are participating in the FIBA World Cup. Most of the other team members are expected to show up, including first-round picks Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr. and Dylan Windler.

Free Agent Notes: Harris, Leonard, Portis

Tobias Harris is meeting with the Sixers to begin free agency, The Athletic’s David Aldridge tweets. Harris is seeking a full, five-year max deal.

Jimmy Butler is in Miami to begin his free agency tour and is expected to tell the Heat that he wants to sign with them. The Sixers will likely get a chance to speak with Butler before he signs elsewhere, as Miami doesn’t have the cap space necessary to offer Butler a max contract.

Here’s more from the start of free agency:

  • Magic Johnson said he has spoken to Kawhi Leonard and Dennis Robertson (Leonard’s uncle) after Leonard’s camp contacted him, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times relays (Twitter link). No meeting between the parties has been set up yet.
  • Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker are both operating as if they will not be back with the Wizards, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports reports on Twitter. Both players were brought to Washington in the mid-season deal that sent Otto Porter Jr. to Chicago.
  • Julius Randle is on the Knicks‘ radar, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post (Twitter link). New York missed out on Kevin Durant, watching him sign with the Nets.
  • The Knicks are meeting with Reggie Bullock tonight, Aldridge tweets. Bullock is ready to commit to a “strong offer,” Aldridge adds. The Lakers would like to keep him, though New York will be among the teams which will have a chance to steal him away from Los Angeles.

Bulls Declare Hutchison, Carter Out For The Season

Chandler Hutchison and Wendell Carter Jr., who both had their rookie year cut short by injuries, have officially been ruled out for the rest of the season, the Bulls announced on Twitter.

Executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson relayed the information to reporters before tonight’s game, adding that the same fate may apply to Otto Porter, who is sidelined with a shoulder injury, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. He and Zach LaVine are both being monitored daily, but Paxson speculated that “We may run out of time” with Porter.

Hutchison has been out since late January with an “acute injury” to a sesamoid bone in his right foot. The 22nd player taken in last year’s draft, Hutchison established himself as a part-time starter and averaged 5.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 44 games.

“He’s going to have to spend time in the gym shooting the ball this summer to become a better shooter. We know that’s an important component,” Paxson said of Hutchison after complimenting his defense, ballhandling and versatility. Hutchison shot .459 from the field, but just .280 from 3-point range and .605 from the foul line.

Carter hasn’t played since suffering a thumb injury in mid-January that required surgery. He was projected to be out 8 to 12 weeks, so it’s not surprising that he won’t play again this season. The seventh pick last year, Carter also played 44 games, all as a starter, and averaged 10.3 PPG and 7.0 RPG.

Eastern Notes: Sexton, Leonard, Porter, Casey

Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton has learned from his mistakes during his first NBA season, adjusting as the year progresses and becoming more comfortable in late-game situations.

As noted by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Sexton had several teachable moments earlier in the season that included getting his shot blocked late in Chicago, having a couple scoreless fourth quarters and more.

However, since the beginning of March, Sexton has managed to raise his play to a different level. By scoring 25 points in the team’s win over Milwaukee on Wednesday, he became the first rookie to score 23 or more points in seven consecutive games since Tim Duncan in 1998. No other rookie in Cavaliers history has ever achieved the feat.

“I think that has been a big help to him,” coach Larry Drew said, according to Fedor. “I think failure can be one of your best teaching tools. I really believe that with Collin because he has had the opportunity to sit over there and watch late in the game and also been in situations where he has been out there late, and it’s not always going to turn out positive, but the most important thing is you learn from it. I think as we have progressed through this season he has done that. Think he has learned a great deal being out there, whether it comes up positive or negative at the end.”

The Cavs have mostly been hammered with injuries this season, holding the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 19-53. Nevertheless, the impressive late-season play from Sexton has been viewed as a positive for the young team focused on its future, bringing a different level of tenacity on both ends of the floor as the campaign winds down.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Kawhi Leonard has been everything the Raptors could’ve hoped for when they traded for him last summer, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star opines. Leonard has averaged a career-high 27.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 52 games, shooting 49.6% from the floor and 37.0% from deep with his usual stellar defense. His production on both ends is a key reason why the Raptors have already clinched a playoff berth with a 51-21 record this season.
  • Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. won’t shy away from recruiting free agents to Chicago in the summer, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “Of course,’’ Porter Jr. said. “Like I said, we’re going in the right direction, and once we continue to build and continue to grow here, I think when the league sees what we’re trying to do, people will want to join, for sure.’’ Chicago sports a talented young core alongside Porter that includes Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.
  • The sudden turnaround of the Pistons might be Dwane Casey‘s greatest coaching job yet, Sean Deveney writes for Sporting News. Casey, who was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year last season, joined the Pistons in the summer and is in his first season with the franchise. Detroit is 14-6 since the start of February, working with the star tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond to generate success.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Parker, Porter, Birch

Despite not seeing any action yet, former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz believes the Magic have a perfect system that will fit his game when he returns, John Denton of NBA.com writes. The Magic acquired Fultz in a deal before February’s trade deadline, pushing their vision to include him in pick-and-roll sets with Aaron Gordon and others once he recovers from injury.

“Pick-and-rolls are one of my favorite parts of the game, and as everyone knows, that’s the way that I played in college,’’ Fultz said. “I think (the Magic’s system) is almost perfect for me. I think I’m a versatile player, but with the screen-and-roll (system) and the players that we have here, I think it’s going to be very fun.”

Fultz has spent much of the season rehabbing in Los Angeles, but his rehab schedule shifted to Orlando this week so he could get adjusted with his new team, according to Denton. For Fultz, being around the team while sidelined is imperative as he continues to progress in his journey back to the court.

“I think it’s going to help me a lot, just being around the guys and seeing the (offensive) plays,’’ Fultz said. “When you’re sitting down watching, you see a lot of stuff that you miss while you are playing. So, I’m just soaking it all up right now. I’m getting to see the team practice, and then during games I can see where I could see myself playing and how I could help the team.’’

Fultz, 20, has played just 35 games since being drafted by the Sixers in 2017. The Magic hope he can become the team’s point guard of the future, though this largely depends on how his rehab progresses throughout the year.

There’s more today out of the Southeast Division:

  • Jabari Parker has found his groove since being acquired by the Wizards in a trade last month, Zach Rosen of NBA.com writes. Parker started the 2018/19 season in Chicago with an uneven role, but he’s consistently produced off Washington’s bench since the trade. “It’s crazy – just to see the turnaround,” teammate Bobby Portis said. “Seeing him come from Chicago not in a happy situation. Then being here and having coaches who really believe in his game, I think that’s really rejuvenating for him.”
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines the returns of the BullsWizards trade that featured Parker, Portis and Otto Porter from February. Since completing the deal, Washington holds a record of 8-10 and Chicago holds a record of 9-10. Porter moved from the Southeast Division over to the Central Division with the trade to Chicago, giving the Bulls production at the starting small forward spot in the weeks that followed.
  • Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel details the long, tough path Khem Birch took before making the NBA, with the 26-year-old now seeing consistent playing time as a big man off the Magic’s bench. “Two years ago I was on the Syrian border on New Year’s Eve thinking if I’m ever going to come back home and play basketball in America,” Birch said. “I actually look back to when I was over there in Europe, and it made me a stronger person and it made me mature more.” Birch, who went undrafted in 2014, has earned double-digit minutes in every contest with Orlando since the start of February.

Central Notes: Porter, R. Lopez, Bucks, Evans

The Bulls traded for Otto Porter last month with the intention of making him a team leader, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic. VP John Paxson and GM Gar Forman made Porter’s role clear in their first meeting with him after the deal with Washington was complete.

“They said, ‘We want a bunch of high character guys to play for one another.’ It’s really rebuilding a culture here and they brought me here to be a part of that,” Porter said. “Of course, that just comes with experience. Coming from a situation where I can pass on things that I know, from experience, being with the Wizards, here. Because I’ve played in playoff games, played in playoff series and ultimately, that’s where we want to see ourselves — playing in the playoffs, being a top team in the East and making some noise.”

Porter has provided much more than leadership in the 15 games since arriving in Chicago. He has scored a career-best 17.5 PPG and is shooting a stunning .488 from 3-point range. He has already posted two 30-point games for the Bulls, which matches his career total in Washington.

“It’s a new opportunity for me to showcase my talent,” he said. “What I know I can do. And just go out there and have fun playing.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls opted to keep Robin Lopez, but it’s still uncertain if he’ll return next season, notes Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports. Chicago didn’t get any decent trade offers for Lopez prior to the deadline because teams were expecting a buyout. The Bulls would like to re-sign him in free agency, but Wendell Carter is their long-term center and Lopez may not want to settle for a back-up role. Chicago is paying Cristiano Felicio nearly $15.7MM over the next two seasons, and Lopez may demand more than that to return.
  • The Bucks get a little more breathing room under the luxury tax with Christian Wood being claimed off waivers by the Pelicans, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. With Wood’s $1,512,601 salary removed from its books, Milwaukee is now about $1.76MM away from tax territory, providing more cushion for late-season moves.
  • Tyreke Evans is hoping for a strong end to the season after having his best game since joining the Pacers, relays J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Evans, headed back to free agency after signing a one-year deal, credits the improvement to a meeting with coach Nate McMillan. “I need to be the aggressor,” Evans said. “I talked to him and I told him that’s the way I want to play. Put the ball in my hands and create. Put the pressure on the defense.”

Central Notes: Kennard, Porter Jr., Hutchison, Nwaba

Pistons fans may never forgive the previous regime for passing over Donovan Mitchell and taking Luke Kennard in the 2017 draft, but Kennard is doing his best lately to soften the blow. He has scored in double figures 10 of the last 14 games, helping the Pistons go 12-2 during that stretch. Opposing coaches have taken notice.

“Luke Kennard is really growing up right in front of us,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “The pick-and-roll game, shooting the ball. … You know you have respect when teams come out and double-team you. They were blitzing his pick and rolls. It’s a sign of respect around our league. He’s going to learn how to handle those situations and not let that take his confidence out of his shooting.”

Kennard will make $3.8MM next season and it seems like a mere formality the Pistons will pick up his $5.27MM fourth-year option before the October 31 deadline.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Casey feels the Bulls made a wise decision by acquiring small forward Otto Porter from the Wizards. He’s averaging 18.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.3 APG in his first 11 games with Chicago. “That was a smart move on Chicago’s part to bring him in and kind of set the tone for that team,” the Pistons’ head coach said. “You always want to have a guy that can shoot the ball and defend with his size.”
  • The Bulls’ prior starter at small forward could be done for the season, according to Sam Smith from the team’s website. Chandler Hutchison had a scan earlier this week on the toe injury to his right foot. The rookie first-rounder out of Boise State will be reevaluated in two weeks and a decision will then be made whether to shut him down. Hutchison, who was injured on January 25th, has not been able to work out because of a foot injury, Smith notes.
  • The Cavaliers should take a hard look at retaining guard David Nwaba, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Nwaba will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Cavs extend a qualifying offer of approximately $1.9MM this summer. Given his injury-riddled season and the fact the team was able to sign him to a minimum contract last summer, it’s hard to envision another team prying him away, Fedor notes. But Nwaba has the second-best plus-minus rating on the team behind only Kevin Love, Fedor adds.

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Bucks, Porter, Lopez

The Bucks’ decision to give point guard Eric Bledsoe a four-year, $70MM extension was a sensible move by both parties, Bobby Marks of ESPN argues. It’s a worthwhile price to retain Bledsoe and keep the core group together and that should aid their recruiting pitch to All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo as he approaches free agency in 2021. Bledsoe has become a more efficient player in Milwaukee, particularly in coach Mike Budenholzer’s system. With that order of business out of the way, the Bucks front office can now concentrate on re-signing Khris Middleton and restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon this summer, Marks adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks had a much more sensible plan to build around Antetokounmpo than the Lakers did with LeBron James, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times opines. Milwaukee has a completely different scheme under Budenholzer, surrounding its star with shooters through savvy decisions in free agency and trades. That has opened up driving lanes for Antetokounmpo. Los Angeles’ front office brought in playmakers and ballhandlers around James, Woike notes, which is why the Lakers rank 28th in 3-point shooting.
  • The Bulls have a much brighter outlook than they did at this time last season, when they went into full tank mode, Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. The addition of Otto Porter has allowed the Bulls to improve its spacing offensively. Improved health for second-year power forward Lauri Markkanen has also made a difference, as he’s enjoying the best stretch of his young career, John continues. Shooting guard Zach LaVine remains a defensive liability but in a recent eight-game stretch, Chicago was a plus-8.2 with him on the floor, Johns points out. The Bulls will still get a high lottery pick and should continue to be on the upswing, John concludes.
  • It’s not out of the question that Robin Lopez re-signs with the Bulls, according to Sam Smith of the team’s website. The veteran center is showing his value as an offensive factor due to Wendell Carter Jr.‘s injury. The front office was concerned that Lopez couldn’t be effective switching and getting out to the perimeter defensively, but recently few teams have beaten the Bulls at his position, Smith notes. Lopez will want to test the market but with the team’s frontcourt needs expanding, his return for next season will be under consideration, Smith adds.