Patrick Williams

Central Notes: Teague, Cook, Love, Dellavedova, Williams

Even with the addition of Jeff Teague to fortify their backcourt, the Bucks still have a little breathing room under the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. Marks calculates that Milwaukee is $737,439 below the tax after taking a $510,589 cap hit on Teague, who was signed this week. Teague was traded by Boston to Orlando and then waived. The Bucks still have another roster spot open, should they choose to add another player.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It’s uncertain whether forward Tyler Cook will remain with the Pistons after his second 10-day contract expires next week but coach Dwane Casey likes what he’s seen, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. “He’s an interesting guy. I don’t know what we can do with him contractually, but I’d love to keep him around as much as we can. He’s one of those guys you want to keep in your program because he gives you everything,” Casey said. Cook, who signed his second 10-day on March 28, has averaged 3.4 and 3.3 RPG in 13.3 MPG in eight games with the Pistons.
  • The return of Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova from long-term injuries puts the Cavaliers in position for a final playoff run, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. “We don’t have much time left, but I do think that we can put together a great last however many games that we have and really make a push,” Love said. “Having Delly back, having myself back, actually being able to make an impact playing the game, there’s just nothing like that.”
  • With the addition of Nikola Vucevic, rookie Patrick Williams is now starting at small forward for the Bulls. Williams hasn’t seen his role change dramatically, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times“The people I guard are pretty much the same,’’ Williams said. “Even when I was [at power forward], I was guarding some threes and some twos, so nothing really changes. In our offense, coach [Billy Donovan] does a really good job of making sure the wing positions are pretty much interchangeable.’’

Lowe’s Latest: Wolves, Bulls, Bucks, Rivers, Vucevic, Nuggets, More

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas has been extremely proactive in overhauling the club’s roster since taking control of the front office in 2019, and Minnesota figures to be a team worth watching again leading up to this Thursday’s trade deadline.

While the Wolves have been linked to potential trade targets like Aaron Gordon and John Collins, Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) says it’s safe to assume that if there’s a power forward between the ages of 22 and 30 who could theoretically be available, Minnesota has inquired on him. Upgrading the four is a top priority for the team.

On the other hand, while the Wolves could be in the market for a win-now move, they’ve also signaled that they may be willing to trade some of their deeper rotation players for future draft picks, sources tell Lowe.

Lowe’s latest look at the trade market is worth checking out in full if you’re an ESPN+ subscriber. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Lowe’s sources believe the Bulls could get a first-round pick for Thaddeus Young, but they continue to signal that he’s not available. Chicago has also rebuffed inquires on rookie forward Patrick Williams.
  • The Bucks will peruse the trade and buyout markets for a backup guard after trading D.J. Augustin, and Lowe suggests Knicks guard Austin Rivers is a target to watch. Rivers is a buyout candidate if New York doesn’t trade him by Thursday afternoon.
  • Lowe believes a Nikola Vucevic trade is “very unlikely.” Jared Weiss and Sam Amick of The Athletic conveyed a similar sentiment today, writing that it might take a Jrue Holiday-esque return for the Magic to pull the trigger.
  • Other teams suggest the Nuggets have been active in search of a deal to upgrade their rotation, according to Lowe, who confirms Denver explored a move for P.J. Tucker before he was sent to Milwaukee.
  • While the Warriors aren’t feeling pressure to move Kelly Oubre, they’re exploring the market for him to see if there’s a deal that could help them more beyond this season, Lowe says.
  • Pacers sharpshooter Doug McDermott is drawing interest from several teams, sources tell ESPN.

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: Carter Jr., LaVine, Williams, Dotson

Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. is in line for an earlier-than-expected return from a quadriceps injury, practicing with the team fully on Sunday, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports writes.

Carter, 21, sustained the injury nearly one month ago and has been out for the club’s last 11 games. He also missed time with injuries during his previous two campaigns, averaging 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 29.2 minutes per game during the 2019/20 season.

“Eventually, we’re going to have to throw him in there with the number of games coming and the limited amount of practice time,” coach Billy Donovan acknowledged. “(Sunday) was a good day for the fact we were able to practice and go up and down and do some 5-on-5 and he was able to participate in all of those things. And he looked fine doing it. I don’t think there was any problems at least while that was going on. We’ll see how he responds to the workload.”

Chicago will open a three-game road trip on Monday against Pacers, followed by games against the Hornets on Wednesday and Sixers on Friday.

Here are some other notes from the Windy City:

  • Zach LaVine‘s teammates believed he’s being overlooked as a potential All-Star this season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Though his defensive production needs work and the Bulls are 10-15, LaVine has averaged a career-high 28.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game this season. ‘‘I think he understands at this point in his career that individual accolades come when the team does really well,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I think if it happens, it would be great for him to be recognized as an All-Star; it’s an incredible honor. But I don’t think it’s the driving force for him.’’
  • Playing on Friday against Kawhi Leonard, his favorite player, was a learning experience for forward Patrick Williams, Cowley writes in a different story. Leonard finished with a game-high 33 points, also tallying six rebounds and zero turnovers in nearly 33 minutes in the Clippers’ 125-106 win. ‘‘Me, I think I could have done better — energy, defensively, just making it tough on him,’’ Williams said. ‘‘I think he was a little bit too comfortable out there. That’s on me. So . . . just gotta watch the film and get better from it offensively and defensively. And also, as a team, there are some things, some areas there where we kind of dropped the ball.’’
  • Two-way player Devon Dotson had an impressive start to the G League Bubble last week, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports writes. Dotson finished with 16 points in the first contest, along with 12 points and 10 assists in the second, making a respectable impact in both games.

Central Notes: Satoransky, P. Williams, Portis, Love

Billy Donovan isn’t ready to change his starting point guard, but the Bulls coach expects more playing time for Tomas Satoransky now that he has returned from his second COVID-19 experience, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Satoransky was sidelined earlier in the season due to contact tracing, then tested positive for the virus later. Saturday marked his fifth game back, and his playing time has been gradually increasing.

“I think he’s getting his legs back under him, he’s trying to find himself, but each game I think he’s out there playing I think he’ll be more and more comfortable,’’ Donovan said.

There might be temptation to move Satoransky into the starting lineup in place of Coby White, who’s shooting 40% from the field and struggling as a lead guard, but Donovan remains committed to developing White as the long-term answer at point guard.

“Is it a situation where maybe you bring Sato in a little bit earlier? You stagger those guys? But I’m not at a point where I just say, ‘Hey, listen we’re done with him.’ I wouldn’t do that. I think he’s too important to our team,” Donovan said. “He does compete, I trust him in that area. I just think he’s a guy that’s 20 years old, and there’s going to be some of these moments where he’s going to be up and down.’’

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls drafted Patrick Williams for his defensive prowess, but injuries may force them to rely on him for more scoring, notes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Williams is one of seven rookies in a regular starting role, but he’s only ninth on the team at 29.7 touches per game. “They just say whatever I do, be confident in it 100%,” Williams said. “They have confidence in me in whatever I decide to do, whether it’s drive or shoot. Just whatever I do, be 100% confident and don’t be in the middle.”
  • Bobby Portis is excelling with the Bucks’ second unit, writes Spencer Davies of Basketball News. Portis, who signed as a free agent during the offseason, enjoys changing the atmosphere of a game. “I think the last three, four years of my career, I’ve kinda found the niche of coming in and bringing energy off the bench,” he said. “Just knowing if the game’s up and down or if our team needs energy, being that sparkplug that the team needs.”
  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who has been limited to two games this season because of a calf injury, went through a pre-game workout Saturday for the first time in more than a month, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. No date has been set for him to return.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Holiday, P. Williams

The trade rumors surrounding Victor Oladipo died down to some extent as the 2020 offseason progressed. Reports suggested that he had hit it off with new Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren, while Oladipo himself said he had never told the team he wanted to be elsewhere.

Still, that doesn’t mean everyone is convinced that he’ll play out his full contract year with the Pacers. One NBA executive recently predicted to Bob Kravitz of The Athletic that Indiana will trade the two-time All-Star by the March 25 trade deadline: “He’s gone. They’ll move him.”

Kravitz isn’t ruling out the possibility of Oladipo thriving under Bjorkgren and deciding that he wants to remain the Pacers long-term, but predicts a deadline deal. No matter what happens, it’d be a win-win situation for Oladipo and the Pacers if the 28-year-old has a strong bounceback season in 2020/21 — it would make Indiana competitive on the court, increase Oladipo’s trade value, and increase the likelihood of signing a lucrative long-term contract when he becomes a free agent in 2021.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Bucks‘ suffered a heartbreaking opening-night loss to Boston on Wednesday, but they got a good look at what newly-acquired guard Jrue Holiday brings to the team, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Holiday commands respect as a shot creator, giving Milwaukee an added option on offense and taking some of the pressure off Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, as Nehm observes.
  • Fourth overall pick Patrick Williams was immediately thrust into the Bulls‘ starting lineup in his first game as a pro on Wednesday. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago provides a few reasons for why it makes sense for Williams to be a starter, noting that his strengths and weaknesses are a better fit for the first unit.
  • In case you missed it, a report on Thursday indicated that Cavaliers swingman Dylan Windler, a first-round pick in 2019, suffered a fractured hand on opening night. Windler missed his full rookie season in 2019/20 due to a leg injury.

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: Donovan, Temple, Turner, Warren, Gores

Bulls coach Billy Donovan is already building a strong foundation in Chicago, working to establish relationships with his players and instill a respected culture within the team, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

Donovan, who’s set to start his first season as head coach of the Bulls this week, spent the past five years coaching the Thunder. He led Oklahoma City to a surprising 44-28 record last season, good for the fifth-best in the Western Conference.

“He has a great track record with his players and he has done a great job so far of telling us what he needs out of us,” veteran forward Thaddeus Young said. “We had a meeting (early in camp) and he took time to really sit down as a team and tell us, ‘These are the things we need to do to win basketball game(s) and these are the things we need to do in order to fight through this thing.’ I think he’s done a great job so far.’’

Donovan hopes to guide the Bulls to their first playoff appearance since the 2016/17 season, leading a group that consists of Zach LaVine, Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr., Patrick Williams and others.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago examines how Garrett Temple could immediately help the Bulls in a separate story for NBC Sports Chicago. Temple, the team’s only acquisition in free agency, finished his first practice on Sunday after quarantining due to COVID-19. “Just talking guys through certain things that I see, whether it be defensive things, offensively or just making sure we stay together,” Temple said. “If a team goes on a 5-0 run, 10-0 run that we stay together and not put our heads down. Things of that nature are some things I think I can help out with right away.”
  • The Pacers expect to have Myles Turner and T.J. Warren available for their season opener against the Knicks on Wednesday, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star writes. Turner had been coping with a concussion, while Warren had been dealing with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. “They were in a full physical, contact practice today and they looked good,” coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “There was a lot on 5-on-5. That’s what I would expect. They’re getting the green light to get closer and closer to that.”
  • A criminal justice group has submitted a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver with hopes of forcing Pistons owner Tom Gores to sell the franchise, according to Davide Scigliuzzo of Bloomberg (via The Detroit News). The group’s concerns lie with Gores’ financial interest in Securus Technologies Inc., which came under fire this year for charging prisoners as much as $25 for a 15-minute call, Scigliuzzo writes.

Central Notes: Giannis, Porter, P. Williams, Pacers

Plenty of options were waiting for Giannis Antetokounmpo if he had reached free agency, but he chose to remain loyal to Milwaukee, which has been his NBA home for the past seven years, writes Eric Woodyard of ESPN. Antetokoumpo provided an early Christmas present to Bucks fans on Tuesday when he agreed to a super-max extension that runs through the 2025/26 season.

“The way that this city has supported me and my family has been amazing since day one, since the day I walked in the Cousins Center gym and Bradley Center, also. It’s been amazing. I was 18, I’m 26 right now. All I know is Milwaukee,” Antetokounmpo said. “When I came here, all I knew is that this is a city that loves basketball, it’s a city that … We have more things to do now, but when I came here we had a lot of things to do so I could just focus on basketball and it’s a place that I want to be.”

While the Bucks had a huge advantage in the money they could offer Antetokounmpo, the two-time MVP had to be convinced that he could win a championship in Milwaukee. The front office was aggressive over the offseason, trading for Jrue Holiday and signing D.J. AugustinBobby PortisBryn Forbes, and Torrey Craig.

“I think we can get better. I believe we can be better. We’ve got better,” Antetokounmpo said. “We have a great team. We have a great culture. I know that I’m working toward that goal. The front office is working toward that goal, so I’m good. I’m happy. I think everybody’s on the same page.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers swingman Kevin Porter Jr. didn’t travel with the team to New York, which means he won’t play at all during the preseason, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavs have chosen to address Porter’s legal issues internally, Fedor adds, and are being vague in their public statements. Porter didn’t practice with the team until December 10 and may not be ready for the season opener next week.
  • The Bulls gave first-round pick Patrick Williams a start in their third preseason game, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The decision was based partly on the team’s shortage of personnel due to injuries and COVID-19 concerns, but coach Billy Donovan also wanted to see how Williams would respond to opportunity. “It’s just more to see, like, OK, what does Patrick look like with that first group,” Donovan said. “Does Otto (Porter Jr.), you know, give us a little bit of a punch off the bench from a scoring standpoint? We’re gonna have to make some sacrifices all the way around as a team in terms of how we need to play, and then also what guys’ roles may be, just because of the uniqueness of what we’re all dealing with at this point in time.”
  • The Pacers appeared to be on track to make another front office addition, possibly a second assistant general manager, but they’ve tabled those plans for now, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

Bulls Notes: White, Young, Temple, Williams

Coby White got the start at point guard in the Bulls‘ preseason opener, but he has a long way to go to earn that job on a regular basis, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. White had an uneven game, finishing with 15 points and six assists in 23 minutes, but he missed his first three shots as Chicago fell into an early 17-point hole.

White’s main competition for the spot will be Tomas Satoransky, who started 64 games last season. New head coach Billy Donovan said he will make the decision based not only on White’s individual performance, but how he affects his teammates.

“As a point guard, it’s not always going to be about how well (White is) playing but how well the group is playing,” Donovan said. “And I think that’s his maturation — that’s the process he has to go through in terms of understanding that he has to be a connector. And it’s not only him — it’s the group that’s out there together. How can they make each other better? How can they function with one another? How can they play off each other? How can they make the game easier for each other? That’s going to be the biggest thing.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Veteran forward Thaddeus Young was scratched from Friday’s game because of a lower leg infection and won’t play Sunday night either, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Young is listed as day to day, but has no set timetable to return. “He’s doing much better, which is good. Things haven’t gotten worse,” Donovan said. “But I think the doctors want to keep a close eye on him with that infection and just make sure he’s healing properly.”
  • Garrett Temple is still in the league’s COVID-19 protocol and it’s uncertain when he might be able to return, Schaefer adds in the same story. Temple tested positive on November 28.
  • The Bulls like what they saw from lottery pick Patrick Williams in his first NBA game, according to Sam Smith of NBA.com. Williams came off the bench with 12 points and three rebounds in 25 minutes. “I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player,” Donovan said. “He has a really good feel for the game. He very rarely forces shots, he makes good decisions, he’s a good passer. He is really good when he gets into that elbow, paint area where he can shoot those one-handed lean-in shots. I’m sure he was a little anxious and nervous, but he’s got a good pace and good way he plays and he can get into the mid range. I thought he played very well considering the fact that there was no real Summer League or build up to training camp, and he had to come here after the draft and get started.”