Paul Zipser

Bulls Waive Paul Zipser, Julyan Stone

As part of the series of transactions that saw them make their signing of Jabari Parker official, the Bulls have formally waived forward Paul Zipser and guard Julyan Stone, the team announced in a press release.

The moves were necessary in order to clear the cap room necessary to finalize Parker’s two-year, $40MM deal. Having already traded Jerian Grant, waived Sean Kilpatrick, and withdrawn David Nwaba‘s qualifying offer within the last week or so, Chicago was able to create about $20.6MM in cap space by cutting Zipser and Stone and renouncing their other cap holds and exceptions.

In addition to waiving Zipser and Stone, the team also had to renounce Noah Vonleh‘s cap hold of $10MM+ and give up its mid-level and trade exceptions. The Bulls had three trade exceptions available, the largest of which was worth nearly $9MM. The club will now only have access to the $4.449MM room exception.

Zipser ($1.545MM) and Stone ($1.656MM) each had non-guaranteed salaries for 2018/19, so the Bulls are no longer on the hook for any money for either player.

Zipser, 24, averaged 4.0 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 54 games (15.3 MPG) for the Bulls last season. He indicated in June that he didn’t expect the team to bring him back.

As for Stone, he was only included in last week’s three-way trade with the Hornets and Magic so that the Bulls technically received something in the deal — he was always expected to be released. The veteran guard had a very limited role for the Hornets last season, averaging just 0.8 PPG, 1.3 RPG, and 1.1 APG in 23 contests (7.6 MPG)

Bulls Clearing Cap Room For Forthcoming Move?

The Bulls have been cutting costs in a series of minor moves over the last week, having traded Jerian Grant, waived Sean Kilpatrick, and withdrawn David Nwaba‘s qualifying offer. As K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune details, the transactions signal that the Bulls are looking to create the flexibility necessary to complete a more significant move using cap room. A source tells Johnson that there’s a “strong internal belief” that Chicago will finalize another move.

Although the Bulls technically remain an over-the-cap team due to their various exceptions and cap holds, they can create up to about $20.6MM in cap room by waiving Julyan Stone and Paul Zipser, renouncing Noah Vonleh, and renouncing their trade exceptions. All of those moves are expected to happen, according to Johnson.

Johnson suggests that the Bulls’ forthcoming transaction will likely involve either shoring up their wing position or absorbing an unwanted contract with an asset attached. While Chicago has been linked to restricted free agents like Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, and Marcus Smart intermittently within the last few weeks, I’d be very surprised if the club intends to make an offer to any of those players that requires $20MM+ in space. Clint Capela is the only RFA who might warrant such an offer, but he seems like an improbable target for the Bulls, who drafted Wendell Carter just three weeks ago.

Accommodating a salary dump looks like a more logical path for the Bulls. One popular theory that has been making the rounds is a swap that sends Carmelo Anthony ($27.93MM) and draft assets to Chicago for Cristiano Felicio ($8.47MM). This theoretical deal, which we touched on earlier this week, was fleshed out this morning by cap expert Albert Nahmad.

Such a trade may appeal to the Thunder, who could clear about $20MM from their 2018/19 cap and create nearly $100MM in projected luxury-tax savings by replacing Anthony’s salary with Felicio’s. It’d also make sense for the Bulls, who could carve out additional cap room for 2019 and/or 2020 and could perhaps acquire an extra draft pick for taking on Anthony. The Bulls would subsequently buy out Carmelo in this hypothetical scenario.

However, this is all speculation at this point. All we know for now is that the Bulls’ recent series of moves suggests they have something in mind for their cap room. We’ll have to wait to see what exactly that is.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Grant, Payne, Stone

The Bulls will be investing in an unknown commodity by matching the Kings’ four-year, $78MM offer sheet for Zach LaVine, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Chicago’s most recent offer to LaVine was only about $2MM less per year than the deal with the Kings, so it’s not a great financial burden for the team to take on. The bigger question is what kind of player LaVine will be after an ACL tear limited him to a combined 71 games over the past two seasons.

The 23-year-old got into just 24 contests in his first season with Chicago and wasn’t particularly effective. LaVine averaged 16.7 points per game, but shot a career-low 38.3% from the floor and the Bulls were outscored by 7.2 PPG while he was on the court. Friedell states that LaVine hasn’t progressed beyond what he was when he entered the league, an athletic marvel who lacks efficiency on offense and consistency on defense.

The Bulls may also have to repair their relationship with LaVine, who said he felt more wanted by the Kings in free agency. The front office believes it has to match LaVine’s offer sheet so it won’t lose the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade, Friedell adds, but it isn’t certain that it’s getting a player to build around for the next four seasons.

There’s more news out of Chicago:

  • An escalating salary cap will make LaVine’s new contract look better in future years, notes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Conflicting reports give LaVine a starting salary of either $18.1MM or $19.5MM, which would be either 17.8% or 19.1% of the salary cap, and that percentage will fall in future years as the cap continues to rise. Johnson also notes that the Kings did the Bulls a favor by putting substantial injury protection for themselves in the deal in case LaVine has more problems with his left knee. Chicago’s front office didn’t suggest that in its negotiations out of fear of angering LaVine and his representatives.
  • Tonight’s decision to trade Jerian Grant was a sign of confidence in Cameron Payne as the backup point guard, Johnson adds in a separate story. The Bulls will save about $1MM in swapping Grant for Julyan Stone and another $1,656,092 by waiving Stone before his August 1 guarantee date. Injuries have limited Payne to just 36 games since being acquired from the Thunder at the 2017 trade deadline.
  • The Bulls will create a $2.6MM trade exception in tonight’s deal, tweets salary cap specialist Albert Nahmad. The team can open as much as $29MM before officially matching LaVine’s offer sheet by waiving Paul Zipser and Sean Kilpatrick (Twitter link).

Bulls Forward Paul Zipser Doubts He’ll Return

Forward Paul Zipser doesn’t believe he’ll be back with the Bulls next season, he told a German newspaper in a story that was relayed by BlogABull.com.

Zipser has a non-guaranteed contract of approximately $1.545MM next season that becomes guaranteed if he remains on the roster through July 18th.

Zipser said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Bulls decide to let him go before the guarantee kicks in. Even if they do guarantee his salary, he doubts they’ll keep him.

The 6’8” Zipser saw his playing time dip in his second NBA season. He averaged 4.0 PPG and shot just 34.6% from the field while playing 15.2 MPG in 54 appearances. In his rookie campaign, he averaged 5.4 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 19.2 MPG while playing 44 games.

Health is also a concern, as Zipser had surgery to repair a broken left foot last month. According to Zipser, the injury was a stress fracture.

Zipser told the Rhein Neckar newspaper that foot pain was a major reason for his dropoff in performance.

“If your foot hurts, you simply can’t play as hard as normally. You don’t want to suffer a serious injury and be out for some time,” Zipser said according to the English translation provided by BlogABull. “It was difficult to focus on the game – I didn’t manage that very well.”

Zipser also said the Bulls’ decision to go into tank mode caused great consternation, though he didn’t have an issue with coach Fred Hoiberg.

“That finally destroyed the morale of the players. But even before you could notice that some decisions didn’t make any sense with regards to having a successful season,” he said. “The conversations with the coach were always very honest, I really appreciate him.”

Central Notes: LeBron, Draft, Sexton, Zipser

Much has been made in the last week of the Cavaliers’ poor performance against the Celtics in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. One topic approached in particular is the potential free agency of LeBron James this summer. James, who has a player option worth a little more than $35.6MM, will again be the showcase of his free agent class like he was in 2010 if he decides to decline his option.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer opines that James, should he choose to enter the open market, may again change the way we think about free agency. O’Connor writes that as the most powerful player in the game, James could leave the Cavaliers and potentially land with the Rockets this offseason – most likely by opting in to his contract and forcing a sign and trade a la Chris Paul last season – then join the Sixers a year or two later before ending his career in Hollywood with the Lakers.

It may seem improbable, but as O’Connor notes, LeBron is probably the one player – other than perhaps Kevin Durant – who can get away with signing one-year contracts season after season, relying on his power and talent to confidently assure himself he’ll be able to sign another maximum-salary deal the next year. He’s been doing it with the Cavaliers ever since he returned to Cleveland in 2014.

Ultimately, while there likely won’t be another “The Decision” debacle if James ends up leaving the Cavaliers, it’ll be interesting to see where James ends up playing next season nonetheless.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Both the Bucks and Pacers have first round selections in this summer’s draft, with Milwaukee selecting at No. 17 and Indiana at No. 23. Beat writers J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star and Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provide five potential draft targets for each team.
  • Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago takes a look at the fit of Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, aptly nicknamed “Young Bull,” as the pick for the Bulls at No. 7. Sexton, who was coached in college by former NBA coach Avery Johnson, averaged 24.2 points on 53 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in five postseason games this past season.
  • And speaking of the Bulls, Dan Santaromita of NBC Sports Chicago reports that reserve forward Paul Zipser underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a broken left foot. Zipser has a non-guaranteed contract worth just over $1.54MM for next season.

Central Notes: LaVine, Parker, Pistons

Comments from Bulls vice president John Paxson suggest that the franchise is keen on letting the market decide pending restricted free agent Zach LaVine‘s value and, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun Times writes, the 23-year-old’s fate remains a dicey topic.

Cowley writes that a source of his claims that LaVine’s camp regards him as a max or close-to-max player but that the Bulls may not be so sure.

The Bulls, he adds, have been passive in restricted free agency negotiations in the past, “lowballing” Jimmy Butler back in 2015 and letting the market dictate Nikola Mirotic‘s value last summer.

Well, the market dictates a lot and how things go,” Paxson said. “I think the market has tightened up a little bit the last couple of years since the spike. [The Bulls] obviously value Zach a lot, and we think he’s a part of our future, but he has the opportunity to explore things.

There’s more from the Central Division:

Central Notes: Bulls, Nelson, J.R. Smith, Pacers

The Bulls need to get more serious about tanking and start making moves to improve their lottery chances, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com argues. Cristiano Felicio, Paul Zipser, Noah Vonleh and Cameron Payne should receive a lot more playing time, while veterans like Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday should have their minutes reduced, Friedell says. Holding out Zach LaVine on the second game of back-to-backs would also facilitate the cause, Friedell adds.

Also around the Central Division:

  • Small forward James Ennis and point guard Jameer Nelson have jumped right into the Pistons’ rotation after being acquired just before the trade deadline. Ennis, who was traded by the Grizzlies for forward Brice Johnson and a future second-round pick, has averaged 9.5 PPG and 17.5 MPG over the past two games. Nelson, who was traded by the Bulls for Willie Reed and future draft considerations, has averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.0 APG in 19.5 MPG during his first two games with Detroit.
  • Nelson, 35, told Hoops Rumors and other reporters that he’d like to continue playing after this season. The Pistons point guard be an unrestricted free agent this summer.  “I never want to put a limit or a time frame on my career,” he said. “My body feels good, my mind is right. So I’ll just continue to work. My body and mind will tell me when it’s time for me to go. I think there will be a lot of teams that will need a guy like me next season.”
  • Pacers players lobbied GM Kevin Pritchard to stand pat during the trade deadline, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star relays. Pritchard was approached by six players, who told him they wanted to see what they could accomplish with the current mix. “They feel like they are overachieving and had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Pritchard said during a press conference. “They wanted to have the opportunity to finish this out and try to get into the playoffs. … That carried a lot of weight with me.”
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith held onto his roster spot and retained his starting job, but he admits he was sweating out the deadline, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports. “My name was being thrown around a lot out there, so it was nerve-wracking for sure,” Smith said. “When you see six guys getting traded and there’s still more than an hour to the trade deadline, there’s no telling what can happen.” Smith is owed $30.3MM over the next two seasons, which made his contract difficult to move, McMenamin notes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/19/18

Here are the G League moves from around the Association today:

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Valentine, Rotation, Arcidiacono

The Bulls acquired Zach LaVine in a June trade despite a torn left ACL he suffered last February, putting his 2017/18 debut on hold. The two-time dunk contest champion is currently rehabbing and Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters, including K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, that LaVine’s recovery is on schedule.

“Zach is coming along great,” Hoiberg said Thursday. “He’s been really good, very vocal with our players. He’s ahead of schedule. He’s cleared to do more movement. He’s not cleared for contact yet, but he’s moving around in unpredictable movements now, which is important.”

LaVine, still just 22 years old, could become an important piece of the Bulls’ future. Before the season-ending injury last season, LaVine was enjoying his best year to date, averaging 18.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 3.0 APG in 48 games. If he recovers from knee surgery — which has been known to zap players’ explosiveness — without issue, LaVine eventually re-signing with Chicago would be a question of when, not if, Johnson writes in a separate article.

Check out other news surrounding the Bulls below:

  • Denzel Valentine will not the Bulls’ backup point guard, Hoiberg told reporters, including Johnson (via Twitter).
  • In a separate tweet, Johnson notes that the Bulls are expected to use a 10-man rotation. Johnson adds that the injured Paul Zipser, who has been dealing with a back ailment, will likely start in Thursday’s season opener.
  • Ryan Arcidiacono is the expected backup point guard for the Bulls in the season opener, per Johnson. The Bulls reporter adds that 45 days of NBA service on two-way deals does not start until Oct. 23., allowing the Bulls to keep Arcidiacono on the roster a while longer.

Central Notes: Bulls, Pistons, Smith

The Bulls finally embraced a rebuild this offseason so there will be no shortage of attention paid to how they manage each and every asset from this point forward. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the club will be particularly patient with injuries to key young players considering that now more than ever the club can afford to lose ball games.

Between the lingering effects of Zach LaVine‘s 2016/17 ACL injury and preseason setbacks to both Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, the new look Bulls are awfully banged up ahead of the 2017 season opener and may not even see the court together until as late as December.

I think it’s just about being patient,” Dunn, acquired in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler from the Bulls to Minnesota, said. “Lauri, he was in Finland, so there was a lot of strain on his back from all the games they played [in the EuroBasket tournament]. Zach, with his injury, you try to take it slow with him because he’s a big piece to this team. And me, I’m just slowly trying to get back. So it’s just a slow thing.

To that effect, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg has said that his starting lineup when the season begins on Tuesday will consist of Jerian Grant, Justin Holiday, Nikola Mirotic, Paul Zipser and Robin Lopez.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • When Derrick Rose signed a minimum contract with the Cavaliers, he did so as a bet on himself. “I get a chance to reintroduce myself back to the league. I get to bet on myself. That was one of the reasons I came here, I get to bet on myself. And I’m from Chicago, I’ve got that hustling side; it’s in me, man,” he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • While Pistons projects Luke Kennard and Henry Ellenson figure to make an impact on the team eventually, they’ll have to beat out defensive-minded veterans Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver for minutes, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site writes. Both Tolliver and Bullock provide plenty of intangible skill that make life easier for the second unit.
  • The announcement that Dwyane Wade would be the Cavaliers‘ starting shooting guard didn’t go over well with J.R. Smith. “We talked about it,” Smith told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “It wasn’t the most positive conversation, but we talked about it and we’ll get through it together.