Ayo Dosunmu

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, Starting Point Guard, Terry

Asked by Mark Medina of Sportskeeda about the belief in some corners of the Bulls fanbase that the team should embrace a rebuild, veteran forward DeMar DeRozan pushed back against the idea that such a reset is necessary.

“I think a lot of people who say that or suggest that really don’t understand basketball at all, in my opinion,” DeRozan said. “You can think that’s an answer or that’s a route. But there’s no telling how long that route is going to even last. That route doesn’t necessarily always work in a timely fashion that you may think it will take. With that, it’s hard to find and create talented players like the players that we already have assembled.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” DeRozan continued. “It’s not only on the players, but the coaching staff as well to be able to correct the mistakes that we have because we weren’t far off at all with the mistakes that we’ve had. If we correct those, give us back the 10 to 15 games that we should’ve had last season. That changes the whole dynamic of everything.

“It’s always easy when something goes bad just to say, ‘Scratch it.’ But you really don’t know where you’ll end up from there. So when I hear people say that, it lets me know and understand that they don’t understand basketball at all.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • In that same interview with Medina, DeRozan expressed interest in representing Team USA in the 2024 Olympics and said he’d be interested in signing a contract extension to remain in Chicago. “That’s a place I want to be and end my career,” the six-time All-Star said. “I want to be able to accomplish everything I’ve set out to accomplish. That’s all I can worry about and control. I have the utmost confidence in myself. I’ll let my agent and the organization deal with that side of things, to be honest, man. From their standpoint, they want me to be there long-term and vice versa. We’ll see what happens from there.”
  • Appearing on The Score (WSCR-AM 670) in Chicago on Wednesday, Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said the the team’s starting point guard job is expected to be up for grabs in training camp, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I think it’s going to be competition, fierce competition. It’s going to be a lot of good guards,” Karnisovas said. “That’s mentality we’re going into training camp (with.) I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be hard for Billy (Donovan).” The Bulls added Jevon Carter this offseason to join Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, and Alex Caruso in the mix at point guard.
  • In a separate story for NBC Sports Chicago, Johnson explores how Milwaukee’s impending acquisition of Damian Lillard will impact the Bulls.
  • After appearing in just 38 games and averaging only 5.6 minutes per night as a rookie, 2022 first-rounder Dalen Terry worked hard this summer in the hopes of getting the opportunity to earn a bigger role in his second NBA season, he tells Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “You know me, I’ve always got confidence,” Terry said. “That’s not something I ever lack. But I think confidence comes with work, and I know how hard I busted my ass this whole summer.”

Bulls GM Says Keeping Nikola Vucevic Was “No. 1 Goal”

The Bulls were determined to re-sign their free agents this summer and center Nikola Vucevic was the top priority, general manager Marc Eversley told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Appearing on the Bulls Talk podcast, Eversley discussed the need for continuity, especially regarding Vucevic, who has been with Chicago since a trade deadline deal in 2021. Vucevic opted to forgo free agency and accepted a three-year, $60MM extension.

“I’m excited for Vooch,” Eversley said. “There’s not many starting centers in the NBA. So if Vooch were to go away, how would you replace him? Those options were just not appealing to us. So retaining him became the No. 1 goal of the offseason.”

Vucevic will turn 33 in October, but he’s coming off a productive season. He played 82 games for the first time in his career and averaged 17.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per night while shooting 52% from the floor and 34.9% from beyond the arc.

The Bulls also re-signed guards Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu, setting up a battle for playing time in a crowded backcourt. They added Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig as well to cap off a productive free agent session.

On the first night of free agency, White committed to a three-year, $36MM deal that could reach $40MM with incentives. He’s coming off the worst scoring season of his career at 9.7 PPG, but the Bulls are happy with other parts of his game.

“Coby White had, I thought, a terrific year last year. I think the growth he has shown over the last three years has been second to nobody on the roster,” Eversley said. “I think his ability to shoot (and) he’s much more comfortable handling it now. He doesn’t get pressured or panic anymore.

“He has found his voice in the locker room. He has become a quiet leader. We’ve seen growth and development from him. And that’s why it was critical to bring him back.”

Dosunmu, who started 51 games in his second NBA season, signed a three-year, $21MM contract as a restricted free agent. He earned second-team All-Rookie honors in 2022, but experienced a decline in his three-point shooting last season.

“He would not argue with me; he didn’t have quite the second year he thought he might’ve,” Eversley said. “Call it a sophomore slump. But we’ve seen him in the Advocate Center and how hard he has worked from the end of the season to today and there’s nothing but good things that are going to happen to him.”

Bulls Notes: Dosunmu, Carter, LaVine, DeRozan

Ayo Dosunmu understood that nothing would be guaranteed when he decided to re-sign with the Bulls, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. After receiving a three-year deal worth $21MM as a restricted free agent, Dosunmu now has to prove that he’s worthy of consistent playing time.

With Lonzo Ball out for the season, Chicago appears to have a three-man competition for the starting point guard role. The organization also invested in the re-signed Coby White, who got $33MM over three years, and free agent addition Jevon Carter, who signed for three years at $20MM.

“You know I always want to come out here and compete,” Dosunmu said. “Anybody who says they don’t want to start, they would be not telling the truth. But that’s something that will be taken care of in training camp. … I’m going to make a way. That’s all I can say. I’ve always found a way. I’m going to continue to find a way.”

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Carter, a native of the Chicago area, credits Derrick Rose for inspiring his NBA career (video link). Carter is thrilled to be playing in his hometown after spending time with four teams in his first five seasons. “When I started to watch Derrick Rose, he was really one of the ones that made me believe that going to the NBA was possible,” Carter said.
  • Trade speculation surrounding Zach LaVine has calmed down, but it’s likely to resume when the season begins, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. League sources told Cowley they got the impression that the Bulls were exploring their options with LaVine this summer. Even though executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas was pleased with the strong finish to the regular season, Cowley cautions that changes could be coming if the team doesn’t get off to a good start this fall. Cowley also points out that LaVine is Chicago’s only maximum-salary player, and the new CBA could make teams reluctant to add big money in trades.
  • Appearing on Iman Shumpert‘s podcast, DeMar DeRozan said it feels like the NBA is trying to de-emphasize the mid-range game, but he doesn’t mind going against the tide (hat tip to Josh Buckhalter of Heavy.com). “The threes, that’s cool. I’m not never against that or anything,” DeRozan told Shumpert. “But sometimes it’s a complete game that you could have too, playing basketball. And I think so much of that gets lost by so many threes being shot.”

Bulls Notes: Luxury Tax, Rotation, Williams, Dosunmu

The Bulls will likely be close to the luxury tax threshold all season, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago doesn’t expect them to be willing to end the year in tax territory. Executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said on draft night that he would lobby ownership to pay the tax for a contender, but Johnson states that it’s hard to see him getting approval for a team that finished 10th in the East last season.

Johnson estimates that the Bulls are about $2.4MM away from tax territory with two open roster spots. He expects the team to unload point guard Carlik Jones, whose non-guaranteed $1.9MM salary is roughly the same as a veteran’s minimum contract, and try to get frontcourt help instead.

Johnson adds that filling both roster openings with minimum contracts would put Chicago slightly over the tax line. He expects management to keep one spot open heading into the season and see what opportunities become available to add players. The Bulls have about half of their $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception remaining, along with a $4.5MM bi-annual exception and a $10.2MM disabled player exception that was granted for Lonzo Ball‘s injury.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Billy Donovan‘s 10-man rotation appears set with training camp two months away, and the biggest questions seem to be who will start at point guard and power forward, Johnson adds in the same piece. If Donovan continues his emphasis on defense, Johnson expects newly acquired Torrey Craig to get the nod at power forward, with either Alex Caruso or free agent addition Jevon Carter running the point. The return of Derrick Jones Jr. or a free agent signing such as Rudy Gay could upend the current rotation, Johnson adds, possibly pushing out Andre Drummond.
  • Bulls officials want Patrick Williams to become more aggressive as he enters his fourth NBA season, according to Johnson. Williams returned from an injury to play all 82 games last season, and Johnson believes the organization should be patient with a player who won’t turn 22 until next month.
  • The Bulls may have slightly overpaid for Ayo Dosunmu, but keeping him on the roster was still a good move, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The restricted free agent received $21MM over three years and now has to make a case for consistent playing time in a crowded backcourt.

Ayo Dosunmu Re-Signs With Bulls

JULY 23: The Bulls have officially re-signed Dosunmu, the team confirmed today in a press release.

JULY 21: The Bulls will retain shooting guard Ayo Dosunmu on a three-year deal worth $21MM, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The contract was confirmed by Dosunmu’s agent, Mike Lindeman of Excel Basketball, Wojnarowski adds.

Chicago made Dosunmu a restricted free agent by extending a $5,216,324 qualifying offer last month. The Bulls would have been able to match any offer he received, which likely limited his interest on the open market. The Raptors were the only team reported to be considering Dosunmu over the past three weeks.

The 23-year-old guard appeared in 80 games last season, making 51 starts and averaging 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 26.2 minutes per night. However, his playing time and effectiveness both decreased after Chicago signed Patrick Beverley late in the season.

Chicago selected Dosunmu with the 38th pick in the 2021 draft and he made an immediate impact, starting 40 of the 77 games he played as a rookie. He earned a combined $2.49MM during his first two years in the league, so the new contract represents a significant raise.

Once Dosunmu’s contract becomes official, the Bulls will have 13 players on guaranteed contracts and will be about $3MM below the luxury tax, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Carlik Jones is also on the roster, but his $1.9MM deal is non-guaranteed until opening night.

The Bulls also re-signed Coby White this summer and brought in free agent guard Jevon Carter, so the competition for backcourt minutes will have to be worked out in training camp.

Central Notes: Dosunmu, Jones, I. Mobley, Pistons

Re-signing restricted free agent guard Ayo Dosunmu to a three-year, $21MM contract was a shrewd business decision by the Bulls, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

The Bulls like Dosunmu’s aggression, competitiveness and work ethic, according to Johnson, and bringing him back at $7MM per year could be valuable if Chicago decides to make moves in the future, as mid-sized deals can come in handy when negotiating trades. That isn’t to imply the team wants to deal away a player it is retaining — it’s just a reality of the business.

With Zach LaVine, Coby White, Alex Caruso, Jevon Carter, Dosunmu, Dalen Terry and the injured Lonzo Ball already in the backcourt, Johnson believes Carlik Jones will likely be released. Jones’ deal is currently non-guaranteed, but becomes partially guaranteed for $250K if he makes the Bulls’ opening night roster. The team’s next free agent addition will “almost certainly” be a frontcourt player, Johnson adds.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • He may not be as well-known as his younger brother, but Cavaliers big man Isaiah Mobley, who is on a two-way deal with Cleveland, made his mark during Las Vegas Summer League, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscriber link). Mobley hit an overtime game-winner in the team’s fifth game against Brooklyn, with the Cavs going on to finish 6-0 and leaving with a championship. He averaged 17.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.5 BPG and 1.0 SPG on 49.3% from the field in 28.3 MPG in Vegas. Mobley is the older brother of Evan Mobley, who finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting this past season.
  • James L. Edwards of The Athletic recently took a stab at projecting the Pistons‘ depth chart entering 2023/24, with a possible 10-man rotation of starters Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren, alongside reserves Monte Morris, Alec Burks, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Livers and Marvin Bagley III. Notably, that group does not include James Wiseman, with Edwards writing that Bagley is the superior screener and roller and better at creating his own shot. It also doesn’t include Killian Hayes or Joe Harris. That said, with the obvious caveat that it’s only July, I agree with Edwards.
  • In another article for The Athletic, Edwards evaluates trade proposals from readers. One fake trade was a complex four-team deal where the Pistons receive Tobias Harris; the Clippers receive James Harden and a 2029 first-round pick (from Philly); the Sixers receive Bogdanovic, Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, Danilo Gallinari and 2028 and ’29 first-rounders (from the Clips); and the Wizards receive Bagley and a 2024 second-rounder (from L.A.). Edwards thinks the Sixers would decline that proposal, and likely the Wizards too, though the latter might be more interested if another second-round pick or two were added.

Central Notes: Wiseman, Dosunmu, Lewis, Pacers

James Wiseman is thankful to be healthy and able to work on his game this offseason, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News writes.

The career of the former Warriors lottery pick has been marred by knee ailments. Wiseman is participating in the Pistons’ summer league.

“I’m just grateful to be healthy again,” he said. “Just to be out there playing and to be 100% and not worried about my knee or anything. Just out there playing and hooping and that’s what I like to do.”

Wiseman has gone through three-a-day workouts as he tries to build upon his improved play since joining the Pistons. He averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per games through 24 games with Detroit after being traded by Golden State.

“I’ve just been hooping,” Wiseman said. “Since I haven’t been able to play in a while, (the gym) is where I live at. I just work on all aspects of my game.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • After waiving Marko Simonovic, the Bulls still have some work to do, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. They still must resolve Ayo Dosunmu‘s status after extending him a $5.2MM qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent. The Bulls are perhaps trying to pursue a longer-term deal at a lower price, saving him as a potential sign-and-trade asset, or waiting to see if a suitor comes along with an offer sheet, Johnson writes.
  • Bulls forward Justin Lewis has been full participant in summer league camp, Johnson tweets. He’s on track to play in the Las Vegas Summer League after overcoming an ACL tear, which he suffered last August. The former Marquette star, who went undrafted last year, rehabbed the knee at Chicago’s facilities after getting waived, then re-signed with the Bulls on a two-year, two-way deal in March.
  • The Pacers made it clear they wouldn’t sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet this offseason after giving Deandre Ayton a four-year, $133MM offer sheet a year ago, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his latest Lowe Post podcast. “Remember, they were the ‘Herb Simon doesn’t let us do offer sheets’ team,” Lowe said, referring to the Pacers’ team owner. “And he made an exception for Ayton and it got matched and it was a little bit of a mess. They sent around the league, like, ‘We’re not doing offer sheets.'”

Fischer’s Latest: Bridges, Washington, Pelicans, Dosunmu, More

Prior to signing his $7.9MM qualifying offer, Miles Bridges was seeking around $25MM per year in talks with the Hornets, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. However, Charlotte was unwilling to approach that figure, which is why Bridges’ representatives quickly opted for unrestricted free agency in 2024.

Bridges was ineligible to be included in a sign-and-trade because he wasn’t on the team’s roster last season, having missed all of 2022/23 after facing a felony domestic violence charge. He agreed to a plea deal and was subsequently suspended by the NBA, who will require him to sit out the first 10 games of ’23/24.

Prior to that incident, Bridges was viewed as one of the top free agents of the 2022 class, having averaged 20.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 3.8 APG on 49.1% shooting in 80 games (35.5 MPG) in ’21/22. There was talk of him receiving $30MM annually in an offer sheet last year, according to Fischer, with the Pacers, Pistons and Grizzlies all linked to the 25-year-old forward.

Here’s more from Fischer’s latest story for Yahoo Sports:

  • Hornets restricted free agent forward P.J. Washington might have to wait a while in order to find the type of contract he’s seeking, and it might have to come via sign-and-trade. Marc Stein first reported that the former first-round pick is seeking around $18MM annually. According to Fischer, Washington is looking for $80MM over four years. Fischer writes that several agents seem to be pointing to Keldon Johnson‘s rookie scale extension with the Spurs as a benchmark of sorts in negotiations.
  • The Pelicans continue to gauge the trade market for reserve guard Kira Lewis Jr. and starting center Jonas Valanciunas, sources tell Fischer. Lewis is entering the final year of his rookie scale contract and could become a restricted free agent next summer, while Valanciunas’ $15.4MM deal is expiring.
  • Fischer hears the recent conversations between the Hawks and Raptors haven’t been very productive when it comes to a potential Pascal Siakam deal. On an unrelated note, Fischer also reports there’s optimism within Atlanta’s organization that the team will be able to extend Dejounte Murray.
  • The Raptors have expressed interest in Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu, Fischer reports. However, it’s unclear if they’ll try to make a run at the restricted free agent via an offer sheet or sign-and-trade.
  • Like other reporters, Fischer has heard there’s mutual interest in a reunion between the Sixers and restricted free agent big man Paul Reed.

Washington, Williams, Thybulle Among RFAs Still Available

Of the eight free players on our list of top 50 free agents who have yet to reach new deals, five are restricted free agents. Those five restricted free agents are also the only ones still available at all (not including those coming off on two-way deals). Those players are as follows:

While I’m sure these five players would’ve preferred to agree to lucrative new contracts in the opening hours of free agency, it’s not necessarily an ominous sign that they’ve yet to line up new deals four days later. It can sometimes take a little longer for the market for restricted free agents to develop, but it doesn’t mean they won’t get paid.

A year ago, for instance, Deandre Ayton didn’t sign his maximum-salary offer sheet with the Pacers (which was quickly matched by the Suns) until July 14, two weeks after the start of free agency. Collin Sexton, who received a four-year, $71MM in a sign-and-trade deal that sent him to Utah as part of the Donovan Mitchell blockbuster, didn’t resolve his restricted free agency until September.

The same thing happens with a few restricted free agents just about every year. In 2021, RFAs like Josh Hart (three years, $38MM) and Lauri Markkanen (four years, $67MM) took multiple weeks to reach new contract agreements.

In other words, there’s still plenty of time for Washington, Williams, Thybulle, Dosunmu, and Reed to find deals they like.

Washington, Williams, and Thybulle, in particular, seem like good bets to cash in sooner or later. A report over the weekend indicated that Washington was drawing interest from multiple teams besides the Hornets. Williams has reportedly received interest from Charlotte and Dallas, with the Mavericks also said to be keeping an eye on Thybulle.

It would be a surprise if any of them had to settle for a below-market deal. It sounds like teams are still in the process of figuring out if an offer sheet will be an exercise in futility or if there’s a legitimate chance to pry away one of those players from his current club — and if so, what the price point would be.

There hasn’t been as much chatter about Dosunmu or Reed, but there haven’t been any red flags on either front. Their qualifying offers ($5.2MM for Dosunmu; $2.3MM for Reed) remain in place as one-year fallback options.

The Spurs are the one team that still has enough cap room to make a strong play for any of those top RFAs, if they so choose. The Rockets may also be able to offer more than the full mid-level, depending on how all their moves shake out, and teams below the tax apron are free to try to negotiate sign-and-trades.

It has become pretty rare for restricted free agents to change teams via offer sheets, but sign-and-trade deals aren’t uncommon — they get the player to his preferred landing spot while ensuring that his old team picks up an asset or two.

There are still several unrestricted free agents whose landing spots will be worth watching too, including Christian Wood, Kelly Oubre, Hamidou Diallo, Jaylen Nowell, and Dario Saric. But at this point in free agency, it’s the RFA market that looks more intriguing.

Bulls Sign Nikola Vucevic To Three-Year Extension

3:12pm: The Bulls have issued a press release officially announcing Vucevic’s extension.

“During his time in Chicago, Nikola has proven that he is a special player both on and off the court,” executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. “He has produced at an elite level since we acquired him and will remain an integral part of our foundation moving forward. Nikola’s willingness to do whatever is asked of him to help us win, while also being an established veteran leader for our group, makes him a valuable component of the culture of our organization. He is a consummate professional and tremendous teammate, which plays a big role in making us an attractive destination for other players. We are excited to have him continue to be part of our journey.”

2:42pm: The Bulls and Nikola Vucevic are nearing an agreement on a three-year, $60MM contract extension that would keep the veteran center off the free agent market, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Vucevic, 32, was acquired by the Bulls at the 2021 trade deadline in a deal with Orlando. Since arriving in Chicago, he has averaged 18.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game with a .492/.342/.812 shooting line in 181 total regular season appearances (33.2 MPG).

Vucevic isn’t an elite defender, but he’s a talented scorer and rebounder who has been remarkably consistent during his first two full seasons with the Bulls — he averaged 17.6 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 3.2 APG in both 2021/22 and ’22/23.

Like fellow big man Naz Reid, Vucevic had been extension-eligible this season, so he didn’t have to wait to reach the open market this weekend if his goal was to re-up with his current team.

The Bulls were considered a good bet to reach a new deal with Vucevic before or during free agency for multiple reasons. For one, their guaranteed contracts and the cap holds for restricted free agents Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu would almost certainly make them an over-the-cap team with or without Vucevic on the books, so they wouldn’t have had a clear path to replace him at the same salary slot if they’d let him walk.

There has also been a sense, as Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports wrote today, that Chicago didn’t love the idea of letting Vucevic go after paying such a steep price to acquire him from the Magic two years ago. That trade netted Orlando a pair of lottery picks – Franz Wagner and Jett Howard – in addition to young center Wendell Carter.

Assuming they officially finalize an extension with Vucevic by the June 30 deadline, the Bulls can shift their focus to free agency, where they’re expected to re-sign guards White and Dosunmu, according to Fischer. A new deal for unrestricted free agent Patrick Beverley is also a possibility, Fischer adds.

The Bulls project to be about $27MM below the luxury tax line after signing Vucevic, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks, though that estimate could vary depending on the exact structure of Vucevic’s extension, as well as Andre Drummond‘s player option decision. Once he officially signs, Vucevic will become ineligible to be traded for six months.

Meanwhile, an already-thin group of free agent centers will take another hit with both Vucevic and Reid off the market. Jakob Poeltl and Brook Lopez are the headliners at the position, with veterans like Mason Plumlee and Dwight Powell among the solid second-tier targets for teams in need of size. However, there aren’t a lot of reliable veterans available beyond those top few guys.