DeMar DeRozan

Eastern Notes: Thibodeau, DeRozan, Carter, Nets, Bucks

The Knicks and head coach Tom Thibodeau will discuss an extension this offseason ahead of his contract year in 2024/25, confirms Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter video link).

In an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show, Charania said the Knicks “very much want to lock (him) in long-term,” adding that Thibodeau is expected to get a raise on his current deal, which is worth about $7MM per year. Both Charania and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports suggest that an eight-figure annual salary for Thibodeau is a realistic outcome in those negotiations.

Thibodeau has compiled a 175-143 (.550) regular season record since taking over as the Knicks’ head coach in 2020. The team won a playoff series last spring and is on the brink of a conference finals appearance this year, with a 3-2 lead over the Pacers in the Eastern semifinals.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Asked during another Run it Back segment this week whether he can envision himself playing in the NBA for five more seasons, 15-year veteran DeMar DeRozan admitted that sticking around that long isn’t a priority for him. “I don’t want play 20 years, I’ll be honest,” DeRozan said (Twitter video link). “Just from the standpoint of missing my kids, and I kind of love being normal at times. Twenty years is a lot.” The Bulls forward also reiterated (Twitter video link) that he hopes to re-sign with Chicago this summer, a stance that he made clear at season’s end.
  • The Nets announced this week that they intend to retire Vince Carter‘s No. 15 jersey next season (Twitter link). Carter, who began his career in Toronto, was traded to New Jersey in 2004 and averaged 23.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game with the Nets across 374 regular season contests in four-and-a-half seasons, earning a pair of All-Star berths with the franchise.
  • Could the Bucks‘ G League team be looking for a new home sometime soon? Justin Marville of The Oshkosh Northwestern details how a dispute between the Wisconsin Herd and Oshkosh Arena owner Fox Valley Pro Basketball Inc. over their lease agreement could result in the Herd leaving Oshkosh. As Marville notes, the Oshkosh Arena is currently for sale, so a new owner could help smooth things over with the Herd, though it’s unclear how long the sale process might take.

Scotto’s Latest: Wizards, Kuzma, Hawks, Bridges, Brogdon, DeRozan, More

The Wizards already hold a pair of picks in the first round of this year’s draft at No. 2 and No. 26, but there’s an expectation that they’ll try to acquire another 2024 first-rounder, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

As Scotto explains, the Wizards’ current front office – led by president Michael Winger and general manager Will Dawkins – is focused on building through the draft and developing young talent. The group made its first lottery pick last year when it used the No. 7 selection to nab Bilal Coulibaly, who was one of the NBA’s youngest players this past season. It sounds like Washington is in no hurry to accelerate its rebuild and won’t be opposed to taking fliers on more young, raw prospects, with Scotto indicating that the club also has its eye on the 2025 draft class.

Within his discussion of the Wizards’ next steps, Scotto adds that forward Kyle Kuzma is expected to generate interest on the trade market again this summer after being included in some discussions leading up to the February deadline. Prior to the trade deadline, Washington reportedly brought a Mavericks offer to Kuzma and asked him if he wanted to be moved — he opted to remain in D.C.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • Echoing previous reports, Scotto says there’s a “widespread belief” from rival executives that the Hawks will break up their starting backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray this offseason by trading one of the two guards. Those execs also believe that Atlanta will be more open than ever to moving Young, though Scotto’s sources say the Spurs didn’t have “substantive” discussions about the three-time All-Star earlier this year and are skeptical that will change this summer.
  • In addition to the Hornets, the teams expected to have interested in free agent forward Miles Bridges this summer include the Pistons and Jazz, league sources tell Scotto.
  • Rival executives are keeping an eye on Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon as a potential offseason trade candidates, Scotto says. Brogdon will be on a $22.5MM expiring contract and there’s an expectation that Portland will be looking to shed some salary.
  • There’s a belief around the NBA that DeMar DeRozan will ultimately re-sign with the Bulls rather than changing teams as a free agent, according to Scotto, who notes that the veteran forward is comfortable in his role in Chicago and the Bulls are seemingly willing to pay him.
  • Scotto refers to G League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis as a “notable” candidate for the Pistons with the No. 5 overall pick, pointing out that Buzelis is represented by agent Michael Tellem, the son of Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem.

Eastern Notes: Hornets Draft, Spoelstra, Bulls Draft, LaVine

The Hornets haven’t had much lottery luck over the years and this one was no different. With Brandon Miller representing the Hornets at the lottery, they dropped from the No. 3 pick to No. 6. “In this process, I don’t think anything is a surprise, just because you never know what can go on here,” Miller told Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. “I think the main thing here is to always be focused, prepared just for anything because it can go the wrong way. It can go the bad way.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • After receiving an eight-year extension, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra won’t be going to the draft combine. Team president Pat Riley said Spoelstra is getting some much-needed time off. “He deserves it,” Riley said of Spoelstra’s extension, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “He could have been a free agent and gone anywhere. That leads to organizational stability with your players. Players who come to him and his staff and develop, other players see that. All of a sudden, they have career contracts and career opportunities. It’s a credit to him.”
  • The Bulls remained in the No. 11 spot in the aftermath of the lottery. NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson looks at some potential prospects who could land in that area, including Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, USC’s Isaiah Collier, and Colorado’s Cody Williams.
  • In his Bulls offseason preview for, Keith Smith says he believes the team will trade Zach LaVine this summer, finding a way to move his contract to a contender in need of scoring punch. DeMar DeRozan‘s free agency is a bit more unpredictable, as the Bulls could re-sign him if they’re intent on remaining a playoff contender. If not, they’ll let him walk and look to rebuild, Smith writes.

Central Notes: Turner, Pacers, Allen, Cavs, Bulls

The Pacers advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 10 years on Thursday night after dispatching the Bucks in six games. T.J. McConnell (20 points, nine assists, four steals in 23 minutes) and Obi Toppin (21 points, eight rebounds in 24 minutes) were particularly impressive off the bench.

As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star writes, the Pacers are just two years removed from a 25-57 season. And at one point, it seemed inevitable that Myles Turner would be traded.

Instead, the longest-tenured member of the team renegotiated and extended his contract with the Pacers in January 2023. While Turner wishes he could’ve contributed more in Game 6 after several excellent performances during the series, he was thrilled to complete the first playoff series victory of his nine-year career.

It was bittersweet just because of the way things unfolded for myself tonight but I was very excited for our group,” Turner said. “And for the city just because I’ve seen the highs and lows of this, and I know the fans have seen the highs and lows of this over the past 10 years as well. To finally get a little bit of fruit of your labor with this is incredible. We still have a lot of work to do, but for me personally, it means a lot to finally advance, being in the NBA as long as I have.”

Indiana will face the Knicks in the second round, with Game 1 scheduled for Monday in New York.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, who missed Game 5 on Tuesday due to a rib injury, was unable to participate in Thursday’s practice, writes Tom Withers of The Associated Press. “He’s still working through some things, still getting treatment,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “He’ll be with us on the trip, obviously, and we expect him to give it a go if he can.” Allen is officially questionable for Friday’s Game 6 in Orlando with a right rib contusion, tweets Kendra Andrews of ESPN.
  • While they’ve won all their home games to hold a 3-2 lead in their first-round series with the Magic, the Cavaliers were blown out in both of their losses in Orlando. Joe Vardon of The Athletic argues that Cleveland should bring Allen off the bench tonight, assuming he’s able to play. According to Vardon, that doesn’t have anything to do with Allen’s performance in the series, as he’s been the team’s “most consistent player.” The Cavs simply have much better floor spacing when they go with one big man in the frontcourt instead of two, Vardon adds, with Evan Mobley filling in at center in Game 5 with Allen out.
  • In a pair of stories for NBC Sports Chicago, K.C. Johnson reviews the seasons of Bulls veterans DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. DeRozan will be an unrestricted free agent this summer if he doesn’t sign an extension, while Vucevic has two years left on his deal.

Doncic, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jokic Named MVP Finalists

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic were revealed on Sunday as the finalists for the Most Valuable Player award, according to the NBA (Twitter link).

Doncic led the league in scoring (33.9 points per game) and finished second in assists (9.8) while also grabbing 9.2 rebounds per contest. Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder to the top seed in the Western Conference by averaging 30.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. Jokic, who is widely considered the favorite to win his third MVP trophy, averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per night.

The NBA also announced the finalists for six other postseason awards. Here are the finalists for all of those awards:

Most Valuable Player

Sixth Man

Defensive Player of the Year

Most Improved Player

Note: Sengun appeared in just 63 games but was eligible for award consideration based on the season-ending injury exception described in our glossary entry on the 65-game rule.

Coach of the Year

  • Mark Daigneault, Thunder
  • Chris Finch, Timberwolves
  • Jamahl Mosley, Magic

Rookie of the Year

Clutch Player of the Year

Arturas Karnisovas Admits Changes Are Necessary In Chicago

After watching his team get eliminated in the play-in round for the second straight season, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas promised that changes are coming, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Addressing reporters today in the wake of Friday’s loss at Miami, Karnisovas sounded ready for a major roster shake-up.

“I’ve said numerous times today: This group, something doesn’t work. I have to find ways to find a group that’s going to make improvements. We’ve done it for a couple years now and it hasn’t worked,” Karnisovas said. “Everything is on the table. I am going to look at totality of the group. This group hasn’t worked. There’s a lot of great things in certain individual players and a lot of young guys who took a step forward and it’s positive. But in totality as a group, it didn’t work. So I’m going to have to find these answers in offseason.”

Presumably that will start with Zach LaVine, whom the team tried to move last fall before injuries derailed his season. Multiple outlets have reported that Karnisovas will make another attempt this summer to find a taker for LaVine, who has three years and about $138MM left on his contract, including a nearly $49MM player option for 2026/27.

Although Karnisovas emphasized the need for change at today’s press conference, Johnson states that he repeated his commitment to re-sign free agents DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams. A source tells Johnson that the team recently offered DeRozan a two-year extension in the neighborhood of $40MM per season. DeRozan reportedly wants a longer deal, but Johnson suggests that could just be a negotiating tactic.

“DeMar’s been great for us for three years,” Karnisovas said. “He’s been invested in the city of Chicago and has been really great to our young guys. So both sides are interested in continuing and we’ll see what happens in free agency.”

Johnson notes that giving new contracts to DeRozan and Williams without trading LaVine means the Bulls would start next season in luxury tax territory. Karnisovas expressed a willingness to pay the tax, but only for a contender, which heightens the need to move LaVine’s contract.

“My approach looking at the luxury tax is if you can prove that your team is going to be in the top four, you go in the luxury tax,” he said. “It just makes no sense to be in play-in if you’re going to be in the luxury tax. As long as I can put a team together that is going to be competing top four in the East, that’s when you start look at retaining guys and go in the luxury tax.” 

Karnisovas also addressed the status of Lonzo Ball, saying the organization will monitor his progress during the offseason, but he’s had no setbacks so far in his latest attempt to return from knee issues that have sidelined him since January of 2022. While Karnisovas didn’t address the possibility, Johnson points out that the Bulls stand to receive $21MM in cap relief if Ball can’t return and an independent doctor declares the injury to be career-ending.

Karnisovas said there’s no plan to replace coach head coach Billy Donovan, who is fresh off an extension and recently stated that he’s not interested in returning to college coaching when his name was floated as a possibility for Kentucky. Although Karnisovas remains loyal to Donovan, Johnson speculates there could be some changes to his staff.

“I like what Billy has done here the last four years. Billy is someone you build a program with,” Karnisovas said. “He’s a very good coach and even a better human being. We established a winning expectation, we defined a profile for the Bulls player and we put an emphasis on player development. It is also on me to facilitate Billy with the resources he needs to build a team that can be successful consistently.”

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, LaVine, Offseason, Ball, Roster

The Bulls fell to the Heat in blowout fashion on Friday, ending their postseason hopes and sending the franchise into an offseason filled with questions about the long-term futures of franchise centerpieces DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. DeRozan, an unrestricted free agent, has repeatedly emphasized his desire to remain in Chicago. But on Friday, DeRozan sounded like a possible return would be contingent on change, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson writes.

That’s still where I’m at,” he said about wanting to remain in Chicago. “But at the end of the day, I hate losing. I hate missing opportunities. It really hits you after the season when you look up and the last seconds run off. You don’t have another game. The next time I play a game will be my 16th season. You realize the window closes for you personally. I ain’t trying to play 25 years. You just want to have the opportunity to give everything great in you. My stance on wanting to be here is still the same. But I just want to win. Seeing the first round of the playoffs, the second round of the playoffs is frustrating.

Teammates and coaches like Coby White and Billy Donovan are emphatic about wanting DeRozan to return. Donovan in particular noted Chicago’s injuries as an inhibiting factor regarding its ability to compete. Both he and general manager Arturas Karnisovas discussed the importance of continuity. DeRozan, though, said he wants the Bulls to field a competitive roster that isn’t just contending for the play-in next year, though he acknowledged Chicago’s poor injury luck.

As for LaVine, the two-time All-Star was involved in trade speculation this year before undergoing season-ending foot surgery. According to Johnson, Donovan said he still envisions LaVine being part of a winning equation in Chicago. Both Donovan and White spoke highly of LaVine on Friday.

We’re not really focused on that (speculation about LaVine’s future),” White said. “I know what type of dude he is. I know what type of player he is and how much he cares about winning and how much he cares about the team. Everybody in this locker room knows who he is as a person. He’s been there since he had surgery, giving us motivation. I can’t thank him enough for that.

We have more from the Bulls:

  • Apart from DeRozan, Patrick Williams (restricted) and Andre Drummond are key free agents that will help dictate Chicago’s offseason direction, ESPN’s Bobby Marks writes. Lonzo Ball‘s recovery from knee injuries that have kept him out the past two-plus years will also play into the offseason plans. As Marks observes, if Ball’s injury is deemed career ending, Chicago would be allowed to remove his $21.9MM salary (player option) from the books. As for the duo of DeRozan and LaVine, the Bulls have until June 30 to extend DeRozan for up to three years and up to $129MM. Finding a taker for LaVine’s $43MM salary could be difficult, but the Bulls could benefit if a team with cap space strikes out in free agency. Alex Caruso, eligible to sign for up to four years and $78.8MM, is an extension candidate to watch.
  • With White, LaVine, Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and Dalen Terry all under contract for next season, Chicago’s guard rotation looks full. Still, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Donovan still sees plenty of room for Ball in the rotation. While there’s still uncertainty with Ball’s ability to return, as Marks mentioned, the Bulls have maintained optimism in his comeback. Donovan said if the guard rotation remains the same, he likes his players’ abilities to complement each other’s games. “When I was in Oklahoma [City], we had Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander], Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder, and I played those guys a lot together because of the IQ and the unselfishness, the way they were willing to play,” Donovan said. “… I feel really good with [White, Dosunmu and Ball] out there because of their makeup and their mindset as players.
  • While the Bulls deserve credit for overcoming a 5-14 start to the season, they’re ultimately stuck in a cycle of mediocrity and the franchise has just one playoff appearance since 2016/17, Johnson writes. In order to break the cycle, Johnson opines, the Bulls need to get creative in free agency like they did when they brought in DeRozan, Ball and Caruso in 2021.
  • Despite an uninspiring season, the Bulls continue to express interest in retaining all of their free agents, which would have the organization set up to pay the luxury tax for just the second time since ’02/03. ESPN’s Jamal Collier explores how Chicago got to this point.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, DeRozan, Dosunmu, Drummond, Rivers, Giannis

The boos that the Cavaliers heard as they left the court after Sunday’s loss to Charlotte weren’t directed at the players, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. There was an organizational decision to rest several rotation members rather than prioritize a win that would have earned the team the No. 2 seed and avoided a potential second-round matchup with the league-leading Celtics. The result was embarrassing, as Cleveland was outscored 18-2 to end the game and will face Orlando in the first round after falling to fourth place.

Vardon notes that the loss of Craig Porter Jr. to a sprained ankle in the first quarter left the Cavs short on ball-handlers. With Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Caris LeVert all sitting out, there was no one to run the offense as the lead slipped away.

“It was difficult (to watch), but we had our plan in place with what we were gonna do with our guys,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “(Our starters) were gonna play those three quarters, and then Craig not being out there made it a little difficult to organize and score in the fourth quarter, but we wanted to stick to our plan, and no matter what was going to happen, we were going to give our guys an opportunity to play.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Thirty-four-year-old DeMar DeRozan finished the season as the NBA’s leader in minutes, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The Bulls swingman was on the court for 2,988 minutes, his highest total in a decade, as he became the first player over age 30 to league the league in that category since LeBron James did it six years ago. “And he doesn’t miss practice. He doesn’t miss shootaround,” Coby White said of DeRozan. “He’s early to everything. Those are the things I notice. He’s always on time. He’s always one of the first ones there. You know how some guys can be. And for him, it’s just his professionalism day in and day out never changes.”
  • The Bulls have some injury concerns heading into Wednesday’s play-in game, notes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Ayo Dosunmu has a bruised quad and Andre Drummond is dealing with a sprained left ankle, and neither is certain to play against Atlanta. ‘‘Ayo is having issues with the running and the starting and the sprinting and the stopping,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘There’s been some discomfort there for him. He has to get over that hurdle. I think there is hope he can clear those hurdles.’’
  • Bucks coach Doc Rivers is looking forward to a playoff matchup against Indiana, which was 4-1 against Milwaukee this season, according to Jamal Collier of ESPN. They haven’t faced each other since January 3, which was before Rivers took over the team. “Indiana has had our number all year, so perfect opponent,” Rivers said. “They’ve played great against us. They have great confidence against us. We’ll have great focus because we’re going to have to.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo may not be available for the start of that series, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Bucks star hasn’t played since Tuesday when he suffered a soleus strain in his left calf, and Rivers confirmed over the weekend that there are doubts about his status for the opener.

DeMar DeRozan Reiterates Desire To Stay With Bulls

Forward DeMar DeRozan, who is eligible for a veteran extension until June 30 before hitting unrestricted free agency, told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago that he wants to sign an extension to remain with the Bulls.

This is where I want to be,” DeRozan said. “ … I love ownership. I love everything about the city and the franchise, top to bottom—the front office, the staff we have. It’s one of those places that gives me motivation to see everybody get what they deserve and feel what winning is like again.”

DeRozan has stated multiple times throughout the season he wants to stay with Chicago, and the interest is reportedly mutual. But an agreement on a new deal has yet to be reached, leaving his future in doubt.

As Johnson writes, DeRozan has outplayed the three-year, $81.9MM contract he signed a few years ago when the Bulls acquired him in a sign-and-trade with the Spurs. The 34-year-old has averaged 25.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.1 APG and 1.0 SPG on .496/.331/.867 over the past three seasons, earning two All-Star nods and providing clutch shot-making while being very durable — he leads the league in total minutes and minutes per game (37.8) in 2023/24.

The Bulls have not found much team success over the past few years, however, particularly since January 2022, when Lonzo Ball‘s career was derailed by a series of knee surgeries. After being eliminated in a first-round playoff series with Milwaukee in 2022, Chicago lost to Miami in the play-in tournament last year, and is locked into another play-in berth in ’24. Injuries were a factor again this season, with Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams sidelined with season-ending foot surgeries.

DeRozan told Johnson he wants to help the Bulls find the success they had in the first portion of the ’21/22 season, when they were 27-13 before Ball was injured.

The feeling, the vibe, the energy that was around when we had that run, I want the city and all these players to experience that again — and for myself too,” DeRozan said as part of a larger quote. “It’s always easy to complain and say what’s not. But I made it clear this is where I want to be. … I don’t want to go nowhere.

They know it. Everybody knows my stance. I lay it down from this perspective: I want to come back. Everybody else figure out what you need to figure out. And that’s just how I look at it so I don’t stress or worry about what’s what. I made it clear this is where I want to be. The powers that be just need to figure out what needs to happen. Everybody knows my mindset.”

Central Notes: Morris, DeRozan, Terry, Cunningham, Duren

Cavaliers forward Marcus Morris, who is on a 10-day contract, was ejected from Monday’s win over the Hornets, according to ESPN News Services. Morris threw a high elbow that struck Charlotte center Nick Richards in the jaw.

Morris said he wanted to send a message to his new Cavaliers teammates: “There’s been a lot of grueling games and I was just wanted to toughen us up. Step in front of it like, listen this is what’s going to be expected moving forward, not just for today. Set the precedent going into the playoffs. We’re not about to have anybody coming in here and doing what they want to do. I wanted to play the game, I didn’t want to get thrown out, but I definitely wanted to put a little lick on him. I was happy the way we responded.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls lost by two points to Washington on Monday. DeMar DeRozan was angry that his team didn’t take advantage of a matchup against a depleted team playing out the string, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “All these games matter. You want to be playing good basketball towards this part of the season,” DeRozan said. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to be pissed off until we get back out on the court. We shouldn’t drop games like this right now. We’re resilient. But we can’t live on the edge every game. We gotta leave it out there these last 10 games. We can’t have no more excuses. We gotta play like your life depends on it.”
  • Bulls forward Dalen Terry has been working on his three-point shot since being drafted in the first round in 2022. However, it hasn’t shown on the court. He’s shooting 24.1% from deep this season. “I definitely believe it’s going to be a real big offseason for me, just taking care of my shot,” Terry told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times.
  • The Pistons are listing Cade Cunningham as questionable and Jalen Duren as probable for Wednesday’s game at Minnesota, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. Cunningham has missed the last two games due to knee soreness, while Duren has sat out three games due to back spasms.