Zach LaVine

Central Notes: Furphy, Walker, LaVine, Pistons’ Moves

Johnny Furphy had the unfortunate experience of sitting in the green room during the first day of the draft and not getting selected. The Pacers nabbed the former Kansas forward early in the second round. He came to the Summer League team ready to go.

“It’s something I’d been working for my whole life,” Furphy told Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star. “It was just a massive relief. It was great to have my family there to share those moments with them. It was a dream come true. It’s pretty surreal, it’s just slowly settling in now that this is reality. It’s exciting.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers drafted Jarace Walker last year as a power forward. With Pascal Siakam re-signing with the club, Walker will get extended minutes at small forward during Summer League play. He’ll also get opportunities to handle the ball, according to Dopirak. “I feel like playing the three, I’m bigger and longer. I’m usually stronger so I’m probably going to have a smaller, quicker matchup,” he said. “Being able to move my feet, stay in front of those matchups and keep them from going downhill. That’s always been kind of my strong suit almost, my defensive versatility being able to guard multiple positions. It will be a challenge, but nothing I haven’t done for.”
  • The Bulls and Kings worked out a three-team deal in which DeMar DeRozan will head to Sacramento in a sign-and-trade. Chicago attempted to trade another starter to the Kings before the DeRozan deal materialized, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The two teams held trade talks centered on Zach LaVine. The Bulls will continue their efforts to trade LaVine and they now have two second-round picks coming in the DeRozan deal to help facilitate a potential trade.
  • So far, Trajan Langdon has shown patience in his first year as the Pistons’ president of basketball operations and that’s a good thing, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Langdon has brought in veterans on short-team contracts with proven shooting ability to help out Cade Cunningham. He’s also got more cap space available to acquire other players in salary dumps with assets attached, as he did with Dallas in the Tim Hardaway Jr. trade.
  • In a similar piece, Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press asserts that the moves Langdon and his front office staff have made gives the Pistons some semblance of a modern NBA roster. Doubling last season’s 14-win total isn’t out of the question with the veterans they’ve added to help balance the roster, Windsor adds.

Eastern Notes: LaVine, Maxey, Vezenkov, Knicks, Prince

As the Bulls continue to explore the trade market for a possible Zach LaVine deal, agent Rich Paul wants it known that his client is handling the situation professionally and isn’t agitating for a move or taking issue with the team’s actions, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I want to make this clean and clear: This whole idea that Zach has been anything but professional in this situation is false,” Paul told Johnson over the phone. “This guy has played hurt. He has represented the franchise with class. A lot has taken place during his time with the Bulls and he’s taken the high road every time. Does every player get frustrated at times? Yes. But Zach has been the ultimate professional and deserves better. The Bulls have business to do. And we’re letting them handle their business.”

LaVine’s trade value is at an all-time low, primarily due to his contract — the three years and $138MM left on his deal look especially onerous in the NBA’s tax apron era. He’s also coming off foot surgery that ended his season in January, but Johnson reports that LaVine is healthy and going through his typical offseason routine after having beaten the estimated recovery timeline of four-to-six months following his procedure.

The Bulls have presented “upwards of 15” LaVine trade proposals to various teams this offseason, according to Johnson, who hears that the Kings and Golden State have shown the most interest in the two-time All-Star. However, the Warriors‘ imminent additions of De’Anthony Melton, Buddy Hield, and Kyle Anderson probably signal that they’re going in a different direction, Johnson acknowledges.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Speaking to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey said management is “doing a good job so far” in free agency adding players who will help the team win, adding that he was happy his willingness to wait a year for his own long-term contract helped Philadelphia open up enough cap room to land Paul George. “When we talked about it last year, it’s a trust thing,” Maxey said. “I trusted (the front office), and I feel like it worked out for us so far. It’s a cool deal. I wasn’t too worried about it.”
  • Rumors about a possible return to Europe continue to swirl around Sasha Vezenkov. According to Michalis Stefanou of Eurohoops, Vezenkov and his former EuroLeague team Olympiacos have agreed in principle on a lucrative long-term deal, but the 28-year-old forward remains under contract with the Raptors (with a $6.66MM cap hit in 2024/25), so his return to Greece would likely be contingent on negotiating a buyout with Toronto. Recent reporting indicated the Raptors expect Vezenkov to be with them in camp in the fall.
  • Ever since they agreed to an early version of the Mikal Bridges trade last week, the Knicks sought to expand it, making it clear to the Nets that they’d eventually circle back with more details, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Now that New York has amended the Bridges deal to ensure its hard cap is at the second apron instead of the first apron, Katz explores what’s next for the team, suggesting that re-signing Precious Achiuwa and adding another player using the taxpayer mid-level exception should be doable, assuming Achiuwa’s price is modest enough.
  • Following up on news that the Bucks have agreed to sign Taurean Prince, Eric Nehm of The Athletic considers what the veteran forward will bring to Milwaukee, opining that Prince looks like a good fit for the roster and should see regular minutes next season.

Central Notes: Smith, LaVine, Mitchell, Rivers, Bucks’ Staff, Wright

On the surface, the Bulls’ three-year agreement with free agent Jalen Smith may not seem like a big deal. But The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry believes the former Pacers big man could be due for a breakout season.

Smith fits into the Bulls’ aim of getting younger and more athletic. He’s adept at rim-running and offensive rebounding and he’ll improve their interior defense, Mayberry writes, adding that Smith could even become the starter if Nikola Vucevic is dealt.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • An NBA insider tells The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley that the relationship between Zach LaVine and the Bulls’ top brass is completely shattered and “filled with mistrust.” The Bulls are trying hard to move LaVine and his big contract. If they fail in those efforts before training camp, the front office and ownership would consider that the worst-case scenario.
  • With the Cavaliers getting Donovan Mitchell to agree to an extension, the gamble they made in agreeing to that blockbuster 2022 deal with Utah has paid off for the team and the city, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic opines. Mitchell’s presence in the Cleveland lineup will keep it in contention for the foreseeable future, he adds.
  • The Bucks have salary-cap issues and will have to rely more on their younger players to fill in the gaps. Coach Doc Rivers isn’t fazed by that prospect, he told Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We wanted young talent. We did,” Rivers said. “We think that skill development in our league is becoming more and more important. The more of the young talent you can get to bring up with the veteran talent, the better. And that’s what we’re going to do all summer. Free agency is here right now, and now we’re looking for other guys, more veterans, to add to the mix. I like the mix of guys I think we’re going to end up with and it’s exactly the ratio that we want right now.”
  • The Bucks have finalized their coaching staff, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. The Bucks have hired Darvin Ham, Greg Buckner, Jason Love and Spencer Rivers as additions to the staff this summer. Dave Joerger, Rex Kalamian, Pete Dominguez, Joe Prunty and Vin Baker will remain on Rivers’ staff.
  • The Bucks are adding veteran guard Delon Wright on a one-year deal and Nehm takes a closer look at what he could bring to the rotation.

Trade Rumors: LaVine, Johnson, Ingram, Pacers, Carter

The Bulls don’t appear to have made any progress on the Zach LaVine trade front, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (YouTube link). Chicago has made an effort this offseason to find a taker for LaVine, but hasn’t found many teams with interest — even if a draft pick is attached to the two-time All-Star.

“Literally, there is no market for Zach LaVine,” Marks said. “They are trying to give him away and attach a first-round pick. I’ve been told that by multiple people.”

LaVine’s maximum-salary contract looks especially onerous as teams grapple with the implications of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. He’s owed $43MM next season coming off foot surgery and has a guaranteed salary of $46MM in 2025/26, with a player option worth nearly $49MM for ’26/27.

Here are a few more trade rumors from across the league:

  • Nets forward Cameron Johnson is generating trade interest from the Raptors and Kings, with the Pacers and Magic among the other teams to register exploratory interest, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The Cavaliers have been mentioned as another possible suitor for Johnson, but “nothing has materialized on that front” yet, according to Scotto. Brookyn is believed to be open to inquiries to most of the veterans on its roster after having agreed to send Mikal Bridges to New York.
  • The Kings are a team to keep an eye on as a possible suitor for Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, Scotto writes, confirming reporting from Jake Fischer. For now, Sacramento’s interest in Ingram has only been exploratory, Scotto notes.
  • Teams talking to the Pacers have inquired about youngsters Bennedict Mathurin and Jarace Walker, per Scotto. While there has been no indication that Indiana is looking to move either player, the team made the Eastern Conference finals without Mathurin available and has reached lucrative new free agent deals for two power forwards who are ahead of Walker on the depth chart (Pascal Siakam and Obi Toppin), so it’s fair to wonder whether they’ll be available this summer.
  • With the Magic considered a potential suitor for Isaiah Hartenstein, teams have expressed interest in trading for Orlando center Wendell Carter, according to Scotto, who says the Pelicans are among the clubs to inquire on Carter.

Fischer’s Latest: Clippers, George, Warriors, Mavs, KCP, Klay, Nuggets, More

As they navigate the challenges of the second tax apron for 2024/25 and beyond, the Clippers have been adamant to this point that they don’t want to complete a contract longer than three years for any players, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Barring a change of heart, that means Los Angeles will be unwilling to go higher than three years for its own star free agents, Paul George and James Harden.

While Harden seems likely to end up on a new three-year agreement with the Clippers, per Fischer, that three-year limit has been a point of contention in negotiations with George. Both the Sixers and Magic – who are set to meet with George late on Sunday night – are willing to offer the star forward a four-year, maximum-salary contract, Fischer confirms.

Outside of the Clippers, Sixers, and Magic, there’s another team “lingering on the periphery” of the George situation, according to Fischer, who says the Jazz‘s “dreamiest plot” for the offseason would be to use their trade assets to acquire an impact player on the trade market (they pursued Mikal Bridges before Brooklyn agreed to send him to New York) and to use their cap room to land George. However, as Fischer acknowledges, it’s extremely unlikely that George will decide to sign in Utah.

Here’s more from Fischer’s latest rumor round-up, with the official start of free agency just hours away:

  • The trade options the Warriors have considered – using Chris Paul and/or Andrew Wiggins as outgoing pieces – range from giving up draft picks in a deal for Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram to acquiring a pick along with Bulls guard Zach LaVine, sources tell Fischer. If they don’t find a trade they like and lose Klay Thompson via free agency, the Warriors will have the full mid-level exception available. They’re considering possible targets using that MLE, says Fischer.
  • The Mavericks likely would have attempted to make a trade with the Nuggets to acquire Kentavious Caldwell-Pope if he had picked up his $15.4MM player option, Fischer reports. Now that Caldwell-Pope has opted for free agency, Thompson appears to be the free agent wing most likely to end up in Dallas, according to Fischer, who says Thompson also continues to be one of the Sixers‘ secondary targets if they miss out on George.
  • As for Caldwell-Pope, the Nuggets are preparing to lose him, with the Sixers and Magic both holding “strong” interest in the veteran swingman, per Fischer. A deal with one of those cap-room teams in the range of $50MM over two years could be a possibility for KCP, Fischer adds.
  • Having traded away Reggie Jackson, the Nuggets are in the market for a backup point guard. Sources tell Fischer that Russell Westbrook would have been a target using the taxpayer mid-level exception if he had opted out of his contract with the Clippers. Fischer also mentioned Hornets guard Vasilije Micic as a Denver target, noting that Zeke Nnaji – who is on the trade block – could be sent out in a deal for Micic.
  • The Nuggets have also long had interest in big man Dario Saric, who could be a target in free agency, Fischer says.
  • While it won’t be one of their top short-term priorities as free agency begins, the Clippers are expected to eventually work out an extension with center Ivica Zubac, sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Bulls Notes: Giddey, LaVine, DeRozan, Waters, Draft, Williams

New Bulls guard Josh Giddey said that both he and Thunder executive Sam Presti agreed it was best for him to be traded rather than accepting a second-unit role, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

“Obviously, I came off a tough year. My role shifted a little bit,” Giddey said. “I was playing a lot more off ball and a role different from what I’ve done in my career. So there were no secrets it was going to take some flexibility from my part to kind of fit in with the team that we had and the structure that we had and the type of players that we had. And he spoke to me about looking at potential different roles, coming off the bench, running the second unit. And I just said to him at this point in my career, I’m 21 years old, it wasn’t something that I was overly eager to do. And he completely understood.”

Giddey was swapped out for Alex Caruso. League sources tell Johnson that the Knicks and Kings both made offers featuring draft capital for Caruso but Oklahoma City opted to take the hard-nosed Caruso in a one-for-one deal. The Bulls envision Giddey as their starting point guard, though he said his role has yet to be defined.

“My job is just to make the game easy for everybody else. Come in and make sure guys are getting easy looks, guys are comfortable on the floor,” he said. “When you’re a point guard and you can get other people around you going and making them involved in the game and getting them feeling good early, it opens the game up for everybody. That’s how I see myself, making basketball easy for my teammates around me.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • While it’s well-documented the team is shopping Zach LaVine, who has three years left on his contract, his shooting ability and scoring efficiency could be a strong fit alongside Giddey, Johnson opines. However, the relationship between the team and LaVine, who is still recovering from foot surgery, would have to be repaired.
  • The team would prefer to resolve a possible trade of LaVine before trying to re-sign DeMar DeRozan, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (hat tip to RealGM). There reportedly has been little traction in talks between the Bulls and DeRozan, who will be an unrestricted free agent if those negotiations fizzle.
  • Eric Waters will be the team’s new director of health and performance, Johnson tweets. Waters served as a Bulls assistant trainer from 2000-04 and head athletic trainer for the Wizards (2004-16) and Jazz (2017-22).
  • The Bulls have held conversations to both move up and back in the draft, Johnson reports. Chicago currently holds the No. 11 pick.
  • In the same story, Johnson reports that several rival executives are under the impression the Bulls will either re-sign or match an offer sheet presented to restricted free agent Patrick Williams. The team has extended a qualifying offer to Williams, making him a restricted free agent.

Kings Rumors: No. 13 Pick, Caruso, Fox, Siakam, Kuzma, LaVine

The Kings‘ No. 13 overall pick is “very available” in trade talks, according to Anthony Slater and Sam Amick of The Athletic, who report that Sacramento included that lottery selection in an offer for Alex Caruso before the Bulls decided to send the veteran guard to Oklahoma City instead.

As Slater and Amick detail, the Kings have brought in several late-lottery prospects for pre-draft workouts, including Purdue center Zach Edey. Former Duke standout Jared McCain also recently visited Sacramento for a workout, reports Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, there’s “more of an appetite” within the organization to add a veteran who could help the team win right away instead of a rookie, according to The Athletic’s report.

The ideal outcome for Sacramento, Slater and Amick write, would be acquiring a “mid-prime” player who can grow with the core of De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray, and Malik Monk. The Kings believe they have a three-to-six year window to contend with those players and would be willing to attach extra draft assets to this year’s No. 13 pick for the right trade target.

Here’s more on the Kings from The Athletic:

  • Fox will be extension-eligible starting in July, but he has decided he won’t sign a new contract this offseason, sources tell Slater and Amick. The star guard has two guaranteed years left on his current deal, so there’s no urgency to get anything done yet. Fox wants to see how the roster takes shape and could also still qualify for a super-max extension if he makes an All-NBA team in 2024/25.
  • The Kings came close to acquiring Pascal Siakam from Toronto before he was sent to Indiana, having backed off in large part because they weren’t confident about their chances of re-signing him. League sources tell The Athletic that there’s some level of regret within the organization about not pulling the trigger and trying to convince the star forward to sign long-term.
  • Ever since nearly trading for Kyle Kuzma in 2021, Kings general manager Monte McNair has maintained some level of interest in the Wizards forward, who is expected to be on Sacramento’s radar again this summer. League sources also confirm to Slater and Amick that Bulls guard Zach LaVine is a possible target for the Kings, though they’d likely have to be incentivized to take on his maximum-salary contract, which still has three years remaining.
  • After coming off the bench for the past two seasons, Monk has expressed a desire to start, but he agreed to re-sign with the Kings without having received any assurances about his role going forward, per Slater and Amick.

Central Rumors: LaVine, Bulls, Pistons, Cade, Bucks, Cavs, More

The Bulls continue to seek a deal involving Zach LaVine, but last week’s four-year, $78MM contract agreement between the Kings and Malik Monk may have removed a prime suitor from the picture, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who says some rival executives believe retaining Monk will take Sacramento out of talks for LaVine. As Scotto has previously reported, Kings wing Kevin Huerter has fans within Chicago’s front office, so if the two teams did explore a trade involving LaVine, it seems safe to assume Huerter would be involved.

In other Bulls news, Chicago is interested in re-signing center Andre Drummond, league sources tell Scotto. The big man will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after spending the past two seasons backing up Nikola Vucevic.

Scotto also states that – prior to last week’s Alex Caruso/Josh Giddey swap – there was a belief around the league that the Bulls and Thunder would consider a possible sign-and-trade deal involving Patrick Williams. It’s unclear if that idea is off the table now or if the two clubs will look into making a second offseason trade.

Finally, Scotto reports that before they struck deals to add Wes Unseld Jr. and Dan Craig to Billy Donovan‘s coaching staff, the Bulls also reached out and talked to former head coaches Nate McMillan and Dwane Casey.

Here are a few more items of interest from around the Central:

  • The Pistons – along with the Magic – were expected to be in the mix for Monk before he reached an agreement to return to Sacramento, according to Scotto, who says Detroit will continue to explore the trade and free agent markets for shooting help this offseason.
  • Elsewhere on the Pistons front, Scotto writes that a number of executives around the NBA believe Detroit will come to terms on a maximum-salary rookie scale extension for former No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.
  • The Bucks, still very much in win-now mode, are open to the idea of trading the No. 23 pick in the draft, league sources tell Scotto. Executives with rival teams also get the sense that Milwaukee would be willing to move Bobby Portis and/or Pat Connaughton in order to upgrade the roster, though Scotto notes that both players have come up in trade talks in the past and nothing has come of it to this point.
  • James Borrego was considered the frontrunner for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching job last week before the front office met with team owner Dan Gilbert, per Shams Charania, Joe Vardon, and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. After that meeting between management and Gilbert, Kenny Atkinson‘s candidacy “gained considerable momentum,” The Athletic’s trio adds. Assistant coaches Jordan Ott and Trevor Hendry, who worked with Atkinson in Brooklyn, are viewed as potential additions to his new staff in Cleveland, notes Scotto.

Sixers Rumors: George, Butler, Anunoby, KCP, LaVine, Maxey

A report last week suggested the Sixers‘ interest in acquiring Clippers star Paul George has “waned,” but sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Philadelphia still has “significant interest” in signing George if he opts for free agency.

George, the number one name on our list of this year’s top 50 free agents, has until Saturday to decide whether to exercise his $48.8MM option for next season. If George is unable to reach an extension agreement with L.A. by then, he can either decline the option and test free agency or opt in and demand a trade.

George has long been considered an offseason priority for Philadelphia, which has the ability to create more than $60MM in cap room. The Magic are among the teams that are also expected to pursue George if he reaches the open market.

Sources inform Scotto that a trade for Heat forward Jimmy Butler remains a viable option for the Sixers if they can’t acquire George. Butler spent most of the 2018/19 season in Philadelphia before being traded to Miami and has maintained a strong relationship with Joel Embiid.

Another option, according to Scotto, could be a “short-term, higher market average annual salary” deal with Knicks free agent forward OG Anunoby. Scotto also hears the Sixers may also offer Nuggets guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a two-year contract similar to what Bruce Brown got last year, with a large salary for next season and a team option for 2025/26.

There’s more on the Sixers, all courtesy of Scotto:

  • Sources tell Scotto that Philadelphia has less interest in trading for Bulls guard Zach LaVine now that Alex Caruso can no longer be part of the deal. Caruso was shipped to Oklahoma City on Friday in a trade for Josh Giddey. The Sixers are reluctant to take on the three years and $138MM left on LaVine’s contract without other assets attached.
  • Tyrese Maxey is considered virtually certain to sign a max extension this summer, but Klutch CEO Rich Paul may want something in return for waiting a year while the team worked to maximize its cap space, Scotto adds. He suggests Paul might ask for a player option on the final year of Maxey’s next contract, along with a 15% trade kicker. 
  • With Buddy Hield possibly departing in free agency, Scotto sees Baylor guard Ja’Kobe Walter as a potential replacement in the draft. He notes that Walter has a 6’10” wingspan and is considered a much better perimeter defender than Hield.

Stein’s Latest: Hardaway, LaVine, Lakers, Cavs, Pistons, Spurs

Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. is a prime trade candidate to watch, according to Marc Stein, who says in his latest Substack article that Dallas is more likely than ever to find a deal this offseason involving Hardaway, who has been on the trade block during previous transaction windows. He’s entering the final season of his four-year contract and his cap hit is declining to $16.2MM, which should make him a little easier to move than he has been in the past.

Stein suggests that finding a deal involving Hardaway is a “key element” of the Mavs’ plans to re-sign Derrick Jones. The implication there is that moving off of Hardaway’s contract could free up the non-taxpayer mid-level exception for Jones, allowing Dallas to sign him for up to $12.9MM instead of up to $5.2MM (the amount of the taxpayer MLE).

It’s unclear if that means the Mavs will look to offload Hardaway without taking back any salary in return, or if they hope to take back a lesser-paid player in any deal.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest round-up of rumors from across the NBA:

  • While the Jazz and Sixers have both been linked to Zach LaVine as of late, Stein hears from league sources that Philadelphia has minimal interest in the Bulls guard and says he’s been “advised to dismiss” Utah’s reported interest as well.
  • The Lakers hope to hire two former head coaches as assistants on J.J. Redick‘s staff. Scott Brooks has been reported as one Lakers target, and Stein suggests James Borrego might be another, though he says the Pelicans are determined to keep Borrego on Willie Green‘s staff if he doesn’t get a head coaching job. The Celtics are likewise hoping to fend off interest from the Lakers and any other rivals for assistant Sam Cassell, with Charles Lee and Jeff Van Gundy having already been hired for new jobs this spring.
  • Speaking of Borrego, both he and Kenny Atkinson continue to be top candidates for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching vacancy, which Stein expects to be filled soon. Depending on who gets that job, either Borrego or Atkinson (or both, if Cleveland chooses another candidate, such as Micah Nori) are expected to be in the mix for the Pistons‘ head coaching position, according to Stein, who adds that Detroit’s search could extend into July.
  • According to Stein, rumblings about the possibility of the Spurs making a trade with the Hawks to move up from No. 4 to No. 1 haven’t gone away. The wording of this item from Stein makes it sound as if Alexandre Sarr might be the target in that scenario, but that seems unlikely, given that Sarr doesn’t look like a great fit next to the French big man already on San Antonio’s roster (Victor Wembanyama).