Thaddeus Young

And-Ones: Clippers, Pistons, Cavs, Young

The Clippers hold the top spot in ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, which predicts the best and worst franchises over the next three seasons. While the team has one of the best one-two punches in the NBA with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Los Angeles’ inability to trade a first-rounder may come back to haunt the team, Bobby Marks suggests.

L.A. sent out several first-rounders in the George deal and had just one pick (2020 selection) that was eligible to be included in a trade this season — the franchise used it to acquire Marcus Morris at the deadline.

The Lakers, Warriors, Bucks, and Celtics round out the top-5 in the ESPN’s latest rankings. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Pistons and Cavaliers rank 29th and 30th, respectively, on that aforementioned ESPN’s list. Both franchises lack blue-chip prospects and each has expensive veterans clogging its cap space.
  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times believes Thaddeus Young will find himself on the trade block this offseason. Young, who inked a deal the Bulls last summer, was the subject of trade rumors earlier in the season.
  • NBA agent Mark Bartelstein said he expected the season to get postponed after watching what was going on abroad in February and March, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic relays. Bartelstein has clients in the Chinese Basketball Association and other international leagues.

Central Notes: Oladipo, LaVine, Bulls, Pistons

Prior to the 2019/20 season, the Pacers and Victor Oladipo “very briefly” discussed the possibility of a contract extension, but decided it was best to revisit the subject later, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Oladipo will be extension-eligible again during the 2020/21 league year, so he and the Pacers could circle back to those discussions this summer. Still, it’d be a surprise if he agrees to a new deal before the 2021 offseason, when he could optimize his earnings as a free agent.

In a contract extension, Oladipo would be limited to a starting salary of $25.2MM. Based on the league’s latest salary cap projections for 2021/22, the Pacers guard could earn a starting salary of up to $37.2MM if he waits until free agency to sign his next contract.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Although the Bulls have acquired a handful of promising young players in recent years, it remains to be seen whether any players on the roster will develop into true stars. Eric Woodyard of ESPN takes a closer look at whether Zach LaVine is capable of becoming that sort of player.
  • Here’s what executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson had to say about the Bulls developing and evaluating their roster and seeking star-caliber players, via Woodyard: “We know what we have to get … in this business, you win with stars. Every team does. We went into a rebuild. You draft and you hope that those guys develop. We’re still trying to get to that phase of being a relevant, legitimate team. … The time after the All-Star break will be us evaluating who fits going forward, but we’ve not given up on our young guys. A lot of people make mistakes in this league. I know the balance is not hanging on too long, but it’s not giving up on guys too early.”
  • Bulls forward Thaddeus Young and swingman Denzel Valentine heard that there were teams interested in them leading up to the trade deadline, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago details. Both players suggested they’re happy to have the deadline behind them so they can move forward and focus on pushing for a playoff spot down the stretch.
  • After several years spent in the middle of the NBA pack, the Pistons‘ rebuild was a long time coming, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Trade Rumors: Knicks, Holiday, Lakers, Bulls, Warriors

Although the Knicks remains interested in D’Angelo Russell, he’s far from the only point guard the team is eyeing as the trade deadline nears. One player the Knicks has inquired on, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, is Pacers guard Aaron Holiday.

As Berman notes, the Knicks liked Holiday in the 2018 draft, working him out that year. Now in his second season, Holiday has built on a promising rookie season. He’s averaging 10.2 PPG and 3.5 APG with a .420 3PT% in 47 games (23.3 MPG) for the Pacers.

Acquiring Holiday won’t be easy for the Knicks, despite Indiana’s crowded backcourt. ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported earlier in the week that the Pacers could probably acquire a first-round pick in exchange for Holiday, but haven’t shown any real interest in moving him.

Here are a few more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • On ESPN’s trade deadline special on Wednesday, Zach Lowe suggested that Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie and Thunder guard Dennis Schroder are among the players the Lakers have inquired on as they look to add a play-maker (Twitter link via Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype). Their conversation with Oklahoma City on Schroder didn’t get very far, since OKC’s asking price is high, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. I imagine that’s the case with Brooklyn and Dinwiddie as well.
  • Lakers guard Alex Caruso is drawing some trade interest, with multiple teams inquiring about his availability, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
  • The Bulls have received some trade calls today on Denzel Valentine, but nothing of substance, a source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Cowley adds that the Thaddeus Young market is “surprisingly quiet,” though Chicago thinks it could pick up as the deadline nears.
  • The Warriors might not be done after last night’s trade with Philadelphia. Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report hears that Golden State has shopped both Kevon Looney and Jacob Evans for tax reasons. The Dubs are still slightly above the tax after moving three minimum-salary players in trades this season.

Bulls Notes: Dunn, Young, LaVine, All-Star Weekend

The Bulls lost their defensive leader when Kris Dunn suffered a knee injury 13 seconds into Friday’s game, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Dunn returned to Chicago to undergo an MRI and get a thorough examination from team doctors. A more detailed report on his condition should be available soon.

The injury comes at an awkward time for Chicago with the trade deadline just five days away. Despite a 19-32 record, the Bulls are just three-and-a-half games out of the eighth spot in the East. Coach Jim Boylen acknowledged that several factors are in play as the organization decides whether to be buyers or sellers.

“The health of our team, our future development, our current ability to fight for the playoffs, we’ll take all that into account,’’ Boylen said.

A long-term absence for Dunn would weigh heavily on those decisions. He has become a contender for the NBA’s All-Defensive Team and serves as the on-court embodiment of Boylen’s defense-first philosophy.

“He brings other things that maybe you don’t see on the floor,’’ Boylen said. “He’s a great teammate, he relishes in his teammates’ success. He’s a vocal part of our meal room, our meetings, our video. He helps us learn and grow, so we’re going to miss him on a lot of levels.’’

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The irony of Dunn’s injury is that he was hurt in a collision with teammate Thaddeus Young, who is a prime candidate to be traded if the Bulls decide to break up the team, Cowley adds in the same story. Young was knocked backward while drawing a charge, and his head struck Dunn’s knee. Young has been part of trade rumors for several weeks, but is attempting to go about business as usual. “I try not to worry about those things,’’ he said after today’s practice. “I try to continue to come and hoop whether I’m playing for the Bulls or playing for any other organization. … If they have to make a business decision, I understand what it is. I’ve been in the game for a long time. I understand organizations have to make changes and business decisions. When you get into a situation and your back is against the wall, you have to learn how to pivot.’’
  • Zach LaVine tells Sam Smith of NBA.com that he’s disappointed not to be named to the All-Star Game, but understands the reasons for the decision. “You just saw the trend where they went for players on winning teams,” LaVine said. “Everybody (who has excelled this season) feels like they are deserving. But there are only so many spots. A lot of guys can make their case.” Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago examines the remarkable numbers LaVine posted in January, which was the best month of his career.
  • No Bulls are currently slated to participate in any All-Star Weekend event, even though the game is in Chicago for the first time since 1988, notes Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune. Wendell Carter Jr. was selected for the Rising Stars Challenge, but will miss the game because of a sprained right ankle.

Central Notes: Bucks, Oladipo, Valentine, Young

The Bucks currently have a 41-6 record, which nearly puts them on a 72-win pace. Only two teams in NBA history have ever won that many games in a single season — the 2015/16 Warriors (73-9) and the 1995/96 Bulls (72-10).

As Eric Woodyard of ESPN.com details, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry recently got to speak to a key player from one of those two teams, touching base with Hornets owner Michael Jordan when Milwaukee and Charlotte made their trip to Paris last week. According to Lasry, he asked Jordan what he thought of the Bucks’ chances to win 70 games – or perhaps even 72 like Jordan’s Bulls – this season.

“And he goes, ‘Look, my advice to you is don’t focus on beating our record, focus on winning a championship,'” Lasry said, recalling the conversation. “And I said, ‘Wow, that’s great. Thank you for that. Just so you know, we’re going to focus on beating your record and winning a championship.’ I think we should do everything, but that’s me.”

Whether or not the Bucks maintain their current pace for the entire season, Lasry’s belief in the team is real, as Woodyard relays.

“We have all these capabilities, and what’s actually unique about our team is how much it’s a team,” Lasry said of the Bucks. “If you sort of think about it, everybody looks out for each other, and everybody sacrifices for the other player. You don’t see that with a lot of NBA teams.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Scott Agness of The Athletic takes a look at what to expect from Victor Oladipo when he returns to the court for the Pacers on Wednesday. “We’re going to be slow with him, be patient with him,” head coach Nate McMillan said on Tuesday. “Is he close to the old Vic? There’s no way he could be there after being off for a season, so you have to be patient. We’ll give him some minutes (Wednesday), allow him to get out there and get his feet wet and get out on the floor in a competitive game.”
  • As Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago points out, Denzel Valentine‘s Bulls teammates had nothing but praise and support for the swingman after a strong performance on Monday, even as their comments seemed to hint at the possibility that Valentine could be traded.
  • Thaddeus Young, another one of the Bulls‘ veteran trade candidates, has taken on an expanded role in the offense with Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen sidelined, writes Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago. Schanowski suggests that the Bulls’ injury-depleted frontcourt and their proximity to the No. 8 seed (they’re two games back) likely diminish the odds of Young being dealt.

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Young, Valentine, White

Lauri Markkanen‘s latest injury not only damages the Bulls‘ hopes of reaching the playoffs, it prevents the organization from having clarity on an important long-term decision, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Markkanen will miss the next four-to-six weeks after doctors discovered an early stress reaction of his right pelvis during an MRI. It’s the latest blow to a depleted frontcourt that is already getting by without Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford and Otto Porter.

The injury figures to complicate offseason negotiations for Markkanen, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension. Johnson notes that because of injuries, Markkanen and Zach LaVine have played just 106 of a possible 210 games together since LaVine was acquired in a trade with Minnesota.

Short-term plans are for Thaddeus Young to move into the starting lineup at power forward, but Johnson argues that Chicago still needs to explore trade opportunities for Young prior to the February 6 deadline. Porter hopes to return after the All-Star break, while Markkanen’s prognosis would sideline him for 10 to 17 games.

There’s more tonight from Chicago:

  • The Bulls need to find a taker for Denzel Valentine before the deadline, Johnson contends in a separate piece. Valentine has hardly seen any playing time this month after being productive while averaging 15.5 minutes per game in December. Coach Jim Boylen has been vague in his reasons for not using Valentine, who has fully recovered from reconstructive ankle surgery that forced him to miss all of last season. At least one team has expressed interest in Valentine, sources tell Johnson.
  • Boylen won’t alter his way of doing things despite fan criticism and a poor win-loss record, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley noted a lot of empty seats at United Center for Friday’s game with the Kings, but Boylen insists that support for him and the team hasn’t declined. “The fans have been great to me,’’ he said. “For the most part, they understand what we’re trying to do. There’s always going to be people that don’t like where it’s at or where it’s going. I can’t control any of that. All I can control is my attitude, my work, my connection to this team. That’s what I’m going to try and do.’’
  • Markkanen’s injury probably won’t mean more minutes for rookie guard Coby White, Cowley adds in the same piece. Even though the Bulls might need more scoring, the focus for White will remain on development. “His plan won’t change much,’’ Boylen said. “He plays a different position than Markkanen. We’ll get Coby involved and keep developing him as a guard that can lead the team, but also score the ball. Keep pushing him to be a two-way player, which I think is really important for him.’’

Zach LaVine Would Like To Have Input On Bulls’ Roster Moves

Zach LaVine has arguably been the Bulls‘ most important player through the first half of the season. He’s a borderline All-Star candidate and any chance of Chicago making the postseason likely hinges on his success.

So does he expect to be involved in the team’s decisions leading up to the trade deadline? Not necessarily, though he would embrace that kind of power, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times relays.

“I mean if they come to me and let me know, I think it would be great,’’ LaVine said of the team speaking with him about potential moves. “If not I’m not taking offense to it either. It’s not something that I’m asking for.

“I know what I stand for. I’m trying to help us get there and I don’t think you can question what my intentions are.’’

Thaddeus Young and Kris Dunn could both be on the move. The Clippers have interest in each player, sources tell Cowley, though Los Angeles could simply wait until the offseason to pursue Dunn, as he will be a restricted free agent.

Central Notes: Bledsoe, Giannis, McKinnie, Cavs, Bulls

After a report earlier this week suggested the Bucks would be willing to trade starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, Jon Horst told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report in no uncertain terms that’s not the case.

“We have no talked to any teams about trading [Bledsoe], since the day that we traded for him,” the Bucks GM said. “And I think it’s evident, pretty strongly, in the fact that we extended Eric, what he means to us.

“The fact that we currently have the best record in the NBA, had the best record last year in the NBA, he’s an All-NBA First Team defender and a guy that we feel strongly should be an All-Star for the Milwaukee Bucks this year. We have not had those conversations, and we are not going to trade Eric Bledsoe.”

It’s hard to imagine the Bucks doing anything too drastic to shake up their roster at the trade deadline next month, considering the team is on a 71-win pace. Bledsoe did struggle in the postseason last spring, so he’ll be under the microscope in this year’s playoffs. If he underperforms again, perhaps Horst’s stance changes, but the veteran point guard looks safe for now.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Thad Young Discusses Trade Rumors, Bulls’ Woeful Season

Thaddeus Young signed a three-year deal with the Bulls and it’s not certain that he finishes his contract in Chicago, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports writes.

“I’m just playing basketball. I’m a Chicago Bull. Whatever happens happens. I understand it’s a business,” Young told NBC Sports Chicago. “If I’m traded, I’m traded and have to go to the next city. If I’m not, then I’m here with my brothers, here with my teammates, and ready to fight.”

Young envisioned a different role with Chicago when he signed his three-year deal with the club this offseason, previously expressing mild discontent through the media. He anticipated playing more than the 22.4 minutes per game he’s currently seeing. He also anticipated having a larger role in crunch time.

The Clippers‘ interest in Young is legitimate, Johnson hears. Los Angeles had a scout at a recent Bulls game (the team doesn’t play Chicago until April). Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times previously reported that the Clippers may have interest in the veteran. A move to the West Coast likely won’t significantly increase his playing time, but being a part of a contending squad might make those concerns easier to deal with.

Young has done his best to ignore the trade rumors, instead remaining professional and focusing on how he can help the team he’s currently on.

“We’re very upset we keep losing games,” Young said. “It’s hard to win in this league. We have to understand that as a team. We have to face the hardness of the game and take advantage of the opportunities we do have. We need to play harder than other teams. We can play great for 38-40 minutes. But there’s an eight-minute span that can be detrimental to our team.”

Central Notes: Casey, Rose, Nance Jr., Young

The Pistons’ decision to hire Dwane Casey as head coach in June of 2018 was the right call, one that remains a smart choice even with the team’s current struggles, Keith Langlois of NBA.com writes.

Detroit has lost three straight games and is just 14-27 on the season, dealing with a litany of injuries to key players such as Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard. Casey was hired after an outstanding 2017/18 season with Toronto that earned him Coach of the Year honors.

“It’s tough because I went through this about six or seven years ago in Toronto, the rebuild we did there,” Casey said, as relayed by Langlois. “I thought I had graduated from that, but we’re back here again – which is fine. I enjoy coaching. I enjoy teaching. There were no parameters put on what type of team it was going to be here. I expected it to be a playoff team and still want to win.”

Casey was hesitant to describe the Pistons’ current situation as a full rebuild, however, with the veteran coach still gunning to compete in the Eastern Conference and guide his players to new heights.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a rebuild, totally,” Casey said. “Not down to the nubs, the studs and to the foundation. But of our core, only Andre is still available and I would say Luke would be the other part of that. But then after that, it’s Sekou, Christian, Bruce. That’s the key. It’s shifted to that. Don’t want to call it a rebuild, but that’s where the focus is right now – with those guys.”

The Pistons are 5.5 games behind the No. 8 seed Nets, with Kennard expected to miss another month, Griffin rehabbing from knee surgery and Jackson still without a timetable for a return due to his back injury.

There’s more out of the Central Division tonight:

  • Pistons guard Derrick Rose has been fined $25K for throwing a pen across the court and into the stands on Monday, the league announced in a press release. The incident occurred with 37 seconds left in overtime at New Orleans.
  • Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. is set to make his return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Clippers, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Nance has been sidelined for nearly two weeks with knee soreness. The 27-year-old is holding season averages of eight points, seven rebounds and 24.3 minutes per game in 31 contests.
  • It’s time for the Bulls to do right by Thaddeus Young and trade the veteran forward, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times contends. Young signed with Chicago as a free agent last July, inking a three-year deal worth $41MM. Young and his camp initially thought he’d receive more minutes after choosing to join the team, but the 31-year-old is only averaging 22.3 minutes per game — the lowest since his rookie season in 2007-08.