Thaddeus Young

Bulls Notes: Draft, Vassell, Young, Satoransky

The Bulls are likely targeting a “lead play-maker” with their lottery pick in this year’s draft, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

With the No. 4 pick, Chicago probably won’t have a chance to select LaMelo Ball — O’Connor does have Ball going to the Bulls in his latest mock draft, but the younger brother of Lonzo Ball is widely expected to be a top-three selection.

If Ball is off the board, there still should be a number of intriguing alternatives in play for the Bulls. Killian Hayes, who spent last season playing for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, is O’Connor top-ranked prospect in this year’s class and would be a viable option at No. 4. Former Iowa State standout Tyrese Haliburton is also considered a very creative play-maker with strong vision, as O’Connor writes.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Taking into account that Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman are considered the most likely players to be drafted in the top three, Sam Smith of Bulls.com explores whether any of those prospects figure to be available for the Bulls at No. 4 — and whether the team should select them if they are.
  • Focusing on the top wing prospects in the draft rather than the backcourt play-makers, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic considers whether trading down and selecting Florida State sharpshooter Devin Vassell might be the right play for the Bulls.
  • A year after signing with the Bulls as free agents, Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky stand out as possible trade candidates, given the club’s roster construction, Mayberry writes in a separate story for The Athletic. While Mayberry thinks the two veterans could be good fits for the rotation under new head coach Billy Donovan, he notes that the new-look front office hasn’t been shy about transforming the coaching staff and might take a similar approach with the non-core pieces on the roster.

Central Notes: Griffin, Drummond, Oppenheimer, Harrison

The Pistons may be rebuilding, but they don’t expect it to be a long process, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. There’s optimism throughout the organization that Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose will both be healthy when training camp opens, giving the team a veteran foundation to guide its young players.

Griffin underwent knee surgery in January, but there have been “glowing” reports about his progress over the summer, according to Langlois. The veteran forward has regained confidence in his knee and remains in top condition. Langlois adds that Rose has also benefited from the extra long offseason.

Sekou Doumbouya, Luke Kennard, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Bruce Brown were all impressive at the team’s mini-camp, and the Pistons have the chance to add to the mix with $30MM in cap space and the seventh pick in next month’s draft. The hiring of general manager Troy Weaver, who has a track record of identifying young talent, adds to the optimism in Detroit.

There’s more on the Central Division:

  • The Knicks may be the best option for the Cavaliers if they decide to trade Andre Drummond, according to Chris Sheridan of Basketball News. New York has enough cap space to facilitate the deal and could offer role players on expiring contracts – Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson and Elfrid Payton – if Cleveland wants any of them. Sheridan mentions the Hornets, Pistons, Hawks, Heat and Suns as other possibilities.
  • Josh Oppenheimer will return to the Bucks as an assistant coach, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Most recently an assistant at James Madison, Oppenheimer worked for Milwaukee from 2013-16, serving on the staffs of Larry Drew and Jason Kidd. He was also an assistant for the Rockets and the Long Island Nets of the G League. Oppenheimer is known as the “shot doctor” and worked extensively with Giannis Antetokounmpo early in his career, notes Matt Velasquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).
  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago ranks the Bulls who are least likely to return next season. He puts guard Shaquille Harrison at the top of the list, believing the potential restricted free agent would be “redundant” if Chicago makes a qualifying offer to Kris Dunn. Veteran forward Thaddeus Young, who has just a partial guarantee beyond next season, is second, followed by guard Denzel Valentine, another potential restricted free agent who couldn’t get regular playing time under former coach Jim Boylen, but displayed strong leadership skills during mini-camp.

Central Notes: T. Young, Bledsoe, Karnisovas, Boylen

While there has been quite a bit of speculation that high-scoring Zach LaVine could wind up on the trading block, the Chicago player considered most readily available is actually veteran forward Thaddeus Young, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports.

Young averaged 10.3 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 24.9 MPG in his first year with the Bulls, all career lows aside from his rookie season, and he was unhappy with his role. Young is guaranteed $13.545MM next season, but the final year of his contract in 2021/22 is only partially guaranteed.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe returned to practice Thursday. However, while coach Mike Budenholzer said Bledsoe “looked great,” he didn’t play in today’s scrimmage against the Kings. Bledsoe tested positive for the coronavirus prior to the team’s arrival in Orlando and flew to the campus on Wednesday.
  • New Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas hasn’t pushed ownership for a coaching change and that seems like a wise move, Johnson opines. Jim Boylen seems open to tweaking his offensive system and management has sought his input on player development strategies, Johnson continues. Karnisovas has a good working relationship with Boylen’s staff, Johnson adds.
  • The Athletic’s John Hollinger takes an opposing viewpoint. He sees the lack of progress in the Bulls’ head coaching search as a head-scratcher, believing that Boylen isn’t Karnisovas’ first choice. It’s possible that Chicago’s owners simply doesn’t want to pay off Boylen and then dole out more money for a new head coach, or that the delayed start of next season has made them procrastinate. But the franchise is isn’t giving the next coach a chance to hit the ground running this winter, Hollinger adds.

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.