Thaddeus Young

Central Notes: LaVine, Young, Lamb, Nance, Pistons

Zach LaVine is enjoying a career year in Billy Donovan‘s first season with the Bulls, and the success of that pairing bodes well for the team’s long-term outlook, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Donovan won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, and word around the NBA suggests that LaVine won’t be either, Johnson adds.

With LaVine expected to be unavailable on the trade market in the coming weeks, the Bulls’ most valuable trade chip could be Thaddeus Young. ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) says a handful of league executives identified Young as a player who could impact the playoff race if he’s moved, noting that he’s a versatile big man on a reasonable contract who has plenty of postseason experience.

The Bulls currently hold the sixth seed in the East and figure to be in the mix for a playoff spot – perhaps via the play-in tournament – but Marks argues the club should take a big-picture view and consider moving Young, especially if a team is willing to give up a first-round pick for him.

Johnson, on the other hand, contends in a separate NBC Sports Chicago story that moving Young for anything short of a lottery pick or a very promising young player might be a mistake. As Johnson explains, the veteran forward has had a positive impact on LaVine on and off the court, and LaVine and the Bulls’ other young players need to get some postseason experience at some point — Young could play an important role in helping get them there.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • It has been a full year since Jeremy Lamb suffered a torn left ACL, and while it takes some players a while to get back to 100% following that injury, the Pacers guard has thrived since making his season debut on January 20, writes Wheat Hotchkiss of Pacers.com. Lamb is averaging 12.2 PPG in just 24.7 minutes per contest, and has made an even 50% of his three-point attempts through 17 games. “It’s great to see how far I’ve been able to come,” Lamb said. “I’m still getting stronger, still working on it, but it’s encouraging.”
  • Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr., who underwent surgery on his hand earlier this month, is making positive progress and recently had his cast removed, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Nance was ruled out at least six weeks when he underwent the procedure, so we won’t see him back until sometime after the All-Star break.
  • Missing their top two point guards, the Pistons are seeing some positive signs from Dennis Smith Jr. and Saben Lee, says Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Lee, who has averaged 15.3 PPG and 4.3 APG in his last three games, is showing why GM Troy Weaver referred to him as part of Detroit’s “core four” of rookie building blocks, despite the fact that Lee was a second-round pick who signed a two-way deal, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.

O’Connor’s Latest: Tucker, Lowry, Beal, Vucevic

The Bucks were pursuing Rockets forward P.J. Tucker in November and their interest hasn’t faded, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Tucker could help solidify a defense that has taken a step backward with the offseason losses of Wesley Matthews, Eric Bledsoe and George Hill, as well as the absence of Jrue Holiday, who has been in the NBA’s health and safety protocols since February 8. O’Connor notes that Donte DiVincenzo, Bryn Forbes and D.J. Augustin haven’t supplied the same presence on defense.

Tucker is considered to be available because of his age — he turns 36 in May — and his contract status. He will be a free agent this summer, and the Rockets’ attempts to sign him to an extension have been unsuccessful. Houston’s seven-game losing streak has the organization focused on building for the future.

However, the Rockets reportedly want a player in return, rather than more draft picks, which may be problem for Milwaukee. The Bucks gave most of their valuable assets to New Orleans in the deal for Holiday and may not have expendable young players who would be of interest to Houston. DiVincenzo is viewed around the league as their most valuable remaining trade chip, O’Connor notes.

O’Connor sheds light on a few more potential deals:

  • The Sixers, who hold the best record in the East, are hoping to make “major moves” before the March 25 trade deadline to improve their chances of winning a title. A name to watch, according to O’Connor, is Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, a Philadelphia native with an expiring contract. O’Connor states that the Sixers need a veteran guard who can create shots on the perimeter, and Lowry is likely the best option who could be considered available.
  • O’Connor confirms that the Wizards won’t make Bradley Beal available before the deadline, although the Celtics would be among the most interested teams if he were. Beal and Jayson Tatum have been friends since childhood, and the NBA’s leading scorer would give Boston a scary Big Three by teaming with Tatum and Jaylen Brown. However, O’Connor expects Beal and the Wizards to work out their future during the offseason.
  • Celtics fans may be wishing for Nikola Vucevic to solidify the team at center, but the Magic have shown no interest in trading him, executives around the league tell O’Connor. He remains the focus of the offense in Orlando and a favorite of the coaching staff.
  • O’Connor suggests Harrison Barnes could be a possibility for Boston if the Kings decide to part with him, or possibly Rockets guard Victor Oladipo if Boston is willing to give up assets despite reports that he wants to be in Miami. O’Connor believes Bulls forward Thaddeus Young is a more realistic target. The Celtics could absorb his $13.545MM salary with a portion of their traded player exception, and he would cost less in terms of assets than some of their other targets.

Bulls Fielding Calls On Thaddeus Young, Others

The Bulls are receiving plenty of attention from potential trade partners but it’s uncertain whether Arturas Karnisovas, their executive VP of basketball operations, is interested in making any deals, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The March 25 trade deadline is still in the distance but teams are looking increasingly at the Bulls to fortify their rotations, with power forward Thaddeus Young is drawing the most interest, according to Cowley. That confirms an earlier report that Young is the team’s most viable trade candidate.

Young’s contract could give teams some cap flexibility. He’s making approximately $13.5MM this season with a salary of $14.2MM next season. However, only $6MM of next season’s salary is guaranteed.

Young, 32, has played 982 career games but he’s still got something left in the tank. In 17 games this season off the bench, the veteran is averaging 11.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.3 APG and 1.1 SPG.

There are some strong reasons for Karnisovas to hold onto Young. He’s highly respected in the locker room and the Bulls can contend for a playoff berth this season. They’re 8-13 but only five Eastern Conference teams currently have winning records.

Quite a few others on the Bulls’ roster could attract interest. Certainly, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen could give contenders an offensive jolt if the Bulls were willing to part with either one of their top two scorers. They also have several players — Otto Porter Jr., Cristiano Felicio, Garrett Temple and Denzel Valentine — in the final year of their contracts. Additionally, Tomas Satoransky‘s $10MM salary for next season is only partially guaranteed for $5MM.

Central Notes: Young, Love, Markkanen, Pistons

Bulls veteran forward Thaddeus Young appears to be the most viable candidate to be moved by the 2021 trade deadline on their roster, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Young will can fit in with a variety of clubs, and given his age will not match up as a long-term fit with Chicago.

The versatile role player forward’s skillset on both sides of the ball has been a big part of Chicago’s relative competence this season. The Bulls are currently 8-12, a half-game out of a play-in tournament spot in the East.

Young, 32, is averaging 10.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.3 APG for the Bulls in his 14th NBA season. He is in the second year of a three-year, $41MM contract he inked with Chicago in the summer of 2019. However, the $14.2MM he is owed on his 2021/22 salary is non-guaranteed until August 2021.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love continues to recover from a right calf strain that has kept him sidelined since December 27. His rehab has progressed to the point where he is able to commence “individual basketball activities,” per a Cleveland team press release.
  • Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen, in the final year of his rookie deal before he can enter restricted free agency, could be a great fit as a stretch four under ex-Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Markkanen is enjoying his best scoring season yet, averaging a career-high 19.6 PPG on 51.1% shooting from the field and 39.6% shooting from three-point range (on 7.4 attempts a night).
  • The 5-16 Pistons are the worst team in the East. Detroit is an interesting patchwork of veterans and youth, and continues to try to produce consistently night in and night out, per Rod Beard of the Detroit News.

Bulls Notes: Carter, Young, White, Dotson

Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. was disappointed but not surprised when he learned about the severity of his latest injury, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports. Carter will be sidelined for at least four weeks after suffering a quad contusion in a collision with Denzel Valentine during practice. Doctors said Valentine struck him in a “perfect” spot to cause damage.

“I was on the ground, I thought I did something more than what was told to me,” Carter said. “After the initial pain that I had, I knew it was going to be longer. I knew it was just a contusion, but I knew it was a lot more severe than I was used to. It (the diagnosis) didn’t catch me by surprise at all.”

This marks the third straight season that Carter will be out of action for at least a month, Schaefer notes. He missed 35 games with a damaged thumb ligament as a rookie, then 22 games last year because of a sprained ankle. Carter said during training camp that staying healthy was one of his goals for the season.

“I hate the label of being injury prone or always injured and things like that,” he said. “But at the same time as I look inside the business, the people who are a part of this business, they understand that all these injuries weren’t because I wasn’t prepared or weren’t because I wasn’t doing the necessary things to make sure my body could withstand the 72-game season.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Thaddeus Young’s early-season performance should make him a popular name on the trade market, suggests K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Young was already considered a trade prospect because only $6MM of his $14.2MM contract for next season is guaranteed, and he has boosted his value by averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds though the first 13 games, with a near triple-double Monday night.
  • Although point guard Coby White has been inconsistent lately, the Bulls aren’t ready to make a change, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. That includes moving Tomas Satoransky into the starting lineup or trading for Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, Cowley adds. “You have to look at the give and take of doing something like that may be,” coach Billy Donovan replied when asked about the possibly of using White as a reserve. “Does it disrupt that group? Is it not good for Coby?’’
  • Rookie two-way guard Devon Dotson has been transferred to the Canton Charge and will join the team in the G League bubble, the Bulls tweeted. He has gotten into just one game this season.

And-Ones: Young, Sullinger, Transactions, Fans

Bulls forward Thaddeus Young confirmed a report from the New York Times about purchasing a minority stake in the Brisbane Bullets, a team that competes in Australia’s National Basketball League, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

Young, who has spent the past 14 seasons in the NBA, expects the deal to be finalized soon. The 32-year-old was originally contacted by Kevin Martin, his former teammate and current majority owner of the Bullets, about the possibility.

“I look at that league as primed for growth with young talent,” Young said of the NBL. “More than just a value add through capital, with my expertise and knowledge around the game and relationships I have in the business world, I thought that was a really good move for me.

“I see that as a league where guys can go if they don’t want to go to college and want to come out of high school and be able to grow their games a little.”

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former Celtics and Raptors center Jared Sullinger is eyeing an NBA comeback, Ben Stinar of Forbes writes. Sullinger, 28, last played in the NBA with Toronto during the 2016/17 season. “I’m definitely trying to get back to the NBA,” he said. “I feel like I’ve still got a lot of basketball left, I can help a team, I feel like me being not the biggest guy but still strong enough to guard a five and be able to stretch the floor, I’m in better shape.”
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN.com (Insider link) explores six underrated transactions that have had a major impact this season. Among them is Gordon Hayward, who signed a four-year deal to join the Hornets in free agency and is currently averaging 23.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
  • The NBA will soon have nine teams hosting a reduced amount of fans in their buildings, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Both Miami and Atlanta plan to allow fans into their arenas this week, with Indiana, Memphis, Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans, Orlando and Utah already choosing to do so.

Bulls Notes: Young, Williams, Markkanen, Porter

There’s no timetable for Thaddeus Young‘s return after a bout with MRSA, a bacterial infection, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago reports. The Bulls forward had his leg drained after it swelled up and it’s healing well but he didn’t play in any preseason games.

“There will probably be some sort of ramp-up period for [Young], so to speak, in terms of he’s missed some conditioning and a lot of practice,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He was dealing with a hamstring right around the time we started training camp. We’ll have to work to get him back.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • While the rest of the starting lineup seems set, the small forward position remains in flux, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times reports. Donovan is trying to choose between Otto Porter Jr. and lottery pick Patrick Williams and they bring different skills, Cowley notes.
  • Lauri Markkanen didn’t receive a rookie scale extension prior to Monday’s deadline but he could still be a part of the long-term future, Cowley writes in a separate story. The new front office regime and Donovan simply put off making that decision by seeing what Markkanen does this season and allowing him to set a market price as a restricted free agent. The two sides never got close to an extension agreement, Cowley adds.
  • Despite Porter’s massive $28.5MM expiring contract, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic predicts Chicago will move him at the trade deadline. The team would likely need to include multiple players, as any trade partner wouldn’t give up a high-salary starter for him.

Central Notes: Bulls, Holiday, Nance, Dellavedova, Exum

The Bulls will be without six players when they travel to Oklahoma City this week for a pair of preseason games, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. In addition to Garrett Temple (coronavirus), Denzel Valentine (hamstring strain), and Thaddeus Young (lower leg infection), the club will also be missing Devon Dotson, Adam Mokoka, and Tomas Satoransky, who are simply listed as “not with team.”

As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago noted on Sunday when those three players – and Noah Vonleh – were given excused absences for the Bulls’ previous exhibition contest, those vague designations will likely become common over the course of the 2020/21 season as teams navigate the NBA’s coronavirus protocols.

While Vonleh eventually confirmed he had tested positive for COVID-19, that doesn’t mean the same is true of Dotson, Mokoka, and Satoransky. It’s possible they’re being kept away from the Bulls temporarily for contact tracing purposes, or even for a reason unrelated to the coronavirus. With teams not formally announcing which of their players have tested positive for the virus, we may be left to speculate in situations like this throughout the coming season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Now that the Bucks have secured a commitment from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) wonders if an extension for Jrue Holiday might be next up on the team’s to-do list. Since he was recently traded, Holiday can only get a 5% raise and one extra year (beyond his 2021/22 player option) for now, but those restrictions will lift on February 26, allowing for more money and more years.
  • Cavaliers veterans Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova are entering the NBA’s concussion protocol and neither player will travel to New York for the club’s final two preseason games, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
  • Dante Exum, who had 23 points and five assists and was a plus-33 in Monday’s win over Indiana, has solidified his spot as the Cavaliers‘ backup point guard entering the season, Fedor writes in a separate story for Cleveland.com. Exum, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, is entering a contract year.

Bulls Notes: White, Young, Temple, Williams

Coby White got the start at point guard in the Bulls‘ preseason opener, but he has a long way to go to earn that job on a regular basis, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. White had an uneven game, finishing with 15 points and six assists in 23 minutes, but he missed his first three shots as Chicago fell into an early 17-point hole.

White’s main competition for the spot will be Tomas Satoransky, who started 64 games last season. New head coach Billy Donovan said he will make the decision based not only on White’s individual performance, but how he affects his teammates.

“As a point guard, it’s not always going to be about how well (White is) playing but how well the group is playing,” Donovan said. “And I think that’s his maturation — that’s the process he has to go through in terms of understanding that he has to be a connector. And it’s not only him — it’s the group that’s out there together. How can they make each other better? How can they function with one another? How can they play off each other? How can they make the game easier for each other? That’s going to be the biggest thing.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Veteran forward Thaddeus Young was scratched from Friday’s game because of a lower leg infection and won’t play Sunday night either, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Young is listed as day to day, but has no set timetable to return. “He’s doing much better, which is good. Things haven’t gotten worse,” Donovan said. “But I think the doctors want to keep a close eye on him with that infection and just make sure he’s healing properly.”
  • Garrett Temple is still in the league’s COVID-19 protocol and it’s uncertain when he might be able to return, Schaefer adds in the same story. Temple tested positive on November 28.
  • The Bulls like what they saw from lottery pick Patrick Williams in his first NBA game, according to Sam Smith of NBA.com. Williams came off the bench with 12 points and three rebounds in 25 minutes. “I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player,” Donovan said. “He has a really good feel for the game. He very rarely forces shots, he makes good decisions, he’s a good passer. He is really good when he gets into that elbow, paint area where he can shoot those one-handed lean-in shots. I’m sure he was a little anxious and nervous, but he’s got a good pace and good way he plays and he can get into the mid range. I thought he played very well considering the fact that there was no real Summer League or build up to training camp, and he had to come here after the draft and get started.”

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.