Thaddeus Young

Bulls Notes: Vučević, Ball, Caruso, Williams, Donovan

The Bulls revamped their roster over the offseason, but Nikola Vučević will still be a focal point of the team’s new high-octane offense, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Vučević had a game-high 18 field goal attempts in the Bulls’ blowout preseason victory (121-85) over the Pelicans Friday night. New teammates Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and DeMar DeRozan are all finding the All-Star center in good positions to score.

With all the guys I have around me now,” Vučević said, “I have so many opportunities to score: trail 3s, drive-and-kick, off pick-and-pops, on rolls and dump-offs. We have so many guys who are good on the ball and that are willing passers, as a big man, it’s a luxury to have. We just have to get used to each other and build that chemistry, and I think it’ll be great for everybody.”

On a team with three 20-plus points per game scorers (Vučević, DeRozan, and Zach LaVine averaged a combined 72.4 PPG last season), Vučević knows he might not be the primary option every night, but his looks should be easier to convert, and he’s perfectly fine with that, per Mayberry.

It will come easier to me because we have so much talent out there that it’s harder for defenses to take stuff away. When we do a two-man game, any type of actions, it’s going to open up a lot for everybody. For me, the same. I think it will be easier to get touches in better spots,” Vucevic said.

Here’s more from the Windy City:

  • Ball was unfazed when facing his former team last night, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times. Ball’s laid-back demeanor has served him well when faced with the near-constant rumor mill that has followed his career, Cowley notes. “I always have rumors circling around me all year,” Ball said. “So, I mean, it’s been the same for me the last four years. I’m just happy to be here.”
  • In the same piece, Cowley says that Caruso continues to praise former Lakers teammate LeBron James. “I owe a lot to [James] for where I am today. Obviously, I put a lot of work in, but he makes me look good. He makes the team look good. When you win, everybody gets paid, everybody gets to do a job. Being part of his legacy and being a part of that team for the last couple of years was fun for me,” Caruso said.
  • Cowley also relays that Patrick Williams, the fourth pick of the 2020 NBA draft, hasn’t recovered yet from his ankle sprain, but if he’s able to start practicing by next weekend, Cowley thinks there’s a good chance he’ll be ready for opening night at Detroit.
  • Coach Billy Donovan appreciated his time working with veterans Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, and Thaddeus Young, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “You talk to these veteran guys like Garrett and Thad and Sato and the word that always comes out of their mouth is ‘We. We’ve got to do this better.’ A lot of times, players say, ‘I.’ They were always ‘We,’” Donovan said. “I just admire that not only did they take care of themselves, they took care of the group.”
  • Follow more Bulls notes and rumors on our team page here.

Southwest Notes: Thad, Spurs Youth, Wood, Clarke, Tillman

New Spurs forward Thaddeus Young appears to be staying put in San Antonio for the time being. The Suns continue to be intrigued by the versatile veteran, but an immediate move is “doubtful,” per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (Twitter link).

Young was sent to the Spurs from Chicago in the sign-and-trade package that netted the Bulls pricey small forward DeMar DeRozan during the 2021 offseason. The 33-year-old Young enjoyed a stellar year with the Bulls in 2020/21, averaging 12.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 4.3 APG while logging time at the small forward, power forward, and center positions for a Chicago team in desperate need of his veteran leadership, passing skills, and defensive savvy.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • With longtime leaders DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay now all gone from the Spurs‘ roster, the club’s young players have developed a strong bond together, writes Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News“The Spurs do a great job of picking people who have great personalities off the court,” said 22-year-old shooting guard Lonnie Walker. “We all hang out every other day, going out to eat, doing something as a team… As we continue to build that trust, it starts to lead onto the court, knowing what each other can do, knowing what each other can’t do, what we should be better at.”
  • When Rockets center Christian Wood first inked a three-year, $41MM deal with Houston in the 2020 offseason, he was not anticipating that he’d soon find himself on a rebuilding roster. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details how Wood continues to look on the bright side of his new situation. At the time, the club still sported then-All-Star guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook, along with veteran power forward P.J. Tucker. Now all those players have moved on. Westbrook was subsequently traded to the Wizards later in the 2020 offseason (and has now been rerouted to the Lakers), while Harden forced his way onto the Nets and Tucker was sent to the 2021 title-winning Bucks. “I know what we’re trying to build and develop,” Wood said. “I’m looking ahead at the future at what this team has to offer. I know we have a bunch of young talent. I said before, we’re not going to go in try to be the No. 1 seed or No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. But we’re going to try to play every game like it’s our last.”
  • Though they could play together, defensive-oriented 6’8″ Grizzlies bench big men Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman Sr. seem poised to compete with each other to carve out rotation roles in Memphis, writes Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian. Herrington suggests that Tillman may have an edge edge over Clarke in the eventual rotation, thanks in part to his solid shooting and half-court passing acumen.

Spurs Rumors: Popovich, RFAs, Simmons, Ginobili, Young

In the years leading up to the Tokyo Olympics, there had been speculation that the event would be Gregg Popovich‘s swan song. However, even after leading Team USA to gold in Japan following a one-year delay, Popovich is returning to the Spurs‘ sidelines for the 2021/22 season. And several sources who know him told Zach Lowe of ESPN in recent weeks that they wouldn’t even be surprised if Popovich sticks around for ’22/23 too.

With 26 more victories, Popovich would pass Don Nelson for the top spot on the list of the NBA’s all-time winningest coaches. Although the Spurs don’t necessarily project to be a playoff team this season, winning at least 26 games seems like a realistic goal. However, Popovich isn’t “running out the string” just to claim that record, Lowe writes.

While it remains unclear when Popovich will retire, there are some potential heir apparents within the organization, according to Lowe, who says that Will Hardy and Manu Ginobili are the two mentioned most frequently in NBA circles. Becky Hammon would also be in the mix, but Kansas coach Bill Self – previously cited as a possible candidate to succeed Popovich – has “faded” from those conversations, Lowe notes.

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • The Spurs “sniffed around” restricted free agents like John Collins and Lauri Markkanen this offseason and could be an intriguing suitor for Jaren Jackson Jr. next summer if he and the Grizzlies don’t agree to an extension before then, says Lowe. The Spurs also have the assets to make a run at a player like Ben Simmons and have talked to the Sixers about him, but those discussions haven’t gotten far and it’s unclear whether San Antonio wants to re-engage with Philadelphia, sources tell ESPN.
  • The Spurs have turned down offers of single protected first-round picks for some of their core young players, Lowe reports. Lowe doesn’t name specific players, but Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, and Lonnie Walker are among those who could fit the bill.
  • Popovich suggested this week that Ginobili’s new role with the Spurs will be even more wide-ranging than initially reported, as Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News writes. “He is going to help (general manager) Brian (Wright) with management,” Popovich said of Ginobili. “He is going to help me with coaching. He is going to help the players with development. He is probably going to go scout some people. I think he is probably going to figure out a two-week trip to Italy to scout some players. I might go with him. But I am being serious — he is going to do all those things. See what he feels comfortable with. It’s just great to have him in the program for all kinds of reasons. But mainly because we love the guy. He is Manu Ginobili, so who wouldn’t want to have him around?”
  • Thaddeus Young wasn’t sure after he was traded to San Antonio whether the team intended to keep him and still doesn’t sound positive that he’ll spent the whole year with the Spurs, but he plans to be a mentor to the club’s young players as he long as he’s with the team (Twitter links via Orsborn). I am going to show up each and every day and make sure I am working, and make sure I am bringing the guys along and getting them better as well,” Young said. A previous report suggested Phoenix is among the contending teams with trade interest in the veteran forward.

Suns Eyeing Thaddeus Young

The Suns are among the contending teams that have pursued veteran forward Thaddeus Young, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Young, who will earn $14.19MM in a contract year in 2021/22, was sent from the Bulls from the Spurs in the sign-and-trade deal that landed DeMar DeRozan in Chicago.

Young is coming off a productive season, having averaged 12.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 4.3 APG with a career-best .559 FG% in 68 games (24.3 MPG) for the Bulls in 2020/21. And his expiring contract at a reasonable rate makes the 33-year-old a relatively safe investment.

However, it’s unclear whether he’s in the Spurs’ plans or if the team simply acquired him as part of the DeRozan return for salary-matching purposes and would happily flip him. Charania suggests that San Antonio is expected to receive “strong interest” in Young from playoff teams.

Phoenix could use some extra depth at the power forward spot since Dario Saric is expected to miss most or all of the 2021/22 campaign while recovering from a torn ACL. Any offer the Suns make for Young would likely start with Saric (who is earning $8.51MM) for salary-matching purposes and would have to include another asset or two.

The Suns would have to add a little more salary to Saric’s $8.51MM to sufficiently match Young’s cap hit, and many of their lesser-paid players aren’t yet trade-eligible since they were recently signed. As such, second-year center Jalen Smith looks like a potential candidate to be included in any offer for Young, though that’s just my speculation.

Bulls Officially Acquire DeMar DeRozan From Spurs Via Sign-And-Trade

The Bulls and Spurs have officially finalized the sign-and-trade deal sending veteran forward DeMar DeRozan to Chicago, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

DeRozan confirmed (via Twitter) that his deal with Chicago, which was first reported last Tuesday, is now done, while the Bulls and Spurs issued press releases announcing the move. DeRozan reportedly received a fully-guaranteed three-year, $85MM commitment from Chicago

In exchange for the four-time All-Star, the Spurs received forwards Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu, a future protected first-round pick, the Lakers’ 2022 second-round pick, and the Bulls’ 2025 second-round pick. The earliest the Spurs will receive that first-round pick from Chicago is in 2025, since the Bulls owe a top-four protected 2023 first-rounder to Orlando.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Ted Stepien Rule]

The move punctuates a productive offseason for the Bulls, who also landed Lonzo Ball in a sign-and-trade with New Orleans and signed Alex Caruso using the mid-level exception. They’ll join a group led by Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic as Chicago looks to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

While DeRozan’s lack of a three-point shot (he has made 35 in the last three seasons) is an oddity for a wing in the modern NBA, his mid-range game is deadly and he has become a legitimately dangerous play-maker, averaging a career-best 6.9 assists per game in 2020/21 to go along with his 21.6 PPG and 4.2 RPG. Opponents will have a tough time stopping lineups featuring him, LaVine, and Vucevic, even if it won’t be the most stout group defensively.

The Sixers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Warriors, Celtics, Clippers, and Knicks were reportedly among the teams to express interest in DeRozan, but some of those clubs went in different directions and several didn’t have the ability to match or top the Bulls’ offer to the 32-year-old.

With Ball, DeRozan, and Caruso officially locked up, the Bulls will focus on resolving Lauri Markkanen‘s contract situation. The restricted free agent forward is reportedly looking for a fresh start away from Chicago, but the Bulls won’t want to let him walk without getting an asset or two in return.

The Spurs, meanwhile, are now free to move forward on completing the rest of their reported free agent signings, including Zach Collins, Bryn Forbes, and Jock Landale.

The DeRozan deal had been the last trade reported during the 2021 offseason that hadn’t yet been finalized. All of this month’s reported trades are now official.

Bulls To Acquire DeMar DeRozan From Spurs Via Sign-And-Trade

Free agent wing DeMar DeRozan is expected to sign a three-year, $85MM contract with the Bulls, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).

According to Charania, the Bulls and Spurs are finalizing a sign-and-trade deal that will send DeRozan to Chicago in exchange for Thaddeus Young, a future first-round pick, and two second-round picks. Al-Farouq Aminu will go to San Antonio in the deal too, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Wojnarowski also provides the details on the draft picks headed to the Spurs, reporting (via Twitter) that the future first-round pick will convey in 2025 at the earliest, since the Bulls owe their 2023 first-rounder to Orlando. The second-rounders Chicago is sending to San Antonio are the Lakers’ 2022 pick and the Bulls’ own 2025 pick, Woj adds.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links), who first reported DeRozan was nearing a deal with Chicago, says his three-year deal will be fully guaranteed.

It’s a fascinating turn of events for the Bulls and for DeRozan, who had reportedly been planning to meet with the Clippers despite their limited cap flexibility. Because acquiring a player via sign-and-trade hard-caps a team at the tax apron, a sign-and-trade for DeRozan likely wasn’t an option for the Clippers, who project to be taxpayers.

However, the Bulls, who had already agreed to acquire Lonzo Ball via sign-and-trade and had two sizeable – and expendable – expiring contracts belonging to Young and Aminu, were in a far better position to make DeRozan an aggressive offer. And they did just that, agreeing to a deal that will add DeRozan to a core that now includes Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Ball.

While DeRozan’s lack of a three-point shot (he has made 35 in the last three seasons) is an oddity for a wing in the modern NBA, his mid-range game is deadly and he has become a legitimately dangerous play-maker, averaging a career-best 6.9 assists per game in 2020/21. Opponents will have a tough time stopping lineups featuring him, LaVine, and Vucevic, though it won’t be the most stout group defensively.

Based on their reported moves, the Bulls still have about $19.5MM in breathing room below the tax and $26MM below the hard cap, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who notes (via Twitter) that the team still holds Lauri Markkanen‘s Bird rights.

The Spurs, who have free agent deals in place with Zach Collins and Doug McDermott, still have about $6MM in projected cap space to work with, Marks adds.

Trade Rumors: Dinwiddie, Hornets, Ingles, T. Young

Spencer Dinwiddie is close to a deal with the Wizards, but it may take some complex maneuvering to get him there, Fred Katz writes in The Athletic’s free agency recap. The two sides are reportedly hammering out a three-year contract worth $60MM, but Washington is over the cap, so a sign-and-trade will have to be arranged involving the Nets and maybe more teams.

Katz points out that Brooklyn is already over the luxury tax threshold for next season and isn’t interested in adding salary. He suggests the teams may try to tie this deal to the trade sending Russell Westbrook to the Lakers. Katz is confident that Dinwiddie will eventually join the Wizards, but it won’t be easy to work through the details.

In the same piece, Alex Schiffer notes that Brooklyn has been trying to unload DeAndre Jordan‘s contract, which is worth nearly $20MM over the next two years. John Hollinger says the Lakers could send Kyle Kuzma directly to the Nets instead of the Wizards, which would enable Brooklyn to include Jordan and avoid a huge rise in its tax bill.

There’s more on potential trades to watch for:

  • The Hornets are one of the few teams that still has flexibility after an active first night of free agency, Hollinger adds. A sign-and-trade of Devonte’ Graham allows Charlotte to have $15MM in cap room or to expand the deal and bring another player, possibly Lauri Markkanen. Hollinger states that the Hornets still need one more guard and another big man.
  • The Warriors would be interested in trading for Joe Ingles if the Jazz make him available, sources tell Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Ingles will turn 34 soon, but his passing and shooting would be valuable in Golden State’s system, though Thompson cautions that actually acquiring him would be tricky from a cap perspective. The Warriors still have hope of signing longtime Spurs guard Patty Mills, Thompson adds.
  • Several contending teams and younger teams are interested in getting Thaddeus Young from the Bulls, tweets Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago is hoping to resolve the situation with Markkanen before making a decision on Young.
  • There’s still a chance the Raptors could keep Goran Dragic– who is being acquired from the Heat in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade – rather than flipping him to another team, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link).

Young, Satoransky, Brunson Receive Salary Guarantees

Bulls forward Thaddeus Young ($14.2MM) and guard Tomas Satoransky ($10MM) both saw their contracts for next season become fully guaranteed on Monday, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Satoransky is reportedly on the way to the Pelicans as part of a sign-and-trade involving Lonzo Ball.

Also having his salary guaranteed Monday was Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson ($1.8MM), Marks adds (via Twitter). Marks identifies Brunson as a potential extension candidate.

All three players will be in line for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Central Notes: Young, Cavaliers Pick, Lee, Cunningham

The expiring contract of Bulls forward Thaddeus Young could be the club’s best non-All Star trade chip, posits Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Only $6MM of Young’s $14.2MM contract is guaranteed for the 2021/22 season. The Bulls front office has until August 1 to fully ratify the deal, which would make sense to do, as the veteran Young has proven to be a valuable role player in Chicago, and even the full $14.2MM deal is reasonable enough to make him desirable for a win-now franchise.

The 33-year-old Young has thrived with the Bulls as a multifaceted two-way reserve capable of playing both forward positions and, occasionally, small-ball center. He seemed to take significant steps during the 2020/21 season as a ball-handler and play-maker, averaging a career-best 4.3 assists.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Given that they have the third pick in what is considered to be a top-heavy draft, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com wonders if the Cavaliers should consider trading down for a lower lottery selection and a future asset. In some order, the top four picks in the draft are expected to be Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham, USC center/power forward Evan Mobley, G League Ignite guard Jalen Green, and Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs. The Cavaliers are also expected to assess the next batch of lottery prospects, including Florida State guard Scottie Barnes, G League Ignite forward Jonathan Kuminga, Duke forward Jalen Johnson, Adelaide 36ers guard Josh Giddey, Tennessee guard Keon Johnson and Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert. If Cleveland prefers one of these players, who should be available beyond the top four, it might make sense to trade down.
  • Athletic Pistons rookie point guard Saben Lee enjoyed an impressive first NBA season, despite being drafted 31 spots behind fellow rookie Pistons point guard Killian Hayes, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Langlois projects that Lee’s aforementioned athleticism, his 6’9″ wingspan, and his strength will serve him well as a defense-first guard on the team next season.
  • The Pistons will have their first No. 1 pick in quite a while, and standout Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham has widely been viewed as the top prospect in the upcoming draft. Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press details why the club could ultimately pass on selecting Cunningham, explaining why the ceilings of Jalen Green and Evan Mobley are enough to at least get them into the conversation of a top selection. Cunningham’s ball-handling, shooting, defense and positional fluidity make him perhaps the safest bet for a rebuilding team. Mobley’s unique offensive game and impressive size as a center and Green’s fit with the Pistons specifically make both players interesting possibilities.

Bulls Notes: Lottery, LaVine, Simmons, Dinwiddie, T. Young

The Bulls were among the unluckiest teams at the draft lottery, losing their first-round pick to the Magic when it failed to land in the top four, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Chicago wound up sending the No. 8 selection to Orlando as part of the trade deadline deal involving Nikola Vucevic, and it owes another first-rounder to the Magic in 2023.

With only the No. 38 pick remaining in the July 29 draft, the Bulls will have to explore other ways to improve, Mayberry adds. They’re short on trade assets after investing so much in the roster makeover in March, and they may not have enough cap space to add a meaningful free agent.

Mayberry suggests the Bulls may try to trade back into the first round on draft night, using the expiring contracts of Thaddeus Young ($14.19MM) and Tomáš Satoranský ($10MM), both of which are non-guaranteed, as well as Al-Farouq Aminu ($10.183MM).

They may also reach out to a couple of division rivals who had better fortune at the lottery. The Pistons landed the top overall pick and are likely to draft Cade Cunningham, which could make point guard Killian Hayes available in a trade, Mayberry speculates. Meanwhile, if the Cavaliers get Jalen Green at No. 3, they might be willing to part with Collin Sexton, Darius Garland or Isaac Okoro.

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Zach LaVine‘s inclusion on the Olympic team could be good for the Bulls’ future, states Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. He notes that many star pairings in the NBA began when players got to know each other as Olympic teammates. Cowley cautions it might work the other way, and LaVine, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, could get recruited to go somewhere else.
  • Ben Simmons‘ playoff struggles and Spencer Dinwiddie‘s decision to turn down his player option for next season create two intriguing options for the Bulls in their search for a point guard, writes Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune. Simmons would be an ideal backcourt partner for LaVine, Collier notes, but it would be hard to put together an enticing offer for the Sixers without giving up LaVine in return. Dinwiddie will be seeking more than the $12.3MM he opted out of, but Collier expects concerns about his partially torn ACL to keep the price tag down.
  • Thaddeus Young has been chosen as this year’s winner of the NBA Hustle Award, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The honor goes to the player who makes the most energy and effort plays during the season.