Thaddeus Young

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.

Bulls Notes: Vucevic, LaVine, Young, Temple

In his end-of-season comments following the Bulls‘ regular season finale on Sunday, head coach Billy Donovan admitted that he was disappointed his team didn’t make the playoffs. However, he doesn’t believe it’s fair to conclude that the midseason trade bringing Nikola Vucevic to Chicago was a mistake, as Sam Smith of Bulls.com writes.

“The one thing that I’ve seen – and I haven’t been in the NBA that long – when you look at these trades, most of the trades are trades to add. Guys coming off the bench or filling a hole. But this was a trade where immediately a guy comes in and now he’s unequivocally 1A or 1B,” Donovan said. “Those things don’t normally happen in the NBA. The whole entire thing got kind of flipped upside down.”

Donovan, who pointed out that the Bulls didn’t have much in-season practice time to properly assimilate Vucevic and the club’s other newcomers, expressed that he believes the trade will pay off in the long run. That was an opinion that Vucevic shared, as K.C. Johnson of NBA Sports Chicago tweets.

“This trade wasn’t just made for this year,” Vucevic said. “It was made for the future of the franchise.”

Here are a few more Bulls-related notes as the team looks ahead to an eventful offseason:

  • As he prepares to enter a contract year, Zach LaVine said today that he loves being in Chicago and is very excited about the team’s future, according to K.C. Johnson (Twitter links). Asked about his next contract, LaVine replied, “It’s a business at the end of the day. I definitely want what I deserve.”
  • A recent report suggested LaVine may be willing to sign for less than his maximum salary, but there are several factors that affect what LaVine’s “max” will be at a given time between now and the summer of 2022. Those factors include whether he signs an extension or waits for free agency, whether he earns All-NBA honors this year or next, and – if he signs an extension – whether the Bulls are willing to renegotiate his current deal to give him an immediate raise. It’s possible LaVine would be willing to take a slight discount in some of those scenarios, but not in others.
  • Thaddeus Young, who has a $6MM partial guarantee on his $14.2MM salary for 2021/22, said today that he hasn’t been told whether or not he’ll be retained, but added that he’s fully committed to the Bulls and that he has had only positive discussions with management and the coaching staff (Twitter link via Johnson).
  • An unrestricted free agent this summer, Garrett Temple reiterated his interest in sticking with the Bulls, tweets Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “I can never say what’s going to happen in free agency. I can only say what I would like to happen,” Temple said. “I really enjoyed Chicago. Even with the snow. Even during a pandemic. The organization, from what I’m hearing, took a turn for the better.”

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Vucevic, Young, Williams

One of the most important questions facing the Bulls this summer will be what to do with Lauri Markkanen, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Once considered the future of the franchise, Markkanen had a decline in production in his fourth NBA season. He lost his starting job at midseason and is headed toward restricted free agency without a clear role on the team.

Markkanen has taken a lot of heat for his down year and his seemingly poor fit alongside center Nikola Vucevic, who was acquired at the trade deadline. However, coach Billy Donovan said critics need to understand how Markkanen has adapted to changing circumstances.

“You’re talking about a guy who has a shoulder injury, misses quite a bit of time, comes back after the All-Star break, plays a couple games and then we have an entirely different team and now he has to re-invent himself and find himself, that’s a lot,” Donovan said. “The one thing I’ve always asked Lauri to do is compete and play and maximize the time you’re out there for the benefit of the team. And he has always done that. And I respect and appreciate that from him.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Bulls expected to move into the playoff picture after shaking up their team at the deadline, but the results have been disappointing. Vucevic suggests too much may have been expected right away, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘When you make a trade midseason, a lot of things change, and sometimes it takes more time [to jell],’’ Vucevic said. ‘‘Unfortunately, we didn’t have that. It is disappointing we didn’t achieve our goal, so we have to be realistic and say we failed at that. But the only thing we can do is move forward and hopefully use that as motivation going into next year.’’
  • Chicago currently has just seven players under contract for next season and may want to consider creating even more cap space by unloading Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky, who both have modest partial guarantees, Cowley adds in a separate story. Young’s $14.19MM contract and and Satoransky’s $10MM deal will both become fully guaranteed August 1.
  • Rookie forward Patrick Williams had one of his best games today, scoring a career-high 24 points in a loss to the Nets, writes Sam Smith of NBA.com. Williams said he has started looking to score more often as the season winds down. “This is definitely the Patrick that they want to see,” he said. “Of course, a little bit more that I did today. This is the player that they want me to be. It takes some getting used to, especially for me, because it’s not natural to go out there and be aggressive. But this is who I’ve gotta be in order to be the player that I want to be in this league. I’m up for the challenge.”

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Theis, White, Satoranský

Lauri Markkanen has played a diminished role since the Bulls overhauled their roster at the trade deadline, but he was on the court for the closing minutes of Saturday’s win over the Cavaliers, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Markkanen poured in 16 points, ending a five-game stretch of single-digit scoring, as Chicago picked up an important victory in the race for a play-in game.

Markkanen’s status is being closely watched ahead of his impeding restricted free agency this summer. He has played 21 minutes or fewer six times since the trade deadline and was limited to 11 total shots over three games last week.

“It’s a new role. I think a lot of guys have sacrificed. I’m not going to do anything that jeopardizes the team. I’m going to play my role as well as I can,” Markkanen said. “… I try to stay as positive as I can. But then it’s not really affecting me off the court. At the end of the day when I go home to my family, it’s all good. I wasn’t losing my sleep over it. It was frustrating to lose (my starting job), not being out there and closing out games. But I always say, control what you can control. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Newly-acquired center Daniel Theis will also be a free agent this summer, and coach Billy Donovan hopes the Bulls can find a way to keep him, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Donovan added that executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley share his opinion on Theis. “With free agency coming up and guys having the opportunity to make their own decisions, I understand that,” Donovan said. “But he’s someone we really like a lot and feel like could be somebody that could be really good for us going forward.’’
  • Coby WhiteTomáš SatoranskýThaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu and Markkanen are the five players most likely to be traded as Chicago continues to remake its roster, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Aminu will make $10MM next season, Mayberry adds, and his contract could be useful for salary matching.
  • Zach LaVine‘s absence due to health and safety protocols will give other players a chance to redefine their roles, Johnson writes in a separate story.

Magic Trade Nikola Vucevic To Bulls

4:37pm: The trade sending Vucevic to Chicago is official, according to a press release from the Magic.

“Anytime you trade a player like Nikola, it is a tough decision to make,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “‘Vooch’ will go down as one of the best players to ever wear a Magic uniform and we can’t thank him enough for all the contributions he made to the organization, both on and off the court.”


10:05am: The Magic are trading All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and veteran forward Al-Farouq Aminu to the Bulls, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (all Twitter links).

According to Wojnarowski, Orlando will receive Wendell Carter, Otto Porter, and a pair of future first-round picks in the deal. Those picks will be the Bulls’ own 2021 and 2023 first-rounders, Woj adds (via Twitter). Both will be top-four protected, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter links).

The agreement comes as a major surprise. While Vucevic has been mentioned in some trade rumors in the weeks leading up to the deadline, he had talked about being happy with his current situation, and there was a belief that the Magic were reluctant to move their lone All-Star and shift into full-fledged retooling mode. Wojnarowski (Twitter link) had reported earlier today that Orlando was still listening to offers for the big man, but would have to receive a substantial package to pull the trigger on a deal.

The Magic apparently believe the Bulls’ offer qualifies as substantial. In addition to the future first-round picks, which are the prized assets in the return, Orlando will also receive a former lottery pick in Carter who was highly regarded coming out of Duke and is still just 21 years old. Carter has been plagued by injury issues through his first three NBA seasons and his production hasn’t really increased since his rookie year, but he’s still viewed as a player with upside.

Orlando will also gain some longer-term salary relief in the trade. While Porter is earning more ($28.5MM) this season than any of the other three players involved in the swap, his contract will expire this summer. Vucevic is owed and Aminu are owed a combined $34MM+ next season, and Vucevic is under contract for one more year beyond that, so the Magic will have much more cap flexibility going forward.

The move also signals that Aaron Gordon is even more likely to be dealt today, with the Magic headed for a reset. The odds of the team moving Evan Fournier and/or Terrence Ross figure to increase as well. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets, Orlando will boost the odds of landing a top pick in the 2021 draft by trading away veterans — that lottery pick, combined with the return of Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz next season, could help accelerate the team’s rebuild.

The Bulls, meanwhile, weren’t among the teams listed as having significant interest in Vucevic in a report earlier this month, but decided to take a big swing and will add a second All-Star to a core headlined by Zach LaVine.

The team’s front office wanted to bring in a “productive, serious-minded veteran” to be a cornerstone in Chicago, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), and zeroed in on Vucevic, who has posted a career-high 24.5 PPG this season to go along with 11.8 RPG and 3.8 APG. His .406 3PT% is also a career-best mark.

Taking on Aminu’s multiyear contract will add some money to the Bulls’ cap in 2021, but the club was projected to have plenty of flexibility, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Vucevic’s contract is also relatively team-friendly — he’s making $26MM this season, but that number will decline to $24MM in 2021/22 and $22MM in ’22/23.

It will be interesting to see whether the Bulls have more up their sleeve before today’s deadline. The team has been taking calls to gauge Thaddeus Young‘s value, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link), and remains in the mix for Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

It will take more than just Lauri Markkanen to acquire Ball, tweets Johnson. New Orleans may want Chicago to take on an unwanted multiyear contract, such as Eric Bledsoe‘s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Lowry, Rondo, Ball, Markkanen, Young, Green

The clock is ticking on the trade deadline, with less than 90 minutes to go. Here are a few tidbits about possible last-minute deals:

  • ESPN is reporting that the Sixers have dropped their pursuit of Kyle Lowry after trading for George Hill, but the Heat are still trying to acquire the Raptors‘ point guard, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. A source tells Jackson the Lakers and Clippers have also contacted Toronto about Lowry.
  • The Clippers have asked the Hawks about point guard Rajon Rondo, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Twitter link from Mirjam Swanson of The Southern California News Group). L.A. was interested in signing Rondo in free agency, but he opted for a two-year, $15MM deal with Atlanta.
  • After acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic from the Magic, the Bulls are trying to shake up their roster ever further, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Chicago is still talking to the Pelicans about Lonzo Ball, but New Orleans wants more than Lauri Markkanen in return. The Bulls used a lot of their draft capital in the Vucevic deal.
  • Offers for Thaddeus Young haven’t improved enough for the Bulls to consider moving him, tweets Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.
  • The Warriors could be a possible destination for Sixers guard Danny Green, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Bulls Notes: Young, White, Temple, Ball

Thaddeus Young would be a valuable veteran addition for any contender, but teammate Zach LaVine hopes the Bulls decide to keep him, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Young’s name has been in the rumor mill for several weeks as Chicago remains on the edge of playoff contention at 19-24. LaVine would prefer to see Young help his current team in the postseason.

“We all understand his value and how good he is and what a championship or high-rising playoff team could get out of him,” LaVine said. “… Obviously, I want him here. I think he helps me and helps the team tremendously. But obviously if something were to happen you just want the best situation for a guy like that.”

Young has been a locker room leader and a productive bench presence in his 14th NBA season, averaging 12.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and a career-high 4.4 assists per game. He has avoided any public speculation about what might happen before Thursday’s deadline.

“As long as I’m here, I’m here to do a job and that’s my focus, is to do the job that I’m here to do, which is help these young guys and continue to play as hard as I can each and every night and help try to continue to win,” Young said. “Haven’t really worried too much about the trade situation or haven’t discussed it, not talked about it. Nor do I really even care to talk about it. If it happens, it happens, I understand it’s a part of the business, and I understand how the business works.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Coby White doesn’t appear to have benefited from his recent move to a reserve role, notes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The second-year guard posted negative plus-minus ratings in his last three games, but he could move back into the starting lineup if the Bulls opt to trade Tomas Satoransky.
  • Garrett Temple was active tonight after sitting out the past six games with a sprained left ankle, Cowley adds in the same story. “I think he’s progressed pretty well,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. “You know, with the limited practice that we had he got a workout in, some (Tuesday). And then he was able to do quite a bit more (Wednesday). So he feels actually pretty good.”
  • The Pelicans‘ asking price for Lonzo Ball may be too high for the Bulls, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago states in a mailbag column. Although Chicago has been rumored as a possible destination for Ball, New Orleans is asking for a first-round pick in return, which Johnson doesn’t believe Chicago’s new front office is willing to part with.

Lowe’s Latest: Wolves, Bulls, Bucks, Rivers, Vucevic, Nuggets, More

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas has been extremely proactive in overhauling the club’s roster since taking control of the front office in 2019, and Minnesota figures to be a team worth watching again leading up to this Thursday’s trade deadline.

While the Wolves have been linked to potential trade targets like Aaron Gordon and John Collins, Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) says it’s safe to assume that if there’s a power forward between the ages of 22 and 30 who could theoretically be available, Minnesota has inquired on him. Upgrading the four is a top priority for the team.

On the other hand, while the Wolves could be in the market for a win-now move, they’ve also signaled that they may be willing to trade some of their deeper rotation players for future draft picks, sources tell Lowe.

Lowe’s latest look at the trade market is worth checking out in full if you’re an ESPN+ subscriber. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Lowe’s sources believe the Bulls could get a first-round pick for Thaddeus Young, but they continue to signal that he’s not available. Chicago has also rebuffed inquires on rookie forward Patrick Williams.
  • The Bucks will peruse the trade and buyout markets for a backup guard after trading D.J. Augustin, and Lowe suggests Knicks guard Austin Rivers is a target to watch. Rivers is a buyout candidate if New York doesn’t trade him by Thursday afternoon.
  • Lowe believes a Nikola Vucevic trade is “very unlikely.” Jared Weiss and Sam Amick of The Athletic conveyed a similar sentiment today, writing that it might take a Jrue Holiday-esque return for the Magic to pull the trigger.
  • Other teams suggest the Nuggets have been active in search of a deal to upgrade their rotation, according to Lowe, who confirms Denver explored a move for P.J. Tucker before he was sent to Milwaukee.
  • While the Warriors aren’t feeling pressure to move Kelly Oubre, they’re exploring the market for him to see if there’s a deal that could help them more beyond this season, Lowe says.
  • Pacers sharpshooter Doug McDermott is drawing interest from several teams, sources tell ESPN.

Trade Rumors: Oladipo, Kings, Markkanen, McGee

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski expects Rockets guard Victor Oladipo to be “prominent” in trade discussions leading up to the March 25 deadline, he said in the latest episode of The Woj Pod. However, it’s not clear what sort of return Houston will want or if any teams will be willing to meet the asking price.

As RealGM relays, Wojnarowski and ESPN colleague Tim Bontemps believe teams will be reluctant to aggressively pursue Oladipo since he hasn’t recaptured his All-Star form in Houston (he’s shooting .399/.316/.772 since joining the Rockets) and will be seeking a huge new multiyear contract as a free agent this offseason.

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

  • A number of power forwards are among the most intriguing players on the trade market, but teams like the Kings, Magic, and Bulls are sending signals that they won’t necessarily feel compelled to move players like Harrison Barnes, Aaron Gordon, and Thaddeus Young, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Insider link). According to Windhorst, teams that have called Sacramento have found the club willing to discuss Nemanja Bjelica and Jabari Parker, but more hesitant to talk about Barnes.
  • The Bulls appear more likely to consider moving Lauri Markkanen than Young, Windhorst adds in the same story.
  • According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, a number of strong playoff teams are interested in Cavaliers center JaVale McGee. However, those clubs are gauging the likelihood of a possible buyout for McGee before committing to giving up an asset for him.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN closes the book on the trade that sent Torrey Craig to the Suns, tweeting that Phoenix sent $110K to the Bucks in the deal. That’s the minimum amount possible this season if a team trades cash.