Thaddeus Young

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.

Central Rumors: Turner, Pistons, Plumlee, Diallo, Bulls

The Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, Hornets, and Pelicans are among the teams to explore whether the Pacers are willing to trade big man Myles Turner, league sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

The Pacers were willing to discuss Turner in trade talks during the 2020 offseason and have lost 17 of their last 26 games after an 8-4 start this season, so it’s no surprise that teams are inquiring on the NBA’s leading shot-blocker.

However, Michael says that if Indiana does look to make a move at the trade deadline, it’s unlikely to involve Turner, who has developed into a crucial part of the team’s success. The Pacers have been better both offensively and defensively when he’s on the court.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Within his look at some hypothetical trades for the Pistons, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic reports that the team is seriously discussing trades involving Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, and Mason Plumlee, adding that there have been some “whispers” about the Nets potentially being interested in Plumlee.
  • Hamidou Diallo‘s Pistons debut will be delayed a little longer due to his groin strain, head coach Dwane Casey said on Monday (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press). Diallo missed his last several games with Oklahoma City as a result of the injury, which he suffered on February 24.
  • The Bulls‘ new-look rotation got off to a good start on Sunday, as the team comfortably defeated Toronto with Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young replacing Coby White and Wendell Carter in the starting lineup. Head coach Billy Donovan cautioned after the game that the new starting five isn’t “set in stone” (Twitter link via Eric Woodyard of ESPN). However, the affected players sounded fully on board with the changes, with Carter stating that he would’ve benched himself too, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores what the lineup changes might say about the Bulls‘ approach to the trade deadline, suggesting that the team seems unlikely to be a seller.

Central Notes: Bulls Starters, Healthy Cavs, Diallo, Weaver

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan is rumored to be making significant changes to the club’s starting lineup, a source informs Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Veteran Tomáš Satoranský could replace second-year point guard Coby White, and veteran forward Thaddeus Young could be moved in to start ahead of third-year center Wendell Carter Jr. as soon as tonight, in time for the team’s game against the Raptors.

Slow starts have impeded the Bulls lately, losers of four of their last five contests. Mayberry notes that Chicago’s traditional starters have been struggling. The team’s starting five of White, Carter, All-Star Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, and Lauri Markkanen is averaging a lackluster minus-17.6 net rating. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago details what the changes – should they transpire – mean for the Bulls.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The 14-23 Cavaliers have not had been able to field a fully healthy roster for most of the season, but with Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. back in the lineup, the team has some rotation decisions to make, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. “I don’t know the last time we had a full, available roster,” Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Been frustrating for us as coaches because it’s been different positions as we’ve moved through it.” Before they returned Friday, Love had been unavailable for 33 games, while Nance had missed the preceding 12.
  • Athletic Pistons swingman Hamidou Diallo, arriving fresh from the Thunder after a deal yesterday, will serve as an exciting addition to Detroit, thanks in large part to his exceptional defensive upside, writes Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Pistons general manager Troy Weaver may not be done reshaping Detroit’s roster, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. After adding Diallo this weekend and waiving Blake Griffin earlier this month, it’s become clear that Weaver is prioritizing a younger, more athletic future.

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, Porter, Young, LaVine

As the Bulls get ready to resume the season, they could have a couple of important players back in the lineup, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Lauri Markkanen, who has missed 13 games with a strained right shoulder, and Otto Porter Jr., who has been sidelined for 15 games with back spasms, practiced Wednesday and may return tonight. Both players remained in Chicago during the All-Star break to do rehab work.

Markkanen, who wore an undershirt with padding on the shoulder, told reporters he feels “good to go.” The coaching staff doesn’t plan to have him on a minutes restriction whenever he returns. Porter called his back issue a “weird pain” that was easy to reaggravate by doing simple tasks.

“I feel good about what they did today. Both guys went through everything,” coach Billy Donovan said after Wednesday’s practice. “Both guys went through contact. Both guys played. I think the biggest thing for me is when you come out of a late, unnormal practice time where you are finishing up at 7 (p.m. CT) the guys have to go in right now and meet with the medical staff, go through rehab. We’ll see how they are feeling. Certainly they are moving closer and closer to playing.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Spurs’ decision to part ways with LaMarcus Aldridge may affect the trade market if the Bulls decide to unload Thaddeus Young, points out K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Teams that have been considered possible destinations for Young, such as the Celtics and Trail Blazers, are now believed to be in the running for Aldridge.
  • Porter dismissed rumors that he might seek a buyout, saying his focus remains on doing whatever he can to help the Bulls, Johnson adds in the same story. Porter is making $28,489,239 this season and is headed for free agency this summer. “I’ve just been in the gym every day, trying to get my body back,” he said. “Whatever is going on out there, I have no idea about. My agent would probably tell me if something was going on, but he hasn’t said anything.”
  • The Bulls didn’t hold a formal organizational meeting during the break to talk about potential trades, but Donovan tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that there have been frequent discussions on the topic among the front office and coaches.
  • In case you missed it, Bulls guard Zach LaVine is among the 15 new players under consideration for the U.S. Olympic team.

Bulls Telling Teams Thaddeus Young Not Available

Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has been telling teams that veteran forward Thaddeus Young isn’t available via trade, reports Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Young is a highly coveted trade target for contending teams, O’Connor notes. His contract is relatively team-friendly ($13.55MM in 2020/21, with a partial guarantee on his $14.19MM salary for ’21/22); he’s a veteran leader with plenty of playoff experience; and he’s having a nice year on the court, recording 12.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 4.4 APG on 60.9% shooting to go along with strong, versatile defense.

The Bulls have just a 16-18 record and could get a nice return for Young if they’re willing to sell, so rival teams are wondering if Karnisovas is trying to increase his leverage by saying the 32-year-old is off the table, per O’Connor.

Still, Chicago is tied for ninth in the East, putting the team right in the thick of the playoff race — Young has been a key part of the Bulls’ success, and the club would like to see its young players (especially Zach LaVine) get some postseason experience. As such, it’s no surprise that Karnisovas would be opposed to selling off Young for draft assets or other pieces that wouldn’t help Chicago in the short term.

The Bulls will have a challenging stretch of games to begin the second half, including contests this week against Philadelphia (Thursday), Miami (Friday), and Toronto (Sunday). If they start slipping down the Eastern Conference standings, they could become more inclined to be sellers at the March 25 trade deadline, but if they’re still in the hunt in a couple weeks, it will be difficult for suitors to pry Young away.