Tomas Satoransky

Central Notes: Satoransky, P. Williams, Portis, Love

Billy Donovan isn’t ready to change his starting point guard, but the Bulls coach expects more playing time for Tomas Satoransky now that he has returned from his second COVID-19 experience, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Satoransky was sidelined earlier in the season due to contact tracing, then tested positive for the virus later. Saturday marked his fifth game back, and his playing time has been gradually increasing.

“I think he’s getting his legs back under him, he’s trying to find himself, but each game I think he’s out there playing I think he’ll be more and more comfortable,’’ Donovan said.

There might be temptation to move Satoransky into the starting lineup in place of Coby White, who’s shooting 40% from the field and struggling as a lead guard, but Donovan remains committed to developing White as the long-term answer at point guard.

“Is it a situation where maybe you bring Sato in a little bit earlier? You stagger those guys? But I’m not at a point where I just say, ‘Hey, listen we’re done with him.’ I wouldn’t do that. I think he’s too important to our team,” Donovan said. “He does compete, I trust him in that area. I just think he’s a guy that’s 20 years old, and there’s going to be some of these moments where he’s going to be up and down.’’

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls drafted Patrick Williams for his defensive prowess, but injuries may force them to rely on him for more scoring, notes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Williams is one of seven rookies in a regular starting role, but he’s only ninth on the team at 29.7 touches per game. “They just say whatever I do, be confident in it 100%,” Williams said. “They have confidence in me in whatever I decide to do, whether it’s drive or shoot. Just whatever I do, be 100% confident and don’t be in the middle.”
  • Bobby Portis is excelling with the Bucks’ second unit, writes Spencer Davies of Basketball News. Portis, who signed as a free agent during the offseason, enjoys changing the atmosphere of a game. “I think the last three, four years of my career, I’ve kinda found the niche of coming in and bringing energy off the bench,” he said. “Just knowing if the game’s up and down or if our team needs energy, being that sparkplug that the team needs.”
  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who has been limited to two games this season because of a calf injury, went through a pre-game workout Saturday for the first time in more than a month, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. No date has been set for him to return.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Central Division:

Wayne Ellington, Pistons, 33, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

What has gotten into Ellington? Signed to add some depth at the shooting guard spot, Ellington has emerged as a starter and is on the hottest 3-point roll of his career. He’s knocked down at least four long balls and scored at least 16 points in each of the last seven games. Overall, he’s averaging a career-best 13.4 PPG in 24.2 MPG while making 53.2% of his 3-point attempts. Obviously, he’s not going to sustain this pace but at the least, Ellington has shown he can still help a team with his perimeter shooting.

Andre Drummond, Cavaliers, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $127.2MM deal in 2016

Sometimes people tend to dwell on a player’s shortcomings and forget about the positives. The Pistons basically gave away Drummond to a division rival last February to clear cap space. Yes, he can’t shoot from outside and he’s brutal at the foul line but what’s so bad about having the best rebounder on the planet on your side? Drummond is averaging a career-high 18.9 PPG with the aid of two young guards breaking down defenses. With the addition of Jarrett Allen, he’s probably not in the Cavs’ long-term plans. He’s not a max player but Drummond is still one of the league’s top big men and he’ll get a strong multi-year contract despite his flaws.

Tomas Satoransky, Bulls, 29, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $30MM deal in 2019

Chicago has an interesting dilemma with Satoransky following the season if it’s unable to move him in a trade. His $10MM salary for next season is 50% guaranteed. The Bulls would have to eat $5MM in dead money to cut him loose but Satoransky’s status with the organization has fallen. He was once viewed as its potential solution at point guard. Right now, he’s struggling just to stay in the rotation. If he winds up in the free agent market, Satornasky won’t be viewed as more than a second-unit option.

Bobby Portis, Bucks, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $7.4MM deal in 2020

Portis has a $3.8MM player option on his contract for next season. The way he’s playing, he’ll certainly decline it and take his chances on the free agent market. Portis has been a solid addition for a title contender, establishing himself as the team’s sixth man. He’s averaging 10.9 PPG and is second on the team in rebounding (7.7 RPG), while his PER ranks third on the team. Portis’ offensive production has dipped some in the last two weeks but he still had a 21-point outing against Atlanta on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Health Updates: Satoransky, Hutchison, Tatum, Fournier, More

A handful of NBA players who reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this season are close to returning to action, including Bulls veterans Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison. Head coach Billy Donovan said today that both players practiced and are on track to being available for Friday’s game vs. Charlotte (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Celtics star Jayson Tatum will remain sidelined for Wednesday’s game vs. Philadelphia, but has a chance to get back on the court for Friday’s rematch vs. the 76ers after clearing the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Head coach Brad Stevens said during an appearance on Zolak & Bertand in Boston today that Tatum has about a 50/50 chance of playing on Friday, per Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal (Twitter link).

Finally, Sixers guard Seth Curry is out of the league’s COVID-19 protocols, but isn’t quite ready to suit up for Wednesday’s game. Although he wasn’t listed on the club’s initial injury report, he’ll sit out tonight due to “post health and safety protocols reconditioning,” says Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Here are a few more health updates from around the NBA:

  • Magic guard Evan Fournier, who has been on the shelf for the team’s last nine games due to back spasms, will be available for Wednesday’s game vs. Minnesota, the team announced (via Twitter). Orlando was 4-0 with Fournier healthy to start the season, but lost the game in which he was injured and has slumped badly since then. Fournier’s return will be a welcome sight for the 6-8 club.
  • Hornets center Cody Zeller, who suffered a broken hand on opening night, returned to practice today, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, who notes (via Twitter) that the big man’s recovery timeline has him on track for an early-February return.
  • In case you missed it, the Trail Blazers announced this week that CJ McCollum (foot) and Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) will be out for at least four weeks and six weeks, respectively.

Central Notes: Jackson, Bulls, Doumbouya, Cavaliers

Following injuries to rookie Killian Hayes and veteran reserve Derrick Rose, two-way Pistons point guard Frank Jackson, a late addition to Detroit’s roster last month, has stepped up in an expanded role, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Pistons head coach Dwane Casey commended the 22-year-old. “I really like Frank,” Casey said. “He’s a quick-twitch kid, an offensive player who’s tough on the ball and he has a lot of toughness about him.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr., recovering from a lower back strain incurred on January 8, returned to team practice today, according to Rob Schaeffer of NBC Sports Chicago. Reserves Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison, having tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the month, are in different stages of their recovery. Coach Billy Donovan noted that Hutchison, who had symptoms while ill with the virus, can return to Chicago’s practice facility. Satoransky remains in isolation, though Donovan said he was “a day or two away” from being permitted to use the Advocate Center.
  • Pistons are playing the long game with 20-year-old second-year forward Sekou Doumbouya, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Doumbouya has yet to earn rotation minutes behind veteran starters Jerami Grant and Blake Griffin. “It’s a process,” head coach Dwane Casey said of Doumbouya’s minutes. Doumbouya is also slotted behind young forwards Saddiq Bey and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.
  • Joe Vardon and Kelsey Russo of The Athletic posit that the Cavaliers have been winning their recent trades. They suggest that, following the acquisition of former Nets center Jarrett Allen yesterday, veteran center Andre Drummond, on an expiring deal, will now become a candidate for a trade or buyout. The team also added small forward Taurean Prince from Brooklyn. Russo and Vardon applaud the team’s various acquisitions of draft picks, young talent, and solid veterans.

Tomas Satoransky Tests Positive For COVID-19

Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky has tested positive for the coronavirus, head coach Billy Donovan said today, as relayed by K.C Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link).

This comes just two days after it was revealed that Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison tested positive, with one other support staff member also recently testing positive, Donovan said.

Lauri Markkanen and Ryan Arcidiacono (Health and Safety Protocols) also missed Sunday’s game against Dallas. It remains unlikely that either player will travel with the team initially for its upcoming four-game road trip, Johnson tweets.

Satoransky, 29, averaged 9.9 points, 5.4 assists and 28.9 minutes per game last season. He was acquired by the Bulls in a sign-and-trade back in 2019.

Four Bulls Players Out Due To COVID-19 Protocols

The Bulls will be without Lauri Markkanen, Ryan Arcidiacono, Tomas Satoransky, and Chandler Hutchison on Thursday evening vs. the Wizards due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, head coach Billy Donovan said today (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago).

Those health and safety protocols are related to COVID-19, but neither teams nor the league have been providing many details on specific players’ absences. It’s possible one or more of the affected Bulls players had a positive or inconclusive coronavirus test result. They may also be tied up in the NBA’s contact tracing program.

Donovan told reporters – including Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic (Twitter link) – that he’s unsure how long Markkanen, Arcidiacono, Satoransky, and Hutchison will be unavailable. He’s also not even certain whether or not those four players will be permitted to travel out of D.C. with the rest of the team after tonight’s game (Twitter link via Johnson).

While the Bulls wait for clarity on a potential timeline for their missing players, they’ll have to figure out a new-look lineup and rotation tonight vs. Washington and presumably on Friday vs. Milwaukee as well. Markkanen had started at power forward in each of Chicago’s first four games, while the other three players logged between 28 and 68 total minutes in those contests.

Bulls Notes: Donovan, Roster, Temple, Satoransky

The Bulls need to do a better job of overcoming adversity, new coach Billy Donovan told reporters, including Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune, following a second straight disastrous performance. After trailing by as many as 40 points in the season opener, Chicago was embarrassed again Saturday, this time by Indiana. The Bulls fell behind by 30 at one point, giving up a 21-0 run in the second quarter and an 18-0 run in the third.

It’s not what Chicago fans were expecting after an offseason of change that brought in Donovan to replace Jim Boylen as head coach and Arturas Karnisovas to run the front office. Donovan believes improvement won’t begin to show until players learn how to deal with difficulty.

“They don’t handle (adversity). They don’t at all,” he said. “They internalize their mistakes, they internalize what’s going on, and I’ve said this before, they’ve got to do this together. They’ve got to fight together, do it together. We’re probably on most nights probably not going to be the most athletic or the most talented or the most experienced, but we can be a team — we have control over it — that can have a lot more fight in ourselves there. I came out on the court one time because I saw them come out of the huddle and they just all looked totally dejected.”

There’s more Bulls news to pass along:

  • Despite management changes, the team won’t get any better until it overhauls the roster, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The Bulls brought back 14 of their 17 players from last year’s 22-43 team, including several who are miscast in their current roles, Mayberry adds. He sees Coby White as more of a shooter than a lead guard, while Zach LaVine isn’t efficient enough to be the first scoring option. Mayberry also questions the decision to draft Patrick Williams with the No. 4 pick instead of trading down to acquire more assets.
  • Free agent addition Garrett Temple, one of the few new faces in Chicago, promises to bring toughness to the team, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘I don’t think we have soft guys here by any means, so it’s a matter of building the right habits,” Temple said. “And that starts in practice.”
  • Tomas Satoransky was available for the first time Saturday after being quarantined due to contact tracing, Cowley adds in the same piece. Satoransky, who didn’t test positive for COVID-19, said the waiting was difficult. ‘‘It was very tough for me being at home, not being able to work out or doing anything,’’ he said. ‘‘Just self-quarantine myself. … You only can control some of it, and you have to be mentally strong and be ready to come back and accept the role you will have after this. … It really tests you mentally and is another challenge you have to go through this season.’’

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: Draft, Vassell, Young, Satoransky

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

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

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

Here’s more on the Bulls:

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

Central Notes: Pistons, Satoransky, Markkanen, Cavs

While it may seem that the Pistons wouldn’t benefit from being included in any NBA plan to resume the season, waiting for next season could prove detrimental to the franchise, as the team’s website writer Keith Langlois explains.

Rookie Sekou Doumbouya needs all the time he can get playing and working with the team’s coaches, while Luke Kennard — sidelined by knee injuries much of the season — could prove he’s healthy with rookie scale extension talks looming. An unprecedented, prolonged break prior to next season would disrupt the Pistons’ rebuilding plan as well as the players’ circadian rhythm, Langlois adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky is also concerned about a huge gap between seasons for also-rans, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. In an interview posted on Euro Hoops Instagram Live, Satoransky said it would be very tough for NBA players to deal with that type of layoff. “I think it’s difficult to imagine being without a game until December, this year basically being without games. That kind of changes your perspective also on being able to come back to finish the season,” Satoransky said. “We are competitors and we want to compete against everyone.”
  • There were rumblings during the season that Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen was unhappy, but he declared in a recent podcast he wants to stay with the franchise long-term. “I want to stay in Chicago and sign an extension (with the Bulls), no question. I love this city,” Markkanen said on Finnish podcast Urheilucast (hat tip to On Tap Sports Net). Markkanen is eligible for a rookie scale extension prior to next season.
  • The Cavaliers are another team that could be left out of the NBA’s final plan to resume the season. Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer breaks down the implications for the franchise in each possible scenario.