Tomas Satoransky

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.

Pelicans Notes: Hayes, Alexander-Walker, Valanciunas, Rotation Battles

Pelicans coach Willie Green seems to envision an expanded role for third-year center Jaxson Hayes.

I think Jaxson is going to be huge for us this season,” Green said, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com.

Hayes has been in and out of the Pelicans’ rotation the past two seasons, showcasing rare athleticism for a big man, but questionable decision making. Clark notes that Hayes added muscle over the offseason, bulking up to 235 pounds from his listed weight of 220 last season. He’s also been working on his jump shot, and Clark says teammate Nickeil Alexander-Walker has taken notice.

It’s amazing how fast he is and how fast he gets up and down the floor,” Alexander-Walker said of Hayes. “Athletic. Shooting the ball really well. Added that to his game.

Clark adds that in an effort to put his legal troubles behind him, Hayes has been spending more time with family. His father, Jonathan, an ex-NFL player and coach, has temporarily moved in with Jaxson to provide stability and guidance.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Alexander-Walker has matured his game in multiple ways this offseason, writes William Guillory of The Athletic in an excellent interview feature. Alexander-Walker says he’s changed his mental approach to cope with the ups and downs of life in the NBA: “You have to take everything and break it down. You’ve got to take it day-by-day. I got in trouble when I was trying to fast-forward my way through the process. It’s easy to get caught in that tornado, and you don’t know where it’s going to take you. But I had to learn about staying in the moment. Not getting caught up in anything that’s not about where are we right now. Beating yourself up over a bad shooting night isn’t how you get better. It’s about staying consistent in your process regardless of what comes at you.
  • Likely starting center Jonas Valanciunas has looked engaged thus far in the preseason, Clark writes in another piece. Clark notes the Pelicans lacked a mean streak and veteran leadership last season, and believes Valanciunas could help fill that void.
  • Guillory explored the team’s depth chart battles in another recent article. He believes that a supersized starting lineup of Alexander-Walker, Trey Murphy, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Valanciunas could be the team’s best bet for a combination of offense and defense, but thinks that offseason addition Devonte’ Graham will ultimately start alongside Alexander-Walker. He also thinks that Kira Lewis should have the upper hand over Tomas Satoransky for backup point guard duty, although admits that it could change from game to game. Hayes suffered a sprained ankle on Monday, according to Guillory, who believes that if Hayes is unavailable for the regular season opener, rookie Herb Jones will act as backup center due to his strong defensive play.

Central Notes: Satoransky, Lowe, Okoro, Garza

Former Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky wasn’t happy with the circumstances regarding his exit from Chicago, according to a story from BasketNews. Satoransky was part of the package sent to the Pelicans in a sign-and trade deal for Lonzo Ball, and he was disappointed that he didn’t get more of an acknowledgement from executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas after spending two years with the team.

“It was tense. You’re in the city for two years, you fight for them, you live for the team — and then you receive a text from general manager Karnisovas which says, ‘Thanks for your time in Chicago,’” Satoransky said in an interview with Czech media. “That was the only thing I got from him. But I’m not angry; you can’t be emotional at that moment. But when one thinks about it … after two years of hard work, it’s actually brutal.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • In an interview with Kelsey Russo of The Athletic, Sidney Lowe says a conversation with his long-time friend J.B. Bickerstaff led him to become an assistant coach with the Cavaliers. Lowe, who was on the Pistons’ staff the past three seasons, mentioned his possible availability while they were talking this summer. “And so, we’re just talking, and he wasn’t really aware of my situation,” Lowe recalls. “And then I let him know what was going on. And, he just told me, he said, ‘Well, you know, we might have something available.’ We’ve always respected each other, and we talked basketball when we saw each other and over the phone. So he said, ‘Well, let’s see what happens down the road here.’”
  • Isaac Okoro made notable progress between his rookie season and Summer League, and an NBA.com article examines what’s ahead for the Cavaliers swingman. Okoro was Cleveland’s leading scorer in the two games he played in Las Vegas, averaging 16.0 PPG and making 13 of his 22 shots from the field. The Cavs would like to see him become more aggressive on offense this season.
  • There’s an expectation around the league that the Pistons will convert Luka Garza‘s two-way deal to a standard contract before the season begins, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv. The rookie big man out of Iowa averaged 15 points and 9.6 rebounds per game during Summer League. Detroit currently has both two-way slots filled, so converting Garza’s contract would create an opening.

Bulls Acquire Lonzo Ball Via Sign-And-Trade

AUGUST 8: The Bulls have officially acquired Ball, the team announced late on Sunday night in a press release. As expected, the Pelicans acquired Satoransky, Temple, and a future second-round pick in the deal. The future second-rounder is Chicago’s 2024 selection, and New Orleans also received cash considerations.

This transaction continues to be investigated by the NBA due to possible “gun-jumping,” since it’s a complicated sign-and-trade deal that was reported as being done the minute that free agency opened on Monday.

The Pelicans and especially the Bulls may face discipline from the league based on that investigation’s findings. However, the fact that the trade was processed while the probe is ongoing is another sign the NBA isn’t going to disallow it.

Due to base year compensation rules affecting Ball’s new contract, neither the Bulls nor the Pelicans will  create a trade exception in the deal.


AUGUST 2: The Bulls and point guard Lonzo Ball have agreed to a four-year, $85MM deal, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The contract will include a fourth-year player option, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Ball is a restricted free agent, but the Bulls and Pelicans will work out a sign-and-trade to get him to Chicago, Paul tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

The Pelicans will receive Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, and a second-round pick from the Bulls in the sign-and-trade agreement, according to Charania (Twitter link).

Temple is a free agent, so he’ll be signed-and-traded as well. He’s getting a three-year contract with the first two years guaranteed, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who adds that the deal is expected to be worth about $5MM per year (Twitter links).

It’s a major coup for the Bulls, who have been linked to Ball for the last several months. The team reportedly discussed a trade with the Pelicans at the deadline, but couldn’t reach a deal to land Ball at the time. Now, Chicago is in position to add the former No. 2 overall pick to a starting lineup led by Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.

Ball, 23, had arguably the best season of his career in 2020/21, averaging 14.6 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 4.8 RPG in 55 games (31.8 MPG) and improving his shooting numbers to .414/.378/.781.

His deal is right in line with the four-year deals signed by fellow point guards Fred VanVleet and Malcolm Brogdon in recent free agencies.

While Pelicans stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram expressed a desire to continue playing with Ball, the team’s front office never seemed sold on the idea of making him a long-term cornerstone. Adding Satoransky will give New Orleans some depth at the point, though the team will likely remain in the hunt for another point guard in free agency.

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.

Fischer’s Latest: Bulls, Ball, Pelicans, Hornets, Lakers, Schröder, Knicks, More

While it’s possible the Bulls will sign restricted free agent point guard Lonzo Ball to an offer sheet in the four-year, $80MM range, doing so would be a risk, since the Pelicans could match that offer and leave Chicago empty-handed. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, a possible three-team deal involving the Bulls, Pelicans, and Hornets could eliminate that risk and ensure Ball lands in Chicago.

The structure – which John Hollinger of The Athletic alluded to earlier today and which has seemingly gained traction, per Fischer – would see Ball going to the Bulls, Devonte’ Graham to the Pelicans, and Tomas Satoransky, Josh Hart, and draft assets to the Hornets.

Fischer cautions that this is only one idea in play and that things should become clearer once free agency opens. A sign-and-trade that only involves the Bulls and Pelicans – with Satoransky going to New Orleans – is also a possibility, he adds.

Here’s more from Fischer’s latest rumor roundup:

  • The Lakers haven’t given up on the possibility of acquiring Buddy Hield from the Kings, but they don’t appear to be working closely with Dennis Schröder‘s camp on a possible sign-and-trade arrangement, per Fischer.
  • The Knicks and Wizards are still considered possibilities for Schröder, according to Fischer. The veteran point guard is also believed to be one of the Bulls‘ targets if they can’t land Ball, Fischer notes, writing that Chicago has done its homework on DeMar DeRozan and Richaun Holmes as well.
  • The Knicks are widely believed to be a frontrunner to sign Evan Fournier, perhaps for a three-year deal worth about $18MM annually, Fischer reports. Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel are also strong candidates to re-sign with New York for deals worth about $10MM per year, Fischer adds.
  • Will Barton appears likely to return to the Nuggets, according to Fischer, who says a two-year, $32MM+ contract is a real possibility.
  • Cameron Payne is considered a good bet to re-sign with the Suns for a deal in the $6MM-per-year range, says Fischer.

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, DeRozan, Knicks, Graham, Jackson, More

Now considered to be favorites to land Kyle Lowry in free agency, the Heat may try to bring in DeMar DeRozan as well, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN, confirming a series of reports from the last 24 hours.

Lowry and DeRozan were backcourt partners in Toronto for many years and have remained close friends. Miami is looking at a sign-and-trade as the best way to add Lowry, and is hoping that DeRozan might be available for the mid-level exception. That represents a big pay cut, but sources tell Schultz he might be interested if it means a chance to play alongside Lowry again.

If DeRozan turns down the MLE, the Heat will focus on finding a stretch four, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). There is support among the front office for Jeff Green, according to Jackson, who mentions Bobby Portis, Rudy Gay and Otto Porter as other options.

Meanwhile, Goran Dragic is expected to be part of a sign-and-trade with Toronto for Lowry, but the Raptors are unlikely to keep him. The Mavericks will be among the teams with interest in Dragic, according to Jackson (Twitter link).

Miami would also like to bring back reserve center Dewayne Dedmon, but he may get better offers, says Jackson (Twitter link). The Heat, who only hold Non-Bird rights on Dedmon, may have to offer part of their $3.6MM biannual exception to be competitive.

There’s more as the start of free agency draws closer:

  • The Knicks have some mutual interest with DeRozan, as well as Celtics shooting guard Evan Fournier, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley also hears that Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky would be part of the potential return in a sign-and-trade if Chicago lands Pelicans RFA Lonzo Ball, while rival teams expect Duncan Robinson to re-sign with the Heat.
  • While he isn’t necessarily their Plan A or B, Cameron Payne is one of the free agent point guards on the Knicks‘ radar, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York has considered a Payne/Derrick Rose tandem at point guard for next season, Berman adds.
  • The Thunder are seen by rival executives as a possible suitor for Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Graham is a restricted free agent, so Charlotte can match any offer, but Oklahoma City has the cap flexibility necessary to put pressure on the Hornets.
  • The Pelicans, Knicks, Celtics, and Nuggets are among the teams expected to express interest in point guard Reggie Jackson, per Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • EuroLeague standout Tyler Dorsey, who previously played for Atlanta and Memphis, is positioned for a return to the NBA and is drawing interest from several teams, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Olympic Notes: Johnson, Garland, Bey, Durant, Satoransky

The Spurs’ Keldon Johnson, Cavaliers’ Darius Garland and Pistons’ Saddiq Bey will move up from the U.S. Select Team and play for Team USA in exhibition games, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The trio will fill in for Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, who will join Team USA after the Finals. Johnson, Garland and Bey would be candidates to join Team USA for the Olympics if any players have to bow out.

Exhibition games in Las Vegas will begin on Saturday with a matchup against Nigeria.

We have more on the Olympics:

  • Select Team members Cameron Reynolds, Josh Magette, John Jenkins and Dakota Mathias will remain in Las Vegas and will be available for exhibition games, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes. The pool of Select Team players has been reduced by injuries and COVID-19 protocols. Timberwolves big man Naz Reid suffered a minor injury in Thursday’s practice, Windhorst adds.
  • Nets superstar Kevin Durant will look to collect his third gold medal in Tokyo and he’s energized by that possibility, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “I committed to USA Basketball when I was coming out of college,” Durant said. “And every chance that I can get that I’m healthy and my mind is in the right place to play basketball, I’m going to go out there and play. Finished the year off healthy, the regular season and the playoffs, so I felt it’d be cool to get a kickstart on next season by getting in shape a little earlier in the summer with Team USA.”
  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine will be facing backcourt partner Tomas Satoransky in Group A play and he’s looking forward to the matchup, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. Satoransky will play for the Czech Republic, which is in Team USA’s Group along with Iran and France. “I’m looking forward to playing them and having some bragging rights,” LaVine said good-naturedly. “Hopefully, we really kick their butt.”

12-Team Field Set For Tokyo Olympics

Slovenia, Germany, Italy, and the Czech Republic have secured their spots in the men’s basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics, winning their respective qualifying tournaments over the weekend. NBA players Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Moritz Wagner (Germany), and Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic) were the MVPs of their tournaments, tweets Marc Stein.

Those four teams will join the U.S., Spain, Australia, France, Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, and Japan to make up the 12-team field for the tournament.

The groups are as follows:

  • Group A: Czech Republic, France, Iran, United States
  • Group B: Australia, Germany, Italy, Nigeria
  • Group C: Argentina, Japan, Slovenia, Spain

The preliminary round will begin on July 24, with each team facing the other three clubs in its group once. Following the round-robin portion of the tournament, the top two teams in each group – along with the two highest-ranked third-place teams – will advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals.

Rosters for the Olympics haven’t been officially locked in yet, but we have a pretty good idea of what most of the squads will look like. Team USA will, of course, feature the most star-studded group, with Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, and Bradley Beal leading the way.

Three players participating in the NBA Finals – Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday – are expected to be part of the U.S. Olympic squad. It’s possible those Finals could run as late as July 22 if they go seven games, but even in that scenario, the plan is for those Suns and Bucks players to fly to Tokyo right away in the hopes of being available for the July 25 contest vs. France.

While the U.S. will be the heavy favorite and will have the most NBA stars on its roster, a number of other NBA players will be taking part in the tournament.

Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, and Matisse Thybulle are among the players representing Australia; Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, and Nicolas Batum are among those playing for France; Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe will suit up for Japan; Doncic will play for Slovenia; Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, and Juan Hernangomez are among the veterans in Spain’s player pool; and it sounds like Danilo Gallinari will play for Italy.

Nigeria, meanwhile, still has a ton of cuts to make, but could have as many as 10 NBA players on its roster for Tokyo, including Monte Morris, Josh Okogie, and Jahlil Okafor. For more details on the NBA players involved in the Olympics, check out the tracker from Albert De Roa of HoopsHype.

Serbia, Lithuania, Brazil, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, and Canada are among the notable programs that will miss out on the Tokyo Olympics. It was a particularly disappointing outcome for Team Canada, which lost to the Czech Republic in the semifinal of the qualifiers despite having eight current NBA players on its roster.

We won’t be closely covering the results of the Olympic tournament — the event overlaps with both the draft and free agency, so we’ll be busy focusing on the NBA. But we’ll keep an eye on Tokyo in case there are any injuries or other notable stories affecting the current NBA players involved in the games.

Rosters Announced For Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Four qualifying tournaments to determine the final four teams in the men’s basketball pool at the Tokyo Olympics are set to tip off on Tuesday. In advance of the Olympic qualifiers, the 24 teams involved have officially set their 12-man rosters, according to a press release from FIBA.

More than two dozen current NBA players are participating in the tournament, and 11 of the 24 teams competing for Olympic spots have at least one current NBA players on their respective rosters. Of those clubs, Team Canada has the biggest contingent of NBA players — eight of the 12 players on Nick Nurse‘s squad finished the season on an NBA roster. Turkey is next with four NBA players.

The four qualifying tournaments will take place in Serbia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Canada. Only the winner of each six-team group will advance to Tokyo. Those four winners will join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, France, Spain, Australia, and the U.S. in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

The teams that move onto the Olympics may tweak their rosters for Tokyo, depending on the availability of certain players. For instance, if Greece were to win its qualifying tournament, perhaps Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – who remains active in the playoffs for now – would make an effort to join the team in Tokyo next month.

Here are the NBA players on the OQT rosters:

Belgrade, Serbia

Kaunas, Lithuania

Split, Croatia

Victoria, Canada

There are also many former NBA players among the 24 rosters, including Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Milos Teodosic (Serbia), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Timofey Mozgov (Russia), and Anthony Bennett (Canada).

To view the full rosters, be sure to visit FIBA’s official site and click through to each team from there.