Tomas Satoransky

Bulls To Target Schroder, Ball In Free Agency?

Dennis Schroder and Lonzo Ball could be potential targets for the Bulls in free agency this summer, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Speaking on ESPN’s NBA Countdown on Friday, Wojnarowski indicated Chicago will be in the market for a starting point guard (hat tip to Blake Schuster of Bleacher Report).

“Point guard is going to be at a premium for them,” Wojarnowski said.

Schroder, who is currently out due to the league’s health and safety protocols, reportedly turned down a four-year, $80MM contract extension offer from the Lakers. It’s likely he’ll be one of the top unrestricted free agents on the market. The Knicks are among the other teams who could potentially make a run at Schroder.

Ball’s situation is a little cloudier. New Orleans must decide whether to extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer, which would make Ball a restricted free agency. If the Pelicans do that, they’ll have the right to match any offer. Chicago’s potential interest in Ball, as well as the Knicks, has previously been reported.

The Bulls’ cap space this summer is dependent on their decisions regarding two players with partially guaranteed contracts (Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young), restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen and Ryan Arcidiacono ($3MM team option).

Central Notes: Vucevic, Bulls, Joseph, Ellington, Warren

Nikola Vucevic didn’t shoot three-pointers when he entered the league in 2011, but it’s become a big part of his offensive game in recent years, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes. The All-Star center has drained 44.1% of his long-range shots since joining the Bulls. “I think it’s also the way the NBA has been going, and I had to adjust,” he said. “I used to shoot a lot of mid-ranges. That’s not as much a part of the way teams play, so I had to make an adjustment and evolve.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Lauri Markkanen, Daniel Theis, Denzel Valentine and Tomas Satoransky are among the players who likely won’t remain with the Bulls next season, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic speculates. Mayberry takes a look at each player and predicts whether they’ll be part of the front office’s plans.
  • The Pistons snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating Memphis on Thursday. It’s no coincidence that veterans guards Cory Joseph and Wayne Ellington suited up, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. That duo scored 18 points apiece and Joseph added 11 assists. “Guys were kind of hanging their head and losing confidence a little bit,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “We understand – we’re rebuilding. But you’ve got to compete to win each night.” Ellington will be a free agent after the season, while Joseph’s $12.6MM contract is only partially guaranteed.
  • There were conflicting reports this week about whether T.J. Warren asked for a trade and his feelings toward Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren. J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link) cites a new source who says that Warren is happy in Indiana, noting that Warren has been featured offensively and will be paid like a main cog. Warren also likes playing in a smaller market and the franchise’s plans for him, regardless of who’s coaching the team, Michael’s source adds.

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.

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.

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.