Tony Bradley

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, LaVine, Trade Deadline, Bradley

Bulls wings DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have exhibited improved chemistry in recent games, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. The Bulls have scored 121 or more points over the last four games, and both players surpassed the 30-point mark in a win over Utah on Saturday.

“It’s coming along. We had a lot of trial and error early on where you saw the inconsistency,” DeRozan said. “We’re just finding our rhythm, sharing the ball, understanding our spots.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • LaVine feels he’s rounding into form and it’s a natural progression after undergoing left knee surgery in May, Johnson adds in the same story. “It’s what happens when you come off surgery, man,” he said. “Everybody expects you to come back and be yourself or better. But without a lot of training and rehab, you’re going to have to go through those ups and downs. I take it on the chin. I knew I was going to get back to what I was supposed to do.”
  • LaVine has pumped up his trade value with his recent surge, but if the Bulls stay hot, the team could stand pat or even become a buyer before the deadline. LaVine wants to stay in Chicago and believes the team is headed in the right direction, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Every year I get asked the same question [around the] trade deadline,’’ LaVine said. “Whoever is on our team, I fight with those guys, I play for them. I’m happy to be on this team, and I’m happy to say that whoever we play, I’m confident. Front office is going to do what they have to do because it’s their job and their livelihood. I do what I do on the court.’’
  • Center Tony Bradley was placed into the league’s health and safety protocols on Saturday, the first time this season a Bulls player tested positive for COVID-19, according to Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune. Last season, 18 Bulls players and coaches tested positive between Dec. 1, 2021, and Jan. 5, 2022.

Bulls Center Tony Bradley Opts In For 2022/23

JUNE 29: Bradley’s opt-in is official, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

JUNE 28: Bulls center Tony Bradley is exercising his $2MM player option for next season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Bradley’s decision has some cap implications, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks explains (Twitter link). Chicago now has 11 players on guaranteed contracts totaling $103MM.

However, Zach LaVine‘s $29.25MM cap hold moves the Bulls over the salary cap threshold. Assuming LaVine re-signs on a maximum-salary deal, the Bulls would have the full $10.5MM mid-level exception available, but using all of it would likely push them into luxury tax territory.

Bradley’s exact opt-in salary is $2,036,318, less than the projected minimum of $2,104,726 he could receive if he declines the option and signs a new deal. That suggests Bradley wasn’t confident about receiving another guaranteed contract in free agency.

Bradley, who entered the league during the 2017/18 season, appeared in 55 regular season games last season, including seven starts. He averaged 3.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 10.0 MPG.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Vucevic, Bradley, DeRozan

A new contract for Zach LaVine will be among the Bulls‘ top priorities for the offseason, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. LaVine, who has been a bargain on the four-year, $80MM offer sheet that Chicago matched in 2018, ranked 58th in the league in salary this season at $19.5MM, Marks notes.

Coming off back-to-back All-Star appearances, LaVine is eligible for a five-year max contract worth approximately $212MM. The only concern for the Bulls is durability, Marks adds, as LaVine missed 15 games this season, which was the fewest in his five years in Chicago.

Eleven of those games were due to soreness in his left knee, which had to be surgically repaired in 2017, and LaVine will likely have surgery on the knee again this offseason. His current contract contains a clause that protects the Bulls in case of a catastrophic injury to the knee, but the team shouldn’t expect him to agree to that in a new deal, according to Marks.

Marks cites five teams — the Pistons, Pacers, Magic, Spurs and Trail Blazers — that project to have enough cap space to make LaVine a $36.6MM max offer.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Another major decision is a potential four-year, $118MM extension for center Nikola Vucevic, Marks states in the same piece. Vucevic, who was acquired at the 2021 trade deadline, regressed somewhat in his first full season with the Bulls, finishing fifth worst in the league in effective field goal percentage among players who took at least 500 shots and declining in three-point shooting from 40% to 31%. Marks suggests he might receive a two-year, $40MM extension similar to what Clint Capela got from the Hawks last year.
  • Tony Bradley, who started 10 games at center this season, has until June 29 to decide on his $2MM player option for 2022/23, Marks adds. Bradley only averaged 10 minutes per night in 55 games in his first season in Chicago, and he can make $100K more next season on a veteran’s minimum contract.
  • LaVine missed tonight’s game after being placed in health and safety protocols, and it may have been difficult for him to return if the Bulls had extended the series. “He’s pretty sick,” coach Billy Donovan said. “… He’s definitely under the weather, just in my communication with him.” (video link from NBC Sports Chicago)
  • Even though it ended with a first-round loss, DeMar DeRozan was very happy with his first season as a Bull, tweets KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “Perfect. Couldn’t have went a better way,” DeRozan said. “It’s been a great year to say the least. Just being around the front office, teammates, city. Everything has been something more than I could’ve imagined.”

COVID-19 Updates: Randle, Williams, Nurkic, Burke, Bradley

Knicks forward Julius Randle has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). Randle, who only entered the protocols last Thursday, will be listed as questionable for Tuesday night’s game vs. Indiana.

The Knicks were hit hard in December by COVID-19, but are in pretty decent shape for the time being. Nerlens Noel is the only player on the roster who is still in the protocols.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Suns head coach Monty Williams has cleared the COVID-19 protocols and will return to the club for Tuesday’s game against New Orleans, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Kevin Young, who temporarily replaced Williams as Phoenix’s head coach, will revert to his assistant role.
  • Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic broke the news on Monday that he had cleared the health and safety protocols and would be back in Portland’s starting lineup. He logged 26 minutes on Monday in his first game since December 21.
  • Mavericks guard Trey Burke took part in the team’s shootaround on Monday, a pretty good indication that he has exited the protocols, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Burke didn’t play on Monday, but could be back later this week.
  • Bulls center Tony Bradley apparently cleared the protocols on Monday, having been listed as out due to return to competition conditioning on the team’s injury report.

COVID Updates: Joseph, Jackson, Murray, Johnson, Okeke, Rondo, Ball, Maxey

The league continues to be ravaged by COVID positives with an increasing number of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols. Here are the latest updates:

  • The Pistons, who already had six players in protocols, added guards Cory Joseph and Josh Jackson to the list, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. The Pistons are scheduled to play the Spurs on Sunday night. San Antonio will be without Dejounte Murray, who also entered protocols on Sunday, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Magic, who already had a handful of players in protocols, won’t have B.J. Johnson and Chuma Okeke available against Miami on Sunday after they joined the list, the team’s PR department tweets. Moritz Wagner has exited the protocols but is going through a reconditioning period before returning to action, per the team (Twitter link).
  • Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo has entered protocols, joining three other Lakers, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register tweets.
  • Two-way player Jose Alvarado became the third Pelicans players to enter protocols, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets.
  • Bulls guard Lonzo Ball has entered protocols, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Bulls, who have experienced major COVID issues this month, also have Alfonzo McKinnie and Tony Bradley in protocols, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic tweets. McKinnie just signed a standard contract and he can be replaced via the hardship exemption, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Chicago has seen 14 players enter protocols this month.
  • On the positive side, the Sixers’ Tyrese Maxey was spotted at shootaround after exiting protocols, Keith Pompey of  the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Central Notes: Connaughton, Cunningham, Okoro, Bradley

Pat Connaughton can become a free agent next summer but he’s very comfortable playing for the Bucks, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. Connaughton feels his versatility is valued by the defending champions.

“I mean, that’s kind of what I’ve hung my hat on my whole career,” he said. “Obviously, high school and college is a different level of basketball than the NBA, but while stats in high school and college piled up for me, it was really about finding ways to win games and I would play any position that was needed. And I think the NBA is the NBA, it’s harder to crack that role. But I found a home here, I found a place where it’s valued and I’ve tried to find ways to impact winning throughout each and every single game.”

Connaughton holds a $5.73MM player option on his contract for next season.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • All minutes restrictions regarding Pistons rookie guard Cade Cunningham have been lifted, the Detroit Free Press’ Omari Sankofa II tweets. The top pick in the draft missed the first four games due to an ankle injury and sat out the second game of a back-to-back this weekend. He’s now cleared to play on back-to-back nights. The Pistons face Brooklyn on Friday after playing Philadelphia on Thursday.
  • Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro worked out on the court before the team left for Toronto and joined it on the trip over the border, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. There’s still no official word on his availability for Friday’s game against the Raptors, since he needs to be cleared by the medical staff. Okoro appeared in four games before suffering a left hamstring strain.
  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers offered high praise for Bulls center Tony Bradley, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times relays. “He was one of our favorites last year,’’ Rivers said of the former Sixer. “I think it takes a lot of players, and sometimes they never figure it out, what they can do in their role. If they can buy into that and do it great they can have a long career.” Bradley signed a two-year, veteran’s minimum contract with Chicago this summer.

Bulls Notes: Ball, Karnisovas, Domercant, Bradley

New starting Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball anticipates that he will operate more as a “traditional” point guard within Chicago’s offense, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Ball suggested that with his prior team, the Pelicans, he served more as a wing who sought openings for jump shots and defended across a variety of positions than a true point guard.

“Just getting back to being more of a traditional point guard where I’m comfortable at,” Ball said during the Bulls’ Media Day. “Last year was different for me, but whatever coach asks me, I’m going to do to the best of my abilities. This year, it’s looking like I’m going to be playing point guard a lot, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Bulls team president Arturas Karnisovas spoke about hoping that Ball, 6’6″ and athletic could help speed up and diversify the Bulls’ offense. “He likes to play fast,” Karnisovas said. “He likes to advance the ball, to guard. He can be a primary ballhandler, or he can play as a secondary ballhandler.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Karnisovas opined that Chicago’s 2021 trade deadline moves, primarily the addition of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, signaled that the team was serious about improving the talent around All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Karnisovas also noted that Chicago’s newfound commitment to creating a winning culture helped draw some of the team’s top free agent targets.
  • The Bulls’ NBA G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, have promoted Henry Domercant, an assistant coach on the club since 2018, to become the team’s fourth head coach, per a team press release. Domercant hails from Naperville, Illinois, a suburb about 30 miles away from Chicago — and roughly 30 miles away from the Windy City Bulls’ home arena in Hoffman Estates. “As a lifelong Chicagoland guy, the Chicago Bulls franchise has always been special to me and I’m grateful to the organization for the opportunity to lead the Windy City Bulls,” Domercant said. “Over the last five years, the Windy City Bulls have brought a high level of basketball to the Northwest Suburbs, and I am excited to build upon that success.”
  • New Bulls reserve center Tony Bradley appears to be fully aware of his role heading into his first year in Chicago, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“I feel like I play to the best of my ability on defense, the pick-and-roll defense, to protect the rim,” Bradley, 23, said after the team’s first training camp session of the new NBA year. “I know I’m no high-flyer. But I do know how to get shots before they leave the hand instead of all the way up top. So I think I’m pretty good at it, pretty solid.”

Bulls Sign Tony Bradley

AUGUST 12: The Bulls have officially signed Bradley, per RealGM’s transactions log.

AUGUST 4: The Bulls have reached an agreement to sign free agent center Tony Bradley, according to multiple reports.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links), who first reported the agreement, says it’s a two-year deal, with a player option on year two. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), it’ll be a minimum-salary contract.

Bradley, 23, was the 28th pick in the 2017 draft and spent his first three NBA seasons as a reserve big man in Utah, playing limited minutes. After being traded multiple times, he spent the 2020/21 season with Philadelphia and Oklahoma City, averaging 7.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 42 games (16.3 MPG) for the Sixers and Thunder.

The Thunder had the option of making Bradley a restricted free agent by extending him a qualifying offer, but chose not to do so. Given that the former UNC standout has agreed to a minimum-salary deal as an unrestricted free agent, it appears Oklahoma City made the right call — his qualifying offer would have been worth about $5.3MM.

While he’s not as flashy as the Bulls’ other free agent additions, including Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso, Bradley will provide the club with some depth at center behind starter Nikola Vucevic.

Thunder Expected To Make Tony Bradley Unrestricted Free Agent

The Thunder are not expected to extend a qualifying offer to 23-year-old center Tony Bradley, thereby making him an unrestricted free agent, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic.

The 6’10” center was drafted by the Jazz with the 28th pick in 2017, following his NCAA title with the UNC Tar Heels. He spent three years with Utah before being traded to the Pistons on the night of the 2020 draft and subsequently rerouted to the Sixers.

Bradley averaged 8.7 PPG and 6.1 RPG in 18 minutes per night for the Thunder in 22 games this season, proving himself a capable backup center. However, it doesn’t appear he’s part of Oklahoma City’s plans going forward.

Jones writes that Bradley is expected to have multiple suitors in unrestricted free agency.

Sixers Acquire George Hill In Three-Team Trade

7:15pm: The trade is now official, according to press releases from the Sixers and Knicks. The deal breaks down as follows:

  • Sixers acquire Hill and Brazdeikis.
  • Thunder acquire Bradley, Rivers, the Sixers’ 2025 second-round pick, and the Sixers’ 2026 second-round pick.
  • Knicks acquire Ferguson, Poirier, the Sixers’ 2021 second-round pick, the Heat’s 2024 second-round pick (top-55 protected; from Sixers), and the draft rights to Emir Preldzic (from Sixers).

The Knicks’ acquisitions of the Heat’s protected 2024 second-rounder and Preldzic’s rights weren’t reported earlier, but neither is a difference-making asset, as the pick will only be conveyed if it falls between 56-60 and Preldzic is unlikely to ever play in the NBA.

New York will waive Poirier now that the deal is official, as we relayed earlier.

11:52am: The Sixers, Thunder, and Knicks are finalizing a trade that will see George Hill land in Philadelphia, according to reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (all Twitter links).

The Thunder are receiving Tony Bradley and Austin Rivers, according to Wojnarowski, who says Philadelphia will send Terrance Ferguson to New York and will acquire Ignas Brazdeikis from the Knicks (Twitter link). Vincent Poirier will join Ferguson in heading from Philadelphia to New York, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.

The Sixers are also sending a pair of second-round picks to Oklahoma City, per Wojnarowski, who tweets that those second-rounders will be Philadelphia’s own in 2025 and 2026. Meanwhile, Steve Popper of Newsday reports (via Twitter) that the Knicks are acquiring Philadelphia’s own 2021 second-rounder.

While the 76ers were viewed as one of the top suitors for Kyle Lowry, it appears they’ve opted to go in a different – and less costly – direction, addressing the point guard position by acquiring Hill, a steady veteran who has a ton of postseason experience.

The 34-year-old Hill averaged 11.8 PPG and 3.1 APG with a .508/.386/.840 shooting line in 14 games (26.4 MPG) for the Thunder before he was sidelined by a thumb injury. It’s not clear how much more time he’ll miss, but a report this week indicated he’s out of his cast and is working toward a return. Presumably, Philadelphia is confident about his ability to contribute down the stretch.

Hill’s $10MM salary for the 2021/22 season only has a small ($1.28MM) partial guarantee, so the Sixers will have some flexibility during the offseason as they consider whether or not to hang onto him.

As for the Thunder and Knicks, the two rebuilding clubs will add to their ever-growing collections of draft picks in this deal. Ferguson and Poirier probably aren’t in New York’s plans, but the two players headed to Oklahoma City are a little more intriguing.

Bradley, who is eligible for restricted free agency, had 18 points and 11 rebounds in his final game as a Sixer on Tuesday, while Rivers has been a rotation player for playoff clubs in the past and is on a team-friendly contract, with non-guaranteed cap hits of $3.33MM in 2021/22 and $3.15MM in ’22/23.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.