Wendell Carter

Bulls Notes: WCJ, LaVine, Porter Jr.

The Bulls are out to a rough start at 6-14 and Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago argues that Wendell Carter Jr. has been the only player to make the team better on both ends of the court. Chicago is better on both offense and defense in terms of net rating with WCJ on the floor and the team should utilize him more, Schaefer contends.

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • The Zach LaVineLauri Markkanen pairing simply hasn’t meshed this season, Schaefer writes in the same piece. Both players have had peaks and valleys in their season with neither catching fire together and the Bulls have been outscored by 7.5 points per possession when the duo shares the floor.
  • Sam Smith of NBA.com wonders if the Bulls can still make the playoffs. The scribe breaks down the field in the East and believes that Chicago can still make a run at the eighth seed in the conference.
  • Otto Porter Jr. (foot injury) is approaching the two-week mark of his originally estimated four-week absence. The wing said he feels better but there is still no exact timetable for this return, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relays (Twitter link).

Bulls Notes: Markkanen, LaVine, Carter, Kornet

Of all the issues holding down the Bulls, none is more baffling than the slow start by Lauri Markkanen, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. A tense two-game stretch ended on a positive note Saturday as Zach LaVine resolved trust issues with coach Jim Boylen and put up 49 points in a dramatic win at Charlotte. However, Cowley notes that Markkanen was on the bench as the Bulls finished off their comeback.

“Well, I didn’t think Lauri played poorly,’’ Boylen said afterward. “He did not shoot the ball how we know he can shoot it. I did not think he played poorly. Just like Zach, just like Coby [White], just like [Kris Dunn], just like [Ryan Arcidiacono], just like everybody, Wendell [Carter], I’m going to keep coaching and my staff is going to keep coaching. Just try to keep leading these guys in the right direction. We’re going to keep looking at it.’’

Markkanen’s scoring average is down about five points from last season and his shooting percentage has dropped from 43.0% to 35.4%. Cowley cites increasing concern in the organization that he and LaVine might not be effective together. Rumors of a possible Markkanen trade have emerged recently, although a source in the organization strongly denied it.

There’s more Bulls news to pass along:

  • Chicago is giving fewer minutes to its best players than anyone else in the league, which may contribute to any chemistry issues between LaVine and Markkanen, notes Sam Smith of Bulls.com. The Bulls have 10 players averaging at least 20 minutes per game, while most teams have six or seven. Both LaVine and Markkanen have seen their court time fall about 10% from last season.
  • Coaches are working with Carter to try to get his foul trouble under control, relays K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The second-year center is averaging 12.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, but he’s also committing 4.2 fouls, which limits his time on the court. “I don’t know if it’s that I’m being too aggressive,” Carter said. “I talk to the refs. Every time I pick up my early fouls, I always try to ask them what exactly am I doing wrong. It seems my body is out of position or my hands are down. It’s just a concentration thing with me. I just have to go into the game knowing that I can’t be picking up early fouls.”
  • Backup center Luke Kornet has been cleared for basketball work a week after having nasal surgery, Johnson tweets.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Markkanen, Carter, Anthony

A lethargic offense has doomed the Bulls in a 4-9 start, but Zach LaVine doesn’t believe they need to change their approach, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. The Bulls were 27th in offensive efficiency heading into Saturday, and although they are placing a new emphasis on 3-pointers, ranking eighth in the league in attempts at 35.5 per game, they are shooting just 32.5% from beyond the arc, which ranks 24th.

“We get stagnant a lot out there,’’ LaVine said after Saturday’s loss to the Nets. “We’ll run one action and then everybody is staring at the person with the ball. We gotta get more fluid. I don’t feel a lot of people are in rhythm. When that happens, obviously everybody starts trying to do it themselves. It’s tough. I blame myself. I try to do that as well. I’m in the gym late. I’m putting up shots. I’m making sure I’m prepared so I can do everything I can to help. We gotta do a better job as a team.’’

Coach Jim Boylen told reporters he plans to “stay the course” with the current approach and doesn’t expect any major changes in personnel or strategy.

There’s more Bulls news to pass along:

  • LaVine is vowing to help Lauri Markkanen rediscover his scoring touch, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. After averaging 18.7 points per game last season, Markkanen’s average has fallen to 14.5 PPG while shooting 38% from the field. “He just doesn’t seem in rhythm right now man. It’s a new offense. And I think it has a part to do with it,” LaVine said. “We just gotta help him find it. We’ve all gone through some struggles. I feel like everybody has been off rhythm in the beginning part of the year. I think everybody is shooting a lower field goal percentage than their (career) average. His spirits are still high. I know he’s worried about it but he’s not pressing yet. And I think that’s good to see. He hasn’t done anything out of character. He hasn’t lashed out or blamed anybody. He just wants to win. And that’s the type of player he is.”
  • Foul trouble continues to be an issue for second-year center Wendell Carter Jr., Cowley observes in a separate story. Coaches like Carter’s aggressiveness on defense, but he admits he needs to channel it to stay on the floor.
  • After taking Coby White in the first round this year, the Bulls could focus on another Tar Heel if they continue to flounder, Cowley suggests in another piece. Cole Anthony, who has drawn comparisons to Derrick Rose, comes highly recommended by White. “He’s everything that was advertised,’’ White said. “Good, athletic, strong, can knock it down, gets it done defensively, rebounds the ball.’’

Bulls Exercise Options On Markkanen, Carter Jr., Hutchison

The Bulls have exercised their fourth-year option on forward Lauri Markkanen and third-year options on center Wendell Carter Jr. and forward Chandler Hutchison, according to a team press release. That guarantees the trio’s contracts for the 2020/21 season.

Markkanen will make $6.73MM next season after collecting $5.3MM this season.

Injuries limited Markkanen to 52 games last season. He averaged 18.7 PPG and 9.0 RPG while shooting .430 from the field and .361 from 3-point range.

Carter Jr. will take home $5.45MM next season after receiving approximately $5.2MM this season.

Carter Jr. was selected No. 7 overall in 2018 draft. He, too, battled injuries last season and was limited to 44 games but showed the ability to be a defensive anchor. He averaged 10,3 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 1.3 BPG in 25.2 MPG as a rookie.

Hutchison will receive $2.44MM next season after making $2.33MM in 2019/20.

Hutchison, selected with the No. 22 pick in 2018, averaged 5.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 44 games during his rookie campaign. He’s expected to play a reserve role this season.

Central Notes: Brown, Carter, Wood, Cavs, Bitadze

Attorneys for Bucks guard Sterling Brown have formally asked a federal judge to turn down the City of Milwaukee’s $400K settlement offer, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. As we relayed last month, Brown was always unlikely to accept the offer, which didn’t include an admission of liability by the city.

“Mr. Brown deserves more than a mere apology,” Brown’s lawyer Mark Thomsen told ESPN. “He, as any human being, citizen of the USA, is entitled to an express vindication that his constitutional rights have been violated. He is entitled to no less.”

Brown’s lawsuit against the city stems from an incident that took place in January 2018. The former SMU star alleged that police officers used excessive force when they tased him while citing him for a parking violation.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • After being limited to 44 games due to injuries in his rookie season, Bulls big man Wendell Carter hasn’t been able to stay healthy in camp this fall either, having been slowed by ankle and tailbone ailments. Joe Cowley of The Chicago-Sun Times notes that those injuries are slowing Carter’s development, while Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago suggests that injuries to Carter and Luke Kornet are making it difficult for the club to evaluate its frontcourt during the preseason.
  • Christian Wood made a strong case for a regular season roster spot in his first preseason game with the Pistons, racking up 19 points and eight rebounds in just 19 minutes. Unless Detroit trades or waives a player with a guaranteed salary, Wood and Joe Johnson will be battling for the 15th spot on the roster. Head coach Dwane Casey said Wood helped boost his chances on Monday, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “He played hard,” Casey said. “Key thing is playing hard, play the right way. He’s got to continue to do that.”
  • In a pair of articles for Cleveland.com, Chris Fedor explores what the Cavaliers‘ regular season rotation might look like and digs into whether the team’s first preseason game provided any hints on the battle for the final roster spot(s).
  • Pacers first-rounder Goga Bitadze is getting off to a slow start in his rookie season. As J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star details, the big man – who missed Summer League due to visa issues – may not play at all in the preseason because of an ankle injury.

Bulls Notes: Satoransky, Dunn, Valentine, WCJ

While Tomas Satoransky was ostensibly brought in this offseason to be the Bulls‘ starting point guard, his versatility presents some options for the franchise, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. As Strotman notes, Satoransky can play off the ball too, allowing the team to use him alongside its other point guards in some lineups.

Meanwhile, after being on the trade block for months, returning point guard Kris Dunn welcomes the opportunity to work with Satoransky and Coby White this fall rather than viewing the newest members of the Bulls’ backcourt as a threat, as K.C. Johnson writes for NBC Sports Chicago.

“Coby is young. I understand it’s going to take him time. He’s got room to grow. But he’s a talented player,” Dunn said. “Satoransky is a great player. He’s going to be a good piece to this team. He has more experience than me. He’s been in playoff games. He’s been a good teammate to me. Learn from those guys too. They might see something I don’t see on the court. It’s healthy.”

Here’s more from out of Chicago:

  • Denzel Valentine didn’t play a single game last season for the Bulls due to a left ankle injury, but he said this week that he’s “100% healthy” and just needs to work his way back into game shape, per Johnson. “Sitting out, I think I’m more mentally tough,” Valentine said. “I gained a lot of experience watching. I feel I’m a more mature and confident player now. I’m excited.”
  • Although the injuries don’t appear serious, Wendell Carter Jr. suffered a sprained left ankle and Daniel Gafford hyperextended his right elbow on the first day of camp, according to Johnson. The Bulls have had some bad injury luck in recent years, so that’s an ominous start to the fall for the club.
  • Count Otto Porter among those impressed by what he’s seen from the Bulls so far this fall, as Strotman outlines for NBC Sports Chicago. “A lot has changed. I think the mentality of this organization changed. Since I’ve come here, just what we want to do here has changed,” Porter said. “With that being said, I think everybody’s on the right page, I think with all the talent that we have, we’ve come early to put in that extra work to get to know everybody, every piece in here, even in the front office, because we want to do something special here.”

Bulls Notes: Young, Point Guards, Hutchison, WCJ

Veteran forward Thaddeus Young played in the postseason in each of his last three seasons in Indiana, and has appeared in the playoffs in eight of his 12 NBA seasons in total. However, as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he opted to sign with the Bulls, who were coming off a 22-win season.

Speaking today to reporters, including Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), Young said he received interest from potential championships contenders in free agency, but liked the idea of becoming a veteran leader in Chicago. According to Young, he intends to bring energy and veteran leadership to the club and to be the sort of player who can speak up in the locker room and hold everyone accountable (Twitter link via Strotman).

While joining the Bulls may have appealed to Young for the reasons he mentioned, it’s probably also safe to assume that most of those title contenders who expressed interest in him this summer weren’t able to match the $13MM+ annual salary he received from Chicago.

Here’s more from the Bulls on Media Day:

  • Head coach Jim Boylen said the point guard situation in Chicago will “work its way out” in terms of minutes and that the Bulls’ players have embraced the competition, tweets Strotman. Tomas Satoransky, Coby White, Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Shaquille Harrison are all expected to be in the point guard mix.
  • The Bulls’ goal in 2019/20 is to make the playoffs, Boylen declared today (Twitter link via Strotman). The club finished 19 games back of the No. 8 seed last season.
  • Chandler Hutchison, who suffered a hamstring strain earlier this month, is “going to be out for a little bit,” per head of basketball operations John Paxson (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune). Paxson also noted that Luke Kornet has turf toe and will miss a few days.
  • Wendell Carter Jr., on the other hand, said today that he feels 100% – and better than he has for the last five or six years – after undergoing core muscle surgery during the offseason, tweets Strotman.

Eastern Notes: Carter, Clarkson, Fall, Tyndall

Bulls second-year center Wendell Carter will be the foundation of the team’s defense, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Carter will do most of the dirty work, along with being used as an offensive facilitator. The Bulls will rely on him for shot-blocking as well as to mask some of his teammates’ defensive shortcomings, Strotman adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Jordan Clarkson and Tristan Thompson are the Cavaliers veterans with the most trade value beyond Kevin Love, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson and Brandon Knight rank next in terms of trade value, as all have expiring contracts, Fedor notes, but none are core pieces.
  • Celtics rookie center Tacko Fall suffered a mild knee sprain in a collision going up for a block during a workout, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. He’s expected to be sidelined for only a week, Weiss adds. Fall, an undrafted 7’6” center, was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract in July.
  • Donnie Tyndall has officially been named head coach of the Pistons’ G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, the NBAGL team tweets. The Pistons’ plan to hire Tyndall was first reported in July. Tyndall has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Raptors 905, helping win a league championship under Jerry Stackhouse in 2017.

Central Notes: Horst, Pistons, Kornet, Holidays

Eric Nehm of The Athletic recently sat down with the Bucks’ award-winning GM Jon Horst to discuss the team’s free agency this summer. Here are a few noteworthy passages from Horst’s interview.

Regarding the team’s ability to bring back Khris Middleton on a five-year deal:

“Khris was always a focus… He’s our second superstar, our second star. He’s an All-Star. He’s been one of our best players for a long period of time here… Khris was a target obviously and he got a contract that represents that and we think it’s a great contract because we got our second All-Star locked up for the next five years.”

Regarding the team’s trade of Tony Snell and a first-round pick for Jon Leuer in order to create the requisite cap space needed to re-sign Brook Lopez:

“When we got Brook last offseason, we understood, at some level, how important he was going to be to us… (and) we also understood if he’s as good as we think he’s going to be, it’s going to present a lot of challenges.”

“So, we spent the entire year trying to prepare for that… Just different things we did throughout the year were in preparation to position ourselves to either be prepared to keep Brook, be in a position to keep Brook or be prepared to react if we couldn’t… I don’t know if a lot of people saw it coming, maybe after the Tony Snell deal. Then, maybe they were like, ‘Okay, this is how they’re going to try to do it.’ But before that, I don’t think people saw the moves we lined up to position ourselves to hopefully keep Brook and I’m very thankful we were able to.”

Regarding the decision to trade RFA Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana and whether the luxury tax was a factor in that decision:

“I think there’s a lot that goes into restricted free agency. It’s a monster. Malcolm is very, very important and we knew how important he was to our team. It will be hard to replace him. I think we’ve done the best that we can and we’ll continue to work in ways to be creative and fill that gap.”

“I would say the luxury tax was only part of the consideration for not matching or not being willing to pay Malcolm the market that he was able to get from Indiana. Whether or not he had that market from anywhere else besides Indiana, I don’t know. The decision on Malcolm was much more about our internal evaluations, the roster fit, the ability to be flexible and have options going forward and just building a team that, as I always say, can sustain success over a long period.”

There’s more from the Central Division this afternoon:
  • Horst confirmed in the above interview that the Bucks were not able to create a traded player exception when they traded Brogdon to Indiana, as the signing of George Hill with cap space occurred after the trade, and teams lose their exceptions (other than the Room MLE) when they go under the cap.
  • Taking a look at what each player’s role may be for the Pistons’ during the 2019/20 season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com opines that there are five guys locked in to being sure-fire rotation pieces – Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Derrick Rose, and three who will almost certainly join that group – Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, and Bruce Brown.
  • The Bulls are hoping that the three-point shooting ability of free-agent addition, big man Luke Kornet, will be a nice complement next to starter Wendell Carter Jr. and fellow reserve, rookie Daniel Gafford, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com.
  • Pacers’ new addition Justin Holiday is excited about the prospect of playing with his baby brother, reserve point guard Aaron Holiday, reports Scott Agness of The Athletic. “It was the best situation I had at this time,” Justin said. “(T)he Pacers obviously being a contender every year and going to the playoffs, and then also them having my brother was something that was very, very enticing for me. To be able to be a part of that culture and play with my brother, I think it made it pretty simple where I needed to go.”

Wendell Carter Jr. Undergoes Core Muscle Surgery

JULY 9: The Bulls confirmed (via Twitter) that Carter underwent his core muscle surgery today. The team says the youngster’s rehab process is expected to take about six to eight weeks, putting him on track to participate in camp in September.

JULY 3: Wendell Carter Jr. will undergo a procedure on July 9 to repair a core muscle injury, per the team’s website. The big man is expected to be ready for training camp.

The 2018 No. 7 overall pick was limited to just 44 games during his rookie season because of a thumb injury. He had surgery to repair the ailment during the campaign.

Carter Jr. will miss the entire Summer League as he manages his latest injury. The Bulls have been active in free agency adding depth in the frontcourt. Chicago added Luke Kornet and Thaddeus Young over the past few days to supplement their big man rotation. The team also drafted Daniel Gafford in the second round of this year’s draft.