Wendell Carter

Bulls Notes: Lopez, Parker, Carter

Although the Bulls are fans of Robin Lopez, he’s a traditional rim-protecting center who struggles when asked to switch onto smaller players, writes Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. According to Walton, given the Bulls’ recent emphasis on switching on defense and Lopez’s expiring contract, the veteran center makes sense as a trade chip this season.

Walton suggests that if the Bulls can get anything of value in return for Lopez (especially draft picks), they’d like to do so, rather than risk losing him in free agency. Walton explores a few potential fits for Lopez, identifying the Suns, Lakers, and Pistons as a few teams that could use a player with his skill set.

While there’s been no indication that those specific teams would have interest, we heard last week that Lopez is available “all day, every day for the right asset.” So we’ll see which teams inquire as February’s trade deadline gets closer.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The Jabari Parker experiment hasn’t exactly been a success for the Bulls so far, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. In Cowley’s view, Parker “acts and plays like someone who would rather be elsewhere.” The former No. 2 overall pick has a $20MM team option on his contract for 2019/20, which seems unlikely to be exercised unless his offensive production and consistency improve significantly over the course of the season.
  • Wendell Carter Jr. looks like he’s on his way to becoming the most important part of the Bulls’ rebuild, according to Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago, who argues that Carter’s defensive prowess should make him a legitimate Rookie of the Year contender.
  • For all the latest updates out of Chicago, be sure to check out our Bulls team page.

Central Notes: Cavs, Boylan, Bulls, Bucks

As if there wasn’t enough drama in Cleveland already this season, the Cavaliers are now the subject of another unusual story. As Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays, former Cavs assistant Jim Boylan has sued the team, along with owner Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman, for age discrimination.

Boylan’s lawsuit claims that Tyronn Lue left Boylan a voicemail informing him that Altman and the Cavaliers wouldn’t be picking up his option for 2018/19 since they wanted to “go younger.” Boylan subsequently had a conversation with Altman during which the GM confirmed that the Cavs wanted a younger coach, suggesting that the decision to move on from Boylan had nothing to do with his performance, per the suit.

The Cavaliers responded to the lawsuit today, calling it “frivolous” and referring to it as a “shameless cash grab.” Pointing out that Boylan simply had an option declined and wasn’t fired, the Cavs’ statement accused the assistant coach’s lawyers of attempting to shame the franchise into a settlement by releasing Lue’s voicemail.

As we wait to see what tomorrow brings in Cleveland, let’s round up a few more Central notes…

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

And-Ones: ROY Predictions, Offseason Rankings, NBAGL

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has the best chance to win the Rookie of the Year award, according to an ESPN panel. Doncic will fill up the stat sheet and might wind up with the ball more often than second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr., according to Mike Schmitz. Top overall pick Deandre Ayton ranks second on the poll, with Schmitz noting that the Suns big man likely to get more playing time than any other rookie. Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton and Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. round out the top five.

We have more from around the league:

  • Retaining Paul George in free agency and dumping Carmelo Anthony‘s contract while receiving projected sixth man Dennis Schroder in return earned the Thunder the top spot on NBA.com’s David Aldridge’s offseason rankings. The rankings are based upon what teams have done during the offseason. The Lakers ranked No. 2 by virtue of signing LeBron James and handing out one-year contracts to other players, thus allowing them to be a force again in next year’s free agent market. The Nuggets gained the No. 3 spot by locking up Nikola Jokic and making trades that cleared roster spots and eased their luxury-tax situation.
  • Forwards DJ Hogg (Texas A&M) and Malik Pope (San Diego State) and swingman BJ Johnson (LaSalle) are among the top 10 prospects at the G League Invitational, according to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. The invitational takes place Sunday in Chicago and over a dozen of last year’s prospects received training camp invites afterward.
  • The Warriors’ over-under odds for wins next season is 62.5, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Celtics ranked second overall with a 57.5 over-under win total with the Rockets third at 54.5. The Hawks have the lowest projected win total at 23.5. The odds for each NBA team were passed along by ESPN’s Ben Fawkes.

And-Ones: Age Limit, Summer League, Hibbert, Toupane

As we’ve relayed previously, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced during an NBA Board of Governors meetings in Las Vegas last week that the NBA is ready to make changes to its age limit, thereby potentially allowing high school seniors the opportunity to jump straight to the NBA once again.

However, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, teams have been told privately by league officials not to expect a change to the age limit until the 2022 NBA Draft at the earliest.

Assuming the 2022 NBA Draft allows high school players to jump directly to the NBA, players entering their freshman year of high school this fall will be the first ones to benefit from this potential rule change.

As for any trades that could be affected by this, no team has as yet traded an unprotected 2022 first-rounder, and the only one that could potentially change hands at this point was sent by the Mavericks to the Hawks in order to move up in this year’s draft and select Luka Doncic.

It will be interesting to see whether teams will be wary of trading draft picks in 2022 and beyond before a final ruling is made on this issue.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • In a Q&A piece for ESPN, several different writers spoke about who they believed to be the standouts and disappointments from this year’s NBA Summer League. Wendell Carter, Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Deandre Ayton were among the rookies recognized, while John Collins and Josh Hart were two players who were mentioned as probably too good to have even played in this year’s summer league.
  • In an interview with TMZ Sports, former NBA player Roy Hibbert says that he is done playing professional basketball, explaining that “It’s just time to move on.” Hibbert, 31, was named an All-Star as recently as 2014, but saw his impact dwindle over his last few years in the league as he got older and the game got smaller and quicker.
  • French forward Axel Toupane, who appeared in 25 total NBA regular season games in 2016 and 2017, has signed with EuroLeague club Olympiacos B.C. after helping lead Zalgiris Kaunas to the EuroLeague Final Four last season, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Bulls Sign Carter, Hutchison To Rookie Deals

The Bulls have made it official with their two first-round picks, announcing today in a press release that Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison have both signed their rookie contracts.

Carter, the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft, was somewhat overshadowed in his freshman year at Duke by teammate Marvin Bagley III, but had a strong season for the Blue Devils, averaging 13.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 2.1 BPG. He projects as the Bulls’ long-term starting center alongside power forward Lauri Markkanen in the frontcourt.

As for Hutchison, the 6’7″ swingman played his college ball at Boise State, and is coming off a 2017/18 season in which he averaged an impressive 20.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3.5 APG with a .475/.359/.728 shooting line. The No. 22 pick will look to earn minutes in Chicago’s wing rotation in his rookie year.

Carter’s new four-year deal will be worth approximately $22MM, while Hutchison will be in line for a four-year total of about $10.79MM. The terms of both deals are dictated by the NBA’s rookie scale. Each contract will also have two guaranteed seasons, with team options in years three and four.

Draft Rumors: Top 6, Bulls, Kings, Sixers, Suns

The Mavericks, Bulls, Cavaliers, and Clippers are among the teams still exploring the possibility of moving up in the draft lottery, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski adds that the Sixers‘ pick (No. 10) is in play for teams targeting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Wojnarowski currently believes that Deandre Ayton (Suns), Marvin Bagley III (Kings), Luka Doncic (Hawks), Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba (Mavericks), and Trae Young (Magic) are the most likely selections (Twitter link). Interestingly, the Grizzlies are the only team Wojnarowski doesn’t mention in his rundown, suggesting the No. 4 pick is still the most likely selection at the top to be traded.

If the top six plays out like that and Chicago doesn’t trade up, the Bulls would likely opt for Wendell Carter Jr. over Michael Porter Jr., tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

Here are several more rumors worth passing along as draft night nears…

  • Kings beat reporter James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link) is also getting the vibe out of Sacramento that Marvin Bagley III is the club’s likely choice at No. 2.
  • Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) is hearing some buzz linking Zhaire Smith to the Sixers at No. 10.
  • Although the Heat are exploring opportunities to trade into the first round of tonight’s draft, it’s hard to imagine the club completing a deal for a first-round pick unless it can shed a veteran salary, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
  • The Suns, who hold Miami’s pick at No. 16, are eyeing Donte DiVincenzo, Zhaire Smith, Jalen Brunson, Aaron Holiday, Lonnie Walker, Troy Brown, Elie Okobo, and Landry Shamet at that spot, per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
  • NBA teams have been impressed with Michael Porter Jr. in interviews, but the club that picks him will have to be “ultra-cautious” with his health, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, who suggests (via Twitter) that sitting Porter for a good chunk of 2018/19 is a real possibility.

Givony’s Latest: Kings, Doncic, Porter, Gilgeous-Alexander

ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony posted his latest mock on Thursday morning, along with the updated information regarding what teams are planning to do. Here’s some of the most noteworthy nuggets he passed along:

  • The Kings will target Duke forward Marvin Bagley III if they keep the No. 2 overall pick but they have their eyes on Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. if they trade down in the lottery.
  • Hawks ownership has pushed for Euroleague guard Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick because of star power. The compromise between the front office and ownership could be trading down and then selecting Oklahoma point guard Trae Young.
  • Porter is favored by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban at No. 5 but they’re also considering Texas center Mohamed Bamba and Duke center Wendell Carter Jr.
  • Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander appears to be on the rise and Givony has him going at No. 6 to the Magic.
  • If the Clippers don’t trade their picks at No. 12 and No. 13, they’ll draft one of the top three college point guards – Gilgeous-Alexander, Alabama’s Collin Sexton or Young – if any are still on the board.
  • Boston College guard Jerome Robinson, Maryland forward Kevin Huerter and Texas A&M big man Robert Williams are under consideration with the Clippers’ second first-rounder.

Seven Teams Discussing No. 4 Pick With Grizzlies

The Grizzlies remain in discussions with a number of clubs about the possibility of a trade involving the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. Givony identifies the Mavericks, Magic, Bulls, Knicks, Nuggets, Celtics, and Clippers as teams that have shown “varying degrees of interest” in making a deal.

Memphis has been exploring the idea of trading the No. 4 selection throughout the pre-draft process, and would like to include Chandler Parsons‘ unwanted contract in any swap. According to Givony, Parsons would likely be part of any deal Memphis makes involving that fourth overall pick.

Sources tell Givony that the Grizzlies don’t want to move out of the lottery altogether, so teams picking within a few spots of Memphis will likely have the best odds of making a deal, which could be bad news for a club like Boston. According to Givony, the Grizzlies have their eye on Wendell Carter Jr. as a potential target, so they may not want to drop too far — Carter is considered a probable top-10 pick.

A trade involving the Grizzlies and Magic, who hold the No. 6 pick, might appeal to Memphis if Orlando is willing to include Evan Fournier, per Givony. However, the Magic are hesitant to do so, preferring to offer up Bismack Biyombo. We heard earlier on Wednesday evening that the Knicks have considered a move up – perhaps to No. 4 – for Mohamed Bamba.

It’s possible that trade talks will go right down to the wire, since teams interested in moving up will likely want to make sure that their preferred prospect is available at No. 4.

For what it’s worth, Kevin O’Connor reported earlier in the evening (via Twitter) that the Mavs, Magic, Bulls, Knicks, Clippers, and Celtics have also explored the possibility of moving up to No. 3 in a trade with the Hawks. O’Connor suggested that Luka Doncic or Bamba would be the targets in that spot.

Deveney’s Latest: Draft, Raptors, Gilgeous-Alexander

While all five teams at the top of the draft have reportedly been open to the idea of moving down, the odds of any of those teams actually trading a top-five pick may be slim. As Sean Deveney of The Sporting News details, teams that have explored trading up have found the asking price for a top-five selection to be extremely high.

“This is a good draft, a very good draft at the top,” one league source told Deveney. “But the value that teams are placing on these picks is a little unreasonable in some cases.”

The Sixers, Cavaliers, Bulls, and Celtics are among the teams that have looked into trading up. The Clippers, who own the 12th and 13th picks, have also had multiple discussions about that possibility, but if they stay where they are, there’s a sense that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, and Robert Williams will be among their top targets, per Deveney.

Here’s more from Deveney’s latest round-up of draft rumors:

  • While the Raptors were believed to be considering moving into the lottery to land Gilgeous-Alexander, their trade options are limited, according to Deveney. League sources tell Deveney that Toronto’s most likely deal is a salary dump of Norman Powell.
  • Speaking of Gilgeous-Alexander, he has been a mystery man during the pre-draft process. Appearing on Wednesday at media day, he didn’t shed much light on what he has been up to, telling reporters that he “can’t say” how many teams – or which teams – he has worked out for (Twitter link via Deveney).
  • The Warriors will likely to look to buy a second-round pick, but at least one general manager tells Deveney – perhaps half-seriously – that he hopes teams aren’t eager to accommodate the defending champs. “If anyone sells them a pick, they ought to have their head checked,” the GM joked. “Once that first round is over, everyone needs to just not pick up the phone if [Warriors GM Bob] Myers is calling.”
  • Deveney identifies Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. as one of the wild cards near the top of the draft, suggesting that Carter could go as high as No. 4 to the Grizzlies.