Wendell Carter

Bulls Exercise Options On White, Carter, Hutchison

The Bulls have exercised the third-year team option on guard Coby White and fourth-year options on Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison for the 2021/22 season, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic tweets.

Chicago’s decisions on White and Carter, lottery picks and members of the starting five, were mere formalities. The Bulls’ decision on Hutchison wasn’t a slam dunk, though he’s projected to be a rotation player this season.

White, the seventh pick in last year’s draft, will receive $5,837,760 during the 2021/22 season. White averaged 13.2 PPG and 2.7 APG in 25.8 MPG as a rookie.

Carter, who was taken at the same spot in the 2018 draft, will receive a guaranteed $6,920,027 in 2021/22 while Hutchison will make $4,019,459.

Carter was limited to 43 games last season due to a thumb injury. He averaged 11.3 PPG and 9.4 RPG in 29.2 MPG.

Hutchison underwent shoulder surgery in March after play was halted. Hutchison, who was the No. 22 pick in 2018, had both of his two professional seasons cut short by health issues. In total, he has appeared in just 72 games (19.8 MPG), averaging 6.2 PPG and 4.1 RPG on .458/.295/.595 shooting since arriving in Chicago.

Central Notes: Carter, Giannis, Pistons, Pacers

On the morning of the 2020 draft, a report indicated that the Bulls had offered Wendell Carter Jr. to Golden State in a trade to move up from No. 4 to No. 2. After Chicago stayed put on draft night, head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas denied trying to trade up.

Asked this week about those trade rumors, Carter didn’t sound too stressed about the subject of some draft-day speculation, suggesting he “had a lot of faith” that he would stick with the Bulls, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes.

“When I first saw it, I kind of knew it was BS,” Carter said. “I didn’t pay much attention to it. Then my family members started hitting me up about it, like, ‘Man, what’s going on?’ You going to Oakland?’ I’m, like, ‘Man, I feel like I’m good.’ … I knew the coaching staff and the front office believed in me from the talks that we’ve had. … It’s always a little anxiety when you see your name floating around as possibly being traded. But deep down in my heart, I knew I was going to be a Bull.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Bucks are anxiously waiting to find out whether Giannis Antetokounmpo will sign a five-year super-max extension with the team, but fellow All-Star Khris Middleton and head coach Mike Budenholzer said on Thursday that they’re focusing on supporting the reigning MVP rather than pushing him to sign. “He knows that I deeply want him to return and sign this extension, but at the same time, I know he’s got a big decision that he’s got to work through himself and with his family at home because those are the most important people,” Middleton said, according to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. “Whatever he does, he knows that I’ll support him to the fullest.”
  • While the Pistons are no longer carrying as many centers on their roster as it appeared they might early in free agency, general manager Troy Weaver told reporters on Thursday that he didn’t mind the perception that he was stockpiling big men. “Let the record show. I know there was a lot about we were collecting a lot of centers — absolutely!” Weaver said, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “I love bigs. … I believe that’s the way you win, by controlling the backboards. It’s held true. I’ve never seen a team win a championship without controlling the backboard.”
  • The Pacers have officially announced a handful of new additions to Nate Bjorkgren‘s coaching staff, including confirming the previously-reported hiring of assistant coach/player development Calbert Cheaney. Bjorkgren is also bringing Tyler Marsh with him from the Raptors as a player development assistant.

Bulls Notes: Williams, Simonovic, Draft, QO Decisions

Making his first draft pick as the head man in an NBA front office on Wednesday night, new Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas told reporters – including Sam Smith of Bulls.com – that he was pleased to come away with Florida State forward Patrick Williams at No. 4. Karnisovas praised Williams’ athleticism, versatility, ballhandling, and ability to play multiple positions.

“The more we were digging in his background and we were able to see him, that’s how we came to our decision that that’s our guy,” Karnisovas said of Williams. “We need players in our league that can play multiple positions. He’s an elite athlete. At four we were really happy in that position because we knew we had a chance to pick Patrick and we just stayed there and we got our player.”

Williams was one of two picks the Bulls made on Wednesday, along with Montenegrin center Marko Simonovic at No. 44.

“I think overall tonight we drafted players that we were targeting,” Karnisovas said, per Smith. “And it doesn’t happen very often. I received a ton of texts from executives around the league and they were all telling me, ‘Enjoy your night.’ And that’s what I did. It’s special to me. It’s my first night as a lead exec of the Chicago Bulls. I thought it was a very successful night.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Despite rumors that the Bulls had offered Wendell Carter Jr. and the No. 4 pick to move up to No. 2, Karnisovas told reporters after the draft that the club didn’t consider trading up (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). While that may be true, it’s also plausible that Karnisovas is saying that publicly so as not to make waves with Carter.
  • Simonovic will be stashed overseas for at least one year, Karnisovas said on Wednesday night (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). He’s currently under contract with Crvena Zvezda in Serbia.
  • Explaining the Bulls’ decision not to tender qualifying offers to Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison, while Denzel Valentine got one, Karnisovas said that the club’s limited roster space and emphasis on shooting were major factors (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson). The president of basketball operations added that Chicago will be “really picky” in free agency.

Bulls Have Reportedly Offered No. 4 Pick, Carter For Warriors’ No. 2

The Warriors are weighing whether or not to accept a trade offer from the Bulls, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who hears from league sources that Chicago has put the No. 4 pick and Wendell Carter Jr. on the table for Golden State’s No. 2 pick.

Although O’Connor has reported multiple times that Chicago is believed to be targeting a play-maker in this draft, he says that sources believe the Bulls would draft Memphis center James Wiseman if they move up. Wiseman has been considered the most likely target for Golden State at No. 2.

If the Bulls don’t trade up, the belief is that they’ll likely decide between Avdija and Florida State forward Patrick Williams, according to O’Connor.

It remains to be seen if the Bulls and Warriors will move forward on this reported proposal, but it does align with some other things we’ve heard in recent weeks. For instance, Jonathan Givony of ESPN said earlier in November that Chicago is thought to be higher on Lauri Markkanen than Carter. At the time, Givony suggested Carter may have to be involved in a deal for the Bulls to move up in the draft.

Meanwhile, a league source told Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle this week that the Warriors would like to trade the No. 2 pick for a “proven, rotation-level frontcourt player” and a pick later in the lottery. The goal would be to add a frontcourt player who could be relied upon in the postseason, while developing a young guard or wing, says Letourneau.

If the Warriors do trade out of the top three, they’d likely target Israeli forward Deni Avdija, according to Letourneau, who says the club has become “infatuated” with Avdija, viewing him as a player who could develop into a “Danilo Gallinari type.” Florida State wing Devin Vassell is another player who has frequently been linked to Golden State in trade-down scenarios. Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton could also be an option.

If the Warriors were to acquire Carter from the Bulls, they could either absorb his $5.4MM cap hit into their $17MM+ trade exception or send out a player or two for salary-matching purposes.

Central Notes: Brown, Pacers, Markkanen, Carter, Pistons

Bucks guard Sterling Brown has reached a $750K settlement agreement with the City of Milwaukee stemming from his lawsuit accusing police officers of racially profiling him and employing excessive force for a January 2018 parking violation, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

It was over a year ago that Brown turned down a $400K settlement offer from the city. That offer also didn’t include an admission of liability, which was a sticking point for the Bucks guard. As Charania details, the new agreement will see the city admit to a constitutional violation and commit to incorporating changes in the Police Department’s standard operating procedures.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Pacers are hiring Kaleb Canales as an assistant coach, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The newest member of Nate Bjorkgren‘s staff has served an assistant for the Trail Blazers, Mavericks, and – most recently – the Knicks, and was briefly Portland’s interim head coach in 2012.
  • Appearing on The Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony passes along some Bulls-related chatter, telling colleague Zach Lowe that he’s heard the team is higher on Lauri Markkanen than Wendell Carter at this point (hat tip to RealGM). Givony suggests that if Chicago wants to move up from No. 4 to No. 1 in the draft, the team may have to part with Carter to do so. “It seems like a pretty hefty price to me, but that is what it’s going to cost it looks like,” Givony said.
  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com takes a look at how new Pistons general manager Troy Weaver plans to balance the team’s long-term priorities with his aversion to bottoming out and writing off full seasons.

Bulls Notes: Offseason, Boylen, MPJ-Carter Draft, Delete Eight

New Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has plenty of interesting choices to make with regards to team personnel on both the court and on the bench during the 2020 offseason. Bobby Marks of ESPN Insider examines some of the key issues Karnisovas should address.

The future of embattled head coach Jim Boylen has been the hottest topic of speculation for Bulls fans since the hiring of Karnisovas earlier this year. Boylen’s disappointing 39-84 record has been partly affected by several player injuries, including those afflicting former lottery picks Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., but Marks addresses just how much blame for the team’s poor finishes during the last two seasons should be placed on those absences as opposed to Boylen’s coaching approach.

The possible fates of restricted free agent Kris Dunn and leading scorer Zach LaVine during this crucial Bulls offseason are also discussed.

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Boylen’s status is also addressed in a fairly comprehensive recent Bulls mailbag from NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. Johnson reiterates that Karnisovas apparently has the full green light from team owner Jerry Reinsdorf to replace Boylen, but that Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley have been asked by ownership to “take time to get to know” the coach before making a decision. Boylen is earning $1.6MM annually, making him one of the most affordable head coaches in the NBA.
  • Nuggets rookie forward Michael Porter Jr. has been enjoying a coming-out party within the NBA’s Orlando restart campus. Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago takes a look at the player the Bulls passed over in favor of Wendell Carter Jr. with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Porter is averaging 22 PPG and 8.6 RPG, while shooting 55.1% from the field (including 42.2% from long range and 93.1% from the charity stripe) in Orlando. Porter’s checkered injury history gave Chicago pause at the time, and Schaefer contends that Carter’s promising future as a passing big man on the cusp of averaging a double-double in scoring and rebounding means the jury on the selection is still out.
  • The Bulls rank among just eight teams bad enough to miss the NBA’s 22-squad Orlando restart. As we discussed previously, talks remain ongoing about potentially keeping the so-called “Delete Eight” clubs active. One concept touched upon during recent conference call involves bringing the Bulls and the other underperforming teams to Orlando after the first round of the NBA playoffs, when only eight of the original 22 teams would remain on the Disney World campus. However, it’s not clear whether it has gained any traction with the NBPA.

Central Notes: M. Williams, Carter, Drummond, Giannis

Marvin Williams looked at three Eastern Conference contenders when he started considering a buyout with the Hornets, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Williams thought about playing for the Bucks, Raptors or Celtics, and Milwaukee was the first team to express interest. The move has worked out well as he is playing 17 minutes per night as the primary backup at power forward.

“The easiest thing is actually the basketball aspect,” Williams said about changing teams in midseason for the first time in his 15-year career. “I’m in a new city meeting new people. All new teammates. Once I get out there on the court, it’s still all basketball.”

As the Hornets adopted a youth movement, Williams dropped out of the starting lineup and saw his playing time cut significantly. He will return to Charlotte today for the first time since the buyout and said he is comfortable with his legacy in the city.

“You hear people say you always want to leave something in better shape than when you got it,” Williams said. “I think (the Hornets were) in bad shape when I got there. I want people to remember I tried to do the right things when I was there.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Wendell Carter Jr. plans to talk to Bulls officials about a position change at his postseason exit interview, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago has been using Carter at center, but he played power forward in high school and college and believes he can be more effective in that role in the NBA.
  • Andre Drummond is still adjusting to his new home in Cleveland and hasn’t decided if he wants to make a long-term commitment to the city, notes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Acquired at the trade deadline, the Cavaliers center has a player option for next season and could decide to become a free agent this summer. “I thought coming here I would just figure it out right away, but it’s definitely a culture shock and definitely a change for me,” he said. “Just going to a whole new team and feeling like being drafted again kind of. For me, it’s starting over and trying to learn everything from the ground up again.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo has responded in his back-and-forth with Rockets star James Harden, relays Eric Woodyard of ESPN. After the Bucks star took a couple of verbal swipes at Harden during All-Star Weekend, Harden said in an ESPN interview Friday, “I wish I could be seven feet, run and just dunk. That takes no skill at all.” Antetokounmpo insists he brings much more to the court. “My game is not just power for sure,” he said. “I came in when I was 18, I was 180 pounds, so to power through big guys was kind of tough.”

Bulls Notes: Carter, Valentine, Boyle, LaVine

Wendell Carter Jr. was back on the court today for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain on January 6, but he knows there’s a lot of work ahead to get back to normal. Playing under a minutes restriction, Carter posted six points and nine rebounds in a loss to the Knicks, then talked to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times about the adjustment of getting back into game shape.

“I got winded pretty quickly,’’ he said. “I tried to train and get prepared, but there’s nothing like playing out in a game. (The ankle) felt OK. Certain movements make you feel a little funny, but that comes with a sprained ankle. They say you just gotta work through it.’’

Carter’s return was a welcome sight for the Bulls, who probably lost center Luke Kornet for the rest of the season earlier this week. Coach Jim Boylen plans to ease Carter back into the lineup with about 20 minutes per game.

“I thought he had some moments where he looked like Wendell, and I thought he had some moments where he looked like he was in preseason still,’’ Boylen said. “That’s part of it. That’s why he’s on a minutes restriction. We’ll take it for the first night, and we’ll move forward.’’

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Also returning today was Denzel Valentine, who hasn’t played since Feb. 2 because of a hamstring injury, Cowley writes in a separate story. A lottery pick in 2016, Valentine has had to fight for playing time this year and knows his time with the Bulls may be nearing an end. “It’s huge,’’ he said of his approach for the rest of the season. “Just to prove to myself and everybody else that I belong for good.’’
  • Despite an alarming rate of injuries, Boylen is quick to defend the team’s training practices and medical staff, relays Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Kris Dunn appears to be out for the season along with Kornet, while no dates have been set for the return of Lauri Markkanen, Chandler Hutchison or Otto Porter. “We’ve had trauma. Trauma’s different,” Boylen said. “A broken finger, a broken foot, two knees. You know, things that happen from contact, collision. Those are things I think are very difficult to control.”
  • After the Bulls dropped to 20 games under .500 with today’s loss, Zach LaVine spoke with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago about the challenges of staying focused for the season’s final 22 games. “You have other stuff creep into your mind. You’re looking at the finish line instead of looking at the next day. You have to fight that,” LaVine said. “… I had basketball taken away from me with my ACL injury for a while, and it gave me a new perspective on it. Since that, I try to play in any game that I can.”

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Sexton, Carter, Brown

J.B. Bickerstaff took over for John Beilein as Cavaliers coach after the All-Star break but he’s not a short-term replacement, he confirmed to Marc Spears of The Undefeated. Bickerstaff has received assurances from the front office he’ll receive a new contract.

“To my knowledge, at some point in time we will negotiate a long-term deal,” Bickerstaff said. “But this wasn’t an interim thing. This was a conversation that (Cavaliers GM) Koby (Altman) and I had. And he said, ‘You’re the head coach moving forward.’ So, the plan is I will be back next season with a long-term deal.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Second-year Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton admitted that Beilein’s departure served as a wakeup call for himself and his teammates, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer relays. Sexton asked himself some hard questions after the team made another coaching change. “Was I as coachable as I could have been? Could I have been more coachable? Could I have received information and criticism better? Let me step back and survey,” Sexton said. “’Was I as good of a player to coach when he was here?’ Had to just look myself in the mirror and ask myself those things.”
  • Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. is hopeful he can return to action as early as Saturday, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. He hasn’t played since January 6 due to an ankle injury. “It’s going to be a little bit weak but continuing to play, continuing to put more stress on it is going to make it stronger,” said Carter, who will be on a minutes restriction when he returns.
  • Pistons guard Bruce Brown has established himself as a defensive stopper and increased his rebounding totals since Andre Drummond was traded but there’s still one glaring area of improvement, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. Brown is shooting 44.3% overall and 33.7% on 3-point tries, which is an upgrade from his rookie year but is still a work in progress. “Bruce has improved in a lot of areas,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Shooting has been the last one to come around and I do know that will come around.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/26/20

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA: