Wendell Carter

Central Notes: Bulls, Gasol, Cavs, Pacers, Pistons

There’s a growing belief around the NBA that the Bulls are open to discussing trades for anyone on their roster – and any assets they hold – besides Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., sources familiar with the team’s plans tell Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Still, while the Bulls will likely consider a number of trade options this offseason, Mayberry makes a case that the club shouldn’t part ways with the No. 7 overall pick. Mayberry argues that cashing in their chips now for a veteran could be both premature and risky for the Bulls, who would have marginal assets available going forward. Plus, the No. 7 selection has proven valuable for the franchise in recent years — Markkanen and Carter were both selected at that spot.

Meanwhile, K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tackles a handful of Bulls-related topics in his latest mailbag, exploring draft, trade, and free agency options. Johnson believes the Bulls would “absolutely” try to get involved as a facilitator in a multi-team Anthony Davis trade, and later suggests that if Chicago pursues an RFA point guard, Malcolm Brogdon is probably a more realistic target than D’Angelo Russell.

Here’s more from around the Central:

Bulls Notes: Blakeney, Tanking, Dunn, Valentine

Injuries to starting Bulls guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine give their backups a chance to improve their prospects of making the roster next season, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Shaquille Harrison, Ryan Arcidiacono, Wayne Selden and Antonio Blakeney will get increased playing time.

Arcidiacono started the season slowly but is shooting 52% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc since the All-Star break, Strotman notes. The club can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $1.82MM qualifying offer.

Harrison, whose $1.59MM salary for next season is not guaranteed, is averaging 10.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 3.0 SPG while starting the last three games.

Blakeney’s $1.59MM contract is guaranteed for next season but that doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to be on the team next season, according to Strotman. He’s shooting just 42% from the field and averaging just 0.6 APG.

The Bulls can make Selden a restricted free agent by extending him a $1.93MM qualifying offer.

We have more on the Bulls:

  • The team appears to be in full tank mode entering the final eight games this season but coach Jim Boylen denies it, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “We’re trying to build a competitive spirit, a team that’s going to honor that Bulls across their chest and play for the city,” Boylen said. “We don’t feel shutting people down is a way to build that.”
  • Dunn is unlikely to play on Tuesday due to a back injury. He tried to tough it out against Utah on Saturday and earned kudos from his coach, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes.  “I want to give Kris credit for playing,” Boylen said. “He had more kinesio tape on him than a mummy. He tried to play and give us what he could. I love the fact that he tried it.”
  • Not only do the Bulls want rookies Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison to play on their summer league team, they’ll also ask Denzel Valentine if he’s interested in participating, Johnson reports in another article. Valentine has not played this season following surgery to reconstruct his left ankle. The Bulls have discussed playing in both the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and the Utah Jazz Summer League in Salt Lake City, Johnson adds.

Bulls Declare Hutchison, Carter Out For The Season

Chandler Hutchison and Wendell Carter Jr., who both had their rookie year cut short by injuries, have officially been ruled out for the rest of the season, the Bulls announced on Twitter.

Executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson relayed the information to reporters before tonight’s game, adding that the same fate may apply to Otto Porter, who is sidelined with a shoulder injury, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. He and Zach LaVine are both being monitored daily, but Paxson speculated that “We may run out of time” with Porter.

Hutchison has been out since late January with an “acute injury” to a sesamoid bone in his right foot. The 22nd player taken in last year’s draft, Hutchison established himself as a part-time starter and averaged 5.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 44 games.

“He’s going to have to spend time in the gym shooting the ball this summer to become a better shooter. We know that’s an important component,” Paxson said of Hutchison after complimenting his defense, ballhandling and versatility. Hutchison shot .459 from the field, but just .280 from 3-point range and .605 from the foul line.

Carter hasn’t played since suffering a thumb injury in mid-January that required surgery. He was projected to be out 8 to 12 weeks, so it’s not surprising that he won’t play again this season. The seventh pick last year, Carter also played 44 games, all as a starter, and averaged 10.3 PPG and 7.0 RPG.

Lowe’s Latest: Rockets, Prince, Blazers, Heat

The Rockets and Cavaliers had discussions about sending Brandon Knight to Cleveland along with a first-round pick in exchange for Alec Burks. However, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com hears that those talks have ceased. Houston has also spoken with the Grizzlies about potential Knight deals.

Cleveland is selling Burks, Rodney Hood, and any other “indispensable asset” prior to the deadline, Lowe writes. The team is willing to take back future salary in exchange for picks.

Houston is expected to scour the market for deals leading up to the deadline with an eye on attaching a future first-rounder to Knight and Marquese Chriss. The Rockets would likely push for lottery protections on any picks that would convey past James Harden‘s prime.

Lowe’s latest piece contains trade nuggets from several teams in the league and we’ve already passed along news from the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley and Marc Gasol sweepstakes as well as the Magic’s pre-deadline plan. Here are the rest of the newsworthy notes from the ESPN piece:

  • The Hawks have made Taurean Prince available in trade talks, sources tell Lowe. Atlanta hasn’t received a ton of traction on Prince deals because of its asking price. The organization wants a young prospect and a pick in exchange for the small forward.
  • The Blazers have put their first-rounder on the table in trade talks, sources tell Lowe. Portland has reached out about Otto Porter Jr.‘s availability, though Wizards owner Ted Leonsis previously announced that the team would not be trading Porter before the deadline.
  • Porter has drawn interest from several teams. In addition to the Blazers, the Mavericks and Jazz have kept an eye on the situation. Dallas was interested in swapping Harrison Barnes for Porter prior to the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
  • Miami appears to be willing to move anyone but Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo for cap relief. Lowe expects the Heat to try to get at least a second-round pick for Wayne Ellington.
  • Lowe confirms a previous report that JaMychal Green, Justin Holiday, and Garrett Temple are all available. Holiday, who was acquired from the Bulls earlier this year, cost the Grizzlies two second-round picks.
  • The Kings have approximately $11MM in cap space available and they want to use it to pick up an asset. Lowe writes that it could be a draft pick or a player who will help them win this season.
  • Sacramento is willing to engage in trade talks about Willie Cauley-Stein, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Kings may simply let the center walk should he receive too high of an offer this offseason.
  • The Bulls are expected to listen to offers for anyone but Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. Lowe doesn’t expect Chicago to deal either Kris Dunn or Zach LaVine though, as the team’s asking price is anticipated to be too high.
  • The Nuggets own a pair of trade exceptions and have slightly less than $7MM in breathing room under the tax. They are open to taking on a salary dump if another team calls and has to shed a player in that price range.

Bulls’ Wendell Carter To Miss 8-12 Weeks

JANUARY 21, 2:45pm: Carter has undergone surgery to repair his injured left thumb and will miss the next 8-12 weeks, the Bulls confirmed today (via Twitter).

JANUARY 18, 3:33pm: The Bulls announced today that Carter is expected to undergo surgery and be sidelined for about eight to 12 weeks. There are only about 12 weeks left in the regular season, so it’s possible we won’t see WCJ again in 2018/19.

JANUARY 18, 2:24pm: After undergoing initial tests on his injured left thumb, Bulls rookie Wendell Carter Jr. appeared to have avoided a major injury. However, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, a follow-up exam on Carter’s thumb revealed ligament damage that may require surgery.

The Bulls initially feared that Carter suffered a broken thumb when he went down on Tuesday night, and were bracing for a six-to-eight week absence, as Johnson notes. However, an MRI on Wednesday suggested that there were no fractures and the ligament was “largely intact.” Carter had been listed as day-to-day and hoped to play on Saturday vs. Miami.

Unfortunately, according to Johnson, a follow-up exam conducted on Friday showed ligament damage that those initial tests didn’t detect.

Carter and the Bulls are still weighing his options, so it’s not yet clear whether he’ll undergo surgery on the thumb, or how long he might be sidelined, per Johnson. Head coach Jim Boylen said today that Carter is visiting a hand specialist and a decision will be made soon (Twitter link via Johnson).

If Carter has to miss an extended period, it would be another setback for a Bulls team that finally had its core players healthy after an injury-plagued first half in which Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Bobby Portis, among others, all missed time due to health problems.

Wendell Carter Jr. Dodges Significant Thumb Injury

In a relatively innocuous tweet earlier this afternoon, the Bulls announced that rookie big man Wendell Carter Jr. hurt his left thumb in last night’s loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles. However, several reports surfacing since then indicated that the injury to Carter’s thumb may have been far worse than the team’s tweet originally let on.

Minutes after the Bulls’ initial tweet on the subject, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that there was internal concern that Carter’s thumb injury was “significant” and the the team was waiting on further test results. He followed that report up with a tweet that the Bulls hadn’t ruled out a broken thumb, which would have required surgery.

Meanwhile, the Chicago-Sun Times reported that Carter was believed to have suffered an injury known as gamekeeper’s thumb, which generally requires a recovery time of 4-6 weeks, depending on the severity of the damage to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).

However, Johnson is now reporting that the aforementioned further test results have come back and that Carter’s UCL is intact, meaning the thumb is simply sprained and will not require surgery. As the previous reports indicated, the Bulls initially feared Carter could miss weeks, so the fact that they can now call their prized rookie day-to-day is a huge relief for the team during an otherwise injury-plagued season.

Central Notes: Lopez, Parker, Love, Carter, Pistons

It’s only a matter of time before Bulls center Robin Lopez and forward Jabari Parker are either traded or bought out, suggests Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The Bulls are in fire sale mode and the Justin Holiday deal with the Grizzlies is just the start, Mayberry continues. Lopez has an expiring contract, while Parker has lost his rotation spot under new coach Jim Boylen. Lopez jokingly referenced in practice Friday how he could be the next shoe to drop with the front office in a seller’s mode, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune relays. “There’s kind of been a little shoe-dangling over the past couple years,” Lopez said.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love can progress with “select” basketball activities and continue to advance his therapy and strength and conditioning program, according to a team press release. Love has been targeting a mid-January from the foot surgery he underwent in early November and the latest news suggests the timetable hasn’t changed. There have been conflicting reports recently on whether the rebuilding team is interested in trading the power forward, who signed an extension during the offseason.
  • Bulls rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. has seen wild swings in his playing time but he’s not squawking about it, Mayberry reports in a separate story.  Carter played a season-low 13 minutes against Orlando on Wednesday and has played fewer than 20 minutes in five games since Boylen took charge. Carter blamed himself for his limited minutes against the Magic. “I don’t feel like I brought it,” Carter said. “I couldn’t get into a good groove. So I would have (taken) myself out.”
  • The Pistons’ cap situation will improve marginally this offseason, Rod Beard of the Detroit News notes. Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer and Langston Galloway will also be entering the final year of their contracts and that could open up opportunities for the team to retool, Beard adds.

Central Notes: Bulls, Thompson, Pistons, Carter

As the Bulls continue to navigate their way through the early stages of a rebuild, their core players have struggled most of the time they have been on the floor together. Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes that the core of Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen look confused when sharing the floor together and at this point, still have more questions than answers.

A big reason for this confusion is the injuries that have plagued each player. In fact, Cowley points out that the three players have only played in 15 games together, despite joining together after the Jimmy Butler trade in June 2017.

The Bulls have since added Wendell Carter to the mix and have changed coaches, which will surely continue to create confusion among their growing core. Of course, as the rebuild continues, there will be more faces added to the mix to compliment this core.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson played a key role during Collin Sexton‘s recent stretch of promising play, but has missed the past ten games due to a foot injury. As Chris Fedor points out, Sexton has struggled in recent weeks without his pick-and-roll partner alongside him.
  • After their blowout loss to the Pacers, Rod Beard of The Detroit News reveals that the Pistons held a team meeting last week, with coach Dwane Casey and some of the team’s veterans sharing some positive words about how it went.
  • Wendell Carter has continued to prove he belongs in the league, providing energy and hustle plays on both ends of the floor. Sam Smith of the Bulls team website writes about how Carter is focusing on growing and learning each time he steps on the court.

Texas Notes: Clark, Carter, DeRozan

The emergence of Gary Clark has allowed the Rockets to move on from Carmelo Anthony as the 24-year-old has established himself as a key reserve on the Houston roster.

Clark has averaged 4.2 PPG and 3.4 RPG for the Rockets in 13 games as his defense and athleticism has paid dividends. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes, Clark did not allow himself to be swept up by the celebrity of the NBA, instead focusing on making an impact. And after cheering for Anthony growing up, Clark ended up cutting into the veteran’s playing time in Houston.

“Crap, that was my favorite player at one point,” Clark said. “But it literally didn’t matter who was there. I was going to make sure I got on the court, because I know what I bring to the table.”

It remains unclear if Clark’s long-range shooting will become consistent, but the early results have been promising.

Check out more notes surrounding Texas’ NBA teams:

  • The Carmelo experiment did not work out in Houston and now the Rockets need to find a third key piece next to Chris Paul and James Harden to make a run, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer writes. Massive extensions to Paul and Clint Capela zapped the Rockets of financial flexibility, but the team will need to find a player who can space the floor and play defense.
  • Had the Mavericks not traded up to end up Luka Doncic, the team would have selected Wendell Carter, who went seventh overall to the Bulls, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. “If we’d have stayed at No. 5, he’d have been the guy, if he was still there,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He had a great workout for us. I see him as another coming of an Al Horford type player, a guy that’s both a force on the inside and he’s going to be a force shooting the ball from midrange and the 3. He affects the game in many ways.”
  • Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams has an in-depth feature on the Spurs‘ newest star DeMar DeRozan. The story focuses on DeRozan’s adjustment from being the star for the Raptors to his new team in San Antonio. Abrams also noted that DeRozan learned of the trade while he was in a Jack in The Box parking lot.

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.