Zach LaVine

Bulls Notes: Trade Deadline, Caruso, Irving, LaVine, White

The 25-27 Bulls find themselves at a crossroads as this Thursday’s trade deadline approaches, but they don’t have any intention of trading away core players, team and league sources tell Jamal Collier of ESPN.

Collier’s report is consistent with what we’ve heard in recent weeks from other Bulls reporters, including K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago and Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Both Johnson and Cowley acknowledged that the team’s stance could change as the trade deadline nears, but with only about 72 hours left for teams to make in-season trades, it sounds like the Bulls haven’t become any more inclined to sell.

Collier does hear from a league source that the Bulls have shown a willingness to listen to inquiries on Alex Caruso, but says Chicago would probably have to be “blown away” by an offer to actually trade the veteran guard, who is the club’s best perimeter defender.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • With Lonzo Ball‘s availability up in the air for the foreseeable future, Kyrie Irving might have made some sense as a Bulls target from an on-court perspective, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. However, Cowley hears that Irving was never on the team’s radar following his trade request. Russell Westbrook isn’t a trade target for Chicago either, Cowley adds.
  • After earning All-Star nods in 2021 and 2022, Zach LaVine isn’t sweating not being named to the team this year, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I didn’t feel like I played at an All-Star level at the beginning of the season. That’s coming back off of injury. I started slow and then started picking it up,” LaVine said. “I am where I’m supposed to be at. I know who I am as a player. I think the league knows that too.”
  • As Johnson relays, LaVine added that the Bulls haven’t been good enough to warrant sending two players to the All-Star Game (DeMar DeRozan was named a reserve). “I think bigger picture you’re not worried about All-Star, you’re trying to get your team back in the playoff picture,” LaVine said.
  • At one point this fall, it seemed like Coby White might be the odd man out in Chicago’s backcourt, but he has established himself as a consistent rotation piece over the course of the season, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. As Mayberry outlines, the case for hanging onto White and attempting to re-sign him as a restricted free agent is more compelling than it once was, so the Bulls could face a tough decision on the fourth-year guard at the trade deadline if they get a viable trade offer for him.

Bulls Notes: Caruso, Vucevic, DeRozan, Trade Deadline

Multiple teams have contacted the Bulls to inquire about guard Alex Caruso, sources tell K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. It remains to be seen whether Chicago will seriously consider moving its top perimeter defender, but Johnson reiterates that the Knicks and Warriors – previously cited as as teams with interest – are still viewed as potential suitors for the 28-year-old.

On the latest episode of his Please Don’t Aggregate This podcast, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports suggested that the Bulls would seek a substantial return if they were to make Caruso available.

“Someone told me last week that the Chicago Bulls think they could get two first-round picks for Alex Caruso,” Fischer said.

Caruso is an All-Defensive candidate on a team-friendly contract — he’s owed $9.5MM in 2023/24 and a partially guaranteed $9.9MM in ’24/25. Still, it’s hard to imagine a team giving up multiple first-rounders for him unless those picks include relatively heavy protections.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • It would surprise rival executives if the Bulls do anything too drastic, such as trading DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine, at this year’s trade deadline, Johnson writes in both his aforementioned mailbag and a separate NBC Sports Chicago story. Of the team’s “big three,” Nikola Vucevic is the player to watch, according to Johnson, who notes that losing the big man for nothing this offseason would be a disaster for a front office that gave up several valuable assets to acquire him.
  • DeRozan said this week that he isn’t thinking about which players the Bulls could trade for at the deadline or when injured teammates might make it back in the second half, preferring to focus on what the team has available right now. “That’s exactly been my mindset my entire career, before I was in the NBA, everything,” DeRozan said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “… Whatever cards you’re dealt with, let’s figure it out. … That’s just my mindset when it comes to everything, so I don’t really get caught up in waiting on Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) to walk through that door to help us. I don’t even think like that. You can be waiting forever for something like that.”
  • The Bulls “took a blowtorch to any belief lingering in even their most optimistic fans” with losses in Indiana and Charlotte this week, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who argues that the team as constructed is “unequivocally unfit for playoff basketball” and is in need of a trade deadline shake-up.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Team Meeting, Green, Williams

Bulls guard Zach LaVine has been playing through a right hand contusion, and it has been affecting his performance. Including Tuesday’s loss to Indiana, in which Chicago blew a 21-point lead, LaVine has gone 6-of-36 (16.7%) from three-point range over his past five games.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago asked him about his struggles after the game.

I’m playing with a messed-up finger obviously on my shooting hand,” LaVine said. “You can see by the numbers I’m not shooting the ball well from three. I can still get to the cup and shoot free throws, shoot mid-range. Obviously, you can see by the numbers it’s affecting my shot. But it’s not going to keep me from trying to go out there and help and contribute.”

As Johnson notes, LaVine wasn’t on the injury report prior to the game and was previously only listed as probable after suffering the injury on January 11. The 27-year-old is getting regular treatment and is playing with a brace, and while he says it’s painful at times, he’s not using it as an excuse.

If I’m out there, I’m healthy enough to play,” he said, per Johnson.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • The Bulls held a team meeting after their three-game win streak came to an end in disappointing fashion against Indiana on Tuesday night, but it remains to be seen whether it will help get the team out of a cycle of inconsistency and mediocrity, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “Honestly, there’s not much to be said,” Nikola Vucevic said after the Bulls were outscored by 22 points in the second half of a six-point loss. “There’s nothing you can say. It’s just a lot of frustration. We did all the talking. So we’ve just got to do it or this is where we’re going to be.”
  • There’s still some uncertainty surrounding Javonte Green‘s recovery following knee surgery, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times relays. The Bulls forward has yet to resume running or jumping, according to head coach Billy Donovan. “I’ll probably get a better idea of where he’s at physically once they say he can get on the court and start moving around a little bit, but he has not been able to do any of that,” Donovan said.
  • Former fourth overall pick Patrick Williams hasn’t necessarily developed at the rate the Bulls had hoped, but the team views performances like Monday’s 18-point, 10-rebound showing as a sign that he’s continuing to move forward, even if the progress is slow, Cowley writes for The Sun-Times. “One of the most versatile players on this team,” DeMar DeRozan said of Williams. “Once he gets comfortable and realizes what he’s doing now it’s going to help us even more.”

Rory Maher contributed to this post.

21 More NBA Players Become Trade-Eligible

Today is Sunday, January 15, which means that nearly two dozen players who signed free agent contracts meeting specific criteria this past offseason are now eligible to be traded.

Most offseason signees became trade-eligible on December 15, but players who met the following criteria were ineligible to be moved for an extra month:

  1. The player re-signed with his previous team.
  2. He got a raise of at least 20%.
  3. His salary is worth more than the minimum.
  4. His team was over the cap and used Bird or Early Bird rights to sign him.

The following players met that criteria and are eligible to be traded as of Sunday:

(* Players marked with an asterisk have the ability to veto trades.)

Most of the players on NBA rosters are now eligible to be moved, though a small handful still can’t be dealt. That group includes Thunder guard Isaiah Joe, who becomes trade-eligible on Monday, Bucks swingman Pat Connaughton (trade-eligible on Wednesday), and Thunder forward Kenrich Williams (trade-eligible on Friday).

There are also several players who won’t become trade-eligible before this season’s February 9 deadline, including Lakers star LeBron James. Players on 10-day contracts are also ineligible to be dealt.

Bulls Notes: Ball, Jones, Trade Assets, Donovan

Lonzo Ball isn’t close to returning, but he offered some hope to Bulls fans Friday by posting Instagram videos of himself dunking and running on a treadmill, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the torn meniscus that ended last season for Ball while the Bulls were 21-14 and fighting for the best record in the East. He was originally projected to miss six-to-eight weeks, but complications prevented him from returning at all. Those continued into the offseason and required an arthroscopic debridement in September that Ball is still working his way back from.

Coach Billy Donovan said the Instagram workouts are a sign of progress, but he cautioned that Ball still has a long way to go. He still feels discomfort in the knee, even though it has lessened, and hasn’t been medically cleared for cutting or full-speed running on the court every day.

“There’s going to be a pretty significant ramp-up period for him before he gets back on the floor,” Donovan explained. “Once they say, ‘Hey, he’s free to cut and sprint and take on contact,’ that’s just the first step of however long it’s going to take that process to get to a place where the medical guys and he feels comfortable that he’s built up enough endurance, strength and stamina that he can withstand coming back the next day and doing it again and doing it again.”

There’s more on the Bulls:

  • Derrick Jones Jr. has seen his playing time decrease this season, but he figures to get more minutes while Javonte Green is sidelined following knee surgery, Johnson adds in a separate story. Jones welcomes the opportunity, but doesn’t like the circumstances that caused it. “I’m happy I’m in the rotation now. But I’m also sad that my guy is out. That’s my brother and I’ve always said from day one that I want to see him be great,” Jones said. “We have a great relationship. That’s my ‘dawg.’ I want him back now.”
  • In another piece, Johnson identifies DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine as Chicago’s most valuable trade assets ahead of the February 9 deadline. Alex Caruso, Nikola Vucevic and Coby White also make the list, along with a first-round pick from Portland that’s lottery-protected through 2028.
  • In the wake of Friday’s loss to Oklahoma City, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic laments the team’s lack of an identity and wonders whether Donovan has already accomplished as much as he can with the current roster.

Injury Notes: KAT, Kuminga, Wiseman, Green, DeRozan, LaVine, Sexton

Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns continues to recuperate from a right calf strain. According to Megan Ryan and Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (Twitter link), Towns shared a minor update on his health on Thursday, though he didn’t offer a specific timeline for a return just yet.

“It’s a long process,” Towns said. “Definitely was a significant injury… I can’t wait to be back playing for the Wolves, doing what I do best on another level. The great thing about being injured, it gives you a lot of time to think, and I’ve been able to kind of be a coach and be sitting back watching our team and seeing what I, where I can implement myself even more and do… things better than I did before I was injured.”

Through his 21 healthy games this season, Towns was his usual productive self, averaging 20.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 5.3 APG.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • The Warriors have provided updates on the health statuses of several injured players (Twitter link). Second-year wing Jonathan Kuminga, out since spraining his right foot December 30, has joined his Golden State colleagues in practice for the first time today, while power forward JaMychal Green and center James Wiseman are set to rejoin the club in the next few days. Green has been out for the Warriors’ past 10 contests due to a combination of COVID-19 health and safety protocols and a right lower leg infection. Wiseman has missed Golden State’s last five games with a left ankle sprain. All three players are out for tonight’s game against the Spurs as they continue to recover.
  • Bulls All-Star small forward DeMar DeRozan is considered doubtful to suit up against the Thunder tomorrow night, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (via Twitter). DeRozan suffered a right quad strain in a Chicago loss to the Celtics Monday, and missed the Bulls’ subsequent match on Wednesday. Johnson reports that DeRozan’s maximum-salaried teammate Zach LaVine is dealing with a right hand contusion, but is considered probable to play.
  • Jazz reserve guard Collin Sexton said today that he’ll return to the club on Friday following a five-game absence due to a hamstring injury, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). “Definitely excited to be back on the floor,” Sexton said. “We pushed it yesterday a lot, we’ve been pushing it this past week, and then pushed it again today. I feel good. I’m excited — I’m ready to go.”

Bulls Rumors: Williams, Caruso, White, Vucevic, DeRozan, Dosunmu

Based on his conversations with executives around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype doesn’t believe Patrick Williams or Alex Caruso are on the trade block for the Bulls, as he told guest K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago in the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast.

One executive who spoke to Scotto suggested the Bulls may have “devalued” Williams by holding onto him until now, but Johnson questions whether the No. 4 overall pick really had a ton of value last season or this past summer, given that a major injury limited him to 17 games in 2021/22.

Johnson and Scotto agree that Caruso would bring back a strong return if the Bulls were to make him available, with Johnson suggesting that Chicago could probably get a first-round pick and a player in exchange for the defensive-minded guard.

However, Johnson still believes the Bulls are more likely to buy than sell at the trade deadline. In that scenario, Johnson believes Coby White would be in whatever package Chicago sends out, perhaps packaged with Portland’s lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick. The Grizzlies previously had interest in White, Johnson adds, though it’s unclear if Memphis would still be a suitor at this point.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The general consensus among executives around the league, according to Scotto, is that the Bulls are likely to keep center Nikola Vucevic beyond this season. The veteran center wouldn’t have a ton of value on the trade market and there’s a belief that Chicago won’t want to lose him for nothing in free agency after giving up so much to acquire him from Orlando.
  • Johnson would be surprised if the Bulls move any of their Big Three at this season’s deadline, but suggests DeMar DeRozan would have the most trade value and that Zach LaVine would also draw interest. Johnson notes that Chicago will face an interesting decision on DeRozan this summer, since he’ll be entering a contract year and “you can bet” he’ll be seeking an extension.
  • One NBA exec, speaking to Scotto, had the following to say about Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu, who can be a restricted free agent this summer: “Nobody will put a big offer sheet on him. His situation reminds me of Josh Hart. He could get that type of contract or bet on himself and take the qualifying offer.” As a restricted free agent in 2021, Hart signed a three-year, $38MM contract that wasn’t fully guaranteed; Johnson believes Dosunmu could end up with a three- or four-year deal in the range of $10-12MM per year.

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 Notes: LaVine, Donovan, Ball, Green, Caruso

Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine erupted for 41 points in Friday’s win over Philadelphia, going an incredible 11-of-13 from deep. As Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes, that pushed the Bulls’ record against the Celtics, Nets, Bucks, Sixers and Heat up to 9-2, which is the polar opposite of 2021/22, when the team struggled against the East’s top teams (it’s fair to wonder whether the Heat still belong in that group at this point with a disappointing 21-19 record, but they were one shot away from the Finals last season).

However, the Bulls have been very inconsistent overall, and are currently just 18-21, the No. 9 seed in the East. LaVine was asked after the game whether he thought Chicago has shown enough to not only keep the current roster, but possibly add to it at the trade deadline as opposed to becoming a seller.

At our best, we showed what we can be last year [at this time],” LaVine said, per Cowley. “We were the No. 1 team in the East. At our best, we’re one of the best teams in the league. That’s for them to decide. . . . I’m not worried about our roster.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • As we relayed a couple days ago, head coach Billy Donovan pushed back on the notion that Zach LaVine isn’t involved in his late-game play calls, even though DeMar DeRozan has dominated the team’s shot attempts in clutch situations. Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago provides more details and context on how the team operates at the end of close games, including quotes from Donovan regarding the DeRozan-LaVine dynamic.
  • Injured guard Lonzo Ball (left knee surgery) continues to make slow progress as he attempts to return to action. Donovan said on Friday night that he’s shown improvement compared to the last update, but Ball still isn’t able to run yet, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link). Ball last played on January 14, 2022 — nearly a full year ago.
  • Donovan also gave an update on forward Javonte Green, tweets Bontemps. The 29-year-old will be out for at least one more week as he continues to deal with right knee soreness, but the team is hopeful rest will help him recuperate. Green has been a key energy player off Chicago’s bench, averaging 5.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.8 SPG and 0.7 BPG on .587/.382/.674 shooting through 28 games (16.0 MPG). He has now missed 11 of the team’s past 17 games, including three straight.
  • Guard Alex Caruso, who sprained his right ankle during Wednesday’s victory over the Nets and had to exit the game early, was ruled out for Friday’s win, notes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (via Twitter). Like Green, Caruso provides a lot of energy — he’s arguably the team’s best defensive player.

Scotto’s Latest: LaVine, Mavs, Heat, Dort, Raptors

Rival executives believe the Knicks, Mavericks, Lakers, and Heat would be among the most likely suitors for Zach LaVine if the Bulls were to make him available prior to this season’s February 9 trade deadline, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on the latest episode of HoopsHype’s podcast. However, with Chicago still hanging onto the 10th seed in the East despite a disappointing first half (17-21), there’s no indication that the team is on the verge of becoming a seller.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Mavericks owe their 2023 first-round pick to New York, but control all their future picks and could theoretically move one or more at the trade deadline. However, Scotto has heard the Mavs will be reluctant to give up a first-rounder unless it’s for a player they believe can help make them a title contender this season.
  • Rival executives are keeping a close eye on the Heat as a team that may be active before the deadline, says Scotto. After finishing with the East’s best record in 2021/22, Miami is just 20-19 so far this season and holds the No. 8 seed. The team never really replaced P.J. Tucker after he departed in free agency and should have some tradable contracts, especially after Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon become movable on January 15 (though Oladipo will have veto power).
  • Luguentz Dort is another player who will become trade-eligible on January 15, but don’t expect him to be mentioned in any rumors this season, according to Scotto, who says the Thunder view him as a part of the team’s long-term future alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • Some people around the league believe the Raptors will be more active in trade talks beginning in mid-January, Scotto says. Toronto may have a better sense by then of which direction the team’s season is headed.