Zach LaVine

Bulls Notes: LaVine, White, Jordan

The Bulls didn’t have the year they’d envisioned heading into the 2019/20 campaign. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic and league stoppage, Chicago was on its way to a third straight lottery appearance, and Zach LaVine is not happy with how the on-court situation was unfolding.

“To be blunt, I’m upset,” LaVine said (via Sam Smith of NBA.com). “We had high expectations coming into the season and it didn’t go our way anyway we could have thought of. We played through some adversity, but we didn’t go out there and do what we were supposed to do as a team.

“… I’ve been in the NBA six years now and it just gets frustrating. I want to be in the playoffs. We really [believed]. I haven’t played in a playoff game and it wears on you. That’s what you work so hard for and continue to play for.”

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • In the same piece, LaVine added that he has high hopes for rookie Coby White. The Bulls selected the point guard with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
  • Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports examines how the Bulls’ 2019 offseason signings panned out and what roles they may have with the club going forward. Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky were the highest-priced acquisitions.
  • ESPN has moved up its Michael Jordan documentary release date. “The Last Dance,” which is a 10-part series that takes an in-depth look at the Bulls’ dynasty, will debut on April 19.

NBA Plans To Launch Players-Only 2K Tournament

12:07pm: The Boardroom has provided a full list of the 16 participants in the tournament, along with the first-round matchups (Twitter link). Devin Booker (Suns), Trae Young (Hawks), and Zach LaVine (Bulls) are among the other stars set to take part in the event.

11:19am: With no NBA games expected to happen on the court anytime soon, the league is setting up a virtual tournament in an attempt to sate fans’ appetite for basketball, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

According to Haynes, the league intends to launch an NBA 2K tournament that will feature NBA players competing against one another. The goal is to begin the 10-day event this Friday, though the league is still working out and finalizing the details, sources tell Haynes. The tournament would be broadcast on ESPN.

Nets star Kevin Durant, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, and free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins are among the 16 players expected to participate, per Haynes.

Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel had previously tweeted that Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Heat swingman Derrick Jones were among the players set to play in an NBA 2K20 Players Tournament in April. That info appears to be based on an announcement from the NBPA, which was quickly deleted. Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone (via Twitter) shares the full list of participants the NBPA identified in that premature release.

According to Winderman, the tournament is expected to have a $100K prize for charity.

Central Notes: Wood, Brogdon, Cavs, Bulls

Christian Wood will be reaching the unrestricted free agent market in 2020 on the heels of a career year, and the Pistons‘ big man isn’t pretending that he hasn’t thought about what the offseason might bring, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details.

“I know it’s a big summer for me,” Wood said on Tuesday. “I actually think I’m one of the best bigs in this free agency coming up with my ability to shoot and space the floor and be able to play the five and be able to guard and switch on the perimeter. I’ve just got to stay focused. I’ve got to keep with the same mindset, same attitude what I’m doing right now.”

While Wood should draw a good deal of interest on the open market this summer, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of remaining with the Pistons. The fact that Detroit is the team that finally gave him an opportunity to play a regular role is something he won’t forget as he considers his options, per Langlois.

“It’s a huge factor,” Wood said. “Especially with this team being one of the first to actually give me a legitimate chance and playing in games and believing in me and believing in what I do. Especially with (head coach Dwane) Casey, with us establishing a relationship early and throughout right now. It plays a big factor.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

Injury Updates: Dunn, LaVine, Curry, Oubre, Dedmon

The Bulls‘ frontcourt has been getting a little healthier lately, with Otto Porter and Wendell Carter returning to action within the last few days and Lauri Markkanen making good progress as well. However, the team isn’t in the clear yet when it comes to injuries, especially in the backcourt.

Speaking today to reporters, including K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), Bulls head coach Jim Boylen confirmed that Kris Dunn will miss the rest of the 2019/20 season. That update doesn’t come as a surprise — we heard nearly two weeks ago that Dunn’s season was in jeopardy as a result of his right MCL sprain. He’ll be eligible for restricted free agency this summer and won’t meet the starter criteria, which will reduce the value of his qualifying offer, as we detailed in that February story.

Meanwhile, the Bulls’ leading scorer, Zach LaVine, confirmed that he’ll remain on the shelf for Wednesday’s game in Minnesota after missing Monday’s contest vs. Dallas (video link via Tony Gill of NBC Sports Chicago). LaVine added that his quad strain will probably sideline him for about a week.

Here are more injury updates from across the NBA:

  • A Thursday return vs. Toronto is a possibility for Warriors star Stephen Curry, head coach Steve Kerr said today (video link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). Curry’s return date was pushed back after he originally targeted March 1, but it sounds like he’s pretty close.
  • Suns forward Kelly Oubre will undergo surgery on his torn right meniscus, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. Oubre’s recovery timetable remains unclear — an update is expected to be provided on Wednesday, per Arizona Sports 98.7.
  • The Hawks announced in a press release today that injured center Dewayne Dedmon (elbow) has been cleared to practice on Wednesday. GM Travis Schlenk said in an appearance on 92.9 FM in Atlanta that the Hawks “fully expect” Dedmon to be available on Friday (Twitter link via Kevin Chouinard).
  • Asked today if Derrick Rose will return this season, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey was noncommittal, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “We’ll just see how he feels. I wouldn’t put that in concrete,” Casey said. “… I don’t know what he would gain from it by coming back (for the final weeks). We haven’t made that decision yet.” Rose, who is recovering from a sprained ankle, will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Bulls Notes: Boylen, Arcidiacono, Hutchison, Gafford

Frustration among Bulls players is being caused not only by eight straight losses, but by coach Jim Boylen’s unusual timeout strategy, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Boylen called a timeout last night with 30 seconds to play and his team trailing by 10 points. Television cameras seemed to capture Zach LaVine expressing bewilderment over the decision.

“He hasn’t said a word to me about it agitating him,” Boylen said of LaVine. “I don’t know if you’re reading his mind on that or if you’re just making that assumption that that’s what he’s upset about. He hasn’t said a word to me about it. He’s very respectful about me coaching the team and me trying to help the team. So you’ll have to ask him.”

Asked about Boylen’s strategy, LaVine responded, “That’s what he do, man. That’s what he do. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not the coach. He’s told me he likes working on things that we do in practice and things like that. He’s the head coach. He can call timeout if he wants to.”

Mayberry documents four other instances this month where Boylen has used timeouts in the closing seconds with his team hopelessly behind. He notes that players have been reluctant to buy into Boylen’s coaching methods, and his 36-79 record since taking over hasn’t helped. However, he retains the support of management and was given a two-year extension after last season.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Ryan Arcidiacono has made his first two starts of the season in the two games since the All-Star break, and he’s likely to continue in that role as long as Chandler Hutchison remains injured, Boylen tells K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“(Arcidiacono starting) keeps Coby (White) in that backup role, where he’s finding his voice and he’s learning to play that (lead guard) position,” Boylen said. “And I think that’s important too. Coby has more of a voice with that second group, and we’re asking him to run that group as efficiently as he can and learn.”
  • Hutchison got a cortisone shot in his injured right shoulder for the second time this season and expressed hope that he will be able to return, although he didn’t offer a target date, Johnson relays in a separate story. Hutchison also indicated offseason surgery may be necessary. “It’s something as a last resort kind of deal. With what’s going on with my shoulder, it could be used to clean it out. Or it could be something that heals on its own,” he said. “Right now, I’m hoping that with rest it’s something I can get to a point where it heals on its own. And then those talks will kind of advance if it gets to that point.”
  • Daniel Gafford tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that he hopes to use the final six weeks of the season to prove he’s worthy of a larger role in the rotation.

Central Notes: Oladipo, LaVine, Bulls, Pistons

Prior to the 2019/20 season, the Pacers and Victor Oladipo “very briefly” discussed the possibility of a contract extension, but decided it was best to revisit the subject later, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Oladipo will be extension-eligible again during the 2020/21 league year, so he and the Pacers could circle back to those discussions this summer. Still, it’d be a surprise if he agrees to a new deal before the 2021 offseason, when he could optimize his earnings as a free agent.

In a contract extension, Oladipo would be limited to a starting salary of $25.2MM. Based on the league’s latest salary cap projections for 2021/22, the Pacers guard could earn a starting salary of up to $37.2MM if he waits until free agency to sign his next contract.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Although the Bulls have acquired a handful of promising young players in recent years, it remains to be seen whether any players on the roster will develop into true stars. Eric Woodyard of ESPN takes a closer look at whether Zach LaVine is capable of becoming that sort of player.
  • Here’s what executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson had to say about the Bulls developing and evaluating their roster and seeking star-caliber players, via Woodyard: “We know what we have to get … in this business, you win with stars. Every team does. We went into a rebuild. You draft and you hope that those guys develop. We’re still trying to get to that phase of being a relevant, legitimate team. … The time after the All-Star break will be us evaluating who fits going forward, but we’ve not given up on our young guys. A lot of people make mistakes in this league. I know the balance is not hanging on too long, but it’s not giving up on guys too early.”
  • Bulls forward Thaddeus Young and swingman Denzel Valentine heard that there were teams interested in them leading up to the trade deadline, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago details. Both players suggested they’re happy to have the deadline behind them so they can move forward and focus on pushing for a playoff spot down the stretch.
  • After several years spent in the middle of the NBA pack, the Pistons‘ rebuild was a long time coming, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Scotto’s Latest: Gallinari, Nunn, Pacers, Nuggets, More

When the Thunder and Heat discussed a potential Danilo Gallinari trade leading up to last week’s deadline, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Kendrick Nunn, and draft compensation were among the various assets that came up in talks, league sources tell Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report. Miami reportedly wanted to extend Gallinari’s contract as part of a deal, but couldn’t agree to terms with his camp, which is one main reason the trade didn’t happen.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote last week that he believed the Heat could’ve acquired Gallinari without surrendering any of their young players like Nunn. So even though his name came up in discussions, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Thunder would have insisted on his inclusion, depending on what other pieces were involved.

While Gallinari remained with the Thunder for this season, Scotto suggests the Heat and Knicks could be among his potential suitors this summer. Miami clearly has interest, and created some cap flexibility for 2020/21 by moving Johnson and Dion Waiters last week. New York, meanwhile, will have cap space and is hiring veteran CAA agent Leon Rose as its new president of basketball operations. Gallinari is a CAA client.

Here are a few more noteworthy tidbits from Scotto’s look at the post-deadline landscape:

  • The Knicks and Pacers discussed a possible Marcus Morris trade. According to Scotto, a package that featured Aaron Holiday, Doug McDermott, and T.J. Leaf was “briefly kicked around,” but didn’t end up going far.
  • McDermott’s name also came up in discussions about a potential Pacers trade with the Bucks involving Ersan Ilyasova, says Scotto. It’s not known which team initiated those talks.
  • Before the Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond, they called the Pacers to ask about Myles Turner‘s availability, per Scotto. Indiana has remained firm on keeping Turner, though many executives expect the team to eventually break up its Turner/Domantas Sabonis frontcourt.
  • The Nuggets discussed the possibility of trading Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez as part of a package for Bulls guard Zach LaVine or Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, sources tell Scotto. New Orleans set a very high asking price for Holiday, while LaVine was said to be “off-limits” for Chicago, so Denver didn’t get far on either front.

Trade Rumors: Clippers, Herro, LaVine, Poeltl, More

Chris Mannix of SI.com is among the latest reporters to weigh in this week on the Clippers‘ search for a center. According to Mannix, Los Angeles’ coaching staff has some concerns about the team’s rebounding. We heard on Monday that the Clips are also wary of facing star centers like Rudy Gobert or Nikola Jokic in the postseason.

Sources tell Mannix that there’s some interest within the Clippers’ front office in Tristan Thompson, whom the Cavaliers have put on the trade block. Mannix also names disgruntled Kings big man Dewayne Dedmon as a possible target, though he cautions that Dedmon wouldn’t be a preferred option for L.A.

The Clippers have Maurice Harkless‘ $11MM+ expiring contract available to use as a salary-matching piece for a trade target earning an eight-figure salary, but the team will have to be careful about how it fires that bullet. Acquiring a pricey center like Thompson or Dedmon using Harkless’ deal could take the team out of the market for a wing in the same salary range, such as Marcus Morris or Robert Covington.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Heat have told teams that Tyler Herro is unavailable at this time, according to Mannix. If Miami wants to do something major, Herro would likely be the first player a potential trade partner asks about, but the Heat have no interest in moving him.
  • The Bulls have received some trade feelers for Zach LaVine, but a source tells Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) that the 24-year-old is “off-limits.” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe said essentially the same thing on a podcast this week.
  • Teams are calling the Spurs to ask about Jakob Poeltl, but the asking price is believed to be too high, tweets Jabari Young of CNBC. Poeltl will be a restricted free agent at season’s end, so it’s possible San Antonio will lower its price by Thursday if the big man isn’t in the team’s long-term plans.
  • Nuggets power forward Juan Hernangomez is among the players of interest for the Rockets, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Denver is reportedly seeking a second-round pick for Hernangomez.

Bulls Notes: Dunn, Young, LaVine, All-Star Weekend

The Bulls lost their defensive leader when Kris Dunn suffered a knee injury 13 seconds into Friday’s game, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Dunn returned to Chicago to undergo an MRI and get a thorough examination from team doctors. A more detailed report on his condition should be available soon.

The injury comes at an awkward time for Chicago with the trade deadline just five days away. Despite a 19-32 record, the Bulls are just three-and-a-half games out of the eighth spot in the East. Coach Jim Boylen acknowledged that several factors are in play as the organization decides whether to be buyers or sellers.

“The health of our team, our future development, our current ability to fight for the playoffs, we’ll take all that into account,’’ Boylen said.

A long-term absence for Dunn would weigh heavily on those decisions. He has become a contender for the NBA’s All-Defensive Team and serves as the on-court embodiment of Boylen’s defense-first philosophy.

“He brings other things that maybe you don’t see on the floor,’’ Boylen said. “He’s a great teammate, he relishes in his teammates’ success. He’s a vocal part of our meal room, our meetings, our video. He helps us learn and grow, so we’re going to miss him on a lot of levels.’’

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The irony of Dunn’s injury is that he was hurt in a collision with teammate Thaddeus Young, who is a prime candidate to be traded if the Bulls decide to break up the team, Cowley adds in the same story. Young was knocked backward while drawing a charge, and his head struck Dunn’s knee. Young has been part of trade rumors for several weeks, but is attempting to go about business as usual. “I try not to worry about those things,’’ he said after today’s practice. “I try to continue to come and hoop whether I’m playing for the Bulls or playing for any other organization. … If they have to make a business decision, I understand what it is. I’ve been in the game for a long time. I understand organizations have to make changes and business decisions. When you get into a situation and your back is against the wall, you have to learn how to pivot.’’
  • Zach LaVine tells Sam Smith of NBA.com that he’s disappointed not to be named to the All-Star Game, but understands the reasons for the decision. “You just saw the trend where they went for players on winning teams,” LaVine said. “Everybody (who has excelled this season) feels like they are deserving. But there are only so many spots. A lot of guys can make their case.” Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago examines the remarkable numbers LaVine posted in January, which was the best month of his career.
  • No Bulls are currently slated to participate in any All-Star Weekend event, even though the game is in Chicago for the first time since 1988, notes Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune. Wendell Carter Jr. was selected for the Rising Stars Challenge, but will miss the game because of a sprained right ankle.

Zach LaVine Would Like To Have Input On Bulls’ Roster Moves

Zach LaVine has arguably been the Bulls‘ most important player through the first half of the season. He’s a borderline All-Star candidate and any chance of Chicago making the postseason likely hinges on his success.

So does he expect to be involved in the team’s decisions leading up to the trade deadline? Not necessarily, though he would embrace that kind of power, as Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times relays.

“I mean if they come to me and let me know, I think it would be great,’’ LaVine said of the team speaking with him about potential moves. “If not I’m not taking offense to it either. It’s not something that I’m asking for.

“I know what I stand for. I’m trying to help us get there and I don’t think you can question what my intentions are.’’

Thaddeus Young and Kris Dunn could both be on the move. The Clippers have interest in each player, sources tell Cowley, though Los Angeles could simply wait until the offseason to pursue Dunn, as he will be a restricted free agent.