Zach LaVine

Bulls Notes: Karnisovas, Boylen, Markkanen, LaVine

Even though rumors are heating up about possible replacements for Bulls coach Jim Boylen, new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas indicated that the decision won’t be a quick one, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. As we relayed this morning, one report this week indicated that Sixers assistant Ime Udoka is the front-runner to replace Boylen, but Karnisovas said today on a conference call with reporters that many elements will play into the decision.

“Coaching in the league is very difficult. To make a decision about coaching is really hard. It’s probably the hardest thing for executives,” he said. “So I look at a lot of aspects. I’ve had numerous conversations. That said, I’d like to be in a building, to be in practices, to be around the coaching staff in meetings. We’re looking forward to getting in the video room together, analyze the games, to watch games together. Talking to players and coaches, obviously everyone is disappointed with the results last year. They (the Bulls) definitely underperformed. Watching games, I’m excited to watch because there’s a lot of talent on this team. In order for me to keep players and coaches accountable, I have to have personal relationships with them. That’s what I need to cultivate. That’s my objective this offseason.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Karnisovas said no more front office changes are planned, which means associate general manager Brian Hagen, assistant general manager Steve Weinman and director of pro personnel Jim Paxson will all be retained, Johnson adds in the same piece.
  • Karnisovas had frequent discussions with Lauri Markkanen during the hiatus and believes the third-year forward can turn things around after a disappointing season, Johnson notes in a separate story. Although Karnisovas didn’t address the topic in the conference call, Markkanen will be eligible for an extension when the offseason begins. “He’s eager to get back to the gym and improve,” Karnisovas said. “He was disappointed by the overall result (last season). Every player wants to win. He’s about winning, as well. Our objective is to get the best version of Lauri next year.”
  • Zach LaVine is disappointed that the Bulls weren’t able to qualify for the resumption of the season in Orlando, writes Eric Woodyward of ESPN. Chicago posted a 22-43 record before the shutdown — 11th in the East and eight games out of a playoff spot — which LaVine sees as an indication that bold steps must be taken to improve. “We weren’t even good enough to get to the play-in game,” he said, “so it’s upsetting and it just shows that we’ve got to do a lot of things differently to get ourselves that recognition to get to that spot.”

Bulls Notes: LaVine, Eversley, Boylen

In a Q&A with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Bulls guard Zach LaVine said he he already spoken to newly-hired head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley, and is “extremely excited to get to working with them.”

While Karnisovas has held his new position for a couple weeks, Eversley’s hiring was reported less than 36 hours ago and hasn’t yet been formally announced, so the fact that he has already touched base with LaVine suggests it was a top priority.

Asked about what he wants to see from the Bulls this offseason, LaVine – who has spoken since the suspension of the NBA season about how disappointed he was with the team’s on-court results – said he hopes that everyone is “willing and prepared to sacrifice” and is focused on getting better.

“I thought we approached this year like we were going to be good and we weren’t,” LaVine told Kennedy. “We didn’t have the chemistry, we didn’t have the right mindset. We got a little bit shocked; we thought we were going to do really well and we didn’t do well. We have to come back and prove people wrong.”

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The hiring of Eversley adds instant credibility to the Bulls’ front office, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who suggests that Eversley should help the franchise improve its reputation with players and agents around the NBA. One source who spoke to Cowley pointed to Eversley’s 10 years at Nike as a time when he gained experience building relationships with players across the league.
  • K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago makes a similar point in his own look at the hiring of Eversley, writing that the former Raptors and Sixers executive built strong relationships with DeMar DeRozan in Toronto and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia. Eversley’s investment in making those connections should benefit the Bulls, particularly in free agency, Johnson writes.
  • Within that story, Johnson also suggests that the hiring of Eversley “could take some responsibilities off (head coach Jim) Boylen‘s plate.” As Johnson explains, Boylen felt compelled to handle certain matters when former GM Gar Forman began to focus mainly on scouting prior to his dismissal. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Karnisovas will retain Boylen beyond this season, but there’s no indication that a coaching change is imminent.
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes a more in-depth look at Eversley’s background, exploring why he emerged as the Bulls’ top choice during the GM interview process.

NBA, ESPN Announce Details Of H-O-R-S-E Competition

As expected, Thunder guard Chris PaulHawks guard Trae Young, and Bulls guard Zach LaVine are among the players who will participate in the H-O-R-S-E competition being organized by the NBA, NBPA, and ESPN, per a press release.

According to the announcement, Jazz guard Mike Conley, former NBA stars Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce, newly-elected Hall-of-Famer Tamika Catchings, and three-time WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley will fill out the eight-person field for the event.

The four quarterfinal matchups will air on Sunday evening (April 12), with Young facing Billups and Catchings facing Conley in group one, while LaVine goes up against Pierce and Paul squares off against Quigley in group two. The group one winners will face one another in the first semifinal next Thursday (April 16), with the group two winners competing in the second semifinal. The final will take place on the same night.

A coin toss will determine which player starts each matchup. Each player will be required to describe his or her shot attempt beforehand and dunking won’t be permitted. ESPN’s Mark Jones will serve as the event’s host, with each player attempting shots from his or her own home gym.

The event will raise more than $200K in support of coronavirus relief efforts.

Paul, Young, LaVine Among Likely H-O-R-S-E Participants

The NBA and ESPN have nearly finalized a plan to televise a H-O-R-S-E competition to help sate fans’ appetite for basketball, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

While it’s unclear exactly when the event will take place, Wojnarowski says Thunder guard Chris Paul, Hawks guard Trae Young, and Bulls guard Zach LaVine are among the players expected to participate. The field will also include a couple of WNBA players and recent NBA players, according to Woj.

As we relayed over the weekend, the plan would be for players to remain in isolation, likely in home gyms, while putting up shots against competitors.

H-O-R-S-E is a popular playground game in which a player attempts a shot, and if it goes in, a competitor has to make the same shot from the same spot on the court. Each failure to do so results in a letter, and the first player to spell out H-O-R-S-E is eliminated.

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.