Zach LaVine

Reactions To Bulls’ Billy Donovan Hire

The Bullshiring of Billy Donovan as their new head coach was met with positive reviews by rival executives and by agents of Bulls players alike, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. One Eastern Conference GM who spoke to Scotto pointed out that Donovan has yet to coach a team without a “strong personality,” meaning it will be interesting to see how he shapes Chicago’s young core.

“Looking at the other jobs for Billy, the only one that might have been better for him is New Orleans, but I can see why he went with Chicago,” the GM told HoopsHype. “They have young talent, lots of flexibility, a great city, and solid ownership.”

“It’s great,” an agent said of the Donovan hire. “He or Kenny Atkinson would’ve been good choices. They can only go up. They have a lot of talent and underachieved, so he can look really good when they do better.”

Here’s more on the Bulls’ new head coach:

  • Joakim Noah, who played under Donovan during his college days at Florida, lauded the hire in a conversation with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He’s someone who cares about his players, someone who is very demanding, someone who is very competitive and just has a great balance to him,” Noah said. “It’s a great hire.” Nick Friedell of ESPN wonders (via Twitter) if a reunion between Noah and the Bulls could be in the cards now that Donovan is in the picture.
  • Zach LaVine was streaming Call of Duty on Facebook Gaming when word broke that the Bulls were hiring Donovan, so his reaction was captured live, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago details. “Oh damn, we got Billy Donovan as our next coach,” LaVine said on the feed. “Wow. That’ll be good… Really good coach.”
  • Donovan brings flexibility, crunch-time success, consistency, and player-development skills to the Bulls, writes Darnell Mayberry for The Athletic. Meanwhile, over at NBC Sports Chicago, Rob Schaefer’s breakdown of four ways Donovan can immediately help the Bulls covers some of the same bases as Mayberry’s piece.
  • While Chicago’s new head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas faced a little criticism for taking so long to part ways with previous head coach Jim Boylen, it’s worth noting that Donovan wouldn’t have been available if the team had moved quickly to replace Boylen when Karnisovas was hired in the spring, observes Jon Greenberg of The Athletic.

New York Notes: Nets, Crawford, Thibodeau, Forbes List

The Nets were overmatched in their first reseeding game Friday against the Magic, and it’s a trend that will likely continue throughout their stay in Orlando, writes Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. Brooklyn started out strong in the 128-118 loss, which dropped the team into eighth place in the East, but a lack of proven NBA talent was too much to overcome. The Nets are missing seven members of their regular roster.

“We need to embrace that stuff a little bit,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We’ll have to be extremely gritty, put a body on someone every single possession. That gave us more than 40 opportunities to shoot 3s and when teams do that you have to make them pay.”

There’s more on the New York teams:

  • Veteran guard Jamal Crawford was held out of Friday’s game and may not make his debut with the Nets tomorrow, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Crawford is listed as questionable for the contest with the Wizards because of conditioning issues. Brooklyn holds a six-game lead over Washington and can effectively clinch a playoff spot with a win.
  • Now that Tom Thibodeau is officially the new head coach of the Knicks, Jonathan Macri of Sports Illustrated looks at five of his former players who could potentially play for him in New York. He notes that when Thibodeau was hired in Minnesota, he brought in several of his ex-players from Chicago. In addition to Taj Gibson, who is already on New York’s roster and is waiting for the team to make a decision on his $9.5MM option for next season, Macri’s list includes D.J. Augustin, Zach LaVine, Jeff Teague and Dario Saric.
  • The Knicks are this year’s highest-valued NBA team on the annual list from Forbes. Despite seven straight losing seasons, the Knicks are third overall at $4.6 billion, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. The Lakers rank fourth at $4.4 billion and the Warriors are fifth at $4.3 billion.

Knicks, Nets Among Teams Keeping Eye On Zach LaVine

The Knicks and Nets are among the teams who have been monitoring Zach LaVine‘s situation in Chicago, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who reports that both New York and Brooklyn have done “background work” on the Bulls guard.

LaVine remains under contract for an additional two years beyond this season, so he won’t be reaching free agency anytime soon. However, with no star players known to be available on the trade market for the time being, teams like the Knicks and Nets are keeping an eye on players who could conceivably become available in trade talks within the next year or two.

LaVine, a six-year veteran, has never made the playoffs with the Timberwolves or the Bulls, and suggested in March that he was “upset” with Chicago’s performance in 2019/20.

Disgruntled stars on lottery teams often make the best trade candidates, though in LaVine’s case, it seems likely that he’ll want to give the new Bulls regime a chance to improve the roster before making any decisions about his future. The team hired Arturas Karnisovas as president of basketball operations and Marc Eversley as general manager in the spring.

According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), LaVine was in Chicago two weeks ago and had a “positive” visit with the Bulls’ new decision-makers. Johnson adds that while they’ll likely be willing to listen to any ideas, Karnisovas and Eversley appear focused on maximizing the roster’s potential for next season — not on trading the club’s leading scorer.

The front office’s decision on head coach Jim Boylen is also worth keeping an eye on in relation to LaVine’s situation, since he and Boylen haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Sources have told Marc Berman of The New York Post that the Bulls appear likely to stand pat with Boylen for now.

LaVine had a career year in ’19/20 before the coronavirus pandemic prematurely ended Chicago’s season. He averaged 25.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 4.2 APG on .450/.380/.802 shooting in 60 games (34.8 MPG).

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: