Zach LaVine

Bulls Notes: Vučević, Ball, Caruso, Williams, Donovan

The Bulls revamped their roster over the offseason, but Nikola Vučević will still be a focal point of the team’s new high-octane offense, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

Vučević had a game-high 18 field goal attempts in the Bulls’ blowout preseason victory (121-85) over the Pelicans Friday night. New teammates Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and DeMar DeRozan are all finding the All-Star center in good positions to score.

With all the guys I have around me now,” Vučević said, “I have so many opportunities to score: trail 3s, drive-and-kick, off pick-and-pops, on rolls and dump-offs. We have so many guys who are good on the ball and that are willing passers, as a big man, it’s a luxury to have. We just have to get used to each other and build that chemistry, and I think it’ll be great for everybody.”

On a team with three 20-plus points per game scorers (Vučević, DeRozan, and Zach LaVine averaged a combined 72.4 PPG last season), Vučević knows he might not be the primary option every night, but his looks should be easier to convert, and he’s perfectly fine with that, per Mayberry.

It will come easier to me because we have so much talent out there that it’s harder for defenses to take stuff away. When we do a two-man game, any type of actions, it’s going to open up a lot for everybody. For me, the same. I think it will be easier to get touches in better spots,” Vucevic said.

Here’s more from the Windy City:

  • Ball was unfazed when facing his former team last night, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times. Ball’s laid-back demeanor has served him well when faced with the near-constant rumor mill that has followed his career, Cowley notes. “I always have rumors circling around me all year,” Ball said. “So, I mean, it’s been the same for me the last four years. I’m just happy to be here.”
  • In the same piece, Cowley says that Caruso continues to praise former Lakers teammate LeBron James. “I owe a lot to [James] for where I am today. Obviously, I put a lot of work in, but he makes me look good. He makes the team look good. When you win, everybody gets paid, everybody gets to do a job. Being part of his legacy and being a part of that team for the last couple of years was fun for me,” Caruso said.
  • Cowley also relays that Patrick Williams, the fourth pick of the 2020 NBA draft, hasn’t recovered yet from his ankle sprain, but if he’s able to start practicing by next weekend, Cowley thinks there’s a good chance he’ll be ready for opening night at Detroit.
  • Coach Billy Donovan appreciated his time working with veterans Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, and Thaddeus Young, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “You talk to these veteran guys like Garrett and Thad and Sato and the word that always comes out of their mouth is ‘We. We’ve got to do this better.’ A lot of times, players say, ‘I.’ They were always ‘We,’” Donovan said. “I just admire that not only did they take care of themselves, they took care of the group.”
  • Follow more Bulls notes and rumors on our team page here.

Super-Max Candidates To Watch In 2021/22

The Designated Veteran extension, as we explain our glossary entry on the subject, is a relatively new addition to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. It allows players with seven, eight, or nine years of NBA service, who would normally be eligible for a maximum starting salary of 30% of the cap, to qualify for a “super-max” contract that starts at 35% of the cap, a level normally reserved players with 10+ years of experience.

A player who has seven or eight years of NBA service with one or two years left on his contract becomes eligible for a Designated Veteran extension if he meets the required performance criteria and hasn’t been traded since his first four years in the league. A Designated Veteran contract can also be signed by a player who is technically a free agent if he has eight or nine years of service and meets the required criteria.

The performance criteria is as follows (only one of the following must be true):

  • The player was named to an All-NBA team and/or was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.
  • The player was named the NBA MVP in any of the three most recent seasons.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN writes, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic met the super-max performance criteria this past season when he won his first MVP award. However, since he still has only six years of NBA experience under his belt, he can’t actually sign a super-max contract with Denver until the 2022 offseason. At that point, he could tack on five years and a projected $253MM+ to the one year left on his current deal.

For the time being, Jokic is the best bet to receive a Designated Veteran extension a year from now, but there are other players who could join him. Here’s a look at some super-max candidates to watch during the 2021/22 season:

Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves)

Towns has one All-NBA season under his belt already, having made the Third Team in 2018. Towns played in all 82 regular season games that year and Minnesota made the postseason for the only time during his six-year career.

Towns might not need the Wolves to get back to the postseason in order to earn a spot on the 2021/22 All-NBA team, but he’ll need to stay healthier than he has the last couple years — he has appeared in just 85 games since the start of the 2019/20 campaign, missing 51. If he plays 70+ games this season and puts up the same sort of numbers he has in the three years since his last All-NBA season (25.0 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, and 1.4 BPG on .506/.399/.834 shooting), he’ll have a great case.

Should he make an All-NBA team in 2022, Towns would be eligible for a four-year super-max extension that goes into effect in 2024/25. We’re too far out to accurately project the value of such a deal, but if the salary cap increases to, say, $130MM by that point, a four-year super-max extension for Towns would be worth nearly $204MM.

Devin Booker (Suns)

Booker’s current contract with the Suns looks essentially identical to Towns’ deal with the Timberwolves, since both players signed five-year, maximum-salary contracts at the same time. As such, Booker is in a similar situation — if he makes an All-NBA team in 2022, he could sign a four-year, super-max extension that would begin in 2024/25 and could be worth in excess of $200MM.

Unlike Towns, Booker hasn’t been an All-NBA player before, but he has a realistic shot. When the Suns posted the NBA’s best record in 2020/21, it was Chris Paul – rather than Booker – who earned All-NBA Second Team honors for both his performance and the impact his arrival had on a young Phoenix team.

But if the Suns are in contention for a top seed in the West again this season, it could be Booker’s turn to receive serious All-NBA consideration. He’s a safe bet to lead the team in scoring and he’s entering his age-25 season, whereas Paul – at age 36 – may see his numbers start to fall off a little going forward.

If Booker does become eligible for a super-max, it will be interesting to see whether the Suns are prepared to offer it to him, given the recent reports on team ownership’s reluctance to commit max money to Deandre Ayton.

Zach LaVine (Bulls)

Unlike Towns or Booker, LaVine will be a free agent during the 2022 offseason. He was an extension candidate this offeason, but once the Bulls used their potential cap room on roster upgrades rather than a renegotiation of LaVine’s 2021/22 salary, the odds of him signing a long-term extension plummeted.

Since LaVine is earning a relatively modest $19.5MM salary in 2021/22, his max extension without a renegotiation would only be worth in the neighborhood of $106MM over four years — and a renegotiation is only possible with cap room.

That means LaVine will almost certainly reach free agency in 2022. That takes an extension off the table, he could still qualify for the super-max as a free agent if he makes an All-NBA team this season.

Earning an All-NBA spot may be a longer shot for LaVine than for Towns or Booker. Not many centers will put up better numbers than Towns, and Booker’s role as the top scorer for a potential title contender will automatically put him in the conversation. LaVine is coming off a monster year, in which he established a new career high in PPG (27.4) and earned his first All-Star berth, but he has a reputation as a subpar defender and the Bulls haven’t made the playoffs during his four years with the franchise.

If LaVine maintains his impressive offensive numbers and shows improvements on defense while the new-look Bulls force their way into the playoff mix, an All-NBA nod becomes a more realistic possibility. In that scenario, LaVine would be eligible for a five-year super-max contract worth a projected $241.6MM. Whether Chicago would be comfortable putting that type of offer on the table is another story altogether.

The rookie scale extension recipients

Trae Young (Hawks), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder), and Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) all signed five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extensions this offseason that project to start at 25% of the 2022/23 cap, for a five-year value of $172.5MM.

However, all three players also received Rose Rule language in their deals. This is another form of the super-max — unlike the Designated Veteran contracts, which start at 35% of the cap instead of 30%, a player who meets the Rose Rule criteria gets a starting salary worth 30% of the cap rather than 25%.

The performance criteria for a Rose Rule salary increase are essentially the exact same as for a Designated Veteran bump, but must be achieved by the end of the player’s four-year rookie contract. That means Young, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Porter would have to make the All-NBA team in 2022 in order to increase the value of their respective extensions to $207MM over five years — an All-NBA berth in 2023 or 2024 would be too late.

Of the three players, Young might be the best bet to make an All-NBA team this season. Like Booker, he’s the go-to offensive option on a team coming off a deep playoff run. He should rank among the NBA’s leaders in both points and assists. If he improves upon last season’s .438/.343/.886 shooting numbers and Atlanta has another strong season, he’ll have a solid case.

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, the other young star to get a maximum-salary rookie scale extension this summer, already qualified for the bump to 30% of the cap by making the All-NBA team in his second and third NBA seasons. His five-year deal will be worth a projected $207MM no matter how he performs in 2021/22.

The rest

While there are other veteran players who could technically qualify for the super-max this season, none are particularly compelling candidates. Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis and Pacers center Myles Turner are perhaps the most intriguing, especially since Turner could be a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year contender. But I have a hard time imagining either player receiving a super-max offer even in the unlikely event that they qualify for one.

Among players on rookie scale contracts, Suns center Deandre Ayton is the other candidate to monitor. Ayton is reportedly seeking Rose Rule language in a maximum-salary extension with Phoenix, but the two sides are at an impasse in their negotiations.

I’d be a little surprised if Ayton becomes an All-NBA player this season, but there are so few star centers around the league that it’s not out of the question, especially if he takes on a larger offensive role going forward. If Ayton and the Suns don’t agree to an extension this month and he earns an All-NBA nod in 2022, he’d be eligible for a 30% max (five years, $207MM) with Phoenix as a restricted free agent next summer.

Central Notes: Markkanen, Carlisle, White, Pistons

The Cavaliers lavished Lauri Markkanen with a four-year, $67MM contract in a sign-and-trade with the Bulls and they have big plans for him offensively, as Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer details. Markkanen won’t just be firing 3-pointers — he’ll have the ball in his hands often on post and elbow isolations and his new team wants to showcase his playmaking ability.

“He is a dynamic offensive player, and we want him to show his whole skill set,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle says the roster was built to enhance his desire for an improved defensive mindset, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files“Guys that we brought in on two-ways and Exhibit 10s also are tough-minded, defensive-oriented guys,” he said. “Hard play is such an important part of success in our league. I think everybody knows that, but we’ve really gone that direction with guys that we’ve brought in.”
  • Coby White may have the talent to be a starting point guard in the league but it won’t happen with the Bulls, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic opines in his latest mailbag post. The commitments to Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso greatly diminish White’s chances of remaining with the franchise long-term. Mayberry takes on a number of topics, including his skepticism regarding the franchise’s desire to retain Zach LaVine for the long haul.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants to push the pace but not at the expense of high turnover numbers, Keith Langlois of writes. It will be a challenge, considering that young guards in Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes will frequently be running the offense. One of the solutions is to cut down on the number of times his wings attempt one-man fast breaks.

Bulls Notes: Ball, Karnisovas, Domercant, Bradley

New starting Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball anticipates that he will operate more as a “traditional” point guard within Chicago’s offense, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Ball suggested that with his prior team, the Pelicans, he served more as a wing who sought openings for jump shots and defended across a variety of positions than a true point guard.

“Just getting back to being more of a traditional point guard where I’m comfortable at,” Ball said during the Bulls’ Media Day. “Last year was different for me, but whatever coach asks me, I’m going to do to the best of my abilities. This year, it’s looking like I’m going to be playing point guard a lot, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Bulls team president Arturas Karnisovas spoke about hoping that Ball, 6’6″ and athletic could help speed up and diversify the Bulls’ offense. “He likes to play fast,” Karnisovas said. “He likes to advance the ball, to guard. He can be a primary ballhandler, or he can play as a secondary ballhandler.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Karnisovas opined that Chicago’s 2021 trade deadline moves, primarily the addition of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, signaled that the team was serious about improving the talent around All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Karnisovas also noted that Chicago’s newfound commitment to creating a winning culture helped draw some of the team’s top free agent targets.
  • The Bulls’ NBA G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, have promoted Henry Domercant, an assistant coach on the club since 2018, to become the team’s fourth head coach, per a team press release. Domercant hails from Naperville, Illinois, a suburb about 30 miles away from Chicago — and roughly 30 miles away from the Windy City Bulls’ home arena in Hoffman Estates. “As a lifelong Chicagoland guy, the Chicago Bulls franchise has always been special to me and I’m grateful to the organization for the opportunity to lead the Windy City Bulls,” Domercant said. “Over the last five years, the Windy City Bulls have brought a high level of basketball to the Northwest Suburbs, and I am excited to build upon that success.”
  • New Bulls reserve center Tony Bradley appears to be fully aware of his role heading into his first year in Chicago, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“I feel like I play to the best of my ability on defense, the pick-and-roll defense, to protect the rim,” Bradley, 23, said after the team’s first training camp session of the new NBA year. “I know I’m no high-flyer. But I do know how to get shots before they leave the hand instead of all the way up top. So I think I’m pretty good at it, pretty solid.”

Central Notes: LaVine, Vaccines, Warren, Garza, Smith, Livers, Pacers

While the Bulls have yet to sign Zach LaVine to an extension, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas promises that the organization is committed to their high-scoring wing, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The one thing we know is that we’re committed to Zach,’’ Karnisovas said. “We want him to be in Chicago for a very long time. I think the trade deadline and free agency moves kind of proved that.’’

That message is resonating with LaVine.

“It means a lot hearing that from them,’’ he said. “I think you guys know I’m a team-first guy, I’m excited with all the moves that were made, and really looking forward to getting into camp and getting to know these guys and getting the season started because we all have a lot to prove.”

LaVine was also asked for his input on offseason moves, Cowley tweets.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Karnisovas said the Bulls are not 100% vaccinated but “pretty close,” K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle hopes T.J. Warren can make a swift recovery from the stress fracture in the navicular bone in his left foot, Akeem Glaspie of the Indianapolis Star reports. “Hopefully, it’ll be weeks and not months, that’s the hope,” Carlisle said. “It’s important for him to keep a very upbeat view of things. The healing process with people is always better and more aggressive when you have a great attitude about it and he has.” Warren has not suffered any setbacks but the location of the injury makes for a tricky rehab, Glaspie adds.
  • The Pistons converted rookie center Luka Garza‘s two-way contract into a two-year standard deal this week. It’s a minimum-salary contract, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets, The first year is guaranteed and Detroit has a team option for 2022/23. If it’s picked up, the second year will also be fully guaranteed.
  • Chris Smith, who suffered a torn ACL in January playing for UCLA, is looking at a couple more months before he’s back, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. The Pistons signed the forward to a two-way contract in August. Another Pistons rookie forward, second-round pick Isaiah Livers, is aiming for clearance to return from his foot injury at the beginning of November, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets.
  • The Pacers’ arena has officially been renamed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, according to a team press release. It’s a multi-year partnership, replacing the former name Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Gainbridge, a Group 1001 company, is a self-managed digital platform providing clients with direct access to financial products to grow their savings.

Central Notes: LaVine, Allen, DiVincenzo, Garland, Olynyk

Zach LaVine and Bulls have been unable to reach a contract extension agreement this offseason. He said it won’t affect his performance or mindset heading into the season, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes.

“What I can control is what I do on the court. That’s what I do best, I take care of business,” he said. “I’ll come into camp ready to be a good teammate and be a better leader every day and help my team win. I think that shows my value and I’ll let my business part speak for itself when the time comes.”

LaVine, who will make $19.5MM this season, could be the top unrestricted free agent on the market next summer unless he works something out with his current club. Given that the Bulls can’t offer more than about $105MM over four years on an extension, an in-season deal appears very unlikely.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Grayson Allen and Donte DiVincenzo are eligible for rookie scale extensions prior to the start of the season. Bucks GM Jon Horst is hopeful of reaching agreements with both but it’s not necessarily a high priority to get them locked up, he told Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I don’t think it’s essential that we figure out how to extend them,” he said. “I think it’s a priority to have the discussions, see if there’s any kind of meeting of the minds or any way that we can land a deal with one or both those guys. They’re guys that we value and we like, but if not, they’re both restricted.”
  • Oddsmakers have projected the Cavaliers to lose more games than any other Eastern Conference team except Orlando. That doesn’t stop Cleveland guard Darius Garland from setting his sights on the postseason, Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype writes. “Our expectations are to make the playoffs,” he said. “The league is very balanced this year, so it’s going to be tough, but I think we’ve got the guys and the mindset to do it.”
  • Figuring out what to do with their top free agent acquisition, Kelly Olynyk, will be one of the main storylines in Pistons training camp, Keith Langlois of the team’s website writes. They’ll have to decide whether to start Olynyk or use him as Isaiah Stewart‘s backup. They’ll also have to decide whether to use to him at power forward at times alongside Stewart. Detroit targeted Olynyk due his ability to stretch the floor. He signed a three-year, $37MM contract in August.
  • The Pistons are fully vaccinated, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Central Notes: LaVine, Sumner, Pistons, Bucks

Bulls All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine is not worried about how he will mesh alongside new starting small forward DeMar DeRozanper Sean Deveney of Both players to this point have been primary scorers for their respective clubs.

“I don’t get that at all, because that’s just outside narratives,” LaVine said of the on-court collaboration with his pricey new Bulls teammate. “It’s our job to get out there and get to know each other, obviously personally and as a basketball player. It’s easy to make things work on the basketball court if you all have the same intent, and that’s winning.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • After recently tearing his left Achilles tendon during an offseason workout, 25-year-old Pacers guard Edmond Sumner underwent a successful surgery to repair the ligament, per a team press release. Drafted with the No. 52 pick out of Xavier by Indiana in 2017, Sumner has developed into a helpful reserve in his first four NBA seasons thus far. In 53 games played during the 2019/20 season, Sumner averaged 7.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 0.9 APG across 16.2 MPG. He posted a shooting line of .525/.398/.819.
  • The Pistons could stand to benefit from adding a third center with their available guaranteed roster spot, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit Free Press. The club signed Kelly Olynyk in free agency this summer, and are hopeful that second-year big man Isaiah Stewart, an All-Rookie Second Teamer, can continue to develop. Beard notes that it makes sense for Detroit to keep its 15th roster spot open through training camp, in case another veteran center becomes available elsewhere in the NBA.
  • Bucks shooting guards Donte DiVincenzo and Grayson Allen, both set to be restricted free agents in 2022, could net contract extensions by October 18 this season. Eric Nehm of The Athletic posits that, judging by the contracts meted out to similar-caliber players during the 2021 offseason, DiVincenzo could earn a multiyear contract worth $50MM or more, though Nehm wonders if the Bucks will be cautious to extend him before seeing how he plays on the hardwood. DiVincenzo injured a tendon in his left foot suffered during the 2021 playoffs. Nehm views the newly-added Allen as something of a contingency plan for DiVincenzo.

Central Notes: LaVine, Bulls, Valentine, Cavaliers

The Bulls and star guard Zach LaVine have yet to reach an agreement on a contract extension, something the 26-year-old is simply viewing as a product of business, he told Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (video link).

“It’s business. At the end of the day, I have my own things that I want to go after,” he said. “I have a lot of different motivations in my life that I try to use on the court, but I’m focused on this next upcoming year, seeing how good that I can help this team win and obviously keep developing myself and getting better as a player.”

Should the sides fail to reach an extension, LaVine would become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The All-Star guard is set to make just $19.5MM in his deal this coming season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Speaking of the Bulls, LaVine is excited to play with his new teammates this fall, Sean Deveney of Forbes writes. Chicago added DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Derrick Jones Jr. and others this summer, upgrading its roster alongside LaVine and Nikola Vucevic“I think we have a great group of guys and talent going in there,” LaVine said. “Especially when you have high expectations—you want to live up to those. I want to start early from the ground, get everybody on the same page, obviously we have a lot of new players, a lot of new personalities. We have expectations this year, but we have to go out there and show people why we want to go out there and win.”
  • The Cavaliers‘ two-year deal with Denzel Valentine is partially guaranteed in the first season and non-guaranteed in the second, according to Chris Fedor of Valentine is expected to compete for a role at shooting guard and small forward this season. He spent the last five years with the Bulls, averaging 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 19.8 minutes per game on 39% shooting from the field and 36% shooting from three-point range.
  • Cleveland is likely to make one more minor signing for training camp, Fedor notes (via Twitter). As we previously reported, the Cavaliers recently finalized training camp contracts with both RJ Nembhard and Mitch Ballock. The team also signed Tre Scott and Tacko Fall to camp deals earlier this month.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, LaVine, Herro, Moore, Jordan

The Celtics could target Bulls swingman Zach LaVine if Bradley Beal doesn’t become available on the trade market this season, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe opines.

Beal, who has spent all nine of his seasons with the Wizards, is considered unavailable in trade discussions today. NBA teams recognize that this could change, however, especially with the 28-year-old entering the final season of his contract.

Boston is well-positioned to make a trade for the next disgruntled star, but Chicago made several upgrades around LaVine this offseason. Nevertheless, LaVine and the Bulls have yet to agree to an extension, making his situation one to monitor if the team underwhelms.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines how bulking up could be beneficial for Heat guard Tyler Herro. The third-year Kentucky product has prioritized getting stronger during the offseason, something that could certainly help him defensively. On the offensive end, Herro has averaged 14.3 points and 2.8 assists in 109 regular-season games to this point, playing 28.8 minutes per contest.
  • The Magic‘s deal with guard E’Twaun Moore is a one-year, fully guaranteed contract at the veteran’s minimum, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets.
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post examines how DeAndre Jordan‘s tenure with the Nets came to an end. The veteran center was traded from Brooklyn to Detroit, then reached a buyout agreement with the Pistons — which allowed him to sign with the Lakers as a free agent. The writing was on the wall for Jordan and Brooklyn, as the Nets had penciled in Blake Griffin at starting center, along with Paul Millsap, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Claxton off the bench.

Eastern Notes: Jordan, Yurtseven, LaVine, Wizards’ Defense

The Nets offered a first-round pick to potential trade partners in order to shed DeAndre Jordan‘s contract but couldn’t find any takers, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. They instead dipped into their stockpile of second-rounders, forwarding four of them as part of the trade with the Pistons. The Nets still have second-rounders in 2024, 2026 and 2028.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Heat 7-footer Omer Yurtseven believes he can contribute in a number of ways, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “The biggest focus has been on being big inside, and I think that’s the presence that the Heat can use and I can provide,” Yurtseven said. “Being able to do that and guard the pick-and-roll, be the big presence inside and rebounding obviously has been a huge emphasis, as well. Also, with my talent and skill set, being able to stretch the floor, being able to post up and use my touch around the rim and also the midrange and step outside, as well.” Yurtseven averaged 22.4 PPG, 11.2 RPG and 2.4 BPG in five summer league games, which earned him a two-year contract.
  • Zach LaVine will have a lot more pressure on him than in any other previous season in his NBA career, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Bulls’ front office has built the team specifically to emphasize his strengths and now LaVine has to produce with the team’s expectations ramped up. LaVine, who is an unrestricted free agent after the season, can prove he deserves to be compensated like a max player if he delivers.
  • The Wizards are capable of being an above-average defensive team this coming season due to the roster changes they made, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. They have upgraded their defense at the point and on the wings with the additions of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle KuzmaAaron Holiday and Spencer Dinwiddie but could still face some challenges in the paint.