Getting to know the Bulls' Summer League roster

Getting to know the Bulls' Summer League roster

The Bulls finalized their Summer League roster on Thursday. Here's a quick background on each of the 11 players.

Rasheed Sulaimon, G: The 6-foot-4 shooting guard played a year at Maryland following his dismissal from Duke. In his senior season he averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Terrapins, who advanced to the Sweet 16. He went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Jerian Grant, G: A first-round selection by the Knicks, Grant made his way to the Bulls in the deal that sent Derrick Rose to the Knicks. Grant will get all the run he can handle in Las Vegas as the team's starting point guard, and it will help him to learn the offense with Fred Hoiberg in the huddle. Grant had a quiet rookie year, notably in his struggles from the field. He shot just 39 percent in Summer League as a rookie, but should find more success playing alongside Bobby Portis, Cristiano Felicio and Denzel Valentine.

Bobby Portis, F: The Bulls' 2015 first-round pick showed potential in his rookie season, averaging 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in 17.8 minutes. He's slated for a bigger role in his second season following the departures of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. He was impressive in last year's Summer League, averaging 14.5 points and 8.7 rebounds. He also shot 42 percent from deep, and the Bulls could be looking for him to make an impact from beyond the arc in his sophomore season.

Cristiano Felicio, C: No Bull looked more impressive down the stretch than Felicio, who averaged 11.5 points on 66 percent shooting and 6.5 rebounds. That stretch included an impressive 16-point outing in a win over the eventual champion Cavaliers. He's in line for more minutes behind Robin Lopez as the Bulls overhaul their frontcourt, and the progression he shows could be the most important takeaway from the Bulls' Summer League outings.

Patrick Miller, G: The Chicago native who played for Hales Fransiscan had an excellent career at Middle Tennessee State, averaging 23.7 points in his senior season. He went undrafted and spent a year in Turkey. He played for the D-League's Texas Legends a year ago, averaging 11.5 points and 4.1 assists. The 6-foot-1 point guard shot 48 percent from the field.

Tre Demps, G: Northwestern's leading scorer a year ago, the senior Demps connected on 2.6 triples per game at a 33.2 percent clip. He went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft.

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Raymar Morgan, F: The former Michigan State product has bounced around leagues overseas, making stops in Israel (three times), Turkey, Germany (twice) and Greece since 2010. In Germany last season, the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 15.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and shot 55 percent in 45 games for Ratiopharm Ulm.

Dez Wells, G: An honorable mention All-American in 2015, Wells went undrafted and spent last season playing with Oklahoma City's D-League team. In 24 games (21 starts), Wells averaged 12.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He struggled from the field, shooting just 43 percent, and had nearly as many turnovers (43) as he did assists (46).

Denzel Valentine, G: The Bulls' first-round draft pick will see plenty of playing time in Las Vegas. Though the Bulls signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade to help overhaul the backcourt, Valentine's 3-point capabilities will help a backcourt void of outside shooting. He's one of six guards on the team, and it will be interesting to watch how much Fred Hoiberg allows the Michigan State guard to run the offense.

Jack Cooley, F: The Evanston native who played for Glenbrook South went undrafted in 2013 after a successful career at Notre Dame. He bounced around a number of Summer League teams in 2013 and 2014 before signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the Jazz in 2015. He wound up appearing in 16 games with the Jazz. He was waived at the end of the year and played last season in Spain. He holds the NBA D-League record for rebounds in a game (29), which he accomplished in 2015.

Sandi Marcius, C: The 6-foot-10 center spent three seasons at Purdue and transferred to DePaul for his senior year. He played in Croatia two years ago and spent last year in Spain, averaging 14.9 points and 9.3 rebounds for Sammic ISB. 

Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment


Anthony Davis could be the lone torch-bearer for Chicago at All-Star weekend in 2020, and object of recruitment

There were no Lakers or Clippers in the 2018 All-Star Game, but Los Angeles was well-represented with plenty of homegrown talent, plenty of historians with Los Angeles ties and all the pageantry L.A. can provide.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George and James Harden are among the All-Stars who came home to put on the biggest show of entertainment the league has to offer, and the new format featuring captains LeBron James and Stephen Curry produced one of the most competitive finishes in recent All-Star history as the spectacle wasn’t lost on DeRozan, who plays for the conference-leading Toronto Raptors.

“It was a dream come true,” DeRozan said. “I’ll forever be a part of this, and to come out and be a starter in my hometown, it was a dream come true.”

With Chicago hosting the event in 2020, one wonders if the city or the Bulls will be as represented.

“What better time to do it than in Chicago?” Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen said about his aspirations of being an All-Star sooner rather than later.

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, to this point, is the only Chicagoan carrying the torch as an All-Star. For years, Chicago could claim their homegrown talent rivaled the likes of Los Angeles and New York, the self-proclaimed “Mecca”.

But now they’ve fallen behind in the way of star power, as Derrick Rose has gone from MVP to one of the biggest “what if” stories in modern-day sports. Jabari Parker was expected to be next in line but his future as a star is murky due to the same dreaded injury bug.

“I didn’t know that. But there’s a lot of great players (from Chicago),” Davis said Saturday during media availability. “Jabari is just coming back, Derrick is going through what he’s going through. That’s fine. D-Wade is getting older. We have a lot of great guys. Guys have been hurt, in D-Wade’s case he’s just getting up there in age now (laughs).”

Davis is arguably the league’s most versatile big man, keeping the New Orleans Pelicans afloat while DeMarcus Cousins is out with an Achilles injury. He’s had to watch the likes of George deal with free agent questions about the prospect of coming home to L.A., even after he was traded from Indiana to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

It still hasn’t stopped the chants from Lakers fans, panting after George in the hope he’ll be a savior of sorts. And even though his contract isn’t up for another few seasons, teams are lining up in the hope they can acquire him through free agency or trade.

It could very well be him getting the chants when the All-Star party comes to Chicago and he could be joined by the likes of Markkanen and Zach LaVine in the big game.

LaVine was in Los Angeles for the weekend and Markkanen opened eyes around the league with his showing in the rising stars game as well as the skills challenge.

Davis could wind up being the object of everyone’s affection and could find himself being recruited by the likes of LaVine.

Even though 2021 is a long way away, a guy can dream, right?

“I mean, I’m cool with a lot of dudes in the NBA. I feel like I’m a likeable guy,” LaVine told NBCSportsChicago.com about recruiting star players to the Bulls franchise. “I can talk about situations like that, it would be my first time being put in a position. It would be a little bit different but I think I can handle it.”

LaVine has his own contract situation to take care of this summer, being a restricted free agent but understands the Bulls’ salary cap position and their long-term goals.

“Yeah I think once the offseason comes and everybody settles down, and I’m comfortable, and I know the position I’ll be in,” LaVine said to NBCSportsChicago.com.

“I think we’ll start having those conversations because we want to get the franchise back to where it was, on that high plateau. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

“I’m trying to solidify myself in the league to a certain degree. Once you start reaching those points you can talk to anybody to get to where you want to get to.”

LaVine attended several events over the weekend and shared the same space as several All-Stars in non-media settings. It’s easy to see why he would think he could have that affect with his peers.

Being careful about the rules on tampering, he said about a potential sit-down with Davis, “I would bring some Harold’s chicken to the meeting and we’ll be all good.”

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie


Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

Los Angeles—Lauri Markkanen called himself “The Finnisher” when asked what the movie of his life would be called.

Apparently, that moniker didn’t apply to the All-Star Skills challenge as he took down the best big men but couldn’t close against a former Bull, Spencer Dinwiddie, in the final.

The contest highlights players’ ability to dribble around cones shaped like NBA logos, throwing a chest pass into a net while having to complete a layup and then 3-pointer before their opponent does.

Markkanen took down Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before facing off with Dinwiddie. He held a pose after hitting a triple to beat the uber confident Embiid, in what will likely be used as a memorable gif following the weekend.

His confidence doesn’t come across as blatantly as Embiid’s, but that snapshot shows he’s no humble star in the making. He didn’t even practice for the contest, by his own admission.

“I heard some of the guys did,” Markkanen said. “I didn’t do much, just before the competition, I did a little warm-up.”

Missing on the first pass attempt into the circular net in the final, it gave Dinwiddie the advantage he wouldn’t relinquish, hitting on his second 3-point attempt before Markkanen could make it downcourt to contest.

“It’s a lot harder than I’ve seen,” Markkanen said. “I thought it was gonna be super easy but it was kind of tough. Maybe I need to hold my follow through (on the pass).”

“I saw he missed (the first shot) and I started going. I thought he would’ve missed it too. I think I would’ve gotten it on the third shot.”

Being one of the multi-dimensional big men in today’s game who can be adept on the perimeter as well as the interior, it almost seems like the contest was made for Markkanen. Although he doesn’t do much handling in Fred Hoiberg’s offense, it’s clearly a skill he will develop as time goes on.

The last two winners of the skills challenge were Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, and Markkanen was well aware of the recent trend.

“The last two years the bigs have won,” Markkanen said. “I’m kind of pissed that I couldn’t keep the streak going after (those two). I think there’s a lot of guys who can do that now, it’s why they changed the format to bigs versus smalls.”

For Dinwiddie, who was discarded by the Bulls last season after a promising start in the preseason so they could pick up R.J. Hunter, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity with Brooklyn.

“I think for Chicago it was just another series of unfortunate events,” he said. “They were in win-now mode. I was an unproven guard on a non-guaranteed contract and they felt Michael Carter-Williams gave them a better shot to win.”