Bulls

Teague's deal could signal end of Bulls' offseason moves

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Teague's deal could signal end of Bulls' offseason moves

Marquis Teague, the Bulls' first-round draft pick, has agreed to terms with the organization, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Teague, a point guard from the University of Kentucky, was the last first-round selection in the 2012 NBA Draft to sign his contract, but more significantly, the Indianapolis native will receive 100 percent of his 857,000 rookie-scale deal in his first season, as opposed to the 120 percent typical of most rookie contracts.

As first reported by ShamSports.com, Teague's deal was likely delayed due to the Bulls' desire to stay under the NBA's "hard" salary cap.

However, even with Teague, the younger brother of Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, taking less money in his first year -- he will receive 120 percent of his salary in the final two seasons of his rookie contract -- the Bulls will not be able to sign even another minimum-salary veteran player without exceeding the hard cap.

The Bulls, who will pay the league's luxury tax for the first time in the organization's history, now have 13 players under contract after acquiring free agents Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson, Vladimir Radmanovic and Chicago native Nazr Mohammed. Teague's signing likely signifies the end of the team's offseason transactions.

While the likes of summer-league revelation Malcolm Thomas (offered a partially-guaranteed deal, according to a source, but will likely opt to play overseas), mini-camp participant and Chicago native Patrick Beverley (recently worked out for the Lakers), former All-Star Tracy McGrady and former Sacramento Kings forward Donte Greene have all been rumored to be potential additions to the roster, the front office will probably choose to stand pat, save a possible training-camp invitation or two.

After the decimation of the majority of the "Bench Mob," the Bulls' popular second unit -- backup point guard C.J. Watson and reserve swingman Ronnie Brewer were waived, then subsequently signed with Brooklyn and New York, respectively; sharpshooter Kyle Korver was traded to Atlanta; diminutive fan favorite John Lucas III joined Toronto -- and adding the aforementioned low-profile free agents, the Bulls' summer has been widely regarded as disappointing by observers.

With superstar Derrick Rose on the shelf to begin the season, expectations are low heading into the regular season, but the franchise still has work to do. The Bulls intend to sign backup power forward Taj Gibson to a long-term contract extension before the season begins, as he will surely generate much interest if he hits the market as a restricted free agent next summer.

Meanwhile, the matter of Tom Thibodeau's own deal -- the head coach is in the final year of his contract after his team option was picked up earlier in the offseason -- looms.

Zach LaVine's conditioning at '70 percent' but still on schedule

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USA TODAY

Zach LaVine's conditioning at '70 percent' but still on schedule

Everybody saw the play, that awkward instance where Zach LaVine looked ready for his second dunk of the season but was fouled from behind by Atlanta’s Taurean Prince.

It looked as if LaVine was ready for liftoff but one of his jets misfired, sparking at least the thought of his recovery from his ACL injury being a bit off—but he laughed at the thought.

“I don’t know why everybody keeps talking about it,” LaVine said Sunday at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, where the Bulls held practice. “The dude stepped on the back of my foot, so I couldn’t get off the ground. Everybody’s wondering if I’m okay, yeah. I just missed a fouled layup.”

The adrenaline from his first two games have worn off a bit, and he missed his first four shots from the field Saturday before hitting a couple in the start of the third quarter in the Bulls’ 113-97 win over the Hawks.

He looked winded a few times during his stint and admitted his conditioning isn’t where it should be—as expected given he’s missed 11 months of real basketball. He said his conditioning is at about “70 percent”, and you can certainly see it in his jump shot not being as fluid as it was last season in Minnesota.

“It was feeling good in practice but in games it’s seventy,” LaVine said. “Playing defense, getting back, running the break, just getting used to it.”

Add to it, the Bulls cover the most halfcourt ground of any team in the NBA with their set offense and Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has long said he’s not slowing down his offense while LaVine is in.

The shooting guard will have to catch up to the pace, and it’ll probably be better for him in the long run.

“I think it’s just ‘okay’ and rightfully so,” said Hoiberg about LaVine’s conditioning. “It’s impossible to simulate game action in practices when you’re doing individual workouts. Every time he plays that conditioning will ramp up. As he plays, it’ll get better and better. And he’s such a good and natural athlete, it’ll come back quickly.”

Hoiberg isn’t concerned about the variances in LaVine’s performances. He came out the gate with such force and adrenaline in his debut against Detroit and two days later against Miami, but it’s tailed off against Golden State and then Atlanta.

“I think Zach’s doing great,” Hoiberg said. “You look around the league where players have come back from significant injuries, he’s gonna be up and down. His first two games he’s been unbelievable. A couple games he hasn’t shot the ball great. He played unselfish basketball last night.”

LaVine’s minutes has been extended to 24 from 20, and he’ll still practice in the off-days as the Bulls want to keep his rehab on schedule as opposed to having him play heavy minutes initially.

He’ll be re-evaluated after Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia and could see his minutes rise before the Bulls host the Lakers Friday at the United Center.

“I should just get used to it,” LaVine said. “Just getting used to the swing of things. It takes a second for your body to get adjusted to it.”

Three Things to Watch: Bulls visit Pelicans

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls visit Pelicans

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Bulls take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Pregame Live.

1. Anthony Davis

The five-time All-Star just continues to improve. While he's not averaging career-highs in any major category, no one's going to scoff at his 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.1 blocks in 36 minutes per game. He's shooting nearly 56 percent from the field and is on pace for a career-best in 3-pointers made, which is a pretty impressive statistic. Lauri Markkanen will have his hands full, and it may be in the Bulls' best interest to get Nikola Mirotic some early minutes to try and get physical with Davis. There's no real way to slow him down.

2. DeMarcus Cousins

And if the Bulls should so happen to get lucky and slow down Davis, there's another All-Star starter waiting alongside him. Boogie Cousins has been every bit as good as Davis this season, averaging 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 36 minutes. He's certainly not as efficient as Davis (47 percent from the field, 5.0 turnovers) but is deadly inside. He's shooting a career-best 52.8 percent on 2-pointers this season, and his 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks make him a serviceable defender (although the Bulls could certainly stretch their offense to make him work more).

3. Rajon Rondo

Rondo hasn't been great in his first season with the Pellies, but perhaps he's turning things around. Beginning with his absurd 25-assist game just after Christmas, Rondo is averaging 7.4 points, 8.2 assists and 1.0 steal per game. He's allowed Jrue Holiday to play more off the ball, and while his defense is nothing to write home about he's logging solid minutes for a Pelicans team woefully short in the backcourt.