Bulls

Bulls Mailbag: Trade speculation heating up

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USA TODAY

Bulls Mailbag: Trade speculation heating up

As we get closer to the June 20 draft, the rumor mill is really starting to heat up around the NBA, and the Bulls find themselves right in the middle of speculation involving superstar big man Anthony Davis.

Unfortunately, the trade rumors aren't about bringing Davis home to Chicago, only about how they could facilitate a Davis-to-the-Lakers deal as a third team.

And, Bulls fans have plenty of questions about the latest rumors.

Paul Conner @paulconner33

What do you make of the reports of Zach Lavine being part of a larger package in a 3 way deal for Davis?

Trading Zach LaVine in a package for the 4th overall pick and Lonzo Ball would set the Bulls' rebuild back two years, basically starting over. Sure, LaVine has his issues at the defensive end, but athletic shooting guards who average 23.7 points per game don't grow on trees, and Zach has made great strides in terms of becoming a better passer and team leader. If the Bulls were getting Davis in the trade, sure you would be willing to trade LaVine, but not for another unproven rookie and a guy who can't shoot in Lonzo Ball.

Roderick L. @19RoLo67

You believing in Lonzo hype? What else can the Bulls get if they get in the 3 way trade with the Pelicans and Lakers? It looks like trading just to trade.

This isn't the first time the Bulls have been linked to trade rumors involving Ball, who was the 2nd overall pick in 2017, but has been hampered by injuries and poor shooting during his first two years in the league. I'm not a fan of Ball's game, so I'm hoping the Bulls don't give up the 7th pick on the gamble he'll reach his pre-NBA hype. Now, if New Orleans is making Jrue Holiday available to the Bulls, then I would consider getting involved, but not for Lonzo.

SportyGuy @MMAviewer

Not quite a Pax type move. I could see though, Pax turning that 7th pick into 2 lower first round picks if Boston or LeBron need a 3rd team involved. I can’t see Pax committing another PR mess in picking Ball over Rose and Pat.

The whole Chicago homecoming thing hasn’t worked out that well in recent years with Dwyane Wade and Jabari Parker, so that might actually work against the Bulls being interested in either Derrick Rose or Patrick Beverley. As for trading down to acquire additional picks, that’s probably only an option as part of a larger deal. The Bulls already have the league’s youngest roster and probably wouldn’t be interested in bringing three rookies to training camp in September.

Ewin George @MasterGeorgeMan

Do you think it’s a possibility the Bulls clear up more cap space and make a contract offer to D’Angelo Russell?

Russell is suddenly the flavor of the week after reports of Kyrie Irving’s interest in signing with Brooklyn as a free agent. The belief is Irving’s ball-dominant style would clash with Russell, who made his first All-Star appearance this past season. Problem for the Bulls is, a max contract offer for Russell would start at $27 million dollars and they don’t have that much cap space. There’s also the likelihood that pairing Russell with LaVine would not be ideal. Some team will jump in to try to steal Russell away from the Nets, but it probably won’t be the Bulls.

Al Musavi @AIBcodin

Don’t you think the Bulls need to package some of their current assets and future assets to pick up a useful All-Star veteran or sign and trade a la how Boston’s original big three was made?

Like most NBA teams, the Bulls are exploring all options leading up to the draft, but they're not on the list of Anthony Davis' preferred trade destinations and not many other All-Star caliber players will be available this summer. If the Bulls want to make the playoffs next season, they could look into dealing for Memphis point guard Mike Conley, but he's due to make $67 million dollars over the next two years and it would probably cost them the No. 7 pick, plus one of their young players. That's likely a non-starter given the current composition of the roster.

Andre @andre2world

Any possibility of a big time free agent signing here in Chicago? Don’t the Bulls have a lot of cap space?

Andre asks the question that’s been troubling Bulls fans since the failed attempt to sign LeBron James and Dwyane Wade back in 2010. Why won’t the top free agents come to Chicago?

With NBA stars having more power than ever before to join forces and create super-teams, cap space isn’t necessarily the answer to being able to sign the top free agents. The Bulls effectively took themselves out of the running for the elite players this summer when they added Otto Porter Jr.’s massive contract before the February trade deadline. The thinking at the time being players like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson wouldn’t be interested in joining a rebuilding team in Chicago.

The Bulls still have somewhere in the range of $20 million dollars to spend come July 1, and John Paxson has indicated he hopes to sign a couple of tough-minded veteran players to add leadership for the NBA’s youngest team.

R.o @OrtizJr88

If we stretch Felicio’s money and get relief for Asik’s contract, do we have enough to go after D’Angelo Russell/Malcolm Brogdon or another star?

Both Russell and Brogdon are restricted free agents, which means their current teams can match any offer sheet they receive. Brogdon could be available with an aggressive offer since the Bucks just signed point guard Eric Bledsoe to a big multi-year contract extension before the end of last season, and they’ll also have to extend a max offer to free agent Khris Middleton, plus give a significant raise to starting center Brook Lopez. It would probably take a four year offer in the $72 million dollar range to get the Bucks not to match on Brogdon, and I’m not sure the Bulls are willing to commit those kinds of dollars considering they would like to add two or three players in free agency.

I haven’t heard anything about the Bulls considering stretching their payments on the final two years of Felicio’s contract and they still haven’t heard back from the league on getting the $3 million dollars they owe to Asik off their books because of a career-ending medical condition.

Jonathan B. David @jbdstarwars

Could De’Andre Hunter develop more on the offensive side of the ball and become a shot creator?

Okay, so we finally get to a question about the draft! Hunter made a number of winning plays in Virginia’s run to the national championship, but most scouts see the 6-foot-7 forward as pretty much a finished product without a lot of upside. Hunter did improve his 3-point shooting this past season, hitting 44 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. He’s also an excellent defender, with the versatility to guard three different positions at the pro level. But he’s not particularly explosive off the dribble and doesn’t look like a primary scoring option for an NBA team.

The Bully Pulpit @BullyPulpitPod

How does the Lakers trading the 4th pick affect the Bulls ability to draft Darius Garland?

If the 4th pick goes to New Orleans in an Anthony Davis trade, the Pelicans could be more interested in wing players available like Jarrett Culver, Cam Reddish or De’Andre Hunter rather than drafting Garland. Unfortunately, Phoenix would almost certainly take Garland at 6, just ahead of the Bulls, which makes the lottery night fall from No. 4 to No. 7even more painful.

It would be interesting to see if the Bulls would try to swing a deal with Cleveland in that scenario to move up from pick 7 to pick 5 to take Garland.

DeMarco Trammell @demarcotrammell1

If you were on the clock with the 7th pick and you had to make a choice, who would you pick, Coby White or Jarrett Culver?

Given the Bulls’ stated desire to upgrade the point guard position, I would go with White. I’ve watched a lot of tape on White in recent days, and I’m very impressed with his ability to push the ball in transition and at times create a one man fastbreak, with the kind of speed we used to see from a young Derrick Rose. White still needs to prove he can run an NBA offense, but his physical tools are impressive. White has excellent positional size at almost 6-foot-5 and decent shooting form from 3-point range.

Culver will be a solid pro with the versatility to play multiple positions, but the Bulls are deeper at the wing spots right now and are hoping last year’s 1st round pick Chandler Hutchison can develop into a player as good as Culver.

Blue Demon Ed @bluedemoned

What kind of NBA player do you think Bol Bol will be?  Seems to be forgotten prospect after season cut short by injury.

Yes indeed, the son of former NBA player Manute Bol is 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-9 wingspan and is considered one of the best shooters available in this year's draft. Bol put up good numbers at Oregon before breaking a foot, and that's what has NBA talent evaluators so concerned. Bol's foot injury is the same one that forced Joel Embiid to miss two seasons, and like his dad, Bol is painfully thin. NBA teams just don't know if he'll hold up over an 82 game season. Teams like Boston or Atlanta who each hold 3 first round picks could roll the dice on Bol's potential.

Gustavo Vega @iamvega1982

If the Bulls draft John Sabine, who would have the best hair on the team, Sabine or Ryan Arcidiacono?

Leave it to our good friend Gustavo to close out this week’s mailbag. Probably the toughest question I’ve received this week, but how could I go against my guy John Sabine. His basketball skills might be a little raw, but to quote the late, great Warren Zevon, “His hair was perfect!”

Draft week is here NBA fans! Buckle up for a wild ride!

What to watch for: Bulls hit the road to take on Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat

What to watch for: Bulls hit the road to take on Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat

The Bulls visit Miami to take on the 16-6 Heat in the wake of a disappointing loss to the Warriors in Chicago on Friday. The game tips off at 5 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago – until then, here's what to watch for:

Heat’s last five (4-1)

  • Dec. 6 — W vs. Wizards: 112-103

  • Dec. 4 — L at Celtics: 112-93

  • Dec. 3 — W at Raptors: 121-110

  • Dec. 1 — W at Nets: 109-106

  • Nov. 29 — W vs. Warriors: 122-105

Storyline(s) for each team

At 16-6, the Heat enter tonight the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and one of the league’s best teams — explosive offensively (second in the NBA in eFG%, per Cleaning the Glass), yet defensively-oriented (top 10 in defensive rating, eFG% against, turnover rate and defensive rebounding rate). Two things that should especially worry the Bulls: This game is in Miami and the Heat are coming off a day of rest after beating the Wizards 112-103 on Friday. The Heat are 9-0 at home this season and four of their six losses have come on the second night of back-to-backs. With fresh legs and their home crowd behind them, they’ll be tough to beat.

The Bulls, for their part, are coming off a momentum-crushing loss to the 5-19 Golden State Warriors on their home floor Friday, and on the first night of a road-and-home back-to-back — they’ll face the Raptors at the United Center, Monday. Both teams have already blown the Bulls out early in the season — the Heat 116-108 (it wasn’t that close) on Nov. 22, the Raptors 108-84 on Oct. 26. Since the start of last season, the Bulls are 7-48 against teams with winning records. To put it diplomatically, the next two nights will be an uphill battle.

Player to watch: Jimmy Butler

It’s the easy answer, but it’s also the right one. The Heat employ a dynamic cast of characters around Butler, but he’s the lifeblood of this team. The offense runs through him, the defense feeds off him (along with, of course, legitimate DPOY candidate Bam Adebayo as the anchor) and you can bet he’ll get up to face his former team. As Miami’s role players have endured up-and-down stretches, here are Butler’s numbers in his last eight games (i.e. since Nov. 22):

Per game: 22.8 points, 7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 47.3% shooting (14 attempts), 9.5 FTA

And against the Bulls in his career:

Per game: 29 points, 5.3 assists, 5 rebounds, 3.7 steals, 48.1% shooting (18 attempts), 11.7 FTA

Even in a game the Bulls could find themselves overmatched in, perhaps we’ll get a fun Butler-Zach LaVine matchup this time around. Since being traded for each other after the 2016-17 season, the two have had some battles — before the Nov. 22 no-contest (LaVine, remember, was pulled by Jim Boylen early in the first quarter and only tallied 16 points in a blowout), they were each averaging over 30 points per game when facing each other.

LaVine bounced back from that aforementioned pseudo-benching with a 49-point, 13 3-pointer outing in Charlotte; maybe another historic performance is in store after an underwhelming fourth-quarter showing on Friday against Golden State.

Matchup to watch: 3-point shooting

Miami is a heat-check factory. Their movement-based offense is effective at creating a plethora of open long-range looks per game and even though some of their ancillary weapons can be streaky, there’s so many of them that you can bet at least one will burn you on a given night.

For evidence, look no further than that Nov. 22 matchup. Before most Bulls fans had scanned their tickets and found their seats, the Heat ran out to a 15-0 lead in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the game, buoyed by four early 3-pointers (three from Kendrick Nunn, one from Duncan Robinson). Per Cleaning the Glass, the Heat take 36% of their field goals from 3-point range (13th in the NBA) and make 39.2% of those looks (3rd in the NBA). They have five rotation players shooting over 38% on threes, and only one of those is on fewer than 3.9 attempts per (Meyers Leonard, shooting 53.8% on 1.8 attempts). Robinson, notably, is hitting 42.8% of his 3-pointers on 6.6 attempts per game.

The Bulls were 10-for-30 (33.3%) from 3-point range in their last game against the Heat, but four of those came in the final 2:15 of the game in a too-little-too-late comeback bid. They’re feast-or-famine in this department, but will need to keep this matchup close to have a chance tonight. 

Injury/miscellaneous updates

Nothing new here as far as the Bulls are concerned, barring a surprise injury or Chandler Hutchison status upgrade. Boylen has indicated he’s progressing, but hasn’t offered a concrete timetable for return, as of yet. Thad Young rejoins the team tonight.

The Heat will be without Goran Dragic (16 points, seven assists, 3-for-5 from three on Nov. 22), who is currently dealing with a groin issue. Justise Winslow and Adebayo are both currently listed as questionable.

Winslow missed time earlier in the season with a concussion, then returned for five games, but missed Friday’s game with a lower back strain. Adebayo hasn't missed a game since 2018; losing him would severely impact Miami's defensive versatility and rebounding. He had 16 points and 14 rebounds in these teams' first matchup.

Bulls' guard Tomas Satoransky and his never-ending pursuit of perfection

Bulls' guard Tomas Satoransky and his never-ending pursuit of perfection

Tomas Satoransky is a perfectionist and a pleaser.

This can be a positive thing. It also can be negative.

“Everyone who is close to me will tell you that I’m hardest on myself. I always expect to play the best,” Satoransky said in an interview. “I always expect to be perfect, which isn’t always the best but in the long term it has always worked out for me.”

That’s because perfection is an unattainable quest. But Satoransky keeps working towards the unachievable goal. So he’s driven, which is good, but sometimes self-destructive, which isn’t.

Early on, as Satoransky slowly adjusted to a new city, new coach, new teammates and new system, the process didn’t go smoothly.

“I didn’t feel down. I felt frustrated and anxious to do better, anxious to help the team as much as he can,” coach Jim Boylen said when asked if he sensed frustration from Satoransky. “He really struggles when he lets the team down. That’s just basketball. You’re not going to play perfect all the time. He takes it to heart. I’ve spoken to him about it. I don’t need him to beat himself up. Just continue to grow and learn how we’re going to play and get used to guys. It does take some time to get a feel for each other.”

And it’s happening. Satoransky has posted nine straight games with at least five assists, the second-longest stretch of his young career. Coincidentally, his assist totals began to rise the more he looked for his shot.

“I think there’s a point where you make other people better, which he tries to do, and a point where you have to play your game. I think he’s starting to figure that out,” Boylen said. “I think he’s starting to understand where his spots are and how he makes people better but also doesn’t lose the positive things he can do individually.”

The selflessness of Satoransky is something that gets mentioned often by others when they’re asked about him. He’s someone who takes the time to read a situation before asserting himself, always trying to make the right play.

This dynamic was exacerbated by Satoransky not only joining a new team but doing so after playing a leading role for his Czech Republic national team at the FIBA World Cup this offseason.

“I think I’m very adaptable. But I won’t aggressively adapt. I’ll try to see what it is---new coaches, new offense---before asserting myself,” Satoransky said. “I knew I had to be patient, especially with a new team, new role. I’m also coming from a very different situation in the World Cup. And I’m trying to fit in and make my teammates feel the best and most comfortable around me. But I’m trying to be more aggressive because it opens up more space.

“I feel we’re more and more on the same page now.”

Satoransky’s averages of 9.6 points, 5.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 27.1 minutes are eerily similar to those he posted last season with the Wizards, his breakout season. In 80 games, including 54 starts for the injured John Wall, he averaged 8.9 points, 5 assists and 3.5 rebounds also in 27.1 minutes.

He’s shooting 39.7 percent on 3 3-point attempts per game---again very similar to last season’s 39.5 percent on 2 3-point attempts per game.

“I tell him he has to take his shots. He’s a threat,” Zach LaVine said. “He can shoot and create for others. Once he gets in the lane, he’s crafty. He isn’t just a spot-up 3-point shooter.”

Satoransky is in the first year of a three-year, $30 million deal that is only partially guaranteed in the final season. He said he is enjoying Chicago and playing for the Bulls.

“Everyone cares. We get along well,” Satoransky said. “This is my second NBA locker room, but I think this is one of the best groups I’ve had.”

Now, he just wants to improve the won-lost record to something closer to perfection.

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