Bulls

Bulls a part of three-team trade that sends Jerian Grant to the Magic

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USA TODAY

Bulls a part of three-team trade that sends Jerian Grant to the Magic

On Saturday evening, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski announced that the Chicago Bulls were a part of a three-team trade that sent guard Jerian Grant to the Orlando Magic.

In the three-team deal, Bismack Biyombo heads to the Hornets, Julyan Stone to the Bulls and Timofey Mozgov to the Magic along with Grant.

Journeyman Stone has spent most of last season with the Greensboro Swarm of the G-League, and is likely to spend his upcoming year with the Windy City Bulls.

The deal is one that makes sense for Chicago, seeing as the writing was on the wall for Grant to be shipped out of town as early as last season's All-Star break. And the team also had shown belief that Cameron Payne can be a solid backup point guard after his decent end to the year.

The guard rotation is crowded for the Bulls by the fact that the newly re-signed Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine are both players 6-foot, 5-inch (or taller) who have shown impressive playmaking skills in their time in the league. Undrafted guard Ryan Arcidiacono also played with intensity last season in stints between the G-League and the Bulls. 

On top of the crowded backcourt, Grant was due to become a restricted free agent in the 2019-20 offseason, and this move shows that the Bulls front office likely had no plans to retain the 25-year old guard. So rather than dealing with his upcoming restricted free agency,  the front office chose to get $2.6 million salary off the books. 

This move seems like a win-win-win for everyone involved.

Orlando has been searching for a point guard after deciding to take big man Mo Bamba with the  sixth overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. They had veteran D.J. Augustin as the only point guard on the roster, before signing former Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe. They were expected to be major players for free-agent Isaiah Thomas, but apparently talks have died down on that recently. 

And Orlando's trade for Grant makes it even more likely that they move on from the idea of signing Thomas. It could still happen, but giving Grant the lion's share of the playing time could be a great decision for the rebuilding Magic rather than adding a veteran like Thomas. Despite only having a 1.4 percent jump in usage rate, Grant increased his assist percentage to 30.1 percent, an incredible 12.7 percent leap that led to him finishing in the top 20 in the NBA in assist rate, sandwiched between Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokic.

Next season is set up to be a big developmental year for Chicago. And getting rid of Grant—who played 22.8 minutes per game—likely means that Lauri Markkanen, LaVine, and Kris Dunn (especially) can all expect to play 30 minutes or more per game. 

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

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USA TODAY

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

Lauri Markkanen has been making headlines this offseason, mostly for bulking up considerably, and making appearances around Chicago at Nike camps and Jabari Parker’s camp, but as the season nears, his on-the-court exploits are starting to come up as well. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated put Lauri Markkanen on their list of five breakout candidates for the 2018-19 season

SI writer Michael Shapiro had this to say about Markkanen:


Markkanen has all the tools to be a future All-Star, and it looks as though he has the mindset, too. He seemed to take his matchup with Porzingis personally in early January, demanding the ball down the stretch en route to a career-high 33 points in a road victory. The Bulls enter 2018-19 on the outside of the East playoff picture, but Chicago is now home to the NBA’s newest unicorn.

High praise indeed for Markkanen, and well-deserved praise considering that he finished with a usage rate lower with the Bulls than his college stint at Arizona, yet still was able to have an impact on the Bulls. Shapiro mentioned Markkanen’s burgeoning off-the-dribble game as the skill that most stood out, and speaks to the Finnish big man’s All-Star potential. 

While the 21-year-old’s threes lived up to the hype, it was his prowess of the bounce that made the biggest impression. Markkanen showed a deft handle and array of canny fakes in the post, adding a mean streak to boot. The Finnisher lived up to his nickname, unafraid of contact and eager to fight for position in the post. The stereotype of the soft European big man doesn’t apply here.

The numbers back this up. 

Among the Bulls top 10 players in drives per game last season, Markkanen finished second in field percentage (on drives) at 46.1 percent. If that numbers rises, or more likely, Markkanen drives to the basket more, his scoring total will increase. And when it came to finishing around the paint in general, he shot  67.6 percent on shots from zero-to-three feet, making him the third best in that range out of the Bulls top nine rotation players last season. Yet among the same group of players, Markkanen ranked sixth in shot attempts from zero-to-three feet. With the presence of Wendell Carter Jr., and another year of internal growth from Bobby Portis- bigs that can stretch the floor -Markkanen should be the recipient of more plays putting him in a position to score around the basket.

On a roster that will surely give big minutes to Parker, Kris Dunn, Carter, Chandler Hutchison and a working-his-way-back to form Zach LaVine, Markkanen may be surest 3-point shooter on the floor. This means defenses will key in on his outside shot. If players are routinely closing out hard on Markkanen- as they should -this will open up more driving opportunities for the nimble seven-footer. 

The third or fourth season is usually when young players take the leap from good to great, but Markkanen will be playing with the most talented group of teammates he has ever been surrounded with. How he handles playing with this group will go a long way towards establishing what kind of player he will be in the future, specifically if he is an All-Star caliber talent. On the 2018-19 Bulls, someone will have to hover around a 20 percent usage rate, making them a clear third-option, whoever that player is, his last name should not be Markkanen.