Bulls

Bulls set to release guard Antonio Blakeney, according to a report

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USA TODAY

Bulls set to release guard Antonio Blakeney, according to a report

The Antonio Blakeney era in Chicago appears to be over.

Saturday, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that the Bulls are planning to release Blakeney.

Blakeney joined the Bulls as an undrafted free agent in the 2017 Summer League. The LSU product signed a two-way deal with the Bulls after his summer performance, eventually landing an NBA contract in July 2018. He averaged a combined 7.5 points per game in two seasons with the Bulls, playing in 19 games in 2017-18 and 57 last season. However, his minutes dropped from 16.5 to 14.5 per game over that span. 

The Bulls had 16 guaranteed contracts (NBA allows a maximum of 15) before Blakeney's release, and considering his salary, cutting him loose was the easiest move to make.

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Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reacting to a brutal loss to Brooklyn

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Bulls Outsiders Podcast: Reacting to a brutal loss to Brooklyn

On this edition of Bulls Outsiders podcast, Matt Peck, John Sabine, and Dave Watson react to the Bulls 117-111 loss to the Nets on Saturday.

0:30 - On losing a game that the Bulls could have won

2:30 - On Zach LaVine’s 36 point effort in loss

4:00 - On giving up 43 to the Nets in the 4th quarter

5:30 - Viewer comment on Lauri’s struggles

7:30 - Viewer comment on Kris Dunn

11:10 - Viewer comment on trading LaVine and keeping Markkanen

13:20 - On Markkanen looking aggressive at times vs Nets

15:15 - Viewer comment on starting Coby White

16:30 - Let’s remember Nate Robinson

19:20 - Lebron James throws it down vs the Kings and defeats Father Time

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You  have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.        

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Zach LaVine turns up volume on Bulls' offensive woes after another loss

Zach LaVine turns up volume on Bulls' offensive woes after another loss

The team picture for most disappointing loss of the season is getting crowded.

Make room for Saturday evening, though.

A Nets team already without Kevin Durant and Caris LeVert also sat Kyrie Irving to shoulder soreness and then smoked the Bulls by 11 in the first quarter and 10 in the fourth on their way to a 117-111 victory. Ex-Bull Spencer Dinwiddie added insult to injury by scoring 20 of his 24 points in the fourth.

“They just wanted it more than us,” Zach LaVine said.

For a team that made improving their home mark a major priority after winning a franchise-low nine games at the United Center last season, the Bulls sure aren’t playing with much urgency.

“Our start was unacceptable,” said coach Jim Boylen, who burned two early timeouts.

The Bulls nearly doubled the Nets up in an impressive second quarter that featured defense leading to offense and plenty of transition attacks that led to a season-high 41 free-throw attempts. The Bulls also finally won the rebounding battle 56-40.

But the Bulls again shot poorly from 3-point range, needing a late flurry to even crack 20 percent and finish 9-for-39.

Missed shots always make an offense look worse. But the issues go beyond poor shooting. The Bulls aren’t sprinting the floor consistently. Their halfcourt sets feature little cutting. And since utilizing Lauri Markkanen in this role in the opener against a smallish Hornets frontline, they’ve largely ditched post-up attempts.

“We get stagnant a lot out there,” LaVine said. “We’ll run one action and then everybody is staring at the person with the ball. We gotta get more fluid. I don’t feel a lot of people are in rhythm. When that happens, obviously everybody starts trying to do it themselves.

“It’s tough. I blame myself. I try to do that as well. I’m in the gym late. I’m putting up shots. I’m making sure I’m prepared so I can do everything I can to help. We gotta do a better job as a team.”

LaVine is slowly giving stronger voice to issues he sees with the offense. Following Friday’s practice, he talked about needing to utilize Markkanen more in the post. Markkanen also has talked about the equal opportunity offense in the context of him attempting 10 or fewer shots in eight of 13 games now.

“Sometimes you get the ball and to me it feels like there are 12 eyes staring at me,” LaVine said. “I’m not scared to take any shot. I’ve not scared to miss a shot. I’ve taken all these shots before. If I’m the person to blame, I can take it. I’m in the gym working on my craft each night. I always look at myself first before anyone else. We just gotta do better as a unit.”

What does LaVine, who finished with 36 points, do when he feels 12 eyes staring at him?

"I try to call a pick-and-roll most of the time when that happens and then if nothing comes from that, I'm going to take the shot or pass it. I'm definitely going to at least get a shot on the rim,” he said. “I'm not one to just dribble the clock out or anything like that or throw it to somebody with seven seconds left (on the shot clock). If I get it at the top of the key with eight, nine seconds left on the clock, I'm going to try to make a play."

But what about the lack of cutting?

“I mean, it's our offense. We have a five-out offense,” he said. “So it gets tough when we get to those stagnant points because that's how it's supposed to be."

LaVine attempted double-digit free throws for just the second time this season. He had four such games through 13 games last season.

He also joined Michael Jordan as the only Bulls to post at least 2,100 points, 400 rebounds, 400 assists, 100 steals and 30 blocks in his first 100 games with the franchise. But until the Bulls start winning, LaVine knows his numbers mean little.

“We should take offense to it. We’ve had a really easy schedule to start off,” LaVine said. “You gotta win the games you’re supposed to win. We’ve pissed away a lot of games I think we should’ve won.”

But no changes are coming to the rotation or system.

"I think we gotta stay the course," Boylen said. "Listen, nobody likes losing games. There’s no shame in losing an NBA game. It happens every day. What I’m disappointed in is our start, a home game, on a Saturday night in Chicago. I didn’t like the way we started. I can’t play for them. They gotta come out and do it."

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Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.