Bulls

Chicago-native Zach Norvell Jr. waived by Lakers

zach_norvell_.jpg
USA TODAY

Chicago-native Zach Norvell Jr. waived by Lakers

The Bulls have been quite fond of adding players with connections to the city over the years. This list includes names like Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jabari Parker, Eddy Curry, and even our very own Kendall Gill. And while the Bulls may not necessarily be in the market for any additions at the moment, there is least one name the Bulls should be monitoring if they aren't already and that is former Simeon alum Zach Norvell Jr., who was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. 

Coming out of Simeon, Norvell was an ESPN 100 prospect and a McDonald's All-American and committed to Gonzaga, where he starred for two seasons after a redshirt year. Norvell went undrafted but was picked up by a Los Angeles Lakers team that was particularly bereft of 3-point shooting, specifically volume 3-point shooters like Norvell, who shot 6.4 3-point attempts per game in his NCAA career and is currently attempting just under eight 3-point attempts per game in the NBA G League with the South Bay Lakers. 

The (NBA) Lakers don't really require much help at the moment, with their stellar defense and league-leading field goal percentage on offense resulting in them having the league's best record through 24 games despite ranking 25th in the league in 3-point attempts. The Bulls have, as head coach Jim Boylen so infamously stated, trusted 'the math' and thusly are top-10 in the league in 3-point attempts per game (8th in the league with 36.0 3-point attempts per game coming into Wednesday night). Despite their aggressiveness from the perimeter, the Bulls rank 22nd in the league in 3-point percentage (34.7%) and 22nd in assists per game, both areas where Norvell could provide help.

Since Norvell has been waived by the Lakers, he is no longer a two-way contract player (a player who plays in the NBA and G League) for them, but will still be playing with their G League affiliate should they choose to sign him to a G League contract.

The Bulls have the maximum amount of two-way players on the roster already (two in Adam Mokoka and Max Strus) but they could look to make a move to free up room for Norvell on the G League or NBA roster if they are interested. Mokoka specifically has struggled at the G League level (8.5 points per game on 34% from the field and 31% from 3) and may not necessarily need a two-way contract for the Bulls to keep other teams from snagging him, meaning that waiving Mokoka but keeping him on the Windy City Bulls roster while adding a shooter like Norvell could be an interesting value play for Chicago. 

Norvell is averaging 13.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.9 turnovers per game while shooting 35.3% from the field and 34% from 3-point range.

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.

Bucks owner Marc Lasry received some sound advice from Michael Jordan

marc_lasry-bucks_owner.jpg
USA TODAY

Bucks owner Marc Lasry received some sound advice from Michael Jordan

The Milwaukee Bucks, led by reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, are on quite a tear this year. Per NBA.com, the Bucks are No. 2 in the league offensive rating, No. 1 in defensive rating—and by the way, they are a full 2.7 points ahead of the second-best defense—and No. 1 by a very wide margin (5.1 points) in net rating. Any way you slice it, the 2019-20 Bucks have been one of the most dominant regular season teams in NBA history. So with all of that being said, it is no shock that Bucks owner Marc Lasry has lofty goals for his team, including matching the incredible 72-win season of the 1996 Bulls. 

According to a report from Eric Woodyard of ESPN, Lasry spoke with the leader of the '96 Bulls (guess who?) at Friday's Bucks-Charlotte Hornets matchup at AccorHotels Arena in France. Michael Jordan offered up some sound advice for Nasry, who told MJ that he wanted his 2019-20 Bucks to try to be like the '96 Bulls in becoming a part of the illustrious group of teams in NBA history to have won 70+ regular season games. All-time only two teams have won 70+ regular season NBA games, the MJ-Scottie Pippen led '96 Bulls and of course, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, who went on to break the Bulls' record by winning 73 games. 

That memorable '16 Warriors season ultimately ended in heartbreak for the Dubs as they lost the NBA Finals in seven games to the LeBron James-Kyrie Irving-Kevin Love-led Cleveland Cavaliers. A prevailing thought was that the amount of energy the Warriors expended in going for the regular season record came back to haunt them in the playoffs, a similar sentiment shared by Jordan in his advice to Nasry. 

Look, my advice to you is don't focus on beating our record, focus on winning a championship.

-Michael Jordan's advice to Bucks owner Marc Lasry on how to handle this season

Nasry maintained that he wants the Bucks to "do everything," including winning 70+ games and collecting the second NBA title in franchise history. Milwaukee has 35 games left in the regular season and they don't look they have any intention of taking their foot off the gas anytime soon. Entering Wednesday morning, the Bucks are on a nine-game winning streak. Their latest win (on Tuesday night) came without Antetokounmpo playing, but guard Khris Middleton poured in a career-high 51 points in a game in which Milwaukee won by 20 and scored a whopping 151 points.

Head coach Mike Budenholzer has managed the Bucks minutes well enough to go all out and even try to break the Warriors' 73-win mark but as Jordan advised, NBA Championships should always be the primary focus. But Nasry is also aware of the place in NBA lore the 2019-20 Bucks would hold when we look back on it IF they can accomplish all of his lofty goals. As Nasry himself stated, "we're going to focus on beating your [the 1996 Bulls] record and winning a championship.' I think we should do everything, but that's me."

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.

 

Thaddeus Young takes on expanded role in Bulls’ offense

Thaddeus Young takes on expanded role in Bulls’ offense

With the NBA trade deadline coming up on February 6, there has been speculation around the league that Bulls forward Thaddeus Young could be headed to a title-contending team. Mostly because his first year in Chicago hasn’t gone the way anyone anticipated.

Young agreed to a three-year contract with the Bulls in the opening hours of free agency last summer and was expected to add veteran experience and dependable two-way production to one of the league’s youngest teams. But with Jim Boylen and his staff installing new offensive and defensive systems during training camp, Young found himself not fitting in as well as he envisioned during his discussions with the Bulls in the free agent process.

The 31-year-old forward is averaging the fewest minutes and points per game since his rookie year with Philadelphia in the 2007-08 season. There were reports last month that Young was unhappy with his role and might even seek out a trade if the situation didn’t change.

Young’s minutes have gradually increased since that time, and he’s now moved into the starting lineup because of injuries to Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Daniel Gafford. He’s still not being used in post-ups as much as he was with the Pacers and Nets, but Young’s offensive role has grown in recent games. Young has played at least 29 minutes over the last three games, and he’s averaging 10.2 points per game over his last 10.

At times Young seems like an odd fit as a weak side spot-up 3-point shooter, but that’s often what is called for in the Bulls’ current offensive system.

The 13-year NBA veteran is at his best attacking the rim, shooting jump hooks off post-ups, or crashing the offensive boards for second shot opportunities. As seen in the video above, the Bulls even ran a post-up play for Young on their first possession against the Spurs on Monday night.

With Markkanen sidelined, and the Bulls currently only two games out of the final playoff spot in the East, it seems unlikely Young will be traded before next Thursday’s deadline. He’s finally getting a chance to provide some of the on-court production everyone expected when he signed with the Bulls last July.

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.