Bulls

Sources: Nikola Mirotic prefers to be traded by Bulls

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AP

Sources: Nikola Mirotic prefers to be traded by Bulls

It’s becoming increasingly apparent the Bulls will have to make a move regarding Nikola Mirotic as the Bulls are aware of his unhappiness following his incident with Bobby Portis.

Mirotic prefers a trade out of Chicago—which won’t be available to the Bulls until mid-January at the earliest because he was a free agent this summer—and is willing to waive his no-trade clause to do so, sources tell NBCSportsChicago.com.

It’s been described by one source as “one of them has to go” and the Bulls are aware of the tenuous situation. Mirotic agreed to a two-year contract with the Bulls on the eve of training camp, with the second year being a team option.

Mirotic is still recovering from facial injuries and a concussion suffered at the hands of a Bobby Portis punch two days before the start of the season. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Mirotic is recovering from the concussion, that the headaches have subsided and that Mirotic was in the Advocate Center recently, albeit during off-hours.

Once Mirotic leaves the NBA’s concussion protocol, he’ll have to address his facial injuries with surgery or other methods, which will likely keep him out 4 to 6 additional weeks.

Portis was suspended eight games by the Bulls but is practicing in the meantime.

Portis issued a public apology and took responsibility for the incident, although many who witnessed said Mirotic charged at Portis, causing Portis to react with one punch that caused a lot of damage.

Several teammates have reached out to Mirotic following his concussion and he has talked to Robin Lopez along with Hoiberg but it’s clear he has no intention of returning to the status quo whenever he does recover.

The Bulls have talked to at least one team about Portis, sources tell NBCSportsChicago.com and that activity promises to continue over the next few days.

The Bulls have until Oct 31 to pick up Portis’ team option for next season and if they move him, one would think the team that acquires Portis would like to make that decision as opposed to it being made for them.

Either way, this season was supposed to be one devoid of drama and personal issues, but they can’t seem to escape it and will have to address this one in swift order.

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

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USA TODAY

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

Lauri Markkanen doesn't often feel short.

The Bulls forward is 7-feet tall, which even in the land of NBA giants makes him one of the tallest players on the court at all times. So when Markkanen stands next to Yao Ming, it changes perspective quite a bit.

Markkanen posted a photo with him and the 7-foot-6 Chinese Hall of Famer. Markkanen looks like a child.

Makes you wonder if Markkanen pulled some "What's the weather like up there?" jokes just because he otherwise never can.

 

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

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USA TODAY

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

Former Miami Heat two-way player Derrick Walton Jr. is reported to be nearing a deal with the Bulls. In an interview with The Athletic, it was stated: "Walton, 23, says he knows where he’ll play next season. An agreement is in place, but his agent, Mark Bartelstein, is requiring him to sit on the news until next week. All Walton can put out publicly is this: 'Long story short, I’m good. I’m going to a great situation. All I can say.' "

And while it is not yet known if the potential contract will be a two-way deal or not, Walton would provide an intriguing lottery ticket for the Bulls. 

The team mostly ignored looking for a backup point guard on the market. There is obviously a belief in the organization that Cameron Payne will have some internal growth, making him the best option. And the trade of Jerian Grant for essentially nothing, shows even more that Payne is there guy. Retaining Ryan Arcidiacono is a nice move considering the hustle that he showed last season at both the G League and NBA level, but it still leaves the Bulls thin in terms of established backup PGs behind Kris Dunn. And that is where Walton comes into play. 

Walton was a four-year player at the University of Michigan, where he played in some big-time games and showed immense leadership potential. But in terms of strictly on the court skills, there is one thing that he does extremely well: space the floor. 

In his four years at Michigan, Walton took a total of 581 3-point attempts, and knocked them down at a 40.1 percent rate. His elite shooting is enough to make him a legitimate rotation player for Fred Hoiberg. And while Payne still may develop into a better player, his outside shooting is his calling card despite never being elite at that skill at the NBA level. And in fact, when you compare he and Walton’s stats from college, the G League and the NBA, it becomes apparent who is the better shooter right now.

3-point percentage at NCAA level: Payne- 35.9 percent, Walton- 40.1 percent
3-point percentage at G League level: Payne- 33.8 percent, Walton- 37.7 percent
3-point percentage at NBA level: Payne- 34 percent, Walton- 41.2 percent

Now obviously, there is a “small sample size alert” for the NBA level, as Walton has only taken 17 3-pointers at the NBA level in his limited time with the Miami Heat. But these numbers show that even dating back to their freshman years of college, Walton has been the more efficient shooter from 3-point range.

Cameron Payne has the edge when it comes to playmaking, and this is based off of the fact that Payne has maintained an assist rate above 30 percent through all of his G League stints, while also having a low turnover rate (9.9 percent). Walton didn’t come close to Payne in terms of G League assist rate, and his 17.9 percent turnover rate at the G League level shows that his decision-making has yet to catch up to his shooting. 

Ultimately, Walton is going to be most effective as an off-ball guard who can make quick decisions, and knockdown the 3-point shot at a high level. Though if Summer League was any indication, his passing out of the pick-and-roll is getting better. And while Payne certainly is a good shooter, his game is much more predicated on having the ball in his hands, and playing in the pick-and-roll. With so many players on the Bulls who can create their own shot, Walton could end up being the cleanest fit with this constantly evolving Bulls roster.