Bulls

With Trae Young's team workout looming, his trainer clears air on any Bulls rift: 'That's totally false'

With Trae Young's team workout looming, his trainer clears air on any Bulls rift: 'That's totally false'

Trae Young’s intriguing draft status will make a stop in Chicago this week as he’ll work out for the Bulls, who are believed to be enamored with the playmaking point guard.

Young has been trained by Jimmy Butler’s trainer, Travelle Gaines, who had pointed comments about Bulls general manager Gar Forman in the wake of Butler being traded on draft night last year.

In a now-deleted tweet, Gaines said the Bulls have the worst culture in the league, and that he knows drug dealers with better morals than Forman, calling him a liar.

There was a strong belief Butler was misled by the Bulls in his final meeting with the front office before departing for a European vacation days before the draft. Gaines’ tweet only added fuel to that, as Butler was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn.

There’s been whispers Gaines would try to use his influence with Young against the Bulls, and when reached by NBCSportsChicago.com, Gaines strongly denied the claim.

“I would never discourage Trae or any player from working out or talking to the Bulls,” Gaines said by telephone. “I don’t know where the narrative came from but that’s totally false.”

Young is scheduled to have his workout Thursday in Chicago, and Gaines said the two haven’t even discussed the Bulls in their training sessions. Gaines doesn’t regret his tweet, but he said it wasn’t reflective of his thoughts of the organization en masse.

“What I said a year ago, I was in the moment and those were my feelings at the time,” Gaines said. “But I don’t feel the Bulls are a bad organization or franchise. I love the franchise. I was a huge Michael Jordan fan. The league is better when the Bulls, Knicks and Lakers are great. I want the Bulls to be great again.”

Gaines also trains current Bulls Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine at his facility in Los Angeles, and noted Portis and Young have run into each other a few times during sessions. Again, Gaines said he operates in the best interests of his clients and not personal agendas.

“(Bobby and Denzel) say they want to get back to the playoffs and I’ll tell them, ‘Get the Bulls back to the playoffs,’” Gaines said.

If Young is the player his greatest supporters believe he is, taking him with the seventh pick would be a step in that direction, even though the Bulls employ Kris Dunn at point guard.

Gaines is a big believer in Young and his potential fit with the Bulls, although he doesn’t believe Young will be around at the No. 7.

“I think Trae would be great for the Bulls,” Gaines said. “Playing alongside Lauri Markkanen and also Zach LaVine, he would be phenomenal for the team and the city of Chicago. He’d be great in that market.”

There’s no doubt Young carries a level of star power that would be attractive to the Bulls, who would love to have someone marketable to their fan base.

“With his work ethic and passion for basketball I think he will be great for the city of Chicago and that great market,” Gaines said.

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

How Jabari Parker impacts Bulls’ salary cap in 2019

The Bulls ‘rebuild’ seems to be just a one-year experiment after the team signed Chicago native Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40-million dollar deal on Saturday. Although on first look Parker’s contract would seem to restrict what they can do in free agency next summer, the reality is that the 2nd year team option gives the Bulls plenty of flexibility with—or without- Parker next year.  

If the Bulls pick up the option on Parker, they will still be able to sign a max free agent next July if they make the right moves between now and July 1, 2019.

The NBA projects the 2019-20 cap will rise to $109 million, up from $101.9 million for the upcoming season. The league bases a ‘max’ salary on years of service. A 10-year vet like Kevin Durant is eligible for more ($38.2 million) than his teammate Klay Thompson ($32.7 million), an 8-year vet. If the Bulls keep Parker, they’ll enter free agency with approximately $15.4 million next summer—far short of the cap space needed for a player like Durant or Thompson, but that number is misleading. The $15.4 million also includes cap holds (salary slots assigned to a player based on several factors including previous year’s salary). The cap hold is designed to prevent teams from completely circumventing the soft cap model the league uses. The cap holds for Bobby Portis ($7.5 million) and Cameron Payne ($9.8 million) are just theoretical if the Bulls don’t sign either to a contract extension before the October 31, 2018 deadline. 

Let’s say the Bulls are in line to sign a star free agent like Thompson; all they would need to do is rescind any qualifying offer to Payne or Portis, and then renounce them as free agents. This would effectively take the cap holds off the Bulls’ cap sheet and give them approximately $32.7 million in cap space. Coincidently (or perhaps it’s no coincidence), that’s the exact salary a 7-9 year free agent like Thompson would command.

In order to create enough space for Durant and his increased ‘max’ slot, they would need to waive and stretch a player like Cristiano Felicio or incentivize a trade involving a player by attaching another asset in the deal, like a future 1st round pick.

If the Bulls decline the team option on Parker, then they will enter free agency with anywhere between $35 million and $53 million. 

Gar Forman finally comes through on promise

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USA TODAY

Gar Forman finally comes through on promise

"We felt we needed to start getting younger and more athletic..."

It was 2016 when Bulls general manager Gar Forman made this statement, drawing ire from many Bulls fans for what felt like—at the time—a disingenuous statement. A swap of Derrick Rose for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon and Jerian Grant making you younger and athletic? No one was buying it.

But fast forward to July, 2018, and it is clear that at the very least, Forman has finally made good on his promise. The signing of Jabari Parker has been met with mostly positivity, as a short-term commitment to a former No. 2 overall pick is something that is difficult to hate. But when you factor in the rest of the pieces currently on the roster, it is OK for Bulls fans to be downright giddy over the future.

Lauri Markkanen is 21 years old, Wendell Carter Jr. is 19, Zach LaVine is 23, Jabari Parker is 23 and Kris Dunn is the elder statesmen of the group at 24 years old. If these five become the starting group moving forward, as expected, it would represent one of the youngest starting groups in the league with an average age of 22. 

And athleticism can be checked off the list as well. We know Markkanen has hopsLaVine showed off the explosiveness he was known for last season and Dunn had some dunks last year that legitimately gave fans a Rose flashback

Markkanen and Carter Jr. have both flashed the ability to switch onto guards for a limited amount of time and guard in space, a huge component of any defense that wants to switch a lot. And it also is the type of athleticism that is much more important at their position.

At this stage, Parker represents the biggest question mark athletically speaking. Despite his young age, the two ACL injuries make you wonder if there is any room for him to improve his agility. But at the least, Parker can drive to the basket and finish over the top with authority, even if his defense doesn't catch up.

So, Bulls fans are starting to become intrigued with this roster.

Fred Hoiberg wants his teams to play an up-tempo game, and last season was the first year during Hoiberg's Bulls tenure where the team actually ranked in the top 10 in pace. So if you have followed the Bulls carefully since Thibodeau's departure, you see a front-office that supports their new head coach, yet wasted a couple years to commit fully to his vision, and to a direction for the franchise.

But the point is Forman finally chose a direction.

The Bulls have a young core, and financial flexibility moving forward. And for all the jokes the "GarPax" regime have endured over the years, they have put the team in a position to have sustained success if they hit on all the young players they have acquired. 

And if they are wrong in their assessment of their young talent? 

The Bulls would be able to let Parker go, now that we know the second year of his contract is a team option. LaVine's offensive skill set will allow him to still have trade value years from now, as his contract won't look nearly as bad over time. 

And if the Bulls flurry of moves make the team significantly worse in a year where many expect them to take a step forward, all it would mean is being equipped with a high lottery pick in what is shaping up to be a top-heavy 2019 NBA Draft.

So Gar Forman wanted the team to get younger and more athletic, and though it took longer than it should've, the front-office made good on their promise. That is something that Bulls fans can believe in.