Bulls

Bulls asking for players and first-round picks in Gibson, Gasol trade talks

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Bulls asking for players and first-round picks in Gibson, Gasol trade talks

With the trade deadline less than a day away, activity has picked up around the NBA as teams are looking to unload and reload with an eye to the playoffs or to the draft in June.

The Bulls have been lightly involved in trade talks involving Taj Gibson and more recently Pau Gasol, although a league source cautioned that the Bulls aren’t “shopping” Gasol, but that they’re open to trading him.

Gasol will opt-out of his contract this offseason to hit the free-agent market one last time for a long-term contract that will likely carry him into retirement.

As for Gibson, the Bulls have reportedly been asking for players and a first-round pick, which was confirmed by a couple front office executives around the league.

However, a source said of Gibson, “he’s not going anywhere."

Gibson discussed the trade rumors at Wednesday's practice.

“It could be worse. People could not be saying your name at all,” he said. “But it comes with it when the team is underachieving, you gotta kind of shake up things. I see what’s out there. But I’m no stranger [to this]. Since my rookie year I’ve been in trade rumors a lot, so it’s nothing new for me.”

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The Bulls’ motivation appears to be shifting from win-now to avoiding the luxury tax and punitive repeater tax, as they were last in the luxury tax in 2012-13, being nearly $4 million over.

With their current salary around $88.5 million, it places them a little more than $4 million over the luxury tax apron of $84.7 million, which was set in the offseason. The Bulls once had champagne dreams in the offseason and even into the season, but the recent tailspin has perhaps changed things and could not be as willing to be in the luxury tax for a team that could tumble out of the playoffs.

For now, though, it’s been all talk. For now.

Teams have been reluctant to give up valuable, cost-controlled first-round picks as the cap is scheduled to rise exponentially this summer. 

“That’s a great question, this time of year, I know those guys are up there making their calls,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We’ll see what happens. First two trades happened yesterday, has anything else happened today? We’ll see what happens, how things progress over the next 24 hours.”

Hoiberg spent time in the Minnesota Timberwolves' front office before going to coach at Iowa State, paving the way to take over in Chicago last summer. Clearly he knows how these conversations work.

“People just lie to each other up until those last 48 hours and then conversations finally become serious,” he said.

[SPORTSTALK LIVE: Can the banged-up Bulls turn things around?]

In other words, a team could get desperate or the Bulls could lower their asking price for Gasol or Gibson. There appears to be a large gap between the best teams in the NBA and the ones striving for elite status, so the thought of a two-month rental for Gasol could be worth it for some teams.

“An offer could be made and things could be shaken up. It’s a part of the business,” Gibson said. “It doesn’t mean they don’t like you or don’t appreciate you. It’s just that it’s a business. I totally understand it.”

But never discount the Bulls’ thinking that when they get healthy, they could make a run in the Eastern Conference, fearing no team this side of Cleveland. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen.

“We had stretches when we won games and everyone was completely healthy,” Gibson said. “And it’s tough. You gotta understand. We got a new coach. We have the same players, but new little young guys. We still gotta work through it. Every team goes through this.”

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

The NBA preseason has finished and teams are finalizing their rosters before the beginning of the regular season.

For the Bulls, that meant claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers and signing him to a two-way contract.

The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported the move.

Ulis, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, was waived by the Warriors on Friday. He spent two years at Kentucky before getting drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2016.

In two years with the Suns, Ulis made 58 starts and played in 132 games. He averaged just over 7 points per game in both seasons. Last season, Ulis also averaged 4.4 assists per game against 1.8 turnovers in 23.4 minutes per game.

The Suns waived Ulis after the season and the Warriors signed him for the preseason. He averaged 3 points and 1.5 assists per game in four preseason games with the Warriors.

The two-way contract means Ulis could be spending more time with the Windy City Bulls than at the United Center on game days, but backup point guard is a question mark for the Bulls. Cam Payne looks like he will get first crack at the role behind Kris Dunn with Denzel Valentine injured. Ryan Arcidiacono just made the team and could also figure into point guard minutes.

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Cuts during the NBA preseason aren’t exactly as gut-wrenching and tension-filled as they are in the NFL. NBA teams cut from somewhere in the late teens down to 15, and the potential for two-way contracts exist for those players who don’t make the roster. But for Ryan Arcidiacono, Saturday was filled with angst as he waited for a call. It never came.

“I was thinking about it. It’s like Hard Knocks when you’re watching. You don’t want to get that phone call,” Arcidiacono said Sunday before practice. “I was just thinking to myself after the game (Friday), nobody said anything to me. I was talking to (assistant) Pete (Myers) and he said, ‘Just get outta here, man. I’ll see you at practice on Sunday.’ I was still a little nervous on Friday night. Saturday morning I felt better after I talked to my agent and everything became more official.”

It’s quite the journey for Arcidiacono, who spent time both with the Bulls and their G-League affiliate in Hoffman Estates last season. In 37 starts with the Windy City Bulls, Arcidiacono averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 assists in 39.6 minutes. His two longest stints in Chicago came in late January and at the end of the year, and that 24-game audition was enough for the Bulls to re-sign him in July.

Arcidiacono found more comfort this summer in Year 2 with the Bulls. Though his playing time in the preseason was limited he showed enough in camp to warrant a spot on the roster. It also helped that the Bulls find themselves thin at the point guard position behind Kris Dunn, with Cameron Payne struggling and Denzel Valentine on the mend with an ankle injury.

“I think last year really helped me with the two-way, getting acclimated with what Fred wants to do,” he said. “I think getting up and down with the G League. (Head coach) Charlie (Henry) really helped me a lot. Knowing our point guard situation, I just tried to be the hardest playing guy on the floor anytime I step on and the rest will take care of itself.”

It’s unknown whether Arcidiacono’s stint in Chicago will last. His contract will be guaranteed on January 10. He’s an important body for now with Lauri Markkanen out for the foreseeable future and Valentine still recovering from his own injury. But he’ll also have the opportunity to push Payne for that back-up role. Payne struggled much of the preseason, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 assists on just 25 percent shooting.

“Arci has done a lot of really good things,” Hoiberg said. “I liked the way he looked in the game the other night off the ball. Defensively, made some really good solid plays and again, when there’s an open man on the court Arci’s gonna find him.”

He won’t move the needle on the Bulls’ season, and his minutes will likely be minimal once the season begins. But for now it’s a great story of persistence that gives the Bulls another hard-working body in practice.”

“Whatever our team needs, that’s what they’ll get from me,” he said. “Whether that’s being a backup or the third point guard spot, I’m just here to compete and make our team better and hopefully get us some victories.”