Bulls excited about bringing D-League franchise to Hoffman Estates


Bulls excited about bringing D-League franchise to Hoffman Estates

When Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf was in the beginning stages searching for a Developmental League location, staying close to home was important.

Not only would a close proximity allow the Bulls' NBA team seamlessly to ship young players to and from the D-League to gain valuable experience, but it also would help the surrounding communities in whatever region they decided on.

Both from a economic standpoint and broadening the Bulls' fan reach, the team landed on Hoffman Estates and the Sears Centre Arena to house the team's D-League affiliate, which the team announced Wednesday afternoon at the United Center.

"We’re excited because we’re going to be able to bring basketball and the Bulls game experience to more fans throughout the region," Reinsdorf said of Hoffman Estates, 35 miles northwest of Chicago. "One area that we’re very passionate about is giving back to the community, and we will bring that same commitment to the D-League team. We’re making an investment in the community, and we look forward to developing new relationships with all the schools, hospitals and non-profit organizations in the region."

Beginning in 2016, the Bulls' D-League organization will play 24 home games at the Sears Centre Arena, which holds more than 11,000 fans. Basketball and business operations will also be housed in the Arena.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

Hoffman Estates mayor William McLeod expressed his excitement in teaming up with the Bulls and how it will affect the region.

"(The) Chicago Bulls franchise is one of the best run sports organizations in the world, and to have their D-Leauge team playing in Hoffman Estates, what an opportunity for all of us. It will certainly be a boost to our burgeoning entertainment center out there and the people who live in the Northwest Suburbs will be able to see future NBA and some current NBA players play at the Sears Centre Arena. So this is fabulous day for us. It’s been a pleasure working with the Bulls organization."

Fans also will be an integral part in that the Bulls will have a contest to help name the team of the D-League organization. Legal residents of Illinois and/or those living within 75 miles of Chicago may submit up to five name suggestions that end with "Bulls." In early December the top suggestions will be selected and fans may vote on their favorite nickname.

"I consider this as a business coming to Illinois. This will be very beneficial to the state, but most important to the Northwest Suburbs, not just Hoffman Estates," said state representative Fred Crespo. "Not only can it help the economic engine in the area, but it’s also going to improve the quality of life in the area. The D-League markets itself as a family-friendly event at an affordable price, and I think that’s very key."

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

The next preps-to-pros leaper, Anfernee Simons confident 'I'll be able to make this jump'

Anfernee Simons looks more like a ball boy than a 2018 NBA Draft prospect right now. He’s not considered small, what with having a 6-foot-3 frame with a massive 6-foot-9 wingspan, and he weighed in at last week’s NBA Draft Combine at 183 pounds, “heavier” than Lottery-bound guards like Trae Young, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Collin Sexton.

But there’s plenty of potential to unpack from the soon-to-be 19-year-old, baby-faced combo guard. Don’t let the appearance fool you. Simons is one of the most talented players in the class, and a team patient enough to let him develop at his own pace could reap major benefits in due time.

You won’t find much video on Simons, as the IMG Academy star is preparing to be the first prospect to go preps-to-pros without a year in college since Thon Maker did so in 2016.

Simons, a consensus five-star recruit in the 2018 class, originally committed to Louisville in November 2016 and then decommitted the following September shortly after Rick Pitino was fired. Since he had graduated from Edgewater High School in Florida and was playing a post-grad year at IMG Academy, he became eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft because he is a year removed from high school. That’s where he played this past season, declaring for the draft and signing with an agent in late March.

“The opportunity is there. Me and my parents talked about it a lot and I feel like I’m confident in myself that I’ll be able to make this jump,” he said at last week’s Combine. “So I just felt like, do it now and not waste any time.”

Simons has been on the radars of NBA teams, even if he’s not a household name like Ayton, Doncic and Bagley. He’s currently projected outside of the Lottery, in part because teams haven’t seen him compete against collegiate level talent and because his wiry frame almost surely means time in the G-League as a rookie. But again, the skill set is there.

Simons is a point guard with solid range beyond the arc. He may struggle off the ball because of his size, though that long wingspan and a quick release from his chest should allow him to get off shots. He’s a blur in transition and finishes well at the rim – his 41.5-inch vertical was tied for third best at the Combine, and his three-quarters court sprint was eighth fastest.

He’s a mixed bag defensively. Wingspan is the fun buzz word these days, and that will help him at the next level, but his small frame means there’s work to be done. A strength and conditioning coach will salivate at bringing Simons into the weight room and getting his body NBA-ready.

“Just staying durable through 82 games,” Simons answered when asked about his biggest challenge physically at the next level. “Taking care of your body is real pivotal so I feel like learning how to take care of my body now is a good thing.”

Simons maturely answered that the “unknown” of his game will be both a positive and minus during the pre-draft process. While fellow prospects he may face in team workouts don’t know as much about him and, thus, his game, teams also need to find out more about Simons’ game and off-court habits.

“Coming in young, people don’t know who I am and haven’t seen me play much. That’s the good side about coming in early,” he said. “It could be the same thing (negatively). People haven’t seen me like that, so I feel like they don’t know who I am. They probably think I’m too young to play in the league.”

Simons met with the Bulls and has scheduled a pre-draft workout with them. Though the Bulls feel like their rebuild could go quicker than anticipated – especially if they hit on their No. 7 pick – there could be plenty to gain from drafting for upside on a player like Simons.

Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne will both be free agents in 2019, and Denzel Valentine’s long-term future isn’t set in stone in Chicago. That leaves plenty of openings in the backcourt behind Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. Simons won’t be ready to contribute much in 2018-19, but the Bulls wouldn’t need him to. A handful of outlets projected Simons as a top-5 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Bulls could snag him a year earlier, let him develop in Hoffman Estates and bring him up in a year when they’re a step closer to contending.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Bulls use Lauri Markkanen as centerpiece of a trade to bring in a superstar?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly), Danny Parkins (670 The Score) and Lauren Comitor (The Athletic) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Manny Machado Mania continues in Chicago. Do the Cubs even need to trade for him to win the World Series this year?

Ricky Renteria has to bench another player for not hustling. Is this becoming a problem on the South Side?

Plus, Lauri Markkanen is named to the All-Rookie team. Could he be the centerpiece of a trade if the Bulls want to acquire a superstar or move up in the draft? 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: