Bulls

Myles Turner approaching NBA with 'strictly business' attitude

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Myles Turner approaching NBA with 'strictly business' attitude

When Texas freshman Myles Turner hears his name called in the first round of the NBA Draft on June 25, don't expect a scene.

He'll walk up to the podium in a clean-cut suit - no bow ties or loud colors - and will shake commissioner Adam Silver's hand - no hugs - before posing with the uniform of the team that employs the talented 6-foot-11 athlete. There won't be anything boisterous or comedic about that night for Turner, because the 19-year-old already understands he's entering a business that will command his best each day.

"I’m going to keep it strictly professional. It’s a business now, and that’s how I’m going to approach it," Turner said at the NBA Draft Combine. "Since I was a kid, it’s been a dream of mine."

Turner isn't sure when he'll be selected in next month's draft, in part because he stays as far away from mocks draft as he can. "That's my agent's job. That's why I hired him," Turner deadpans.

But teenagers who stand 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, weigh 240 pounds and have the shooting touch of a guard usually don't have to wait long on draft night. Turner, the No. 9 high school recruit in the 2014 class, became a surefire lottery pick after his lone season at Texas; he started only seven games but appeared in all 34 for the Longhorns, averaging 10.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 22.2 minutes per game.

[NBA DRAFT PROFILE: Texas forward Myles Turner]

He didn't have the same impact as some of his fellow top-10 classmates - Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones keyed Duke to a national title, Karl-Anthony Towns led Kentucky to a perfect regular season, and Stanley Johnson led the 34-win Arizona Wildcats in scoring - instead choosing the hometown Longhorns over the likes of Kansas, Ohio State and a host of other high-major schools. That meant sitting behind senior Jonathan Holmes and junior Cameron Ridley, who like Turner was a five-star recruit out of high school, while learning the ropes of the college game. 

Turner was a mixed bag all year, perhaps more indicative of a typical freshman than what his class made it appear to be. On Feb. 11 he scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes against TCU; three days later he scored 25 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, connecting on a 3-pointer and blocking three shots against Texas Tech.

He had nine games in which he recorded five or more blocked shots, yet also had six block-less games. His role diminished down the stretch as Texas opted for smaller lineups, as he averaged just 14.6 minutes in the Longhorns' three postseason games, culminating in a loss to Butler in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But the well-spoken, confident Turner said he took those up and downs in stride.

He saw the professional side of things when head coach Rick Barnes, now at Tennessee, showed him film of LaMarcus Aldridge playing in the same burnt orange jersey. He understood the level of play he'd need to compete with at the next level when Texas alum and reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant came to Austin and played pick-up games with the team over the summer. And when the ninth best recruit in the country rode the bench for all but seven games, it taught him a lesson about what may initially happen in his rookie season.

"It really matured me throughout the course of the year. It humbled me. Coming in, I was highly recruited but I came in and settled into a role," he said. "That’s what I’m going to have to do at the next level."

[ROTOWORLD MOCK DRAFT: At No. 22, the Bulls select...]

He has plenty of room to grow and isn't as NBA-ready as some of the bigs ahead of him such as Okafor, Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, but his game is made for the NBA. He's a rare blend of defensive IQ, length, offensive range (he shot 84 percent from the free-throw line and hit 17 3-pointers) that'll make him a true stretch-four with the ability to eventually defend NBA centers.

NBA teams also know they're getting a player with no frills. Though he's just a year removed from his senior prom, Turner's attitude and mentality heading into the Association will give him a leg up as he learns the game, improves his offensive versatility and builds his body to bang inside on a nightly basis. There may not be a more mentally ready player in this year's class.

"It’s going to be really exciting. It really does not matter to me where I play," he said. "I just want to go out there and go somewhere where I can be used and develop and bring success to the team I’m drafted by."

Bulls take tunnel vision approach to Charlotte for opener vs. Hornets

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USA Today

Bulls take tunnel vision approach to Charlotte for opener vs. Hornets

The significance of his first opening night as head coach? Jim Boylen wasn’t biting.

Opening with four of five games against teams that didn’t make last season’s playoffs, including Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C.? Boylen steered clear of that.

Addressing the goal stated on media day to make the playoffs? Lauri Markkanen added a qualifier.

“No promises,” he said. “But that’s the goal, for sure.”

The Bulls officially closed training camp Tuesday with a one-game-at-a-time and bunker mentality that would make any fan of clichés proud. They’re focused on the Hornets---and nothing of greater significance for now.

“We don’t talk about playoff team, non-playoff team. We’re talking about Charlotte,” Boylen said. “We’re going to play as hard as we can against Charlotte. That’s what we can control. And then we’ll move on.”

Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. are scheduled to start. Chandler Hutchison, who increased his on-court work but has yet to practice because of a hamstring issue, is the only injured player. Boylen said he’d announce his other inactive player besides Hutchison Wednesday.

“I just want to help the team,” Boylen said, elaborating on the significance of his first opening night as head coach. “As a head coach, sometimes you help them and sometimes you let them help themselves. I want to be there for them, support them. Hopefully we honor our principles. We do our basics better, the best we can, and see what happens.”

Boylen wouldn’t touch the subject. But even with all four games against last season’s non-playoff teams coming on the road, getting off to a fast start is essential.

Beyond the fact it will continue the good vibes that began with a widely praised offseason and through voluntary September workouts, the Bulls are relatively healthy. And the close to their schedule offers some brutal tests, so building a cushion early would bolster playoff talk.

“That’s what we’re trying to do---start off strong,” Markkanen said. “That sets the pace for the rest of the year. We’re going one game at a time, but it’s really important for us to get these.”

The Bulls visit Memphis to face a rebuilding Grizzlies team and No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant on Friday. They will navigate the two-game trip following a preseason in which they played at a faster pace than last season and averaged 39.4 3-pointers per game. That ranked ninth in the league after finishing 27th with just 25.9 attempts last season.

“I think we get a ton of open looks,” Markkanen said. “I’ve had good looks and my teammates have as well. We’re playing unselfish basketball, sharing the ball, making the extra pass. I think it’s going to help us.”

Despite all the optimism and addition of 12-year veteran Thad Young, the Bulls remain young, the league’s second-youngest team behind the Suns. Questions about depth and defensive efficiency are legitimate.

The tests start for real Wednesday.

“I’ve seen a group of guys that want to do the right things,” Boylen said. “It’s a high character group. It’s a willing group. Our care factor is high and I expect for us to care for each other, play for each other, sacrifice for each other. I think we’ll do that well.” 

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Bulls sign guard Max Strus to a two-way contract

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USA Today

Bulls sign guard Max Strus to a two-way contract

The Bulls announced today they have signed guard Max Strus to a two-way contract. Strus went undrafted during the 2019 NBA Draft before being signed by the Boston Celtics during preseason. He played in four preseason games for the Celtics, averaging 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists.

The Celtics waived Strus to make way with athletic wing Javonte Green on the final roster.

Max Strus is a Chicagoland native, growing in Hickory Hills and attending Amos Alonzo Stagg High School. Strus played college basketball at Lewis University in Romeoville before playing for the DePaul Blue Demons.

Standing at six-foot-five and 215 pounds, Strus was named to the All Big-East Second Team after averaging 20.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 35 games during his senior 2018-19 season. As a senior he played 29-straight games with double-figure scoring and set DePaul season records with 113 3-pointers and 311 3-point attempts. His career scoring average of 18.6 points per game with the fourth best in DePaul history.

We’re excited to have Strus back in Chicago and ready to see what he brings to the Bulls when their season starts tomorrow against Charlotte.

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