NBA free agency moves impact Bulls


NBA free agency moves impact Bulls

The league's oldest player, Kurt Thomas, won't return for a second season in the Windy City, as the 39-year-old reportedly signed a two-year contract with the size-deficient Trail Blazers.

Although the Bulls' top priority remains acquiring a shooting guard, another concern now becomes finding a veteran big man to provide insurance behind starters Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, and reserves Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.

The quartet is among the NBA's top frontcourts, but with the injury histories of all four players, more depth is needed; no disrespect to training-camp invite Brian Scalabrine, who will likely make the team, but again play sparingly this season.

Meanwhile, another of the organization's perimeter targets, former Bulls draft pick Jamal Crawford, is reportedly in advanced discussions with the Knicks, another of his former employers, to return to the Big Apple if a sign-and-trade agreement with the Hawks is reached.

Around the league, other moves that could impact the Bulls are being made. Central Division rival Indiana signed free-agent power forward David West to a two-year contract, giving the youthful Pacers some veteran leadership and a low-post scoring presence, albeit one coming off a devastating knee injury.

Of course, one of the biggest stories continues to be the on-again, off-again three-team blockbuster deal involving Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul. According to multiple reports, the Lakers pulled out of the slightly-revamped deal--first struck down by the NBA--to acquire Paul, then shipped forward Lamar Odom to the defending-champion Mavericks, a suitor for Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard, for a trade exception and draft considerations, a move that affected both Houston and New Orleans, who continue to find a league-approved swap for their superstar.

Derrick Rose, himself on the verge of signing a long-term contract extension with his hometown Bulls and with no plans to leave his native Chicago, recently opined on the situation.

"I thought that players were able to go wherever they wanted to go, but I guess it's different or they the NBA stopped it," said the league MVP, who was outspoken in his offseason comments about the prolonged lockout and how it affected players. "But I'm not in that organization New Orleans, I don't know that player Paul like that, so I don't have a say-so of what goes on over there."

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.”