Bulls

Dwyane Wade, Bulls respond to Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Dwyane Wade, Bulls respond to Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Every week there seems to be some rumor of some kind involving the Chicago Bulls and ever-so-slightly, it’s starting to wear on Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg.

Whether it’s the combination of Hoiberg having to face questions about his job security several days ago or the latest one to hit the mill — a report about the Bulls listening to offers about Jimmy Butler — he broke the veneer he’s so carefully crafted since his arrival in Chicago.

“No. I’m not going to comment on the rumors,” Hoiberg said.

When asked if he was surprised, Hoiberg deviated from his usual tactic of cracking a quick joke to break the ice and seemed annoyed he has to address something seemingly every week.

“No, I’m not. I’m not surprised at all,” Hoiberg said. “Because that’s the world that we live in, unfortunately.”

He admitted the totality of it all can wear on someone or even his team, but insisted he won’t allow it to.

“It is what it is. It’s the world that we live in,” Hoiberg said. “You try to stay away from it as much as possible. Keep your head down, keep working. Again, I think we’ve made significant progress these last couple of weeks as a basketball team, winning four of six and having some really good wins in that stretch.”

Dwyane Wade believes it’s the market of Chicago that leads to such daily and weekly controversy.

“It's a big market. It's the Bulls. Our best player is in a rumor right now,” Wade said. “It doesn't matter. It's been a rumor every week but nothing has happened. It's a big market, something to talk about. A couple extra hits. It's the way the world works, the world we're in. Someone decided to write something with no merit. And if it does have merit, way to be first in line for the scoop.”

Dwyane Wade joked he’s never been involved in a trade rumor and stated there’s a few untouchables around the NBA.

“James Harden don't have a price, Russell Westbrook don't have a price, LeBron James don't have a price. Steph Curry don't…,” Wade said. “There's certain guys at this point, this moment, don't have a price. At some point, everybody got a price and depending on when. Dwyane Wade didn't have a price at one point.”

He didn’t forget his teammate, the guy who scored 52 one night and closed out the Cavaliers two nights later with a 14-point fourth quarter.

“In my mind, he doesn't. I think he's the cornerstone of this franchise,” Wade said. “He's the reason I'm here. The reason we're winning games, Not in my mind but it's not my decision.”

[LISTEN: Bulls Talk Podcast discusses Jimmy Butler trade rumors]

Although the two are obviously close and Wade being much more experienced than Butler, he said he wouldn’t give the rumors life by talking to his teammate about it.

“For what? Who wrote an article? Somebody wrote an article? Who cares. Like I said, you can control what you can control,” Wade said. “You can’t control somebody waking up one day and wanting to stir something up in Chicago and write an article.”

It’s the two-way street of the NBA, he believes.

“The only thing you can do is bring your butt in here and work, and if they call you and say, ‘Hey, you’ve been moved.’ Shake their hand and you say, ‘Thank you for everything,’ and you leave,” Wade said. “I always told my teammates, because you never know what’s going to happen in this league, you never know where you’re going to be, stay professional. Just like you have your opportunities in free agency and stuff like that to decide where you want to go, they have opportunities to move you. There’s nothing you can do about it. So don’t listen to it. It’s the time of the year where everybody’s name is being thrown in a hat, and most of it don’t even happen.’’

With the rumors being so prevalent from one thing to another, Hoiberg said he discusses it with his team at times.

“We talk a little but about it, but we don't spend a lot of time talking about it. But yeah, there are moments,” he said. “I'll say this. Going back to my days in the front office, you're always talking to other teams, you're always making calls. You talk about your roster, People throw things against the wall all the time.”

Hoiberg was an assistant GM with the Timberwolves for a short time before going to the college ranks at Iowa State.

“I was a guy that made a lot of calls. So you do that stuff all the time,” he said. “You do your due diligence on other teams and rosters and throw things out there; 99 percent of them have no legs and you move on, but that is the job. You do call every other team in the league and you talk. That's what that job's about.”

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

lauri.jpg
USA TODAY

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

Lauri Markkanen doesn't often feel short.

The Bulls forward is 7-feet tall, which even in the land of NBA giants makes him one of the tallest players on the court at all times. So when Markkanen stands next to Yao Ming, it changes perspective quite a bit.

Markkanen posted a photo with him and the 7-foot-6 Chinese Hall of Famer. Markkanen looks like a child.

Makes you wonder if Markkanen pulled some "What's the weather like up there?" jokes just because he otherwise never can.

 

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

dw.jpg
USA TODAY

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

Former Miami Heat two-way player Derrick Walton Jr. is reported to be nearing a deal with the Bulls. In an interview with The Athletic, it was stated: "Walton, 23, says he knows where he’ll play next season. An agreement is in place, but his agent, Mark Bartelstein, is requiring him to sit on the news until next week. All Walton can put out publicly is this: 'Long story short, I’m good. I’m going to a great situation. All I can say.' "

And while it is not yet known if the potential contract will be a two-way deal or not, Walton would provide an intriguing lottery ticket for the Bulls. 

The team mostly ignored looking for a backup point guard on the market. There is obviously a belief in the organization that Cameron Payne will have some internal growth, making him the best option. And the trade of Jerian Grant for essentially nothing, shows even more that Payne is there guy. Retaining Ryan Arcidiacono is a nice move considering the hustle that he showed last season at both the G League and NBA level, but it still leaves the Bulls thin in terms of established backup PGs behind Kris Dunn. And that is where Walton comes into play. 

Walton was a four-year player at the University of Michigan, where he played in some big-time games and showed immense leadership potential. But in terms of strictly on the court skills, there is one thing that he does extremely well: space the floor. 

In his four years at Michigan, Walton took a total of 581 3-point attempts, and knocked them down at a 40.1 percent rate. His elite shooting is enough to make him a legitimate rotation player for Fred Hoiberg. And while Payne still may develop into a better player, his outside shooting is his calling card despite never being elite at that skill at the NBA level. And in fact, when you compare he and Walton’s stats from college, the G League and the NBA, it becomes apparent who is the better shooter right now.

3-point percentage at NCAA level: Payne- 35.9 percent, Walton- 40.1 percent
3-point percentage at G League level: Payne- 33.8 percent, Walton- 37.7 percent
3-point percentage at NBA level: Payne- 34 percent, Walton- 41.2 percent

Now obviously, there is a “small sample size alert” for the NBA level, as Walton has only taken 17 3-pointers at the NBA level in his limited time with the Miami Heat. But these numbers show that even dating back to their freshman years of college, Walton has been the more efficient shooter from 3-point range.

Cameron Payne has the edge when it comes to playmaking, and this is based off of the fact that Payne has maintained an assist rate above 30 percent through all of his G League stints, while also having a low turnover rate (9.9 percent). Walton didn’t come close to Payne in terms of G League assist rate, and his 17.9 percent turnover rate at the G League level shows that his decision-making has yet to catch up to his shooting. 

Ultimately, Walton is going to be most effective as an off-ball guard who can make quick decisions, and knockdown the 3-point shot at a high level. Though if Summer League was any indication, his passing out of the pick-and-roll is getting better. And while Payne certainly is a good shooter, his game is much more predicated on having the ball in his hands, and playing in the pick-and-roll. With so many players on the Bulls who can create their own shot, Walton could end up being the cleanest fit with this constantly evolving Bulls roster.