Boston Celtics

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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NBC Sports Boston's Trade Bot comes up with Kris Dunn-Terry Rozier trade

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USA TODAY

NBC Sports Boston's Trade Bot comes up with Kris Dunn-Terry Rozier trade

The NBA landscape is getting ready to undergo a dramatic makeover this offseason, with the vast number of free agents and the volatility of the 2019 draft class. While the Bulls and Boston Celtics are two teams that could have much different views of success next season, they also could be ideal trade partners. Our partners at NBC Sports Boston laid out an intriguing trade offer that certainly got Celtics fans talking.

The NBC Sports Boston “Trade Bot 3000” came up with a scenario in which Danny Ainge targets Bulls guard Kris Dunn.

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This does not come as a huge shock, as GM Danny Ainge has had a liking for Dunn’s game dating back to the 2016 NBA Draft, when he reportedly almost traded then-Celtic Isaiah Thomas fior a lottery pick to select Dunn. Of course since then things have changed quite a bit, as Dunn has failed to develop into a real threat from the perimeter and his great defensive effort has been dragged down by foul troubles (4.3 fouls per 36 minutes).

NBC Sports Boston’s Trade Bot pointed out that Boston would be receiving the New London, Connecticut native with a full season before he is set to hit restricted free agency (2020-21). Dunn’s team-friendly contract would make sense for a Celtics team that is unlikely to have any functional cap space this offseason. And even in the event that the Celtics do create near max cap space, that would likely mean that guards Terry Rozier and Kyrie Irving are no longer on the roster.

Dunn would be a solid option as a starter or backup guard for a new-look Celtics squad that would be built around feeding Jayson Tatum plenty of looks, much more than the 13.1 field goal attempts per game that he averaged over the 2018-19 season. Dunn’s usage rate dropped a significant amount last season and his offensive rating improved as a result of him using less possessions. I would expect that trend to continue under Brad Stevens, who would find more creative ways to keep Dunn involved on offense.

It is simple to see how the trade would be appealing from the Bulls perspective. Though incredibly similar prospects, Rozier presents a greater threat from the 3-point line as compared to Dunn.

He is by no means a knockdown shooter, but the fact that “Scary Terry” has taken 6.3 attempts from 3-point range per 36 minutes (for his career per Basketball-Reference)  definitely matters.

Defenses will have to account for Rozier when he is on the floor, making him a nice partner for LaVine on the offensive end of the floor. But again, Rozier would not be a savior at the PG position. He has many of the same flaws as Dunn, such as generating a tremendously low amount of free throw attempts. As we all know, a fresh start can do wonders for a young player and a trade of this nature would allow the Bulls to add Rozier, while giving him the true maximum salary that only the Celtics would be able to offer.

To make matters even better for Chicago, the Bulls would be collecting a second round pick as well for swapping a player on a rookie deal for a player who is due for a significant raise. One last interesting nugget on a possible Dunn-for-Rozier trade is that the two guards are actually one day apart age-wise. They are at a similar stage in their careers/development, to the point where it would be tough to say which team won the trade.

Let us know how you would feel about NBC Sports Boston Trade Bot’s Dunn-for-Rozier swap at @BullsTalk!

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers playoff hopes on life support

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USA TODAY

NBA Power Rankings: Lakers playoff hopes on life support

The Lakers playoff hopes may have taken the final nail in the coffin with their Monday night loss to the in-city rival Clippers. Much was made of LeBron James effort (or perceived lack of) level in the loss, despite James racking up 27 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST with only 2 TO in the loss. Yes, Kyle Kuzma pushed James into a shot-contest in the clip seen ‘round the world, and yes, that is a routine thing that happens all the time in professional hoops, and doesn’t mean as much as people tried to make it out to be.

Either way, the Lakers are likely out of playoff contention, which opens up the doors for the Clippers, Kings and Spurs to fight it out for the last two spots in the Western Conference playoff picture. The NBA changes quickly, and perhaps nothing signifies that as much as the upstart Kings being in the same conversation as the Spurs, the gold standard when it comes to franchise consistency.

Over in the Eastern Conference, the dysfunction of the uber-talented Boston Celtics has put them in position to finish as a bottom-4 playoff seed despite their great net rating. Kyrie Irving has been a problematic quote machine, essentially throwing gasoline on the flames that are rumors of Irving’s departure from Boston this offseason.

Whether or not Kyrie stays, the Celtics are in a position to move forward with a successful, young and talented core. But there hopes of making an NBA Finals run are in serious jeopardy if they can’t find some sort of consistency moving forward. Boston has an interesting stretch of games to end the season that will see them play both playoff contenders and rebuilding teams who have played better as of late.

Irving has shown that he can still get buckets in a hurry, but Boston will need a clear-cut secondary scoring option, as well as continued focus on the defensive end of the floor as they head into the postseason. The Sixers and Pacers stand as the most likely 1st round playoff opponents for the C’s, and thankfully for head coach Brad Stevens, Boston has a few more chances to play the Sixers and Pacers before the season ends.

Playoff matchups will be on the minds of some of the more pensive NBA head coaches as we near the end of the season. It will be intriguing to see if any coaches feel strongly enough to commit to any lineup/roster shenanigans in order to put their squads in a better position to play a particular opponent in the 1st round of the postseason.

Click here to see our most updated power rankings as we watch the NBA playoff picture start to take its final form.