Kris Dunn

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Report: Cavaliers were close to trading for Jimmy Butler on day they ousted David Griffin

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LeBron James is reportedly frustrated with the Cavaliers’ offseason.

It’s not just the moves the Cavs made, but the moves they didn’t – like trading for Jimmy Butler.

Perhaps, LeBron is being unreasonable. How often do teams as constrained as Cleveland was – deep into the luxury tax, multiple future first-round picks already owed, aging roster – trade for a relatively young star?

But the Cavaliers were pursuing Butler when they parted ways with general manager David Griffin, which certainly didn’t help their chances of nabbing the Bulls wing. Did dropping Griffin cost Cleveland getting Butler?

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

Further exacerbating James’ frustration is the Cavs were close to making a deal for then-Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler the day Gilbert decided to mutually part ways with Griffin and Redden, two people familiar with negotiations told USA TODAY Sports.

Griffin reportedly left the Cavaliers plans for a Butler trade, but Chicago obviously sent him to the Timberwolves instead.

We’ll never know what would have happened if Cleveland kept Griffin. It’s easy to imagine the Cavs beating the piddling return the Bulls got from Minnesota in a three-team trade involving Kevin Love.

But it was already easy to imagine several teams offering more than the Timberwolves did. Maybe Chicago is just that infatuated with Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. I’m also unsure Love’s value around the league – especially to teams who could flip the young players the Bulls coveted.

How close teams were to a deal is often overstated by one side that thinks it was close to a deal. The other team might have disagreed but not fully conveyed how far it was from accepting.

But, to a certain degree, perception matters here. If LeBron believes the Cavaliers could have Butler if they kept Griffin, that’s a problem for Cleveland.

Bulls’ GM Gar Forman says no buyout talks with Dwyane Wade yet, no regrets about starting rebuild

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LAS VEGAS — Lauri Markkanen. Denzel Valentine. Kris Dunn. Paul Zipster.

That core of the roster the Chicago Bulls have brought to Las Vegas for Summer League is one GM Gar Forman hopes will be at the core of a team playing and winning in the United Center in a few years. The Bulls finally stopped years of half-measures and went all in — they traded Jimmy Butler and set out to rebuild with Forman is at the helm. Even if the fans in Chicago don’t trust him and John Paxson in that role.

 

“We needed to take a step back in order to start this rebuild, and the key now will be player development,” Forman said Monday after the Bulls Summer League loss. “This group continuing to develop, continuing to work hard, and the fans seeing progress with this group over the next year or two.”

One guy not part of that future: Dwyane Wade. Forman said there have been no buyout talks with Wade or his agent. So far.

The 35-year-old former All-Star is owed $23.8 million this season, and that’s a lot for the Bulls to eat. Coach Fred Hoiberg said recently he expects Wade to start the season with the Bulls, but nobody around the league expects him to finish it there. The only question on the buyout is when and for how much.

Forman wanted to focus on the future, the rebuilding process going forward. He said that Zach LaVine, the athletic wing coming off an ACL injury who was traded to Chicago as part of the Butler deal, is working hard, but the team isn’t going to rush him back — he kept using the word cautious over and over.

“We see this as a big window move, as far as bringing in Zach at 22 years old,” Forman said. “He’s been fantastic, he’s been in our gym working out with our athletic performance staff, he came out here (to Las Vegas) to spend some times with our young kids, and work with our staff.”

There are a lot of teams in the East going into a rebuilding space right now, making it that much harder to get the high draft picks and pull off the moves needed to successfully rebuild. Fans and some media members love to suggest rebuilds, and it looks great when you get the No. 1 picks the Timberwolves did, or can develop players like the Warriors, but there are a lot of Orlando or Sacramento “rebuilds” out there as cautionary tales.

Can Forman and the Bulls pull this off? We all know the answer you get if you ask most Bulls fans.

It’s going to take time. LaVine relied on his athleticism and is coming off an injury that may rob him of a little of that. Markkanen has shown in Vegas that he may have the pieces in his game, but it’s going to take some time to see if he can pull it together. Is Valentine ready for the larger role coming his way? There are a lot of questions.

“I think we’ve got great, great things, and we have very passionate fans, that’s one of the plusses of being in Chicago, is that they’re very passionate about the Bulls,” Forman said. “We understand it’s always hard when you’ve had a level of success and you’ve got to take a step back and go into a new direction, as far as a rebuild is concerned. We know that it’s going to be a process, we know that there are going to be ups and downs in that process, but we think the trade gave us a step in the right direction as far as heading that way. 

“We got three young players that we really like, and we continue to be a team with flexibility. The big thing for us now is to integrate these young guys in, to continue to develop the young guys that we have from the previous year, continue to keep our flexibility where we can add assets.”

That all sounds good. But does Gar/Pax have the eye for talent, and do the Bulls have the player development chops, to pull it off?

Report: Justin Holiday agrees to two-year, $9 million deal with the Chicago Bulls

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Jrue Holiday signed for a staggering sum with the New Orleans Pelicans. Now, it’s brother Justin Holiday‘s turn to ink a contract.

According to reports, Holiday has signed a two-year, $9 million deal with the Chicago Bulls. Holiday will be a backup replacement now that Chicago has waived Rajon Rondo.

Holiday, 28, played in 82 games last season for the New York Knicks. He averaged 7.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per-game.

Via Twitter:

Holiday will share point guard duties with Zach LaVine, Jerian Grant, and Kris Dunn. He previously played for the Bulls in 2015-16.

Reports: Charlotte reaches one-year deal with Michael Carter-Williams for $2.7 million

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Michael Carter-Williams has played with four teams in four different years, and his game has stagnated to the point that he is the first ever Rookie of the Year to not have his fifth year picked up by a team. The Bulls let him walk so they could run out a point guard trio of Kris Dunn, Cameron Payne, and Jerian Grant (in whatever order you wish).

Point guards who can’t shoot and have an injury history are not in high demand, but Carter-Williams will get a chance to prove himself coming off the bench in Charlotte next year. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer broke the story.

MCW confirmed this himself.

The deal is for one year at $2.7 million. He will come off the bench behind Kemba Walker, and the Hornets likely will add a veteran third point guard to the mix.

Remember back when Sam Hinkie traded Carter-Williams to the Bucks and got the Sixers’ future Lakers first-round pick? The Sixers traded that pick this year to Boston in the deal that got Philly the No. 1 pick and Markelle Fultz. The Bucks traded him to the Bulls in a deal that got Milwaukee Tony Snell, where he had a breakout season.

Carter-Williams averaged 6.6 points and 2.5 assists per game last season, and his length makes him a decent defender. He’s a below-average NBA point guard, but he can give the Hornets some decent bench minutes, and he comes at a price they can easily afford.

No Butler, no George, but Celtics should not over-react or act impatiently. Their time will come.

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What happens if the Celtics do nothing big this summer? They did not land Jimmy Butler in a trade, Paul George went to Oklahoma City, Blake Griffin re-signed with the Clippers, what if the Celtics strike out with Gordon Hayward and he chooses to stay in Utah (or go to Miami)?

First, Celtics fans will freak out online.

Then in the fall the Celtics bring back a team that was the top seed in the East last year, made the conference Finals, and who added the No. 3 pick in the draft. They remain the biggest threat to Cleveland in the East. The Celtics are still stacked with draft picks and talent and look to be a team poised to be the next big power in the conference.

In short, nothing changes. My conversations with people in and around the Celtics have them thinking of building something sustainable that hits in 2019 or 2020, they are not in win-now mode like the Cavaliers or Rockets. Celtics fans may want to knock over the LeBron wall in the East next season, but that wall could be gone in two years (he goes to the West in 2018) or will just start to crumble around him (that could even start to happen next season).

Things are not dire in Boston even if they miss out on all the guys targeted. The Celtics are still in an excellent position, just one that requires patience and vision. Danny Ainge has those things, fans tend not to.

That said, the pressure to land Gordon Hayward this summer in free agency certainly has ramped up some.

The challenge for Boston is that their cap space for the future goes away next summer when Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart all come up for new contracts — no way Boston keeps all of them anyway. That said, it’s easier for Boston if they can add Hayward this summer then decide what moves to make after seeing how all the pieces fit together. While people in Utah remain confident they can retain Hayward, the rest of the league seems to think he’s ready to move on (especially if George Hill and Joe Ingles leave as well). If he goes, Boston is in the driver’s seat.

The frustration in not landing George after seeing him go to OKC for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo is understandable. Same with seeing Butler go to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick.

Boston has in its pocket the Nets first round pick in 2018 unprotected, the Lakers pick in 2019 (if it falls 2-5, otherwise it is the better of either the Kings or Sixers pick in 2019), the Clippers pick in 2019 (lottery protected), the Grizzlies pick in 2019 (lottery protected), Boston’s own picks the next two years, plus players such as Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Jayson Tatum, and on down the line. It’s easy to blame Ainge for being too cautious, not pushing his chips into the middle and using those assets to get an elite player now.

Except he did offer more for George, back at the trade deadline when a couple of those picks including next year’s Brooklyn pick, were on the table, but the Pacers then GM Larry Bird didn’t want to move George. When the organization was forced to move him, they reportedly asked for the Nets pick, the Lakers pick, plus players — way more than they got from OKC. Talk around the league is that in part Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers GM, did not want to send George to a team in the East where he could re-sign without a massive return (which explains not taking Cavaliers’ deal, either). Zach Lowe of ESPN says that the Celtics and Nuggets had worked out a three-team deal that ended with George in Cleveland and Kevin Love in Denver, but Indiana kept moving the goal posts. In the end, the Pacers took on Victor Oladipo rather than Gary Harris, which is not the decision most other NBA teams would have made.

Is Danny Ainge waiting for the perfect deal? Yes.

Does he have to cash in some of those hoarded assets at some point to get the final pieces needed for a contender? Absolutely.

But that time is not the summer of 2017. Paul George is not the last, best hope of the Celtics. Other opportunities will arise. Ainge and the Celtics can be patient. Even if the fan base is not.