Three things to Know: The Chicago Bulls know drama


Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.

1) The Chicago Bulls know drama

Lately there’s been more drama in the Bulls’ wins than all of Chicago on an NBC Wednesday night.

First there was Ayo Dosunmu‘s putback game-winner against the Hawks. Then it was a DeMar DeRozan jumper as time expired to get the win in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks.

Last night the Bulls were down 11 to the Bucks with 2:18 to play — only to have DeRozan make the steal and get the ball to Dosunmu for the dunk that tied the game at 106-106 and forced overtime.

(The real key to the Bulls’ comeback was a run of great defense, giving up just one bucket in the final 3:18, although it helped the Bucks missed some clean looks.)

Then in overtime, DeRozan put the Bulls ahead for good.

DeRozan finished the night with 42 points (10 in overtime) on 15-for-25 shooting, plus 10 rebounds. He also got into it with Grayson Allen, and DeRozan admitted after the game it was because of Allen’s reputation around the league for cheap plays that he had words with the Bucks sharpshooter.

From the Bucks’ perspective, the loss is easy to explain — they missed good looks. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 45 points and when the Bulls doubled him he kicked out to the open man, but the Bucks shot 9-of-44 (20.5%) from 3, missing a lot of wide-open looks. Including a few early in overtime that could have changed the outcome.

The Bulls will take the wins any way they can get them. Chicago has won 4-of-5 now, which has them just 15-19 and sitting in the final play-in spot in the East. They need a lot more wins, but could use an easy one after all the drama lately.

2) Nets extend win streak to 10 games, move into second in East

This one was pretty simple: The Hawks were without Trae Young (calf contusion), Clint Capela (calf strain) or De'Andre Hunter (sprained ankle); The Nets did have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Irving finished with 28 points — scoring 15 in the fourth quarter — while Durant had 26 points in a game where the Hawks were feisty early but the Nets took over late.

That’s 10 wins in a row and 14-of-15 for the Nets, who moved past the Bucks and into second place in the East with this win. It’s time to start putting Jacque Vaughn in the Coach of the Year conversation for how he turned this team around.

3) Zion scores final 14 points, finishes with 43 in Pelicans win over Timberwolves

Zion Williamson is finding another level.

He took over the game’s final minutes Wednesday, scoring the Pelicans’ final 14 points on his way to 33 for the night and leading New Orleans to a 119-118 win over the Timberwolves.

That’s four straight wins for the Pelicans, four straight losses for the Timberwolves (who continue to be up and down without Karl-Anthony Towns).

If you like referee whistles this was the game for you: There were 52 fouls called in the game, including a few technicals and one Flagrant 1 (Austin Rivers earned that one when he caught Larry Nance Jr. with a hard shot to the head late in the third quarter. Nance had to leave the game and did not return due to neck spasms.

Damian Lillard says Trail Blazers shut him down, talks loyalty to Portland


Players feel the wrath of fans for load management in the NBA, but more often than not it’s a team’s medical and training staff — driven by analytics and the use of wearable sensors — that sit a player. Guys don’t get to the NBA not wanting to compete.

Case in point, Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers have shut him down for the rest of the season, but he told Dan Patrick on the Dan Patrick Show that it was a team call, not his.

“I wouldn’t say it’s my decision at all. I think maybe the team protecting me from myself… Every time that I’ve had some type injury like that kind of get irritated or aggravated or something like that, it’s come from just like a heavy load, and stress, and just, you know, going out there and trying to go above and beyond. So, you know, I would say just; there is something there, and also them just trying to protect me from myself as well.”

Maybe it’s a little about protecting Lillard at age 32 — who played at an All-NBA level this season — but it’s more about lottery odds.

Portland and Orlando are tied for the league’s fifth and sixth-worst records. The team with the fifth worst record has a 10.5% chance at the No.1 pick, the sixth worst is 9%. More than that, the fifth-worst record has a 42% chance of moving up into the top four at the draft lottery, for the sixth seed that is 37.2%. Not a huge bump in the odds, but the chances are still better for the fifth seed than the sixth, so the Trail Blazers as an organization are going for it.

Lillard also talked about his loyalty to Portland, which is partly tied to how he wants to win a ring — the way Dirk Nowitzki and Giannis Antetokounmpo did, with the team and city that drafted them.

“I just have a way that I want to get things done for myself… I just have my stance on what I want to see happen, but in this business, you just never know.”

Other teams are watching Lillard, but they have seen this movie before. Nothing will happen until Lillard asks for a trade and he has yet to show any inclination to do so.

But he’s got time to think about everything as he is not taking the court again this season.

Seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge officially retires

Indiana Pacers v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

LaMarcus Aldridge retired once due to a heart condition (Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome), back in 2021. That time it didn’t take, he came back to the then-a-super-team Nets and showed there was something in the tank averaging 12.9 points (on 55% shooting), 5.5 rebounds and a block a game. However, the Nets did not bring him back this season (leaning into Nic Claxton) and no other offers were forthcoming.

Friday, Aldridge made it official and retired.

Aldridge had a career that will earn him Hall of Fame consideration: 19.1 points a game over 16 seasons, five-time All-NBA, seven-time All-Star, and one of the faces of the Portland Trail Blazers during his prime years in the Pacific Northwest. Teammates and former coaches (including Gregg Popovich in San Antonio) called him a consummate professional after his initial retirement.

This time Aldridge got to announce his retirement on his terms, which is about as good an exit as there is.



Report: NBA minimum draft age will not change in new CBA, one-and-done remains


While the NBA — representing the owners — and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) continue last-minute negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) before an opt-out deadline Friday night at midnight, one point of contention is off the table:

The NBA draft age will not change in the new CBA, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The NBA one-and-done rule will remain in place.

The NBA one-and-done rule is unpopular with fans and college coaches (and, of course, players coming up). NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had worked to eliminate that restriction saying it was unfair, but he could not get it done.

There wasn’t much motivation from either side to make a move. From the players’ union perspective, lowering the draft eligibility age to 18 would bring more young players in to develop in the league and take away roster spots from veterans (and the union is made up of those veterans, not undrafted players). The union has suggested ways to keep veterans on the roster (possibly a roster expansion) as mentors, but a deal could not be reached. As for the teams, plenty of GMs would prefer an extra year to evaluate players, especially with them going up against better competition in college/G-League/Overtime Elite/overseas.

There are other impediments to a CBA deal, such as the details around a mid-season NBA tournament, the configuration of the luxury tax, veteran contract extension language, a games-played minimum to qualify for the league’s end-of-season awards.

If the sides do not reach a deal by midnight, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would likely opt out of the current CBA, meaning it would end on June 30. The two sides would have until then to reach a deal on a new CBA to avoid a lockout (although they could go into September before it starts to mess with the NBA regular season calendar and not just Summer League).


Timberwolves big man Naz Reid out indefinitely with fractured wrist

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

This sucks for a Timberwolves team finding its groove.

Part of that groove was the offensive spark of big man Naz Ried off the bench, but now he will be out indefinitely with a fractured wrist, the Timberwolves announced. From the official release:

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) taken yesterday at Mayo Clinic Square by Dr. Kelechi Okoroha on Reid revealed a left scaphoid fracture. He will be out indefinitely and further updates on his progress will be provided when available.

A scaphoid fracture involves one of the small bones at the base of the hand that connects the wrist and fingers. Reid injured his hand on this dunk attempt against the Suns, he instinctively used his left hand to help break the fall and it took the weight of the landing.

Impressively, and despite being in pain, Reid played through the injury.

Reid developed into the sixth man, spark plug roll for the Timberwolves behind starters Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. In his last five games, Reid averaged 18.8 points on 59.1% shooting (including 45% from 3 on four attempts a night) and grabbed 5.2 rebounds in his 22 minutes.

Reid is a free agent this offseason. The Timberwolves want to keep him and have had talks with him, but he will have plenty of suitors.

His loss will be a blow to Minnesota, especially heading into crucial games down the stretch — starting with the Lakers Friday night (a team Reid had some big games against) — and into the postseason. Expect coach Chris Finch to stagger Towns and Gobert a little more, and he can turn to Nate Knight or Luka Garza off the bench, but their role would be limited (especially come the playoffs).