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Bulls vs Knicks pregame thoughts

Chicago Bulls vs New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden
7:30 p.m. ET

PREGAME INFO

Entering the game, the Knicks have a 3-7 record (2-3 at home), while the Bulls are 2-8 (1-3 on the road)

Leading scorers for the Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr. at 23.3 ppg, Enes Kanter 14.5 ppg, Damyean Dotson 12.6 ppg and Allonzo Trier 10.6 ppg.

Leading scorers for the Bulls: Zach LaVine at 26.6 ppg, Jabari Parker 14.3 ppg, Justin Holiday 12.1 ppg and Antonio Blakeney 11.4 ppg.

NOTES

The Bulls have had a tough time at Madison Square Garden of late: Chicago is 3-7 over its last 10 games in New York City, including losses in five of the last six road matchups with the Knicks.

Zach LaVine scored 21 points vs. Houston on Saturday. It was his 11th game in a row to score at least 20 (3/15-11/3/18), which is a career-long streak. The last Bulls player to post a double-digit streak of 20-point scoring was Jimmy Butler with 15 such games from Nov. 7 to Dec. 6, 2016.

Justin Holiday has made at least three 3-pointers in each of the last five games, which is a career-long streak. Over that span, he has shot .465 from long distance (20-of-43).

Wendell Carter Jr. blocked a career-high four shots vs. the Rockets on Saturday. His 1.90 blocks per game leads all rookies. He has recorded at least one block in nine of 10 games this season.

PREGAME THOUGHTS

This is a golden opportunity for the Knicks, who are still playing without Kristaps Porzingis, to put together a good game and impress the home crowd. Both the Knicks and Bulls have extremely young rosters, but the while the Knicks are without their leading star, the Bulls have a host of injuries. The Knicks just yesterday lost to a struggling Wizards team. Teams are often tired on the second night of a back-to-back, but if the Knicks can grab a win today, they then face a beatable Hawks team Wednesday in Atlanta and gather up some momentum before heading to Toronto for a tough matchup against an excellent Raptors squad.

The Chicago Bulls have exercised the third-year option on Lauri Markkanen, and fourth-year options on guards Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine.

By exercising their options, all players will be under contract with the Bulls for the 2019-20 season.

“According to the Chicago Tribune, “all three players, who are currently injured, are on their rookie scale contracts. Exercising the team option is a formality to keep them on those rookie scale deals for another season.”

Markkanen came to the Bulls in a Draft-night trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves on June 22, 2017, in which his rights were acquired, along with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the rights to the 16th selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. Markkanen was selected to the All-Rookie First Team last season after playing in 68 games (68 starts) and averaging 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 29.7 minutes per game. Markkanen set a Bulls’ franchise record for most 3-point field goals made in a rookie season (145) and was the fastest rookie in NBA history to reach 100 3-pointers made when he hit 101 through his first 41 games. Markkanen was also a participant in the 2018 Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Game and a finalist in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.

The Bulls acquired Dunn in the Draft-night trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves on June 22, 2017. Last season, he played in 52 games (43 starts) and averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.00 steals in 29.3 minutes per game. His career averages are 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.39 steals over 131 games. Dunn scored a career-high 32 points to go along with nine assists on Jan. 5, 2018, at Dallas, and he joined Michael Jordan as the only two players for the Bulls to have a game with at least 20 points, 12 assists, four steals and two blocks on Dec. 26, 2017, at Milwaukee. Dunn has played in one game this season on Oct. 22 at Dallas, and he scored nine points with four rebounds and seven assists.

Valentine was selected 14th overall by Chicago in the 2016 NBA Draft. He played in a team-high 77 games in 2017-18 (37 starts), and averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 27.2 minutes per game. He has averaged 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his career over 134 games. Valentine’s 143 3-pointers made last season rank as the 11th-highest single-season total in Bulls history. On March 17, 2018, vs. Cleveland, he recorded career highs in points (34), field goals made (13) and 3-pointers made (eight).

Bobby Portis injured, out 4-6 weeks

Bobby Portis injured, out 4-6 weeks

The Chicago Bulls say that an MRI has confirmed that forward Bobby Portis sustained a moderate sprain of the MCL of his right knee during the October 24 game against the Hornets.

It is estimated that Portis will be out for 4-6 weeks.

Starting all four games that he played in so far this season, Portis in 28.3 minutes per contest has been averaging 10.5 points and 10.0 rebounds.

The 1-3 Bulls have been led in scoring by Zach LaVine, who is posting big numbers: 32.3 ppg on impressive 57.1% shooting. But no one else on the team is scoring more than 14.8 ppg.

But so far the team’s offense has been fairly average for the league. The problem early this season has been defense.

On Chicago Bulls point guards

The Bulls finally know who their main point guard is. It’s Kris Dunn. Except, he’s now injured. So it’s back to the drawing board for the next month or so, approximately. Here’s NBC Sports Chicago reporting:

Over the last couple seasons we’ve had some fun on our Bulls Pregame Live shows with the ever-changing cast of characters at the point guard position. We even brought the point guard roulette wheel to the show a couple years ago when Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Canaan, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne all saw significant time at the position.

Grant began last season as the starter, followed by Kris Dunn and Payne with a little Ryan Arcidiacono mixed in.

But this season was supposed to be different. Dunn showed enough in his 52 game stint (13.4 points, 6 assists per game) in 2017-18 that he entered training camp as the unquestioned starter, with Payne and Arcidiacono as backups. The front office and coaching staff expected the 3rd year guard out of Providence to establish himself as a quality starter with elite skills at the defensive end.

Now, after playing just one regular season game, Dunn has been sidelined again, this time with a sprained left MCL suffered in his debut at Dallas Monday night

Full article

Bulls sign Shaquille Harrison, waive Omer Asik

The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Shaquille Harrison. And in a preceding move, the Bulls waived center Omer Asik.

Harrison (6-4, 190) was waived by the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 15, 2018. He played in four games (three starts) for the Suns during the 2018 preseason and averaged 7.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.25 steals and 1.25 blocks in 22.4 minutes per game. Harrison first signed with Phoenix on Feb. 21, 2018, and averaged 6.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.13 steals in 23 games last season, his first in the NBA.

In college, Harrison was a four-year letter-winner at the University of Tulsa from 2012-16. He is the only Tulsa player to start every game his team played during his career, averaging 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.83 steals over 133 games. Harrison left school ranked second all-time with 461 career assists, third all-time with 244 career steals, and second with his 133 starts. He was the only Tulsa player to ever compile at least 1,300 points, 400 assists and 200 steals, and the only player with 50 or more steals in all four seasons.

Asik came to the Bulls in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 1, 2018. He also played for Chicago in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 NBA seasons. He has career averages of 2.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 152 games for the Bulls. Asik has not played during the 2018-19 season due to illness.

The Chicago Bulls have claimed guard Tyler Ulis off waivers to bring their roster to 17 total players. And in a subsequent transaction, the Bulls exercised the Two-Way player conversion option on Ulis.

Ulis (5-10, 150) was waived by the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 12, 2018. He appeared in four games (one start) for Golden State this preseason and averaged 3.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 10.2 minutes per game. Originally selected by Phoenix with the 34th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Ulis played for the Suns for two seasons. He has averaged 7.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists through 132 games (58 starts) in his NBA career. Ulis was named Rookie of the Month in April of 2017.

The Chicago native played for Kentucky for two seasons (2014-16) and posted career averages of 11.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 30.1 minutes over 72 games. While in high school, Ulis was a two-time Illinois All-State selection and Southtown Star Player of the Year. He ended his career at Marian Catholic High School as the all-time leading scorer (2,335), leader in assists (578) and leader in steals (283).

The Chicago Bulls have waived guards Antonius Cleveland and Derrick Walton Jr., and forwards JaKarr Sampson and Kaiser Gates.

Chicago’s roster now stands at 16, including one Two-Way player.

Legendary coach Tex Winter has died

Legendary coach Tex Winter has died. Several NBA teams who enjoyed long relationships with Winter have issued statements on the sad news:

LAKERS STATEMENT

On behalf of the entire Lakers organization, I’d like to express our sadness at the passing of Tex Winter,” said Lakers CEO and Controlling Owner Jeanie Buss. “Tex helped lead the team to four NBA Championships and was a mentor to many of our coaches and players. In addition to his numerous contributions to the game of basketball, Tex was a wonderful man and he will be dearly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Winter family.”

An innovator of the “triangle offense,” Winter joined the Lakers staff prior to the 1999-2000 campaign after spending 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, including eight under head coach Phil Jackson. Winter was a member of six championship teams in Chicago (1991-93, 1996-98) and four in Los Angeles (2000-02 and 2009).

BULLS STATEMENT

The following statement is from John Paxson, the Chicago Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, on behalf of the Bulls:

“Tex Winter was a basketball legend and perhaps the finest fundamental teacher in the history of our game. He was an innovator who had high standards for how basketball should be played and approached everyday. Those of us who were lucky enough to play for him will always respect his devotion to the game of basketball. His contributions to the Bulls organization will always be remembered.”

Big game for Bulls from Zach LaVine

It’s just preseason, but still, a big game is a big game. Here’s NBC Sports Chicago reporting on Bulls guard Zach LaVine, who now has big responsibility on his young shoulders:

The Bulls once again struggled defensively in Monday night’s 110-104 loss to the Charlotte Hornets…

Jabari Parker will have better nights: At least we hope he does. It was a second (third, really) consecutive disappointing outing - for the Bulls’ top free agent…

Zach LaVine still looks like it’s all coming together

On the flip side, the Bulls’ other large offseason investment continues to produce. Zach LaVine was arguably the best player on the floor (when taking the Bulls’ defense into consideration). He scored 26 points on just 15 shots, a serious improvement in the efficiency department. Ironically he was at his best after an ugly long missed 2-pointer that was tightly contested early in the shot clock. It looked like 2017-18 Zach LaVine.

Then the new school LaVine showed up. He looked comfortable coming off screens and pulling up from beyond the arc, finishing in transition and getting to the basket. He did a little bit of everything, which is a far cry from what he did last season. An aggressive LaVine and a smart shot taking LaVine is a tough one to stop on the offensive end. Another night, another positive for the $78 million man.

NBA preseason is generally filled with minor injuries that are the opposite of serious and generally only require a day or two’s worth of rest to heal.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with Lauri Markkanen. The young Bulls power forward sustained a right elbow injury in practice on Thursday, Sept. 27. He underwent an MRI today that showed a high grade lateral elbow sprain.

Markkanen is estimated to be out six-to-eight weeks.

And according to the Chicago Sun-Times, after averaging 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds last season and being named to the NBA All-Rookie first team, Markkanen added 17 pounds of muscle this offseason and was expected to be a focal point of the offense. “Lauri looks great,’’ guard Zach LaVine said just days before Markkanen suffered the injury in practice Thursday. “He got a little bit stronger; jumper still looks pretty as all get-out. Still the funniest dude in the world. He looks good, man.”

Bulls sign JaKarr Sampson and Kaiser Gates

The Chicago Bulls have signed free agents Kaiser Gates and JaKarr Sampson to round out their 2018-19 training camp roster.

Gates (6-8, 227) played in three games on the Bulls’ 2018 MGM Resorts NBA Summer League team, averaging 6.7 points per game. Prior to his Summer League experience, Gates played three seasons at Xavier (2015-18), appearing in in 97 games (22 starts). He finished his career with an average of 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Gates’ statistical averages improved in each season at Xavier, averaging 7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds per game and scoring in double figures in 11 games in his final season. As a junior in 2017-18, his .378 shooting percentage from behind the arc ranked second on the Big East-champion Musketeers.

Sampson (6-9, 214) enters his fourth season in the NBA with career averages of 5.1 points and 2.6 rebounds per game in 169 contests (78 starts). Sampson comes to Chicago after spending the 2017-18 season with the Sacramento Kings as a Two-Way player. He played in 22 games (6 starts) and averaged 4.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.00 blocks per game in 15.6 minutes per contest for the Kings. During his time in the G League, he played in 35 games (33 starts) for the Reno Bighorns. With Reno, Sampson put up averages of 17.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.06 steals in 28.7 minutes per game. A native of Cleveland, Sampson spent his first two NBA seasons with the 76ers and Nuggets after being named the 2013 Big East Rookie of the Year.

Bulls center Omer Asik is out indefinitely with inflammatory arthritis that flared up over the summer. He has been receiving ongoing medical treatment and management, but his return to basketball activities is yet to be determined.

Asik came to the Bulls in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 1, 2018. He also played for Chicago in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 NBA seasons. He has career averages of 2.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 152 games for the Bulls.

Bulls announce promotions in their basketball operations department

The Chicago Bulls have promoted Brian Hagen to Associate General Manager, Steve Weinman to Assistant General Manager, Jim Paxson to Director of Pro Personnel and Miles Abbett to Manager of Minor League Scouting and Analytics.

Hagen is entering his seventh season with the Bulls, as he spent the last six seasons as Assistant General Manager and third as General Manager of the Windy City Bulls. Before joining the Bulls, he spent nine seasons in basketball operations with the New Orleans Hornets, most recently as the team’s Director of Player Personnel. In that role, he was responsible for coordinating the team’s amateur and professional scouting operations and assisted in the evaluation of free agents and prospective trade acquisitions. While with the Hornets, he also spent time as the team’s video coordinator, Director of Basketball Operations, Director of Scouting and Assistant to the General Manager.

Weinman, set to begin his seventh year with the Bulls, was previously the team’s Manager of Basketball Operations and Analytics, after spending two years working for the NBA. In his new role, Weinman will continue to manage the team’s salary cap and oversee the organization’s planning for future initiatives, while remaining the team’s lead for all basketball analytics efforts. Weinman will also shift his focus toward pro scouting and draft personnel.

Paxson will begin his 13th season with the Bulls and has spent the last 12 seasons serving as the Director of Basketball Operations. Prior to Chicago, he spent seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, first as Vice President of Basketball Operations (1998-99), and then as President and General Manager of the club (1999-2005). Paxson also served as Assistant General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers for three seasons (1995-98), as well as Offensive Skills Coach during the 1993-94 season. He was a two-time NBA All-Star and earned All-NBA Second Team honors in 1984.

Abbett, about to embark on his fifth season with the Bulls, formerly served as the team’s Basketball Operations Coordinator. He will now build upon his analytical contributions for the organization, while also focusing on scouting the G League and international professional leagues.

Bulls sign Derrick Walton Jr

Bulls sign Derrick Walton Jr

The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Derrick Walton Jr., presumably just to their training camp roster.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “the Bulls have 14 guaranteed contracts, including two point guards in starter Kris Dunn and backup Cameron Payne. Ryan Arcidiacono, who split time between the Bulls and the G League on a two-way contract last season, also signed to battle for a roster spot in training camp.”

According to the Detroit News, “Walton, 23, faces long odds and could be left battling for a two-way contract with guard Antonius Cleveland and Arcidiacono, with Chicago’s other two-way deal already taken by guard Rawle Alkins.

Walton (6-1, 189) was undrafted in 2017, but signed with the Miami Heat on a Two-Way contract on July 24, 2017. In the 2017-18 season, he played in 16 games for the Heat and averaged 1.8 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 9.2 minutes per game. Walton posted a season-high seven points and five assists in a win against the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 22, 2017. During his time in the NBA G League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Walton started in all 27 games in which he played, and he posted 16.1 points, 7.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.48 steals in 32.4 minutes per game.

The Detroit native played four seasons at the University of Michigan, where he holds career averages of 11.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.15 steals in 31.9 minutes per game. Walton is the only player in Wolverine history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists in his career. As a senior in 2016-17, he was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and the Big Ten Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Bulls re-sign guard Ryan Arcidiacono

The Chicago Bulls re-signed free agent Ryan Arcidiacono today.

In his rookie season, Arcidiacono, a 6-foot-3, 208-pound guard, appeared in 25 games for Chicago and averaged 2.0 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 12.7 minutes per contest, and shot .415 from the field and .833 from the foul line. In G League action, he appeared in 37 games (all starts) for the Windy City Bulls and averaged 13.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.73 steals in 39.5 minutes per game, and shot .457 from the field, .451 from three and .833 from the foul line.

Arcidiacono was a member of the 2018 Chicago Bulls MGM Resorts Summer League squad, and he averaged 7.2 points, 4.2 rebounds 4.0 assists and 1.20 steals in 30.8 minutes per game. He shot .394 from the field and .476 from three.

Arcidiacono played four seasons at Villanova and was named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player in the Wildcats’ championship run in 2016. He went undrafted in 2016, and appeared in three preseason games for the San Antonio Spurs and eight games for the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League that season.

Bulls sign Rawle Alkins to two-way contract

The Chicago Bulls signed guard Rawle Alkins to a two-way contract today.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound native of Brooklyn, New York went undrafted in 2018 after playing two seasons of college hoops at Arizona. He was named a Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention in his sophomore season, and was a Pac-12 All-Freshman Team member in 2016-17.

Overall, in his career at Arizona, he averaged a modest 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists over 60 games (57 starts) with the Wildcats. He scored a career-high 26 points in a win at New Mexico on 12/16/17.

Alkins, whose full name is pronounced “RAW-lee ALL-kins,” played in six games (4 starts) for the Toronto Raptors MGM Resorts Summer League squad this year and averaged 9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.33 steals in 21.3 minutes per contest.

He will wear No. 20 for the Bulls.

Bulls add guard Antonius Cleveland

Bulls add guard Antonius Cleveland

The Chicago Bulls claimed guard Antonius Cleveland off waivers today.

Cleveland (6-6, 195) was waived by the Atlanta Hawks on July 21. He appeared in four games for the Hawks last season and averaged 3.3 points and 1.0 rebounds in 10.5 minutes per game. Cleveland signed a multi-year contract with Atlanta on March 14 after signing consecutive 10-day contracts on Feb. 22 and March 2. Earlier in the 2017-18 season, Cleveland had a two-way contract with the Dallas Mavericks where he appeared in 13 games. He also saw action in seven NBA G League games and averaged 13.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.71 steals in 26.4 minutes per game.

The Memphis native played four years at Southeast Missouri State University where he posted career averages of 12.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.31 steals in 28.8 minutes per game.

Bulls sign Antonio Blakeney

The Chicago Bulls on Thursday signed guard Antonio Blakeney.

Blakeney (6-4, 197) went undrafted out of LSU in 2017 but was tabbed for the Bulls MGM Resorts Summer League roster last year. After leading that squad with 16.8 points per game, he earned a Two-Way contract from Chicago. In 2017-18, he was named the NBA G League Rookie of the Year after averaging 32.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.22 steals per game for the Windy City Bulls. With the NBA Bulls, Blakeney averaged 7.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 16.5 minutes through 19 games. In this year’s Summer League action, Blakeney again led the team with 21.0 points per game, along with averaging 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in five games.

Bulls waive Sean Kilpatrick

Bulls waive Sean Kilpatrick

The Chicago Bulls waived guard Sean Kilpatrick today.

During his time with Chicago, Kilpatrick (6-4, 210) appeared in nine games and averaged 15.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.70 steals in 23.8 minutes per game. He shot .439 from the field, .396 from long range and .813 from the foul line. Kilpatrick originally signed with Chicago as a free agent on March 26, 2018.

Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today that the team has acquired center Bismack Biyombo and two second-round draft picks from the Orlando Magic.

In a three-team trade with the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls, Charlotte received center Bismack Biyombo and two future second-round picks in the 2019 and 2020 NBA Drafts while sending Timofey Mozgov to the Magic and Julyan Stone to the Bulls.

Additionally, Orlando received guard Jerian Grant from Chicago in the deal.

Biyombo played in all 82 regular-season games with Orlando last season (25 starts), averaging 5.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and a team-high 1.2 blocks in 18.2 minutes per contest. With 95 blocked shots in 2017-18, he ranked 19th in the NBA. Biyombo scored in double figures 14 times, including a career-high 21 points at Washington on Jan. 12. He also recorded seven double-doubles last season.

The seventh-year center began his NBA career in Charlotte after being selected by Sacramento in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft and sent to Charlotte in a draft night trade. Biyombo has appeared in 529 career NBA regular-s‎eason games (210 starts) with Charlotte, Toronto and Orlando, averaging 5.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 20.9 minutes per game, while shooting .513 (992-1933) from the floor. He has also played in 23 career NBA playoff contests (11 starts), averaging 5.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 24.1 minutes per game.

Biyombo, who played for Charlotte from 2011-14, remains fifth in Hornets history in career blocks (443) and blocks per game (1.6), and ranks seventh in career offensive rebounds (571).

Mozgov was acquired by the Hornets in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on July 6, 2018. Mozgov holds career averages of 6.8 points and 4.9 rebounds in 18.0 minutes per game over the course of eight NBA seasons with the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.

Stone (6-6, 200) has played in the NBA for four seasons with career averages of 1.1 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. He went undrafted in 2011, but signed with the Denver Nuggets as a free agent and made his NBA debut on Jan. 11, 2012. Stone has also seen time with the Toronto Raptors (2013-14), and most recently with the Hornets, where he played in 23 games in the 2017-18 season. He also has G League experience with the Idaho Stampede, Iowa Energy and Greensboro Swarm.

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