Bulls exercise options on Bobby Portis, Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne

The Chicago Bulls have exercised third-year options on guards Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine, and fourth-year options on guards Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne, along with forward Bobby Portis. By exercising their options, all players will be under contract with the Bulls for the 2018-19 season.

The Bulls acquired Dunn in a Draft-night trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves last offseason in which Dunn, Zach LaVine and the rights to Lauri Markkanen were exchanged for Jimmy Butler and the draft rights to Justin Patton. In his rookie year with the Timberwolves, Dunn played in 78 games (7 starts) and averaged 3.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He ranked sixth among rookies in assists, second in steals and fourth in blocks. Dunn has missed the start of the 2017-18 season while rehabbing the dislocation of his left index finger.

Valentine was selected 14th overall by Chicago in the 2016 NBA Draft. The Michigan State product saw time in 57 games and averaged 5.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game his rookie year. Valentine hit at least one 3-pointer in 15 consecutive games from March 8 to April 4, and hit multiple 3-pointers in seven games in a row from March 8 to 18, both of which were the longest such streaks on the team last season. He scored a career-high 19 points with five 3-pointers made at Washington on Jan. 10. This season, Valentine is averaging 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists through four games.

Grant has played in 67 games for the Bulls after completing his rookie year with the New York Knicks (76 games). He was acquired by the Bulls, along with Jose Calderon and Robin Lopez, in a trade for Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round pick on June 22, 2016. Grant has career averages of 5.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.3 rebounds per game, but through four games (4 starts) this season is averaging 10.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists. He has posted his first two career double-doubles in his last six regular season games: April 10, 2017, and Oct. 24, 2017.

Payne was traded to Chicago on Feb. 23, 2017, along with Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow, for Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second round draft pick. The former Mr. Basketball in Tennessee has career averages of 5.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists through 88 games. He only appeared in 31 games in 2016-17, missing time due to a right foot injury, but in the 10 games he played with the Bulls, Payne averaged 4.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 12.9 minutes. He has not played in 2017-18 while recovering from offseason surgery on his right foot.

Selected by the Bulls 22nd-overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Portis has appeared in 126 games (17 starts) with career averages of 6.9 points and 5.0 rebounds. He was the 25th player in Bulls history to have a double-digit scoring career debut (10 points in 10 minutes at Charlotte on Nov. 3), and was the first Bull to post a double-double with 20 points and 11 boards in one of his first five career games since Elton Brand in 1999 (at New York on Dec. 19). He scored a postseason-high 19 points with nine rebounds in his playoff debut on April 16 at Boston. Portis has not played in 2017-18 while serving an eight-game team suspension.

NBA notes, Oct. 26, 2017

Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas guest-starred as himself on Wednesday’s episode of Law & Order: SVU, one of his favorite television shows. “To be a part of SVU is something I’ll tell people about forever,” Thomas said.

Brooklyn is the first team to score at least 115 points in each of its first five games since the 1985-86 Pistons. The Nets have opened 3-0 at home for the first time since the 2002-03 season.

With San Antonio’s 4-0 start, coach Gregg Popovich has moved within two victories of passing Phil Jackson (1,155) for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time coaching wins list.

Cleveland’s LeBron James needs 75 points to become the seventh player in NBA history to reach the 29,000-point mark.

On Wednesday, 24-year-old Andre Drummond of Detroit became the second-youngest player to reach 5,000 career rebounds. Dwight Howard did it at age 23 in 2009.

– Via NBA News newsletter

The Warriors have the same core roster this season as last, so on paper they’re still the best team in the NBA. However, on the court so far, they’ve been disappointing. The season is still brand new. So, no reason to panic. Way too early. Still, here’s the San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group reporting:

So far this season, Golden State is yet to put together a 48-minute game where they look good on both ends of the court, but outside of pride, what’s their incentive to go all-out for a full game? This Warriors roster is so talented, they can win with mediocre all-around performances on a near nightly basis.

Offensively, the Warriors are fine so far this season. The Golden State offense doesn’t seem to be fully operational, but the talent on the court at any given moment is so lopsided that it hasn’t mattered — the Warriors are going to put roughly 120 points on the board every single night.

The issue for Golden State — the reason they’re 3-2 on the season and could easily be 2-3 with a 0-2 home record — is the defense.

“Our defense has been horrible,” Green said. “Nobody’s communicating.”

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Having a star-filled team as the Celtics do is great, but when the bulk core of the team has changed, it’s a major challenge for the squad’s head coach to quickly transform them into a contender. It’s a nice problem to have — having talent — but it’s still a daunting task when the talent has little experience playing together. But things get even tougher when the team goes through training camp and preseason, then loses a key star to injury just as the regular season begins. Here’s ESPN Boston reporting:

Brad Stevens was already facing a unique challenge entering the 2017-18 season, when the Celtics brought back just four players from a 53-win team and essentially asked him to rebuild a puzzle that took four seasons of perpetual piece-shifting to construct.

Then six minutes into Boston’s season-opener last week in Cleveland, Hayward fractured his ankle as he landed awkwardly after going up for an alley-oop. The team is operating under the notion that Hayward will not play again this season as he begins what Stevens has suggested is at least a five-month recovery.

With new Celtic Marcus Morris still working his way into game shape after missing the start of training camp while on trial in Arizona and Marcus Smart sidelined early in the season with an ankle injury, Stevens found himself operating with a roster in which six of his 12 available bodies were rookies.

At one point late in Tuesday’s win over the New York Knicks, Stevens had a lineup of Jabari Bird (a rookie second-round pick on a G-League two-way contract), Shane Larkin (who played in Spain last season), Abdel Nader (a 2016 second-round draft pick and the G-League Rookie of the Year while stashed domestically last season), Semi Ojeleye (a 2017 second-round pick), and Daniel Theis (a 25-year-old German import this offseason) on the floor.

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Manu Ginobili cheered on road in Miami

Here’s the San Antonio Express News with a feel-good report about a legendary visiting player being treated kindly on the road in Miami:

Manu Ginobili cheered on road in Miami

Heat fans showed their appreciation for Spurs guard Manu Ginobili by giving the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer a standing ovation when he exited Wednesday night’s game for good with 1:52 left.

“It’s always great when it happens on the road,” Ginobili said. “I am kind of spoiled here because there’s so many Argentinians. When I come here, I see all them come to support me and it feels like home. It’s great. Of course, I am thankful.”

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Pistons enjoy big win vs Timberwolves

The Timberwolves were without Jimmy Butler, but still, nice win by the Pistons. Here’s the Detroit News reporting:

After another slow start, the Pistons got it together quickly.

And did they ever get it together.

After falling into another hole in the first quarter, the Pistons responded with their best quarter of the season — a 40-point second-quarter outburst — and cruised in the second half.

That was more than enough to fuel a 122-101 blowout victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.

Tobias Harris had 34 points, Avery Bradley added 20 points and Andre Drummond 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Pistons (3-2), who embark on a three-game west-coast trip this weekend.

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Wade Baldwin undergoes thumb surgery

Portland Trail Blazers two-way guard Wade Baldwin underwent successful surgery to repair an ulnar collateral ligament tear in his right thumb, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Michelle Carlson at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

The Trail Blazers signed Baldwin to a two-way contract on October 19. He is expected to miss six weeks.

Blazers bench off to good start

Here’s NBC Sports Northwest reporting on the Trail Blazers, whose bench has been a nice super-early season surprise:

One of the early season storylines during the Trail Blazers’ 3-1 start has been the emergence of a deep and effective bench.

Led by Evan Turner, Ed Davis and Pat Connaughton, the Blazers’ bench has the top offensive rating in the NBA (115.8), the third best net rating, and the third best plus/minus behind Toronto and the LA Clippers.

Never was the bench more on display than during Tuesday’s home opener against New Orleans, when the starters struggled and needed big games from Davis, Turner and rookie Caleb Swanigan to pull out a 103-93 victory.

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Rockets sign Isaiah Canaan

Rockets sign Isaiah Canaan

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed free agent guard Isaiah Canaan.

Canaan (6-0, 201) began his career with the Rockets in 2013-14 and has since played for Philadelphia and most recently Chicago last season. He has appeared in 185 career games with 60 starts.

While playing for the Sixers in 2015-16, Canaan averaged a career-high 11.0 points and ranked 15th in the NBA with 176 3-pointers made. Over a two season span from 2014-15 through 2015-16, he joined Mirza Teletovic as the only players to have averaged at least 2.0 3-pointers made while playing fewer than 24.0 minutes per game.

Canaan has hit at least three 3-pointers in a game 56 times during his career, including four or more 29 times, and a career-high 8 for Philadelphia at Oklahoma City on March 4, 2015.

Trevor Ariza out with foot sprain

The Houston Rockets announced today that forward Trevor Ariza suffered a left midfoot sprain in the game against Memphis on Monday, Oct. 23. He will not play during the team’s three-game road trip and will be re-evaluated by team doctors after the team returns to Houston.

Rockets center Nenê will miss the game at Philadelphia on Wednesday, Oct. 25 with left Achilles soreness. He will be day-to-day moving forward.

Cavs lineup undergoes shakeup

With injuries to several key guards, this change is surely temporary, but here’s ESPN.com reporting on what the Cavaliers lineup looked like in their game tonight against the Bulls:

Coach Tyronn Lue not only returned JR Smith to the Cleveland starting lineup in place of Dwyane Wade, but he also started LeBron James at point guard and Tristan Thompson at center — with Jae Crowder and Kevin Love filling out the frontcourt — when the Cavaliers hosted the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

The dramatic lineup change was motivated by both the Cavs’ injuries (Isaiah Thomas continues to rehab his right hip while Derrick Rose missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle) and by the Bulls’ lineup featuring 7-foot Robin Lopez.

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Joe Ingles fined by NBA

Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles has been fined $15,000 for making contact with the groin area of Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 8:53 remaining in the 3rd quarter of the Jazz’s 96-87 win over the Thunder on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Dante Exum undergoes shoulder surgery

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The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum:

Exum underwent a successful procedure Tuesday morning to stabilize the AC joint in his left shoulder. The procedure was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Exum will return to Salt Lake City to begin his rehabilitation and will remain out indefinitely. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

The Australian appeared in 66 games (26 starts) last season for Utah, averaging a career-high 6.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 18.6 minutes per contest. Additionally, the 22-year-old saw action in seven 2017 NBA Playoff games, owning averages of 4.6 points and 1.3 assists in 12.0 minutes per game.

Josh Jackson fined by NBA

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson has been fined $35,000 for making a menacing gesture on the playing court and directing inappropriate language toward a fan, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 6:10 remaining in the 4th quarter of the Suns’ 130-88 loss to the LA Clippers on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Staples Center.

Lakers exercise options on Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr

The Los Angeles Lakers have exercised their team options for the 2018-19 season on Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr., it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.

Ingram, the second overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, appeared in 79 games (40 starts) as a rookie last season, averaging 9.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists, en route to All-Rookie Second Team honors. Ingram has started all three games this season, tallying 14.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 28.8 minutes.

Selected 27th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Nance Jr. played in 126 games (29 starts) over the last two seasons, notching 6.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. In three games (three starts) this season, Nance Jr. is averaging 11.3 points (.556 FG%), 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals in 22.0 minutes.

Clippers to host WWE Night on October 28

The L.A. Clippers today announced that the team will host WWE Night at STAPLES Center on Saturday, October 28 against the Detroit Pistons at 7:30 p.m. WWE Superstars The Miz, Becky Lynch, Enzo Amore and Darren Young will be in attendance to participate in WWE-themed elements throughout the run of show.

All fans that purchase tickets with the promo code ‘WWE’ will receive a throwback WWE-style Clippers T-Shirt, and 10 lucky fans who purchase the WWE package will win a pre-game meet & greet opportunity with one or more of the WWE superstars. In addition, there will be WWE prize giveaways throughout the night, including tickets to Monday Night RAW on December 4 at STAPLES Center and Pay-Per-View chairs from past events.

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed free agent guard Briantê Weber to a two-way contract. Weber will immediately be transferred to Houston’s single-affiliation NBA G League partner Rio Grande Valley.

Weber (6-2, 175) was eligible for the 2015 NBA Draft following his senior season at Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the past two seasons, he has played for Memphis, Miami, Golden State, and Charlotte.

Last season, Weber was named All-NBA D-League Second Team after averaging 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 3.3 steals in 31 games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

NBA rosters have expanded from 15 to 17 players with the additional spots available for players under two-way contracts. Teams may have up to two players under two-way contracts who will spend the bulk of the regular season in the NBA G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA team. Only players with four or fewer years of NBA service are eligible to sign two-way contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.

CJ Wilcox out after knee surgery

Portland Trail Blazers two-way guard CJ Wilcox underwent successful arthroscopy on his right knee today, it was announced by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Evan Ellis at Southwest Washington Surgery Center.

The Trail Blazers signed Wilcox to a two-way contract on August 9. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.

The Denver Nuggets have assigned rookie Tyler Lydon and transferred rookie Monte Morris to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and transferred rookie Torrey Craig to the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA G League, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

Craig, 6-6, 215, appeared in four preseason games for Denver, averaging 6.8 minutes per game. He also played in six summer league games (two starts) for the Nuggets, averaging 11.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.33 steals and 1.00 blocks per game.

Lydon, 6-10, 225, was acquired by Denver along with Trey Lyles in a draft night trade with Utah. He appeared in all five of Denver’s preseason games, averaging 1.0 points and 1.0 rebounds in 5.3 minutes per game.

Morris, 6-3, 175, was selected by Denver with the 51st pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. He played in three preseason games for the Nuggets, averaging 3.0 points and 4.3 minutes per game.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry has been fined $50,000 for throwing his mouthpiece in the direction of a game official, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Curry was ejected, occurred with 43.6 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter of the Warriors’ 111-101 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, Oct. 21 at FedEx Forum.

As part of the same incident, Warriors forward Andre Iguodala has been fined $15,000 for verbally abusing a game official.

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