Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve Eve!
And Merry Bulls Regular-Season Start Eve Eve Eve!
• The Chicago Bulls did some housekeeping this weekend, finalizing their 15-man roster by releasing Zach Norvell Jr. and Simi Shittu as well as exercising the rookie scale options on several of their young players. All things considered, the Bulls’ announcement to exercise the third-year option on Coby White and fourth-year options on Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison is nothing more than a formality. What this does finalize, though, is that all three players will be guaranteed contracts for the 2021-22 season. Again, when talking about the team’s potential cap space in the past, this move has always been assumed.
OFFICIAL: We have exercised rookie scale options with Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 20, 2020
• Let’s also remember, by no means does this insinuate that the team is any more committed to these three players than they already were. In other words, I would still consider almost anyone on this team “tradable” over the next season or so. White seems to be the player who is the safest pick to be a part of these long-term plans, but it’s hard to feel confident about anything with this new front office in place. The goal for now, though, still seems to be to evaluate talent and then reinvent this roster to more clearly match the new regime’s vision for the 2021-22 season. And, annoyingly, that actually seems like it is getting harder and harder to do. Why?
• This is why …
Rudy Gobert has agreed to a 5-year, $205M extension with the Jazz, he told ESPN. It’s the biggest contract ever for a big man. Gobert: “It means they believe in me. They believe in what we’ve been building over the years with this whole organization.” https://t.co/hPJwYMdSS5
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 20, 2020
• Ok, not Rudy Gobert specifically, but the fact that the 2021 free agency class continues to take some major hits. While there are still some solid names on the market, the chances of the Bulls landing an impact free-agent next offseason has gone way down. Look, I know they were already pretty low, but it’s simply a fact that the more players who sign extensions, the less talent there is for the Bulls to make a run at. With guys like Gobert, Paul George, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, and Giannis Antetokounmpo off the board, some of the top members of the class are now Kawhi Leonard, DeMar DeRozan, Victor Oladipo, Kyle Lowry, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Jrue Holiday. Leonard would be one of the best gets in the league for any team, but the rest are simply above-average veteran talents. There just is not much No. 1 talent left for teams like the Bulls to pursue. We talked about this more the other week, and all of this means the front office will have to look into the trade market even more.
• We are three days away from the start of the regular season! The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry gave some of his takeaways from preseason action, and I recommend you give it a read. Arguably one of his most important points, in my opinion, comes within his first note – figuring out the rotation will take time. While we thought we knew how the Bulls would look heading into this season with a very similar roster, Billy Donovan made us question things a bit this preseason. Not only did he throw Patrick Williams into the starting lineup for the last two games against OKC, but Donovan also didn’t have Thaddeus Young, Garrett Temple, or Denzel Valentine for the entirety of the preseason. Not to mention, Tomas Satoransky missed the last two games due to what is assumed to be contact tracing. The assumption is that Satoransky and Young will for sure be a part of the team’s rotation, and it surely felt like Valentine had a chance of making the cut after the Bulls decided to extend him a qualifying offer this offseason. However, in these player’s absence, we saw someone like Chandler Hutchison step up. Anyway, point being, Donovan still has a lot to evaluate on this roster, and he still needs to find which groups work the best together. Expect the first couple of games to be filled with some different looks.
• Speaking of which, it appears Temple is officially with the team. He missed every preseason game and all of training camp due to a positive COVID-19 test. We can also see that Valentine – who has missed preseason action with a hamstring tweak – is also back on the court. Who knows if either crack the Bulls rotation, but this is still good news for Chicago.
• Right after I typed that, it looks like Donovan confirmed that both Temple and Valentine are a full go. Young and Satoransky? Still out.
Billy Donovan said Thad Young “is healing well” but has no timeline for his return. Tomas Satoransky remains on an excused absence.
Garrett Temple and Denzel Valentine were full go at practice.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 20, 2020
• MOKOKA MANIA IS BACK!
Adam Mokoka is with Bulls and practiced fully.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 20, 2020