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Chicago Bulls, Nikola Vucevic negotiating extension

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The Chicago Bulls and Nikola Vucevic are negotiating a contract extension, according to sources. Vucevic, 32, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. However, a new deal for the two-time All-Star is on the horizon. Both sides have until June 30 to work out an extension.

Vucevic earned $22 million with Chicago in the 2022-23 season. “The Bulls have opened up extension conversations with their starting center Nikola Vucevic,” reported Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. “Sources tell me there is mutual interest in getting a deal done.”

According to a few NBA betting sites, the San Antonio Spurs are projected to take top prospect Victor Wembanyama first overall in next month’s draft. The Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls each forfeited second-round picks for tampering violations.

Vucevic played a full 82-game season for the first time of his 12-year career. He was the only center to appear in every game. The USC product averaged 17.6 points, 11 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 33.5 minutes per game with the Chicago Bulls. He also shot 52% from the field and 34.9% beyond the arc.

In July 2019, the 6-foot-10 center signed a four-year, $100 million contract with the Orlando Magic. In March 2021, Orlando then traded Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu to Chicago for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter, a 2021 first-round draft pick (Franz Wagner was later selected), and a 2023 first-rounder.

Chicago Bulls have opened up extension conversations with starting center Nikola Vucevic, as the offseason approaches

Additionally, Vucevic finished the 2022-23 season with the third-most double-doubles (51) in the NBA this year and led the league in defensive rebounds (744). He only trailed Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis (973) in total rebounds with 903 as well.

The Chicago Bulls retaining Vooch is imperative, considering Lonzo Ball’s NBA career could be over due to a meniscus tear in his left knee. After multiple surgeries, Ball has struggled to overcome his knee injury during rehabilitation when his physical activity is increased.

Moreover, Vucevic ranked second in defensive win shares (4.4) this past regular season behind Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4.8) and third in defensive rebound percentage (30.2%).

Vucevic logged 2,746 minutes in 82 appearances, finishing fourth overall behind Brooklyn Nets’ Mikal Bridges (2,963), Minnesota Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards (2,842), and fellow Bulls teammate Zach LaVine (2,768).

Chicago finished 40-42 and ninth overall in the Eastern Conference standings, missing the playoffs for the second time under head coach Billy Donovan.

In the 2021-22 season, the Chicago Bulls went 46-36 and placed sixth in the East. During the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the Bulls lost in five games against the Milwaukee Bucks.


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Wolves set to replay pairing between Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns

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Fans and experts were expecting a great outcome from Minnesota‘s fearless experiment of pairing two centers together in their starting lineup last season. However, it turned into a false start as Karl-Anthony Towns missed out on 52 matches due to a strained calf muscle, just as Rudy Gobert was making his official debut with the Timberwolves. 

Unfortunately for the French big man, he was at the end of most of the criticism the team earned throughout the campaign, even though they eventually qualified to the playoffs but lost in the Western Conference’s first round.

“I think it’s always a work in progress,” Gobert said. “You can’t get enough.” Check out some of the duo’s best plays from their 2022/23 season in the video below.

It wasn’t until Towns finally returned for the postseason that they were able to demonstrate what the experiment was all about. Their coaching staff now expects the French star to feel more comfortable in Minnesota, just as they hope to keep the Dominican healthy throughout the competition.

“Me and Rudy needed more time,” Towns admitted. “Obviously my injury didn’t help, so it will be good to be out there with him and be healthy doing it and just get right to it.”

There was a lot of pressure around Gobert‘s performances, as he was traded from Utah to Minnesota at a high price, made up of five-first round picks (including Walker Kessler).

The 31-year-old recently returned from representing France at the FIBA World Cup saying he’s feeling the ‘best I’ve ever felt’, and now feels enthusiastic to restart with the Wolves.

“I think we’ve grown a lot individually and collectively, and now I feel really excited being back here with this group,” Gobert said. “I can feel their energy. I can feel that it’s going to be a good year for us.”

Wolves’ president Tim Connelly recognized that coach Finch ‘was dealt a tough hand’ and trusts his vision of pairing both centers

Right before the start of their training camp this Friday, both coach Chris Finch and president Tim Connelly attended the press to talk about the decisions made over the summer, just as well as their expectations for this upcoming season.

The executive trusts the staff’s vision, and understood that external circumstances also affected their performances. “He was dealt a tough hand to try to make that work,” Connelly told the press.

Now that the Timberwolves are ready to replay the Gobert-Towns pairing, coach Finch addressed how this formula will adjust to Anthony Edwards‘ continuous emergence as a rising star in the league, and how the three of them can connect on the floor.

“We’ll do a lot of work with those guys together — player-development, small group work for sure,” the trainer explained. “I think through the season last year, Ant and Rudy had a better understanding. It’s not the finished product by any stretch of the imagination, but you felt it getting better and better. I think the key for us is to recapture the chemistry that Ant and KAT have always had.”





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Coach Willie Green regrets Trey Murphy III missing start of the season

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This upcoming 2023/24 campaign finally seemed like the year that the Pelicans would have a fresh start with a healthy roster. However, just as Zion Williamson seems to be as fit as ever, Trey Murphy III fell to injury this summer and will miss at least the first month of NBA action. 

Coach Willie Green is well aware the team seem overdue for a season of good health, but he wants to concentrate on the things he can control to create new opportunities.

“It is challenging, maybe frustrating at times,” the trainer expressed. “But we try to shift our focus to what we can control. I try to look at it as much as I can as opportunity. Opportunities for players to step up, opportunities for guys who might not have gotten time, and opportunities overall for our team and our organization.

“No team wants to deal with injuries, but we understand it’s a part of it. Hopefully, we can go into the season pretty healthy, obviously minus Trey’s situation. If we do, we can compete with any team in the NBA.”

When referring specifically about Murphy’s situation, he recognized that it’s a shame considering how he showcased his talent last season, plus all work he was putting in this summer.

“Tough break, right? Trey Murphy is coming off a fantastic year for us. He was working his tail off in the offseason. We were in the gym preparing, he took a misstep, kind of tweaked his knee. We learned he had a torn meniscus,” Green said.

About Trey’s pains, which should heal by December, the coach acknowledged the fact that it was helpful that he suffered the injury inside the New Orleans’ facilities.

“With him being at our place, we knew exactly what happened. But at the end of the day, it was still a tough break for Trey, tough news for us,” he said. “The positives are that this is not a career-ending injury at all. We were hoping we were going to have him back at some point.”

The coach is grateful to have both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram healthy and ready for camp, but still needs other players to step up in the shooting department

“So far, so good,” coach Green said when asked about how stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram have performed so far this offseason.

“We want to take steps in the right direction on both ends. We hang our hats on being a good defensive team first. But we’ll take some steps offensively this season because we hired James Borrego [former Spurs assistant and Hornets head coach] as one of our top assistants,” he continued.

Now that Murphy is out of the picture, the Pelicans trainer admitted that the rest of the team has to tune their shooting precision for this next campaign, especially as last season they ranked as the 29th worst team in three-point efficiency.

“Other guys have to step up in that department. We know C.J. [McCollum, who led New Orleans in volume, 211 of 543) is more than capable. Brandon, historically, is a good 3-point shooter – he needs to take more. There will be more shots for Naji [Marshall], Herb and Jose. And then we drafted Jordan Hawkins from UConn, who is an elite shooter coming out of college. He may get some minutes when we need shooting on the floor,” Green explained.





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Magic Johnson shuts down Steph Curry’s best-ever point guard claim

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For over three decades, Magic Johnson has been the undisputed greatest point guard of all time. Even though the Lakers legend had a short career due to health issues, he was still able to conquer it all in his 13-year NBA career. However, last month Stephen Curry reignited the debate when he was asked the question and placed himself at the top of the ranks.

It is true that the Warriors superstar is the main reason why the San Francisco franchise has been the most successful NBA club in the past decade, conquering four titles since 2014. At the top, only LeBron James stands beside him as the best players in this modern era.

Even though Curry demonstrated nothing but respect towards Johnson, he genuinely believed he’d surpassed him as the best point guard in NBA history. The LA legend recently went on “CBS Sports Radio” will Zach Gelb and shut down the Golden State star’s claims.

“If he got more than five championships. If he got more than three Finals MVPs and three league MVPs, then he’s the greatest. If he’s got more number one in assists all-time in the Finals, number two in double-doubles, number one in triple-doubles all-time in the NBA playoffs, number four in steals all-time in the playoffs. If he’s got more than those numbers, he’s the best,” Magic said on air. “I’m just saying if he’s got more than all those things then he’s the best, but the last time I checked, he doesn’t. But everyone has to decide for themselves who the best it.”

If you play the numbers game, then Johnson is correct. However, Curry is 35-years-old and still going strong, as he recently said he wanted to play as long as LeBron James has, who’s 38 at the moment. This means, we probably have three more years of witnessing the Warriors guard’s greatness and could reach Magic’s stats.

Let’s look back at exactly what Curry said when he was interviewed by Gilbert Arenas in August. The former Wizards star asked him the question directly, and he bluntly answered “yes.”

Then, after thinking about it for a minute, the Golden State leader accepted that it was a complicated conversation, especially considering Magic’s career, but that this is precisely why these debates are so fun to engage in.

“I obviously had to answer that way,” he continued. “But I really feel like, to your point, Magic’s résumé is ridiculous. so the fact that we are even having this conversation is a place I never thought I’d be. But the fact, to your point and how you grade it, this is why we have these conversations because it’s fun.”

Magic also shared his excitement for this Lakers roster, considering it the ‘most balanced team in the West’ ahead of next season

The Hall of Famer believe that the purple and gold are back to being the best team in the Western Conference, and praises Rob Pelinka and the administration for turning things around after last campaign’s poor start.

“This season, I think that the Lakers are going to win the West and get back – they could win another championship,” Johnson expressed. “I think they’re the best team in the West. Rob Pelinka has done a great job – him and Jeanie Buss – of not only keeping the young talent but also bringing in some really great free agents.

“I think the Lakers are probably the most balanced team in the West. And have – I believe – the most talent too. They’re the deepest team.”

The Los Angeles legend also dug into the acquisition of LeBron James back in the 2019/20 season, and recognizes how he inspired the team to win the NBA title that year.

“I was so excited that we got back to that level,” Magic said. “That we won, even though it was in the bubble, we still won the championship. … It was a great championship for the Lakers.”





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