This morning's headlines:
- Bulls, Wade expected to reach buyout this season
- Gobert says Jazz's 'identity' is unchanged
- How Hayward could thrive with Celtics
Wade, Bulls expected to reach buyout in season -- Early in the offseason, Dwyane Wade had an easy answer for why he chose to opt in with the Bulls for 2017-18: the $24 million payday another season wound ensure for him. Yet as Chicago embarks on what will likely be a rebuilding season, Wade may not end up playing the entire campaign in Chicago. Nick Friedell of ESPN.com has more:
But as the Bulls get set for a major rebuilding season, the reality is that the bottom of a bad Eastern Conference is right where this team wants to be. That's because it will put Chicago in the best possible position to draft either Michael Porter Jr. or Marvin Bagley III next summer.
The Bulls' rebuilding plan got a major shot in the arm Monday night when Bagley announced he would be attending Duke and would reclassify as part of this year's class. Not only did his decision give the Bulls another high-level target in the 2018 draft, it gave the front office a reminder of what its main objective should be all season: Put yourself in the most advantageous lottery position by losing as many games as possible.
From a pure basketball perspective, it appears the Bulls are well-equipped to do just that. Dwyane Wade isn't long for the organization's future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.
Bulls GM Gar Forman said at the Las Vegas Summer League that he hasn't had any discussions with Wade's representatives about a potential buyout, but the widespread belief within the organization is that a deal that would allow Wade to play elsewhere will eventually get worked out at some point during the season.
Gobert: Jazz's 'identity' hasn't changed -- When the 2017-18 season opens in Utah, the Jazz will try to replicate last season's 50-win campaign without All-Star Gordon Hayward and starting point guard George Hill. Both players left Salt Lake City in free agency over the summer, but to All-NBA center Rudy Gobert, little has changed as far as Utah's overall direction and goals. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.com has more:
Let’s start with the addition of Ricky Rubio, who averaged the fifth-most assists per game (9.1) last year. What do you think of his game and how much will he help you and this offense as a whole?
Rudy Gobert: I’m very excited. He’s one of the best passers in the league and he’s a very unselfish guy. I really like the way he plays and he’s going to get you open looks. I know if I’m open or if I get good positioning under the rim, I have someone who’s going to find me.
We’ve talked a lot. He’s a great guy. I’ve played against him for a long time, we had that French-Spanish rivalry. I knew he was a great competitor and now I know he’s a great guy. I’m excited we’re no longer competitors and I can have him on my team because he’s been getting better and better. He was way better last year and I believe he’ll only keep getting better.
In the past, I know Coach Quin Snyder has told you that he wanted to get you the ball more and now there are even more touches up for grabs. Have you two talked about the bigger role you’ll likely have offensively, and are you excited for that opportunity?
RG: Yeah, we’ve talked about it a little bit. That’s just the way it goes; I’ve gotten better every year and my role offensively has increased every year. I’m going to make another step forward this year. I’m not a guy who was taking a lot [of touches] away offensively; I was getting my teammates open, getting them good looks, and then finishing at the rim. Now, I know I’ll probably be able to show even more.
Do you feel you got snubbed when it came to Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player awards. And if so, does that motivate you?
RG: No matter what, I want to keep getting better and winning. When you play in a smaller market, you have to do three times what the guys in the big markets do. That’s okay; I’ve learned that. It’s fine though because I’m just focused on this team and winning games.
To Jazz fans who are frustrated right now, what message do you have for them?
RG: I would tell them to stop arguing with the less-intelligent people on social media and just wait for this season to start. Just wait.
Are you looking forward to showing that this team is still a contender?
RG: Our identity hasn’t changed; our goal hasn’t changed. We’ve had a few changes; Gordon [Hayward] left. George [Hill] left. We have some new point guards, new wings and new rookies so it’s going to be a different group, but the identity will stay the same. The identity doesn’t change. We’re going to continue to be one of the best teams defensively.
Were you frustrated with how Gordon’s free agency process played out, and did his decision surprise you?
RG: I’m over that already. It is what is. I’m focused on our team.
Digging into how Hayward can thrive in Boston -- It's been a steady build to NBA stardom for Gordon Hayward, but as he enters his eighth season, he's a legit standout player. The new season will mark his first in Boston and how he fits into the system coach Brad Stevens runs and fares alongside fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas is anyone's guess. John Karalis of the Boston Globe has four ways Hayward can shine in his debut season as a Celtic:
1. As the pick and roll ball-handler
Among players with four or more opportunities per game as the pick and roll ball-handler, Hayward is 12th in the NBA in Effective Field Goal Percentage (a metric that adds weight for 3’s made), which higher than notable players such as Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, and DeMar DeRozan.
He’s 10th in the NBA in drawing fouls in those situations (on a par with Isaiah Thomas) and third-best at drawing and-1’s. All this while having the ninth lowest turnover frequency in those situations (11.5 percent. By contrast, James Harden has the worst at 21.1 percent).
In short, Gordon Hayward is among the league’s best at scoring off the pick and roll, whether by making shots or drawing fouls, all while barely turning it over. And the reason he’s dangerous is because he literally has any shot at his disposal.
2. As the primary ball-handler, facilitator, and iso-scorer
Brad Stevens will undoubtedly be a mad scientist at the beginning of the season. One option he has with Hayward is letting him bring the ball up the floor for stretches with both Thomas and Marcus Smart on the bench. If you want to see some positionless basketball, this is one place to find it.
Imagine a lineup of Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Marcus Morris, Al Horford. Hayward would be the primary ball-handler initiating the offense with at least three guys with proven ability from deep and a fourth, Brown, who shot 34% overall and 41% from the corners, which is good enough to command some respect.
3. In the post
For now, a versatile guy like Hayward can be deployed almost everywhere, and the Celtics will go hunting for mismatches in their offensive sets. In Utah, Hayward has shown the ability to immediately recognize when a smaller guard has switched onto him and dive into the post.
He didn’t spent much time in the post (only 3.1 percent of his offense came from there), but he was fouled at a higher rate than fellow wings Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He scored 43.5 percent of the time he got the ball there, which is a tiny bit more often than Russell Westbrook or James Harden did in those situations. Granted, none of them made a living down there, but Hayward is effective enough that it can be an occasional weapon for the Celtics.
No one is going to spend time next July creating a highlight video of Hayward’s post exploits, but he’ll be in there enough to make little things happen; a couple of fouls that send him to the line and put teams in the bonus sooner, assists out of the post when teams feel the need to double, a bucket or two if no one comes to help.
4. As a spot-up shooter
Hayward is a career 37 percent 3-point shooter but he shot 40% from deep last season. A big chunk of his offense has come from catch-and-shoot situations, especially from beyond the arc. He took 3.4 catch-and-shoot 3’s per game last season and hit nearly 39 percent of them.
This is just the beginning. There are a million ways to use a guy as versatile as Hayward. The Celtics could use him as a screener in the pick and roll with Isaiah Thomas and then really force defenses to make decision. Hayward is also a very good cutter, so you’ll see him slashing behind Al Horford post ups for easy buckets fairly often.
If you haven’t watched Hayward, prepare yourself for a pleasant surprise. He can score from anywhere on the floor and in all sorts of ways. These four might be the ways you see most, but watch closely and you’ll see a lot of fun things in the Celtics offense this season.
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