chicago — The Chicago Bulls signed former Pistons center Andre Drummond on Wednesday, adding a two-time All-Star and four-time rebounding champion.
The team also re-signed backup forward Derrick Jones Jr.
Drummond, 28, has averaged 13.8 points and 13.3 rebounds in 10 seasons with Detroit, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia and Brooklyn. He plans to endorse Nikola Vucevic.
Drummond had a strong second half for Brooklyn last season after being traded in the deal that sent James Harden to Philadelphia, averaging 11.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in 24 games for the Nets. Drummond has averaged 13.8 points and 13.3 rebounds in 10 seasons with Detroit, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia and Brooklyn.
Jones averaged 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 51 games last season, his first in Chicago and sixth in the league.
The Bulls won 46 games and enjoyed their best record in seven years with DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine leading the way. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2017, losing to Milwaukee in five games.
Chicago has a maximum five-year deal worth about $215 million with LaVine, as well as a one-year, $2.9 million deal with veteran guard Goran Dragic, people familiar with the situations told The Associated Press. The team had not announced those deals as of Wednesday night.
Zion aims to end ‘negative’ narratives
A few months after Zion Williamson was completely left out of the Pelicans’ re-ticket promotional material, the injury-plagued star forward was once again celebrated Wednesday as a highly influential figure in New Orleans’ future.
“The last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions,” Williamson said. “The world just ran on narratives, and when my family went out in public, people would harass them about why we don’t like New Orleans or why we don’t want to be here, when that’s not the case at all.
“I couldn’t play because my foot was broken,” Williamson continued. “Every time I check my phone there is always something negative. Even when you’re trying to get something positive out of the situation, it was very difficult.”
So the Pelicans jumped at the chance to have Williamson sign a five-year, $193 million contract extension that could be worth as much as $231 million if the 6-foot-6, 280-pound explosive lives up to the potential he’s shown. when healthy. to try to dispel past notions of mistrust and start a new narrative.
“This is a really momentous occasion for all of us,” said David Griffin, executive vice president of basketball operations for the Pelicans. “This is an opportunity for us as an organization to really put a stop to a lot of the things that were said.
“So many things that are talked about are just words,” Griffin continued as Williamson nodded next to him. “What Zion Williamson did today is express his commitment to this team, this city and this community. … So the noise that is on the periphery of all of that is completely irrelevant.”
Williamson appears healthy now, cleared by the club to participate in basketball activities without restriction. Recently, he and his stepfather, Lee Anderson, have been hosting boys’ basketball camps at a New Orleans YMCA, where Williamson formally signed his contract as campers stood behind him and applauded.
It was also Williamson’s 22nd birthday, and he commented, as he grabbed Griffin’s shoulder and smiled, that it was his best birthday yet.
“Thank you all for sticking with me last year,” Williamson told Pelicans bosses. “It was a tough year, and then for the Pelicans to come and give this birthday present, I’m not going to let them down. I’m not going to let the city down, I’m not going to let my family down, and most of all, I’m not going to let myself down.”
Now the first overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Duke, who has played in just 85 games in his first three seasons, is primed to see how much his return could help a team that improved dramatically late last season and made a surprisingly competitive playoff. showing up without him.
Griffin, meanwhile, sees his vision of building a young team primed for sustained success under Detroit native Willie Green, who in his first season as NBA head coach guided the team from a 1-12 start to postseason qualifying, two plays. -in wins and two more wins in a first-round series against top seed Phoenix.
“We feel like with the team that we’ve put together, with Zion being a huge part of that, Coach Green and his staff are going to be able to put together an incredible run,” Griffin said. “We are young, we are talented and, most importantly, we are very hungry.”
Williamson played in only 24 games as a rookie due to a preseason injury to his right knee (lateral meniscus). In his second season, he played in 61 of 72 games, averaging a team-high 27 points and becoming an All-Star for the first time during what was his only NBA season that wasn’t mostly wiped out or by. complete due to injuries.
“Zion is a big part of what we want to accomplish,” Green said, noting that Williamson will periodically start the offense by running the ball like he successfully did in his second season. “It’s not necessarily that it fits. He can do it with any team in the league. It’s about maximizing the group we have when we have him. And frankly, I think he’s going to be scary for the rest of the NBA.”
Williamson said he’s focused on adopting strategies aimed at preserving his health and promoting the longevity of his career, but cutting back on vigorous, high-flying dunks in favor of lower-impact layups probably isn’t one of them.
“I’m a competitor, so when I’m on the court, I’m not thinking, ‘Let me put the ball in; I hope my career lasts longer,’” Williamson said with a playful smile. “No, I’m thinking of putting that person through hoops. So as far as the wet ones go, that will always happen. That will continue to happen, no matter what they (team coaches and management) talk about. I’m always wet. Come on man!”
Gobert arrives in Minnesota
Rudy Gobert reads Twitter comments, so he knows Minnesota fans didn’t like him much during his first nine NBA seasons. And he’s also heard Timberwolves coach Chris Finch regularly complain about the way he sets up screens.
Those perspectives are likely to change.
“We’re on the same side now, so I’m excited,” Gobert said.
So is Minnesota, for good reason. The Timberwolves announced the Gobert acquisition at a news conference in Minneapolis on Wednesday, when the trade they agreed to with the Utah Jazz last week could finally become official.
It took four players, five first-round picks — including one made last month — and the option to trade another pick to get the French center to Minnesota, and the Timberwolves still feel they got the best of the deal.
“We think it’s a great fit with what we already do,” Finch said.
In a league that has become increasingly unsettled, where small ball sometimes reigns supreme, the Timberwolves now have two of the best big men in the league in the same lineup with a three-time defensive player of the year in Gobert playing alongside. to All-NBA. artist Karl-Anthony Towns.
“He doesn’t inhibit anything that we currently have,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “He does it better. He increases what we currently have. So when we look at fit, it’s not just about talent. It’s about developing the team… and he will do better.”
The Utah-Minnesota trade was executed shortly after the NBA’s moratorium on most offseason player moves and contract signings was lifted Wednesday.
Many of the deals, like Memphis’ Ja Morant and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson getting rookie extensions worth at least $193 million over a five-season stretch from 2023-24 to 2027-28, both now official, were They agreed last week. but could not be completed until the moratorium ended.
Also now signed: Bradley Beal’s new deal in Washington, a five-year deal worth $251 million for the Wizards’ franchise player.
“Today represents such a special moment in my life,” Beal said.
Williamson signed his extension on his 22nd birthday.
“I just want to thank you all for believing in me, just giving a kid like me a chance to show my skills and help the team win multiple championships,” said Williamson, who has missed most of his first three seasons. in the NBA due to injuries. but I have a maximum extension anyway. “Most of all, I thank you all for sticking with me last year.”
The final deal in the Utah-Minnesota deal was this: Gobert to the Timberwolves for Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, the rights to newly drafted Walker Kessler, the 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029 first-round picks from Minnesota and a 2026 first-round draft pick trade.
Jazz owner Ryan Smith said Gobert “will forever be a part of us.”
“Rudy Gobert had a huge impact on this franchise and the entire state of Utah during his nine seasons with the Jazz,” Smith said. “One of the best defensive players in NBA history, Rudy will always be considered one of the most important players to wear a Jazz uniform. The love of him and the impact of him on this community are impossible to overstate.”
The Jazz saw coach Quin Snyder resign last month after eight seasons and hired former San Antonio and Boston assistant Will Hardy to replace him. Then came the Gobert trade, which ended an era in Utah. No team in the Western Conference has won more regular-season games in the past six seasons than the Jazz, but the success never carried over to the postseason. Utah made the playoffs in each of those six years, never getting past the second round.
“The window to win is not always big,” Gobert said. “For us in Utah, that’s what happened. I think the organization felt that way. Maybe we had passed that window that we had in recent years. I think it will continue to be a very competitive team. I felt that with all the assets they could get for me, it was better for them to go that way.”
The Timberwolves could be just the opposite. They haven’t seen the second round in nearly two decades and they’re betting Towns, Gobert, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell can become a core to change all that.
“The goal is to win a championship,” Gobert said. “I came here for that. I didn’t come here just to be a good team. I came here to try and get this team to the final and get it done.”
Heat and Martin agree to 3-year deal
Caleb Martin is coming off the best season of his career, and the Miami Heat are giving him three more years as a prize.
Martin agreed to a three-year deal Wednesday, one that will start with the forward earning $6.5 million next season and be worth $20.4 million over the full three years, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Heat had not yet announced the signing of the deal.
Martin is coming off his third season in the NBA, his first in Miami, and set career best records in multiple categories. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 60 games with the Heat, shooting 51% from the floor.
The Heat went 8-4 in the games Martin started last season, when Miami finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference and reached the Eastern Conference finals.