Jones surprised, but happy with late-summer trade to Bulls

By late August, most NBA players are settling in and gathering with teammates to prepare for training camp.

So Derrick Jones Jr. sure wasn't expecting a trade to the Bulls on Aug. 28. But the Bulls had been searching for a new home for Lauri Markkanen and finally found one in Cleveland, so Jones was sent from Portland to Chicago in the three-way deal.

"It surprised the heck out of me, honestly," Jones said. "I was lifting. I was going through my routine I usually do every day. I go to lift at 1 o'clock. I go to the gym afterward. I was literally the middle of my lift at 1:30.

"I see my phone as I'm changing the song. And my phone is flooded with messages and Instagram notifications, Twitter notifications saying, 'Derrick Jones has been traded to the Bulls.' I was confused. I called my agent right away. He told me it's true."

Jones is probably best known for winning the slam dunk contest at the United Center in 2020, but he also played in the NBA Finals later that season with Miami.

After a slow start that included missing some preseason games with an ankle injury, he settled into the Bulls rotation at power forward after Patrick Williams' wrist injury. In the three games prior to Saturday, Jones had played at least 16 minutes.

"I was kind of happy (with the trade)," Jones said. "I've always been a Chicago Bulls fan. Me and Zach (LaVine), I had a relationship with him before this. And I knew about DeMar (DeRozan). Me and Alex (Caruso), we've been cool since we both came into the league. It was a great fit for me and a great opportunity for me. So I'm happy."

Jones is a Philadelphia-area native who played in college at UNLV and went undrafted before breaking into the league with Phoenix in 2016. The Bulls are his fourth team.

"That's just the life of the NBA," he said. "Free agency happens. Trades happen. It's just the business of basketball. I can't dwell on getting traded from Portland. I'm in a new situation now. I'm happy for the situation I'm in now. I just live in the moment."

Sixers short-handed:

Since the Bulls faced the 76ers in Philadelphia on Wednesday, two more players - Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe - joined Tobias Harris in health and safety protocols. Thybulle played on Thursday in Detroit. Guard Danny Green also sat out with a hamstring injury.

"We're going to have to be creative for sure with our lineups," Sixers coach Doc Rivers said before the game. "We're just going to have to trot some lineups out we haven't seen. The good news is they haven't either, so we'll see how it works."

Windy City tips off:

The Windy City Bulls, with Naperville native Henry Domercant as head coach, opened their season Saturday night at Fort Wayne. The starting lineup included Devon Dotson, Scottie Lindsey, Marko Simonovic, Ethan Thompson and Daniel Otturu.

Windy City will play its first four games on the road, including a rematch in Fort Wayne on Sunday, before the home opener at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates on Wed., Nov. 17 against the Motor City Cruise.

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