After five seasons and nearly 400 games, Denzel Valentine and the Chicago Bulls are moving on, with the 27-year old having signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, September 10.
Shams Charania of The Athletic was first with reports of the former lottery pick’s new two-year deal.
Valentine leaves Chicago after an incredibly rocky tenure and heads to Cleveland with hopes of competing for the backup small forward role behind Isaac Okoro.
The 14th overall pick back in 2016, Valentine finishes his Chicago Bulls career having played 232 out of 383 possible games, and with averages of 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and two assists.
On the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’ll reunite with longtime teammate Lauri Markkanen, who landed there on a four-year, $67-million contract last month.
A Bumpy Start
At no point in his career thus far have things been stable for Valentine. That’s largely in part thanks to multiple injuries that have derailed any slight progressions year after year.
But there were some bright moments to the former lottery pick’s tenure, albeit few and far between.
In one 30-game stretch from 2017 to 2018, he averaged 9.7 points and 5.8 rebounds while knocking down 41% of his 4.4 three-point attempts nightly.
Chicago went 12-18 in that span, in what will likely be viewed as the peak of Valentine’s career in Chicago: one 30-game stretch where the team almost went .500.
And the low points of his career, well, one inspired fan dedicated an entire thread to them on Twitter (@DMFrank_), featuring video clips of some of Valentine’s worst moments on the court.
Valentine leaves no legacy behind in the Windy City. He joins a number of other failed draft picks from the GarPax era that fans are itching to forget.
And it’s possible that one poor shot attempt in an April 25 loss to the Miami Heat was the final stamp on his ticket off of the Chicago Bulls.
‘It Was a Bad Shot’
With less then a minute remaining in a close game against the Miami Heat on April 24, Valentine brought the ball up and chunked the ultimate airball.
Many immediately took to social media to call this attempt the worst shot of the entire season. And months later, that holds up.
To Valentine’s credit, he had hit three shots from behind the arc prior to his big miss. He was arguably both the making and undoing of the Bulls’ failed fourth-quarter comeback.
And he did recognize the poor nature of his shot when speaking to reporters (via NBC Sports) after the game:
I had made three in a row before that. It was a bad shot. If I could go back, I wouldn’t have taken it. I would’ve come down and got something we wanted. But I just got kind of lost in the game and kind of wanted to hit the shot. We had 55 seconds left. If I had come down and got what we wanted, it would’ve cut it down to three or even two. It was definitely a bad shot. Just got to make sure next time it doesn’t happen again.
At the end of the day, he dubbed it a learning experience:
I just had one goal. It’s good and bad sometimes. I wanted to make the play and hit the shot. I guess I was just feeling it. It was a bad shot. Hey, it is what it is. I’m a competitor. I’m going to be confident, play my game no matter what. I just know for next time.
It’s safe to say there’s a lot more he can learn from his time with the Chicago Bulls then that one shot.
Don’t expect too many crunch-time 30-foot threes with the Cleveland Cavaliers though.