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Bulls big man Wendell Carter Jr. holds block party in Summer League debut

LAS VEGAS — Maybe the Bulls finally have found the rim protector they’ve needed so badly. Or maybe it was just a good game for No. 7 overall pick Wendell Carter Jr.

What couldn’t be denied in the Bulls’ Summer League opener Saturday against the Cavaliers — a game they won 86-81 — was that Carter had no problem inviting himself to a block party. Carter, a rookie from Duke, had four blocked shots in the first quarter and finished with five.

‘‘That’s definitely something I add to the Bulls is being a great rim protector, and I kind of just let the game come to me,’’ he said.

For a team that finished last in the NBA in blocks last season with 3.5 per game after finishing tied for 14th the season before with 4.8 per game, it was a welcome sight.

‘‘You’ve got a guy who has a very unique skill set in Wendell Carter,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said. ‘‘He’s a guy that can step out on the floor and knock down shots, [has] good footwork on the block, a left and right hand and great defensive instincts. And the other thing is, he’s ahead of his years from a physical standpoint. He’s got a very good level of physicality for a 19-year-old player.’’

Carter also scored 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including 2-for-3 from three-point range, and grabbed nine rebounds. Rookie Chandler Hutchison, whom the Bulls drafted No. 22 overall, finished with 13 points and five rebounds.

Grant traded to Magic

It hasn’t been a good thing to carry the label of ‘‘point guard of the future’’ in the eyes of general manager Gar Forman the last few seasons. Jerian Grant was the latest to find that out.

The Bulls confirmed that Grant was traded to the Magic in a three-team deal that also involved the Hornets. The Magic received Grant and big man Timofey Mozgov, the Hornets acquired big man Bismack Biyombo and the Bulls wound up with guard Julyan Stone.

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Stone might not want to get too comfortable, however, because his non-guaranteed contract allows him to be waived next month.

As for Grant, the trade closes the book on a player who never seemed to show any sort of consistency, whether he was a starter or a reserve. The Bulls acquired Grant from the Knicks as part of the trade involving Derrick Rose, and the deal will enable them to create a $2.6 million trade exception.

How will the trade affect the Bulls’ roster? Very little. Cam Payne had leapfrogged Grant in the last month of the regular season and will take over backup point-guard duties behind Kris Dunn.

As the LaVine turns

All was quiet in the soap opera involving shooting guard Zach LaVine, who sat courtside during the Bulls’ Summer League game against the Cavaliers.

The Bulls are expected to announce Sunday their decision to match the four-year, $78 million offer sheet LaVine, a restricted free agent, received Friday from the Kings.

The Bulls had 48 hours to match the offer sheet or let LaVine join the Kings. Team sources indicated Friday the Bulls had every intention of matching it.