Bulls forward Bobby Portis will return to the lineup on Sunday against the Nets, making the team the healthiest it has been since originally starting its rebuild, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Portis had missed the past seven games with a sprained right ankle and is expected to be on a minutes restriction against Brooklyn.
Chicago coped with several key injuries to start the season, beginning the campaign with a 5-19 record and ultimately ending the run of Fred Hoiberg as head coach. The team currently holds the third-worst record in the East at 10-29, with Kris Dunn (knee), Lauri Markkanen (elbow), and Portis (knee/ankle) all missing more than 20 games.
The next step for the Bulls, who now have one young player sidelined in Denzel Valentine, is putting forth a stronger effort to create better results as a unit.
“We’ve talked about [the offense], and the issue right now is we’ve got to get a little more pace to our game,’’ Bulls VP John Paxson said, relaying a discussion between him and coach Jim Boylen. “Jim, [special adviser] Doug Collins, we all talk about it together. I don’t think you can necessarily pay attention to everything all at once. You make a change in-season, it’s very hard for the coach. You didn’t have a training camp to establish things. Practice time is limited. This will be a good time for us to improve in that area. We’ve got a lot of games left.”
There’s more today out of Chicago:
- Kris Dunn is making a strong impact with the Bulls so far this season, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes. Dunn added 16 points, five rebounds and 17 assists in a losing effort to the Pacers on Friday night. “I think I can do a little bit of everything,” Dunn said. “If my team needs me to be aggressive, I can be aggressive. If my team needs me to pass, I can pass. I play defense. That’s what I do. I can rebound. I just try to do what the team needs from me.”
- Wayne Selden Jr. thanked the city of Memphis and the Grizzlies on social media, writing that “blessings await” with the Bulls: “Memphis, thank you to the organization for given me the opportunity after going undrafted. Thank you to my teammates, I learned a lot & we had great times. Thanks to BT! & special thanks to the the city & the fans for embracing me. But now new blessings await #BullsNation.” Selden Jr. was acquired in a multi-player trade between the Bulls and Grizzlies last week and could make his debut on Sunday.
- An entertaining second half of the season awaits the Bulls, with the organization continuing to work through the kinks of being a young, inexperienced group, Johnson writes in a separate story for the Chicago Tribune. The team is expected to explore trade scenarios for Jabari Parker and Robin Lopez as the Feb. 7 deadline nears, keeping a strong focus on the future while growing as a unit. “We need to see growth. We need to see how they play,” Paxson said of the young core. “We’ve got to find a way offensively to get some easier shots and get guys to find some comfort zone. That’s what the rest of this season is about.”