Luke Kornet has taken Daniel Gafford‘s spot in the Bulls‘ rotation as coach Billy Donovan looks for better floor spacing, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Gafford began the season as Chicago’s primary back-up center, but has seen only limited action for the past two weeks. Kornet’s shot hasn’t been falling since the change, but having another three-point threat on the court puts pressure on opposing defenses.
“They’re worried about him shooting the ball,” Donovan said. “That just creates space in itself. And I think sometimes when you look at Gaff and (Thaddeus Young) together where maybe Thad is on the perimeter or Gaff is up at the top, or Gaff is low and Thad is on the perimeter, sometimes the floor spacing can be a little bit more difficult or challenging. It’s up to me to be a little more creative to try to work with those two guys together. But it’s been more just trying to create that gravity on the 3-point line where teams are a little bit more apprehensive to load up.”
Kornet is thrilled to have the opportunity after appearing in just two of the season’s first 23 games. The 25-year-old has an expiring contract and faces an uncertain NBA future if he can’t get playing time.
“It’s been great to play,” he said. “… I think, especially early on, I was just getting my legs under me. It took a minute. But I feel like I’m starting to do better just in terms of being able to help us control what shots we’re giving up and just make everything contested. And then offensively, just trying to space and keep the ball moving is the primary thing I’m trying to do.”
There’s more from Chicago:
- The Bulls will hold an organizational meeting during the All-Star break to plot their strategy for the trade deadline, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago-Sun Times. Cowley speculates on what the team might be able to get in return for its most valuable trade assets: Young, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine.
- Even though Otto Porter Jr. won’t play again until after the break, there’s good news about the veteran forward, Cowley adds in a separate story. Donovan said Friday that Porter is starting to make progress with the back issues that have bothered him almost the entire season. ‘‘He’s been able to do a lot more the last three days,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘He’s ramped up quite a bit where he’s running, doing conditioning, shooting. There’s still no contact, but I was on the court with him (Thursday).’’
- Chris Paul‘s performance as the Suns won Friday in Chicago exposed the huge need the Bulls still have at point guard, observes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Chicago committed 19 turnovers in the game, including 10 in the fourth quarter as Phoenix pulled away.