Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn Embracing New Role With Bulls

The Bulls drafted point guard Coby White with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 draft and that meant the end of the Kris Dunn in Chicago — right? Not exactly. The former top-five pick has carved out a bench role with the club and is drawing the praise of his coaching staff.

“He just wants to win,” coach Jim Boylen said. “He’s the first guy in the breakfast room. You have to be in the building 45 minutes before [practice]. He’s in one hour, 45 minutes before. He does his workout 45 minutes before everybody else with Coach [Nate] Loenser. He is locked in. He cares. He always cared. And he’s playing winning basketball. I’m really happy for him.”

Dunn’s defense has become a real asset for the club. He leads the league with 25 steals (Ben Simmons ranks second with 23 steals despite playing 69 more minutes than Dunn) and has helped the team level out at about league average on that side of the court (Chicago was 25th on defense last season, per NBA.com).

“I take pride in my defense,” Dunn said. “The second unit, I think we have good defenders in our group. Archie [Ryan Arcidiacono], he’s a dog. Thad [Young], he’s a dog. Coby, he’s a dog. I could go on and on. We try to come in and bring great energy and try to maintain the lead or, if we’re down, try to get it back.”

Chicago had talks with several clubs over the offseason about Dunn trades. Rival teams interested included the Grizzlies (in what would have been a sign-and-trade involving Justin Holiday). Dunn heard all the rumors, but says there are no hard feelings between him and the Bulls.

“It’s a good team we have. I just wanted to be a part of it. We have a lot of talented players, a good group of guys. I wanted to buy into what Coach is preaching, buy into the system,” Dunn said. “All in all, I feel my game can go anywhere — starting, coming off the bench. Wherever you put me at, I’m a hooper.”

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Central Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Entering the season, the Central Division appeared to feature two contending teams (the Bucks and Pacers) and two more teams with playoff aspirations (the Pistons and Bulls), leaving just one Central club (the Cavaliers) that looked like a lock to be a seller at the trade deadline.

While it’s still possible that will be the case, Cleveland has exceeded expectations in the early going, playing hard for new head coach John Beilein and currently holding the No. 7 seed in the East at 4-5.

As we wait to see whether the Cavs’ early success is sustainable enough to alter their trade-deadline plans, let’s round up a few potential trade candidates from around the division…

Tristan Thompson, C
Cleveland Cavaliers
$18.53MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

One of five Cavaliers veterans on an expiring contract this season, Thompson entered the year looking like a logical trade candidate. After all, he’s a reliable veteran with a championship under his belt, making him a better fit for a contender than a lottery-bound squad.

However, the Cavaliers value Thompson’s locker-room presence and he’s posting some of the best on-court numbers of his career so far in 2019/20. His 16.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.6 BPG would all be career highs over the course of a full season. A solid rebounder and defender, Thompson spoke last month about wanting to make an All-Defensive team, but he has been better than expected on offense, with Beilein having shown a willingness to run plays through him.

A cynic might say that the Cavaliers are putting Thompson in position to increase his trade value ahead of February’s deadline. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team seriously looks into what it would take to keep him around beyond this season before putting him on the trade block.

Langston Galloway, G
Detroit Pistons
$7.33MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

When the Pistons were trying to find a way to keep both Christian Wood and Joe Johnson on their roster at the start of the regular season, Galloway was said to be among the players the team explored trading. In fact, one report suggested Detroit was “very open” to the idea of moving the veteran guard. However, no deal materialized, presumably because teams didn’t view Galloway as a positive asset.

Like Thompson, however, Galloway is off to a great start to the season, averaging 11.6 PPG on .437/.457/.912 shooting through 11 games (24.2 MPG). While the Pistons may not have expected him to have this significant a role, injuries to Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose, and Tim Frazier have forced the team’s hand — as has Galloway’s strong play.

Whether or not Galloway re-emerges as a trade candidate may hinge on the Pistons’ ability to remain in the playoff mix in the East. If the club is in position to make a win-now move at the deadline, Galloway’s expiring contract would make a logical salary-matching chip. If not, it may be in the club’s best interest to just let his contract expire at season’s end — unless he plays well enough to gain positive trade value.

Kris Dunn, PG
Chicago Bulls
$5.35MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

Dunn, who has also been the subject of trade rumors before this season, has seen his stock dip drastically since he was acquired by the Bulls in 2017. His offensive numbers this season are especially modest, and his usage rate is down to 15.1 through 10 games, well below the 22.5 mark he posted in his first two years in Chicago.

However, head coach Jim Boylen likes how the former top-five pick has played so far this season, as Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic writes. While he has taken on a more passive role on offense, Dunn has been strong on defense, averaging 2.2 steals in just 20.4 minutes per game. That’s important for a Bulls team that has been up and down on the defensive end so far this season.

Despite a decent start, Dunn could end up back on the trade block within the next few months due to his contract situation and the Bulls’ roster situation. Tomas Satoransky and Ryan Arcidiacono signed three-year contracts with the team in July and Coby White was the seventh overall pick, so Chicago has more invested in its other point guards than in Dunn, who will be a free agent in 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Satoransky, Lowry, Aminu

A Wednesday report suggested the Celtics have offered Jaylen Brown a four-year, $80MM contract extension and that the young swingman passed on that offer in search of a more lucrative deal. Appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston on Thursday, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge referred to that report as “not accurate,” though he declined to offer any real specifics on the team’s talks with Brown.

“We are working to come to some result by Monday as our deadline, and the negotiations have gone well,” the Celtics’ top decision-maker said, per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “It’s just not an accurate report, that’s all. We’ve given him numerous offers. We’ve been negotiating for a little while. So, that’s all.”

Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote earlier today that multiple teams are watching the Celtics’ negotiations with Brown closely, since the soon-to-be-23-year-old would be a prime candidate for a big offer sheet if he reaches restricted free agency next summer. However, Ainge said that neither Brown nor the C’s are “too stressed” about the situation, as Forsberg notes.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • After assuming most of the scoring and play-making responsibilities in Charlotte, Kemba Walker is enjoying playing on a Celtics team that has players capable of sharing that burden, writes John Karalis of MassLive.com. “It takes a lot of pressure off me,” Walker said earlier this week. “I’m getting a lot of different shots as well, but I’m loving it, not having to do so much all the time. Hopefully my usage rate might be going down a little bit. It allows other guys to make plays and I can appreciate that for sure.”
  • The Bulls officially named offseason free agent addition Tomas Satoransky their starting point guard this week, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago details. Satoransky beat our fourth-year guard Kris Dunn, who is entering a contract year. However, Dunn is staying positive as he prepares for a reserve role, Johnson writes in a separate NBC Sports Chicago story.
  • After signing an extension with the Raptors this week, Kyle Lowry said that both sides “worked extremely hard to get it done” and that he’s glad to remain in the place he wanted to be. GM Bobby Webster, meanwhile, said working out a new deal with Lowry before opening night was always the goal. You don’t want to go into seasons with anything hanging over the team,” Webster said. “We knew it was something that was really important to him and it was really important to us (Twitter links via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).
  • Al-Farouq Aminu‘s new teammates in Orlando have been raving about his versatility, work ethic, and ability to adapt quickly to the Magic‘s system, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com. Aminu was the team’s big offseason addition, signing a three-year contract worth nearly $30MM.

Bulls Notes: Satoransky, Valentine, Kornet, LaVine

Bulls coach Jim Boylen hasn’t announced who will start at point guard but Tomas Satoransky seems to be leading the pack, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Satoransky, who is battling rookie Coby White and incumbent Kris Dunn for the job, was acquired from the Wizards in a sign-and-trade deal. Satoransky had 11 points and eight assists in 20 minutes against the Pelicans in a preseason outing earlier this week.

“Every day, there is more clarity on what you like, what you don’t like, who fits, who doesn’t fit. Not only in that (lead guard) position but other situations,” Boylen said. “We can’t play everybody. From Day One, I said we’re going to have to share and become a team where sacrifice is involved. That day is coming not just for that lead guard position but other ones, too.”

We have more on the Bulls:

  • When swingman Denzel Valentine drove to the United Center on Monday, he got choked up en route to making his preseason debut, as he told Johnson in a separate story. Valentine missed last season after undergoing left ankle surgery. “I shed a tear on the way over to the arena,” Valentine said. “It’s just very emotional for me. This is my passion. This is what I love. It’s huge being healthy and being out there again.”
  • Big man Luke Kornet received a fully guaranteed two-year, $4.5MM deal from the Bulls in free agency but the possibility of being a rotation player was also a crucial factor in his decision, Johnson reports in another story. “A couple teams contacted me but I was able to talk to Coach Boylen for awhile and I got the feel they value what I do and understand the value of it,” Kornet said. “That got me excited.”
  • If the Bulls can make inroads in the win-loss column, Zach LaVine believes can receive All-Star recognition, as he told Eric Woodyard of ESPN“I had an All-Star-caliber year last year, but we had 22 wins so it got a little bit swept under the rug,” he said. “But that’s how it’s supposed to be when you have 20 wins. But if I continue to play the way I’m supposed to, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be an All-Star or All-NBA type guy.”

Bulls Notes: Satoransky, Dunn, Valentine, WCJ

While Tomas Satoransky was ostensibly brought in this offseason to be the Bulls‘ starting point guard, his versatility presents some options for the franchise, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. As Strotman notes, Satoransky can play off the ball too, allowing the team to use him alongside its other point guards in some lineups.

Meanwhile, after being on the trade block for months, returning point guard Kris Dunn welcomes the opportunity to work with Satoransky and Coby White this fall rather than viewing the newest members of the Bulls’ backcourt as a threat, as K.C. Johnson writes for NBC Sports Chicago.

“Coby is young. I understand it’s going to take him time. He’s got room to grow. But he’s a talented player,” Dunn said. “Satoransky is a great player. He’s going to be a good piece to this team. He has more experience than me. He’s been in playoff games. He’s been a good teammate to me. Learn from those guys too. They might see something I don’t see on the court. It’s healthy.”

Here’s more from out of Chicago:

  • Denzel Valentine didn’t play a single game last season for the Bulls due to a left ankle injury, but he said this week that he’s “100% healthy” and just needs to work his way back into game shape, per Johnson. “Sitting out, I think I’m more mentally tough,” Valentine said. “I gained a lot of experience watching. I feel I’m a more mature and confident player now. I’m excited.”
  • Although the injuries don’t appear serious, Wendell Carter Jr. suffered a sprained left ankle and Daniel Gafford hyperextended his right elbow on the first day of camp, according to Johnson. The Bulls have had some bad injury luck in recent years, so that’s an ominous start to the fall for the club.
  • Count Otto Porter among those impressed by what he’s seen from the Bulls so far this fall, as Strotman outlines for NBC Sports Chicago. “A lot has changed. I think the mentality of this organization changed. Since I’ve come here, just what we want to do here has changed,” Porter said. “With that being said, I think everybody’s on the right page, I think with all the talent that we have, we’ve come early to put in that extra work to get to know everybody, every piece in here, even in the front office, because we want to do something special here.”

Bulls Notes: Young, Point Guards, Hutchison, WCJ

Veteran forward Thaddeus Young played in the postseason in each of his last three seasons in Indiana, and has appeared in the playoffs in eight of his 12 NBA seasons in total. However, as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he opted to sign with the Bulls, who were coming off a 22-win season.

Speaking today to reporters, including Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), Young said he received interest from potential championships contenders in free agency, but liked the idea of becoming a veteran leader in Chicago. According to Young, he intends to bring energy and veteran leadership to the club and to be the sort of player who can speak up in the locker room and hold everyone accountable (Twitter link via Strotman).

While joining the Bulls may have appealed to Young for the reasons he mentioned, it’s probably also safe to assume that most of those title contenders who expressed interest in him this summer weren’t able to match the $13MM+ annual salary he received from Chicago.

Here’s more from the Bulls on Media Day:

  • Head coach Jim Boylen said the point guard situation in Chicago will “work its way out” in terms of minutes and that the Bulls’ players have embraced the competition, tweets Strotman. Tomas Satoransky, Coby White, Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono, and Shaquille Harrison are all expected to be in the point guard mix.
  • The Bulls’ goal in 2019/20 is to make the playoffs, Boylen declared today (Twitter link via Strotman). The club finished 19 games back of the No. 8 seed last season.
  • Chandler Hutchison, who suffered a hamstring strain earlier this month, is “going to be out for a little bit,” per head of basketball operations John Paxson (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune). Paxson also noted that Luke Kornet has turf toe and will miss a few days.
  • Wendell Carter Jr., on the other hand, said today that he feels 100% – and better than he has for the last five or six years – after undergoing core muscle surgery during the offseason, tweets Strotman.

Grizzlies, Bulls Discussed Kris Dunn, Justin Holiday Swap

The Bulls and Grizzlies have discussed a sign-and-trade for Justin Holiday that would send former top-10 pick Kris Dunn to Memphis, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune hears.

Holiday played for the Bulls last season before the team dealt him to the Grizzlies. Memphis made the December trade hoping to remain in the playoff hunt, surrendering two second-round picks to Chicago as well as Wayne Selden and MarShon Brooks (the wrong Brooks from the failed three-team trade with the Suns).

Chicago has made Dunn available in trade talks after drafting Coby White and acquiring Tomas Satoransky. Three of the team’s offseason goals were to add depth in the frontcourt, bring in point guard competition, and add outside shooting. The first two can be checked off the list.

Shooting on the wing remains on the Bulls’ wish list, Johnson adds. Holiday is a career 34.9% shooter from behind the arc.

Bulls Exploring Kris Dunn Trade

The Bulls are searching for a trade to move point guard Kris Dunn, who’s spent the past two seasons with the organization, according to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link).

Dunn has dealt with various injuries during his time with Chicago, appearing in just 98 of a possible 164 games. He averaged 11.3 points, six assists, 1.5 steals and 30.2 minutes in 46 contests last season.

Dunn started his career with the Wolves and was traded to the Bulls as part of a Jimmy Butler package just one year after being drafted. Chicago also agreed to acquire Tomas Satoransky in a sign-and-trade with Washington and drafted Coby White in June, meaning Dunn could wind up being the odd man out of the rotation at point guard.

Several teams that have previously shown interest in adding a point guard have already found their respective resolutions, such as Boston with Kemba Walker, Phoenix with Ricky Rubio, Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving Charlotte with Terry Rozier and the Clippers with Patrick Beverley.

 

Central Notes: Dunn, Leuer, Doumbouya, Bucks, J.R. Smith

Bulls executive VP John Paxson insists that Kris Dunn still has a role despite the addition of North Carolina point guard Coby White with the team’s lottery selection, K.C. Johnson of Chicago Tribune reports. “We still value Kris very much,” Paxson said. “But competition is a part of this business. You have to have that. The goal for us is to be deeper, more talented. You see in our game today, the successful teams have versatile rosters. … And, hey, if he comes in, as we hope, in training camp in great shape and ready to roll, he has every chance to earn any spot he wants — just like any of our guys do.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It’s uncertain whether veteran power forward Jon Leuer will play for the Bucks, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets. Milwaukee traded Tony Snell and its first-round pick to the Pistons for Leuer in an effort to clear cap space. Leuer is in the final year of his contract. GM Jon Horst told Leuer and his agent that he could be included in a future trade, Velazquez adds. Leuer appeared in 41 games last season after injuries limited him to eight games the previous season.
  • The Pistons were stunned that forward Sekou Doumbouya slipped just outside the lottery, allowing them to pick him with the No. 15 selection, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. The Pistons watched him work out in Dallas but were convinced they had no chance to draft him. “He kept dropping and we had Plan A in place and we didn’t expect him to be there. Then Plan B came into place and it was the best plan of all — because we had him ranked very high on the board,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We were there at the workout in Dallas and we thought we were wasting our time because we saw all the teams in front of us.”
  • The Bucks didn’t get any players in the draft but it was for lack of trying, Velazquez reports in another tweet. The Bucks made calls on every second-round pick but didn’t want to give up future picks and discovered that it’s much tougher to simply buy picks now.
  • The Cavaliers were unable to unload J.R. Smith on draft night and it’s likely he’ll be waived before his contract becomes fully guaranteed at the end of the month, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports. Cleveland doesn’t want to go over the luxury-tax line. Acquiring a player on a multi-year contract whose salary pushed them over the line was a deal breaker. Only $3.87MM of Smith’s $15.68MM salary is guaranteed.

Bulls Rumors: Ball, No. 7 Pick, Dunn, Asik

A report last month indicated that the Bulls and Lakers had “initial conversations” about Lonzo Ball prior to the 2019 trade deadline, and it sounds as if Chicago still has some interest in Ball. According to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, Ball’s pass-first mentality, defensive ability, and positional size intrigue the Bulls, who will be on the lookout for a point guard this offseason.

Johnson’s latest article for The Tribune includes several other Bulls-related rumors and notes, so let’s round up the highlights…

  • Multiple league executives believe that top point guard prospects Darius Garland and Coby White received draft promises from teams that pick before the Bulls, says Johnson. If either Garland or White is available when Chicago is on the clock at No. 7, that player would be a good bet to end up in a Bulls uniform, Johnson adds.
  • League executives tell Johnson that Kris Dunn‘s trade value is “low to nonexistent,” so if the Bulls attempt to upgrade the point guard spot on the trade market, the former No. 5 pick is unlikely to be a major outgoing asset.
  • There’s internal optimism within the organization that the NBA will allow the Bulls to remove Omer Asik‘s cap charge from their books for medical reasons, Johnson writes. That would create an extra $3MM in cap space for the summer.
  • The Bulls may be more interested in restricted free agent point guards than many of the unrestricted options expected to be available. Johnson points to Terry Rozier and Malcolm Brogdon as two potential targets for the club.
  • The Bulls would also like to add a veteran big man in free agency, but the point guard position is the team’s top priority.