The Bulls wrapped up the annual Circus Trip 1-5, but of course the bigger story than the poor record was the loss of Derrick Rose for the season. With Rose out of the lineup, Marquis Teague was set for an uptick in minutes, and it made all the sense in the world to see if Teague could actually play or not.
Teague did in fact play 45 minutes in the first three games following Rose's injury. But in those 45 minutes, the youngster barely resembled an NBA player. He missed all 11 shots he took, didn't score a single point and only notched three assists. His PER on the season is -7.84 and the offense basically dies when he's out there.
One could make a case that Teague is the worst player in the NBA right now, which is why he has fallen behind Mike James in the point guard rotation for the time being, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Teague didn't play a single minute in the 97-93 loss to the Cavs on Wednesday, with James instead playing 13 mostly whatever minutes. James followed Teague's lead by not scoring a single point while racking up four fouls, two assists and two rebounds.
I want to be upset with Tom Thibodeau for benching Teague, because there's almost no point in Mike James, especially if he's going to be completely underwhelming. But it's really hard to blame a coach for not playing a guy who's playing as poorly as Teague is at the moment.
It's really an unfortunate situation for Teague, who looked like a much improved player at Summer League. He was aggressive and actually had a jump shot in Vegas, but it has all come crashing down since then. Whatever trade value he had is probably kaput, although Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times says the Bulls "could move Teague in a package" if they decide to become sellers. There were reportedly four teams interested in Teague in training camp, but it's hard to imagine him bringing back something worthwhile at this point. He would basically be just a throw in.
In other news, Jimmy Butler's turf toe is improving, but it's still unclear when the swingman will be able to return to the lineup. Butler's naturally chomping at the bit to get back, according to Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago:
"I want to come back as soon as possible," Butler said at the Berto Center on Friday. "I don't know. It all depends on how my foot, my toe is going to take everything I'm doing, whether that's shooting, lifting, pushing off it, whatever it may be.
"I know I can shoot. I can move a little bit. I can't push off it as much or jump. But it's a progress. I feel like it's definitely getting better."
Thibs said Butler hasn't done much court work and "isn't close to 100 percent," but that the injury has improved quite a bit:
"He says he's feeling a lot better," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He hasn't done anything on the court. He has to practice first. The swelling is down. He's not close to 100 percent, but he's much improved. We feel good about his improvement. We'll see where he is tomorrow, the next few days."
Considering the Bulls' situation, there's absolutely no reason for Butler to come back before his turf toe is healed. That injury is a tricky one, and there's little point rushing back during a lost season.
Whenever Butler does return, it'll be interesting to see what happens with the wing rotation. Rookie Tony Snell has shown some serious signs of life as a starter over the last few games, and ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell pondered whether or not Snell would remain in the starting lineup when Butler comes back. It's kind of hilarious this is even being brought up considering the Jimmy love affair over the last year, but I'd say it's a fair question if Snell continues to play really well.
I personally would have Butler return to the starting lineup when he's healthy, because I want him to play as much as possible this season. Snell should continue to see a lot of minutes, and I would put him ahead of Dunleavy in the wing rotation. I lauded the Dunleavy signing in the offseason, but he has been mostly lost since the Rose injury and probably has no future on this team. It's a real bummer for a guy who signed in Chicago for less money to play for a contender, but this is the reality for him now. In a lost season, the younger guy needs to play more and continue to develop for the future.
Of course, a Luol Deng trade could take care of this "problem" by itself. If Deng is moved, Butler just slides into the starting 3 spot and Snell starts at the 2 unless an upgrade on the wing comes back in a deal. It seems unlikely that happens, and even if the Dion Waiters thing goes down, I'd be more inclined to bring him off the bench.