This Bulls season has gone from bad to hurt. But with a extended game breaks throughout February (you may remember this month from such years as 2019, the greatest 10 games of competent play in modern Bulls history!), not only has it spared us from watching the team but guys are starting to work their way back on the team.
First, the good news. Both Wendell Carter and Otto Porter the juniors practiced on Tuesday. Neither committed to playing in the Bulls first game back Thursday versus Charlotte but typically practicing is a very good sign. But we’ve just seen Boylen insanity when it came to Daniel Gafford being ‘active’ versus actually playing, so it’s probably best to just wait and see if these guys are on the court instead of speculating over when.
The speculation is much worse for Kris Dunn. As reported by KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, there is speculation that Dunn’s MCL injury to his right knee is serious enough for him to miss the rest of the season. This is all stemming from an injury he suffered the last day of January when he ran into Thaddeus Young and the two bumped knees. Dunn then missed the four games the Bulls played right before the All-Star break.
Earlier this month, Chicago had said that Dunn would be re-evaluated in two weeks but now with the news reported today, it seems like that might not be the case.
There are ramifications for Dunn’s injury, both on and off the court. The team defense has plummeted in effectiveness in Dunn’s (compounded by Carter’s) absence. Coby White and Ryan Arcidiacono are likely expected to get a lot more minutes now with Dunn out of the picture, and this should be the time for the Bulls coaching staff to truly evaluate White as a point guard.
For Dunn, given how he was viewed at the beginning of the season he has had quite the turnaround: from being an afterthought to carving out a decent role for himself. Playing out of position to fill in for OPJ, Dunn has really locked in on becoming a defensive stalwart. He’s been elite at causing turnovers this season with a steal rate of 3.8%, the highest in the league at the moment. And his offensive efficiency has gotten better in a reduced role, averaging career highs in true shooting and effective field goal percentage.
Dunn’s slated to be a restricted free agent this offseason if the Bulls make a qualifying offer of 7M. This was a key year for Chicago and Dunn as a good season could have possibly resulted in an extension before he hits the open market. Now with the injury, we will have to see if the games he missed this season has any impact on his future with the team. If he indeed doesn’t play another game this year, that makes 51 games played for this year following years of 52 and 46 in the 3 seasons since coming to the Bulls in the Jimmy Butler trade.