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Bulls vs. Pacers game preview and live open thread

afternoon hoops

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls have ruined many a New Years Eve before, but now they are fun and good and on a 5-game winning streak. Sure it’s been over some protocols-ravaged teams, and they have another one today, but they’re taking care of business and padding their stats in the process, as now the Bulls are up to 4th best offense in the league.

There isn’t much to glean off this stretch, and the Bulls should roll today (insert ‘trap game’ disclaimers here, Pacers are big and at home...I guess), so instead I will talk about fringe Bulls of recent past as they are in the news.

Today, the Rajon Rondo con lived on another season as a team was talked into acquiring him. The player he is supplanting out of a job is Denzel Valentine, who is going back to the Lakers in the trade and as a partially-guaranteed contract will be waived instead of paid. Ironic as Denzel was a big force in the Rondo-is-actually-a-great-teammate-and-leader cult.

The Cavs are desperate, clearly, because they lost their backup PG Ricky Rubio for the season and starter Darius Garland is out due to protocols. And they quickly learned that Denzel is not a point guard:

So, Valentine will be out of the league very soon though with so many hardship signees he may latch on somewhere soon. I have found it very interesting that so many of these on-the-margins talents are getting at least 10-day contracts, like Shaq Harrison, yet recent Bulls legends (joking, but they did play a ton of minutes!) Kris Dunn and Ryan Arcidiacono can’t get a chance.

Someone who is getting a chance for the Bulls is Jordan Bell, the big man who turns 27 next week and hasn’t been able to stick in the league, unsigned this year after playing 6 games over two different stops last season. Of course, Bell was famously ‘drafted’ by the Bulls, but he really wasn’t as the Bulls front office didn’t scout that deep in the draft and were looking to build equity with ownership instead of building the team’s roster.

Injury report:

Nothing new for the Bulls: Caruso, Lonzo, Bradley all still out.

For the Pacers, they are decimated at the non-bigs positions as Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, Chris Duarte are out in protocols joining TJs McConnell and Warren as long-term inactive.

Game Time: 2pm Central, NBC Sports Chicago