Cameron Payne

This is not a punchline: Bulls pick up Bobby Portis’ option

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USA TODAY

This is not a punchline: Bulls pick up Bobby Portis’ option

What happens when you punch a teammate and send him to the hospital?

Beyond the eight-game suspension Bobby Portis received, apparently it's getting your option renewed.

Portis, Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant had their fourth-year contract options picked up by the Bulls. The team also picked up third-year options on Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine.

There are multiple ways to look at these moves. Portis getting his contract renewed may come as a surprise because of the recent drama with Nikola Mirotic. Maybe if Mirotic gets traded the Portis-Mirotic situation will become easier.

Grant has started all four games to start the season in his second year with the team. The point guard and is averaging 10.8 points and 7.3 assists per game, but is shooting 39.5 percent from the field and is 1-for-10 on 3-point attempts.

Valentine has seen an increase in minutes in his second year in the NBA. He is averaging 10 points in 26.3 minutes per game while shooting 39.5 percent from 3.

The other two players whose options were picked up haven't yet distinguished themselves in a Bulls uniform. Dunn, one of the key pieces acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade, hasn't played for the team while missing the start of the year with a dislocated finger suffered in the preseason. Payne played 11 games with the team last year after arriving in a midseason trade with the Thunder that sent Taj Gibson to Oklahoma City. Payne hasn't played yet this year after undergoing foot surgery in the offseason.

Battling for point guard spot, Kris Dunn dislocates finger and will miss multiple weeks

Battling for point guard spot, Kris Dunn dislocates finger and will miss multiple weeks

The Kris Dunn reclamation project hit a bit of a snag Friday night—literally and figuratively.

Dunn will miss at least the next couple weeks with an open dislocation of his left index finger in an awkward basketball play in the Bulls’ 114-101 preseason win over the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center.

Dunn was having his best outing of the preseason, playing confidently and assuredly before his progress came to a halt, as he’ll lose valuable time picking up the offense and learning to play with his new teammates.

With 8:53 left in the fourth quarter, Bucks guard Sterling Brown made a quick move to the basket for a dunk and foul on Bulls guard David Nwaba. Nwaba made contact with Dunn’s finger and it twisted in what didn’t look like a natural position.

Teammates squirmed.

“I saw it for a second, I had to turn away, I can’t look at things like that,” teammate Justin Holiday said.

“It was almost at a 90-degree angle,” said guard Denzel Valentine.

Fred Hoiberg said he could almost see the tendon on Dunn’s finger, thus explaining the “open dislocation” as the bone went through his skin.

Dunn writhed in pain as he immediately went to the locker room with trainer Jeff Tanaka. Unlike a normal dislocation where a bone can be popped back into place, Dunn’s wound will have to heal after stitches are applied.

If it sounds wrenching, it’s because it is.

“The first thing that will have to be done, Jeff Tanaka popped it back into place. But with the open wound it’ll be at least a couple weeks to get that healed,” Hoiberg said. “He’ll get that stitched up and have an appointment with our hand specialist tomorrow and go from there.”

If one is counting, it means all three participants from the Jimmy Butler trade are all out with injury—Zach LaVine is recovering from an ACL injury, first-round pick Lauri Markkanen is dealing with back spasms and now, Dunn with this injury.

It certainly appears Dunn will miss the season opener against Toronto, which is less than two weeks away, and for the eternal optimist, a game like this could’ve been a confidence builder for the season.

Dunn was aggressive in going to the basket, playing under control and hit his lone 3-point attempt in 16 minutes, hitting five of seven shots to score 11 points. With his outside shooting struggles well known, he took smaller Bucks guards to the midrange area, deliberately setting himself up for easy shots in the 10-foot range.

“Kris was unbelievable tonight. He was ballhawking on defense, getting to the paint, making plays,” Hoiberg said. “His shot was looking really good on that 3 that he hit on the right wing. He looked really comfortable out there.”

Dunn was a big part of the Bulls playing with pace and getting into their offense quickly as opposed to rushing shots, making his case to start opening night as he and Jerian Grant vie for honors.

“Just trying to get my groove. Yesterday was the most shots I took in a game, in awhile. It felt good,” Dunn said at the morning shootaround, speaking of his one-for-nine shooting performance against Dallas Wednesday night.

Grasping Hoiberg’s offense hasn’t been a problem for Dunn, as he’s trying to wash away the negative memories of a bad rookie year in Minnesota with a fresh start in Chicago.

“It’s a lot of read and react,” Dunn said. “Trying to get a good rhythm going into the regular season. I’m a competitor, they want to see that every day out of me. I have to bring that to the team.”

Now that recovery has been put on hold for one of another kind, and more will be known in the days ahead.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened in this game, it can happen to anybody,” Hoiberg said. “He’s gotta keep his spirits high as he goes through the recovery process and hopefully we’ll get him back before too long.”

Report: Why Bulls passed on one of world's best passers

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AP

Report: Why Bulls passed on one of world's best passers

Milos Teodosic was on the verge of becoming the point guard of the Bulls' future, according to a report by Eurohoops and NBA Greece

The 30-year-old Serbian, who's known as a passing genius in international basketball circles, verbally committed to play in Chicago before the deal fell through, and he opted to suit up for the Clippers instead. 

"We initially had a deal with the Chicago Bulls," Nick Lotsos, the longtime agent of Teodosic, said to NBA Greece. 

“I met in Treviso, Italy, the head of international scouting Ivica Dukan, who is the man who took Tony Kukoc to Chicago. His opinion has a real value within the Bulls organization. He is practically the one decision maker on the team. We talked and he said to me that Milos was the best player they could get. After a few days the GM, Gar Forman, called me. We had agreed to a contract close to $30 million for three years, similar to the one Bogdan Bogdanovic signed in Sacramento. My only objection was that I wanted Milos to have the chance to opt out every summer because I believe that he can all-star money. We were ready to sign and Forman wanted the deal for one more reason. There are many Serbs in Chicago."

Despite GarPax seemingly showing strong interest early in the recruitment process, the team altered its course after shipping Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. Post-blockbuster, the team's desire to sign an older guard dissipated, according to Teodosic's agent. 

“I knew that the deal will not be completed after the trade," Lotsos said. "And two days later, Forman called me and explained to me that the team wanted to rebuild, so getting a 30-year-old point guard without NBA experience was out of the question."

With the rebuild in its initial stage, the Bulls are moving forward with Kris Dunn, Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne at the 1. 

Still, though, one can daydream about having a PG drop incisive, imaginative dimes such as this one: 

Or this precise underhanded post pass: