Cameron Payne

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

teodosic.jpg
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: 

Opportunities, competition in full force early in Bulls training camp

portisgrantbulls.png
USA TODAY

Opportunities, competition in full force early in Bulls training camp

An important part of the early stages in a rebuild are assessing and finding young players that will become part of the future. In the Bulls' case, that first step has included fierce competition for starting spots in training camp.

Fred Hoiberg said at Monday's media day that only center Robin Lopez was assured a spot in the starting lineup, an easy choice given the 29-year-old's status as the only real veteran on the team.

With Zach LaVine still not close to a return while recovering from ACL surgery, the Bulls have four open spots in the starting lineup. For most of the young players - 14 of the 18 Bulls in camp have two or less years of NBA experience - it's the first time in their careers they've had an actual chance of earning a starting spot.

Two key spots, especially given Fred Hoiberg's offensive style, are at point guard and power forward.

Last year free agent Rajon Rondo provided a stopgap, while Hoiberg rotated four others throughout the year, sometimes game-by-game.

At power forward Taj Gibson beat out Nikola Mirotic for the starting gig, but was then dealt to Oklahoma City at the trade deadline. That left Mirotic and Bobby Portis as the only two forwards remaining, with Joffrey Lauvergne seeing spot duty after the Bulls acquired him in the Gibson deal.

Both positions underwent significant changes in the offseason. Rondo was bought out, and the Bulls' return for Jimmy Butler included Kris Dunn, who the Bulls hope will be the point guard of the future.

But Dunn, as Hoiberg alluded to, will have competition.

Jerian Grant, who was part of the package the Bulls received for Derrick Rose last year, is hoping to prove his worth. As a rookie he was stuck behind Jose Calderon in New Yrok, and played behind Rondo a season ago.

"It’s competition. It’s my first year where I get to compete for the starting spot," Grant said. "It’s me and (Dunn) right now, and I think we’ve both been doing a good job of pushing each other and I’m excited for that challenge."

Payne also figures to be in the mix for minutes after he returns from the broken foot he suffered over the summer.

The Bulls moved up nine spots as part of the Butler deal and selected Lauri Markkanen, adding another stretch forward (along with Mirotic and Portis) for Fred Hoiberg to deploy.

Whereas Portis was stuck behind Gibson and Mirotic the last two seasons, he now has the chance to fight for a starting spot and is embracing that competition.

"I’m always motivated. Whether (the Bulls) drafted somebody at my position or not I’m going to be a motivated player regardless of drafted players," Portis said. "I’m a guy who just goes out there and competes at the highest level every time I step out there and I just try to push these guys, motivate these guys and be a leader.

"I want to start. My first few years I didn’t play as much as I wanted to and this summer I feel like I put the time in, effort in to have the opporuntity to start. It’s been fun to come in and compete. I feel like I’m a different player than I was and I’m anxious for the first preseason game to show what I can do."