For the first time since March, the Bulls are eligible to conduct group workouts this week. But Kris Dunn won’t be a part of them.
The pending free agent, who finished second in the NBA in steals per game, isn’t participating in the three-week voluntary program, sources said.
Players reported to the Advocate Center last week to being daily testing for COVID-19. This week, all players, coaches and staff members who are part of the program will shuttle between the Advocate Center and a downtown hotel to create a “campus-like bubble.”
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association agreed to the safety protocols for the eight teams not invited to the league’s restart in Florida. After a two-day quarantine period, practices and scrimmages begin Wednesday at the Advocate Center.
Dunn sprained the MCL in his right knee on a freak play just 13 seconds into a Jan. 31 road loss to the Nets. Thad Young took a charge and his head smashed into Dunn’s knee, ending the latter's strong fourth NBA season.
When he was in town, Dunn was one of the players allowed into the Advocate Center before it re-opened for individual workouts in early June because he was rehabilitating his injury.
A source said his right knee is fully rehabilitated now. But with his future contract status uncertain, he isn’t participating in the Bulls’ program.
Players on other teams with injury histories or pending free agencies, like the Detroit Pistons’ Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose or the Charlotte Hornets’ Bismack Biymobo, have also opted out of their voluntary programs.
Teams were prohibited from trying to coerce players into participating, per a league memo. The Knicks, who have multiple free agents on their roster, are expected to have a light turnout.
Dunn’s elite defense this season led to him receiving four first- and 23 second-team votes for NBA All-Defensive teams. His 31 points marked the most for any player not on one of the two teams. However, his points total lagged well behind second-team guard Eric Bledsoe of the Bucks, who had 59 points.
Based on salary cap projections before COVID-19 hit, Dunn’s qualifying offer stood at $7.1 million. If the Bulls’ new management regime extends the qualifying offer, it would own the right to match any offers Dunn receives in free agency.
If no qualifying offer is extended, Dunn would become an unrestricted free agent. The Bulls and Dunn also could negotiate a multi-year deal.
Pending free agent Denzel Valentine is participating in the Bulls’ voluntary program. Like Dunn, he either will be a restricted or unrestricted free agent depending on whether the Bulls extend him a qualifying offer.
The offseason dates to make such decisions haven't officially been set by the league yet due to the uncertainty surrounding next season's start date and COVID-19.