Kris Dunn taking command of Bulls offense with Zach LaVine out

Kris Dunn taking command of Bulls offense with Zach LaVine out

Kris Dunn isn’t on the Bulls’ leadership committee (or is it Leadership Committee?) but that hasn’t stopped him from taking full command of the Bulls’ offense since his return to the lineup.

He’s also running with his opportunity as the clear facilitator since Zach LaVine’s sprained ankle, and it’s resulted in a handful of positive outings for the 24-year-old point guard. And in the Bulls’ last two home games on Wednesday and Friday he proved that he’s capable of affecting games in different ways, which should be helpful as the offense looks for any signs of improvement.

On Wednesday he took it upon himself to attack the rim, amassing 21 shots in 34 minutes. He was aggressive against a Brooklyn backcourt that showed little resistance, as 14 of Dunn’s attempts came from 15 feet or less. On Friday he realized quickly who had the hot hand, feeding Lauri Markkanen on five of his 12 made field goals in a win over the Magic. Dunn still put up 14 shots in 36 minutes but, per NBA.com, made 56 passes, 14 more than he made on Wednesday.

“I try to get my guys going. Like I said before, I’m a pass-first point guard. It helps me with my game getting other guys going and allowing me to play my game, allowing me to be aggressive, too. It’s good to get Lauri going.”

Dunn has averaged 18.0 points, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals in four games since LaVine went down. Though he’s made just 1 of 6 3-pointers, he’s shooting 50 percent from the field and has just 10 turnovers in 132 minutes. His usage rate is 26.8 percent, highest on the team since LaVine injured himself. He’s been effective playing different styles as Jim Boylen and the Bulls continue to slow the pace; the Bulls are 25th in pace since Boylen took over and Dunn, who has looked comfortable in halfcourt sets, is thriving.

“Whatever gets the win. If I’ve got to be aggressive on the offensive side looking at the rim a little bit more or getting my guys involved,” he said. “I’m a pass-first point guard but it’s the NBA. You’re gonna have good games, you’re gonna have bad games.

“The thing about me is I’m gonna play hard no matter what so in the games where I didn’t shoot well I made sure I got everybody in the right spots to be able to execute on the offensive side and on the defensive side do what I do best: guard my yard.”

He’s also catching the eye of his head coach. Dunn said when Boylen was hired his mentality wasn’t going to change. Still, it’s clear that Dunn is Boylen’s type of player with his work ethic, defensive prowess and poise.

He’s proving that the Bulls will still have a driving force to initiate the offense and facilitate even without their leading scorer in the lineup.

“Kris Dunn, I thought, had unbelievable poise in the pocket,” Boylen said after Friday’s win. “I thought he had command of what I want and he had great synergy and just I felt like I had a captain out there, a leader out there with him. And I’m really happy for that. That’s something we were talking about and working on.”

Report: Vote scheduled for ‘20-to-22’ team NBA return plan, expected to pass

Report: Vote scheduled for ‘20-to-22’ team NBA return plan, expected to pass

The NBA is expected to have a plan to resume its season approved by owners at a vote on Thursday, June 4, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

The news comes on the heels of a call with the Board of Governors Friday that yielded nothing definitive. Four potential formats for relaunching the season and a target date of July 31 to resume play were reportedly floated.

But the above report from Wojnarowski marks the most marked progress towards the league formally agreeing on a return-to-play plan to date.

Predictably, the precise details of the plan are not yet known. In conjunction with Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne, Wojnarowski reported that the plan is expected to feature invitations for “20-to-22” teams.

That would mean no invite for the Bulls — perhaps a blessing in disguise (or dressed plainly). The Bulls are currently paused with the 24th-best record in the NBA at 22-43, and are 8.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference.

Still, the team opened the Advocate Center Friday morning with clearance from both Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago officials. Players in the area will be permitted to undergo NBA-sanctioned treatments at the facility, an opportunity which Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn have already taken advantage of. Voluntary, socially-distanced, individual workouts may begin Wednesday when Chicago is expected to enter Phase 3 of its reopening. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley will be en route to the city soon.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. A resumption bid seems on the cusp of coming to fruition.

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How story of Michael Jordan secretly practicing with Warriors was unearthed

How story of Michael Jordan secretly practicing with Warriors was unearthed

Before Michael Jordan rejoined the Bulls, he was a Warrior for 48 hours. Figuratively, of course.

No, Jordan didn’t officially sign (or even consider the notion) with the Warriors during the MLB strike that punctuated his first retirement amid the 1994-95 NBA season. But he did secretly practice with the Dubs multiple times whilst retired — and, with rare purpose, dominated multiple All-Stars in midseason condition. 

That story was unearthed on NBC Sports’ “Sports Uncovered” podcast. Some of the people behind the production of the podcast, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, Ryan McGuffey and Tony Gill, joined Jason Goff on the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast to discuss the behind-the-scenes machinations behind its creation.

McGuffey called the secret Jordan-Warriors practice runs the “golden uncovered nugget” of the podcast. And it came about rather serendipitously, in a chance interview with Tim Hardaway.

“The Tim Hardaway interview kind of fell in our lap. He was in our office one day and it was like, ‘Hey, do you want Tim Hardaway?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah!’” McGuffey said. “I mean, he was an All-Star. I don’t know if it’ll give us anything, I don’t know if it’ll lead to anything. 

“Sometimes the interviews you don’t plan for are the ones that become a stone that you turn over and you’re like ‘What is this?’ And Tim Hardaway made a comment, I asked about the Berto Center practices and whether or not he understood what was going on here in Chicago. And he said, ‘I’m gonna get in trouble for saying this.’ ... When a guy says that, you know you got something."

They did, indeed. From there, on recommendation from Hardaway, the crew got in touch with Rod Higgins, then an assistant coach with the Warriors, now the Atlanta Hawks' VP of basketball operations. As detailed in the podcast, it was through a connection with Higgins that Jordan was even allowed to participate in the practices in the first place.

McGuffey and company entered their sit-down with Higgins ready to pry, equipped with volumes of follow-up questions and previously-researched points. But Higgins was ready to share.

“We reached out, found Higgins with the Hawks and reached out to them and told them exactly why we wanted to do the interview. We said this is the story, here’s what’s been said and can you validate?" McGuffey said. "And he didn’t validate it, he didn’t double down, he tripled down and gave us more facts, more details.”

You can hear those details by listening to the Sports Uncovered podcast here, via the embedded player below or wherever you get your podcasts.

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