Bulls

Otto Porter Jr. suffered an injury setback, where could the Bulls look for wing help?

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USA TODAY

Otto Porter Jr. suffered an injury setback, where could the Bulls look for wing help?

The Bulls are in a dire spot in terms of their wing depth and that was something that was true before Otto Porter Jr. suffered another injury setback

Chandler Hutchison and the then returning from injury-Denzel Valentine served as the Bulls only real small forwards behind Porter on the depth chart, and Bulls head coach Jim Boylen did not make Valentine a significant part of the rotation until early December. Now, with Porter out and Hutchison still out nursing his persistent shoulder injury, the Bulls are starting guard Kris Dunn at the three with Valentine as his backup. 

Starting the 6-foot-3 Dunn at small forward is quite a tough ask for a Bulls team that has struggled heavily rebounding all season long (Bulls currently rank 29th in the league in rebound percentage). So with the 8-17 Bulls looking nothing like the Eastern Conference playoff contender that they expected themselves to be, they will need to string together a sustained stretch of good basketball to prevent themselves from becoming a clear-cut lottery-bound team (yet again).

The Bulls haven't announced any intentions to make a roster move, but with the buyers and sellers starting to become clear, who are some wings that could potentially help the Bulls and are reportedly available?:

Robert Covington 

Robert Covington is the least likely option for the Bulls in terms of available wing help. It was reported by The Ringer's Kevin O' Connor that title-contending NBA teams have been monitoring the Minnesota Timberwolves and Covington, who has long been one of the league's premier 3-and-D forwards. This season Covington is averaging 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game while shooting 36.9% from 3-point range. Covington is shooting 5.5 attempts per game from 3-point range and is hitting a career-best 90.2% of his free throws. 

Covington has been heavily linked to the Houston Rockets which makes a ton of sense considering that he started his career there and would be able to play a familiar role, acting as a catch-and-shoot specialist next to James Harden. Though Covington makes the most sense on a contending team, he would have value to the Bulls. Covington's contract has two more seasons on it at a reasonable amount (around $11 to $12 million per year) and even once Porter returns, he would be an amazing addition to a Bulls bench that has already been outperforming the starters on a regular basis

Danilo Gallinari 

It was correctly assumed that when the Oklahoma City Thunder made their franchise-changing trades for Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Danilo Gallinari, they would be open to moving the players for the right trade offer. It has been reported that the Thunder are indeed open to trading Gallinari (and others).

The Bulls aren't in desperation mode, but that is OK in regards to Gallinari, as he is an asset that may be able to be acquired at a reasonable price. The Thunder came into Tuesday with an 11-12 record, good for the No. 7 seed in the West, but they may not care as much about making the postseason considering their long-term goal is to collect as many valuable assets as possible.

The Thunder may not necessarily enter "tank mode" but if the 31-year old Gallinari—who is on an expiring deal—is not a part of their plans for next season or beyond, he could be had for a reasonable price despite currently averaging a solid 18.3 points per game. The Bulls have their own draft picks, plus the Thunder reportedly are open to taking back salary, so any combination of Bulls players could work to get a deal done. 

DeMar DeRozan

Despite being in clear need of help on the wings, DeMar DeRozan doesn't exactly fit this year's Bulls but hey, beggars can't be choosers. The Bulls would be lucky to an All-Star talent to their roster in a buy-low move, and DeRozan potentially presents the opportunity to do just that. 

The four-time All-Star has a 2020 player option, which is likely to be accepted and represents the last year on his deal. Depending on who the Bulls gave up in a potential deal for DeRozan, they would be able to pair his proficiency as a scorer (especially in the pick-and-roll, where he is averaging 0.92 points per possession) with Lauri Markkanen and/or  Zach LaVine's abilities as 3-point shooters. 

The Spurs look to be on the cusp of missing the postseason for the first time since 1997 and could be more open to making an in-season trade than they have in the past. He is by no means a great fit in Chicago but there are a few things he does well that could make a difference. DeRozan's 5.8 free throw attempts per game would lead the Bulls and his 57.1% true shooting would be better than any Chicago wing outside of Valentine. If the Spurs and Bulls both continue to slide in the standings, even starting discussions on such a trade could become more of a reality.

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Nike, Jordan Brand reveal Chicago transit-themed All-Star uniforms

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Nike

Nike, Jordan Brand reveal Chicago transit-themed All-Star uniforms

Your attention, please. On Thursday, Nike revealed its Jordan brand All-Star weekend threads, and the Chicago (transit) influence is strong.

The central theme of the uniforms' collective color scheme are the eight 'L' train lines — a staple of Chicago transit — and each event throughout All-Star weekend will employ a different set. The blue and red uniforms will be worn during the All-Star game itself, the purple and yellows during the Rising Stars Challenge, the green and pinks during the Celebrity Game and the brown and yellows for the Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game.

One thing all the combinations share are six-pointed stars, an allusion to the Chicago flag. In all but the Rising Stars jerseys, the star appears in the middle of the torso, and on the green, pink, brown and yellow jerseys, the trim mirrors the sky blue/red color scheme of the original flag.

Now, for Chicago fans, the only question that remains is whether any Bulls will get a chance to don them. The two best chances: Zach LaVine in a reserve role for the game itself and/or Coby White should he receive an invite to Rising Stars.

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What to watch for: Bulls look to build momentum against struggling Kings

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USA Today

What to watch for: Bulls look to build momentum against struggling Kings

Kings’ last five games (0-5)

  • Jan. 22 — L at Pistons: 127-106

  • Jan. 20 — L at Heat: 118-113 (OT)

  • Jan. 18 — L at Jazz: 123-101

  • Jan. 15 — L vs. Mavericks: 127-123

  • Jan. 13 — L vs. Magic: 114-112

Another struggling squad

On Wednesday, the Bulls (17-29) extended a six-game Timberwolves losing streak to seven. Tonight, they’ll look to do the same to Sacramento (15-29). Once thought of as a viable contender for a playoff spot, the Kings enter play losers of 15 of their last 18 games and ahead of only the 10-36 Warriors in the West — a stretch defined by untimely injuries, chemistry malfunctions and evident lackluster play. 

Also like the Wolves, the Kings are in the midst of an extended road trip — theirs a five-game swing that wraps up Monday in Minnesota. The Bulls pounced on the Timberwolves early on Wednesday, at one point establishing a 19-point second quarter lead and scoring 15 points off of 12 turnovers in the first half. Per Cleaning the Glass, Sacramento owns the ninth-highest turnover rate in the NBA (15%), though they’ve been average in that regard since De’Aaron Fox’s return from injury on Dec. 17. 

Fox missed these teams’ last meeting on Dec. 2, but is averaging 19.7 points and 7.2 assists on 49.8% shooting since coming back; his downhill force and the sharpshooting Buddy Hield will be a handful in the backcourt.

Still, the Kings are a bottom-ten team in net rating, assist and rebound rate, true shooting percentage and pace. And they’re fresh off a 21-point loss to the Pistons sans Andre Drummond, Luke Kennard and Blake Griffin. The Bulls should be able to speed them up and pull this one out — if not, it would be disappointing.

Two thin frontcourts, and Markkanen gaining an edge

Marvin Bagley III (foot sprain) and Richaun Holmes (shoulder soreness) have both already been listed as inactive for Sacramento. That thins the Kings’ frontcourt down to, presumably, a starting pairing of Nemanja Bjelica and the embattled Dewayne Dedmon, with Anthony Tolliver and Harry Giles III off the bench. Harrison Barnes is also capable of filling spot minutes at the four.

The Bulls, of course, are still without Wendell Carter Jr. and Daniel Gafford for the immediate future — Gafford is just over a week into his 2-4 week recovery schedule, Carter two weeks into his 4-6 week timetable. Luke Kornet (averaging 11 points and 1.2 blocks in his last five) and Cristiano Felicio (coming off a double-double) have performed admirably in their stead, but not having to see Bagley or the electric Holmes (13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per game, 66% shooting; 20 points, nine rebounds on Dec. 2) is welcome news, regardless.

Also welcome would be another encouraging Lauri Markkanen performance, which we certainly have a chance for tonight. The Wolves game represented only the sixth time Zach LaVine and Markkanen have both scored 20+ points in the same game. One of the previous five? When the Bulls last faced Sacramento. Markkanen had 20 points and seven rebounds in that victory, a game Bagley also didn’t appear in.

Per Cleaning the Glass, in a limited sample size with both Bagley and Holmes off the floor, the Kings’ allow a suboptimal 111.1 points per 100 possessions and 70.4% shooting at the rim. Get Markkanen on the move and attacking Sacramento’s slow-footed bigs, and we could see another solid outing.

*In my best Jim Mora voice* Playoffs?!

It pains me to even write this (for fear of raising hopes), but with the Nets’ loss to the Lakers last night, the Bulls are somehow only 2.5 games back of the eighth seed in the East.

If a postseason appearance remains a goal for this team — and by all accounts it does — the three-game stretch they’re currently on is pivotal. Between Minnesota (seven), Sacramento (six) and Cleveland (seven) on Saturday, the Bulls have the fortune of facing the teams with the three longest losing streaks in the NBA to close this week out. 

Come Monday, the race for the playoffs could very well be a storyline, even in spite of the team’s current 4-8 record in January. The most pressing implications of that would be on the organization's rationale at the upcoming trade deadline. But, of course, no win is guaranteed with this team — if nothing else, this one will undoubtedly be competitive.

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