True to his word in February, April and May, Bulls VP John Paxson overhauled the point guard position this summer. He and the Bulls drafted for need with the seventh overall pick and grabbed North Carolina's Coby White, and a week later pounced on a sign-and-trade for Wizards point guard Tomas Satoransky on Day 2 of free agency. They also signed Ryan Arcidiacono to a three-year, $9 million deal as bench depth after the second-year guard led the Bulls in games played and win shares.
Naturally, the conversation in early July shifted to what the Bulls would do with the struggling Kris Dunn. The 25-year-old was never brought up in any mention of the young core and seemingly is on the outside of the rotation looking in.
The Bulls have been shopping Dunn this summer, with one option being a sign-and-trade with the Grizzlies for Justin Holiday. Memphis instead opted to (wisely) throw a big offer sheer at Tyus Jones that the Timberwolves did not match, thus taking that proposed offer off the table.
And it's getting late now. Trades happen in August, to be sure, but in a point guard-driven league, there's no team that really fits the bill of needing a point guard like Dunn. So many have come off the board in free agency - plus the nine taken in the draft - that it's tough to find a fit that makes sense.
Which is why, for now, the Bulls should hang on to Dunn. Here's why:
1. His trade value is non-existent
2. He's played well without Zach LaVine
3. Coby White isn't ready
1. Dunn's trade value is non-existent
The Bulls still need to shed one player from their roster by Opening Night, and it's likely that one of Dunn or Antonio Blakeney will be the one to go. So there is something to be said for simply dealing Dunn to the highest bidder.
The issue is that the bidding doesn't seem all that high. If a sign-and-trade for Holiday (who wound up signing with the Pacers) was the best the Bulls could do three weeks ago, the price hasn't gone up since.
And it's not surprising. Dunn is no longer "a former top-5 pick" with potential. He's 25 years old and heading into a contract year (his qualifying offer next year is $7.1 million).
He was also one of the league's worst starters once the calendar flipped to 2019. Beginning with a Jan. 11 game against the Warriors through the end of the season, Dunn struggled mightily. His effective field goal percentage of 42.9% was 166th of 166 players who averaged 25 or more minutes in that span. His true shooting percentage of 45.5% was 166th, too. His individual net rating (-8.2) was 152nd and his Player Impact Estimate, per NBA.com, was 153rd.
Dunn's defensive numbers took a hit last season, too, so he really doesn't even have that aspect of his game to hang his hat on. NBA GMs around the league are certainly aware of this, too.
Dunn's trade value has nowhere to go but up. The good news is....
2. Dunn has played well without Zach LaVine
Satoransky is almost certain to start for the Bulls on Opening Night - he was excellent in 54 starts for the Wizards last season and fits what the Bulls are trying to do - which means Dunn would move to a reserve role for the first time in his Bulls career.
That means he'd play fewer minutes next to ball-dominant Zach LaVine. That move would allow Dunn to spread his wings more with the ball in his hands, working pick-and-roll action with Daniel Gafford and Thaddeus Young where Dunn is most comfortable.
Dunn's splits in games with and without LaVine are staggering - read the entire piece here. When LaVine sits, Dunn averages more points, assists, drives and passes. He shoots nearly 5 percentage points better on three more attempts, gets to the line more often and does so in the same amount of minutes.
It's worth seeing what Dunn can do on the second unit with the ball in his hands and a chip on his shoulder. Dunn's trade value gets a bump if he's able to produce in a reserve role. Past production shows it's possible if his minutes are staggered away from LaVine's.
3. Coby White isn't ready
There isn't any real downside to tossing a rookie into the fire in the NBA, especially on a 22-win team that isn't exactly ready to contend.
That being said, the Bulls have admitted they're going to take their time with White after his up-and-down Las Vegas Summer League performance.
Dunn averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 assists but struggled with his efficiency, shooting 36% and making 3 of 26 triples while turning it over 4.0 times per game.
White might not be ready for 25-28 minutes per game right now, and that's not a problem for a 19-year-old who is more shooting guard than point guard right now. The Bulls can move White along at a slower, more desired pace with Dunn in the fold.
Just because he couldn't cut it as a starter doesn't mean Dunn has no value. Remember that group of 166 players? Dunn was 37th in assist percentage and 36th in assist-to-turnover ratio in that same span. The Bulls could do worse behind Satoransky. Plus, White could see some minutes off the ball alongside Dunn, same as Arcidiacono.