Bulls battling injuries as road trip comes to an end

Bulls battling injuries as road trip comes to an end

MINNEAPOLIS— The Bulls’ puzzling loss to the Phoenix Suns cost them more than just another game they couldn’t afford to lose as Dwyane Wade sustained a wrist injury that will cause him to miss Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves along with Jimmy Butler’s right heel not quite being ready for game action.

The Bulls started Michael Catrer-Williams, Jerian Grant, Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez against the Timberwolves as Nikola Mirotic was also out with back spasms and Paul Zipser was at the team hotel with an illness.

Wade was initially deemed questionable on the injury report and Fred Hoiberg didn’t know Wade’s status during his media availability, but it changed nearly moments are Hoiberg finished up.

Wade didn’t need to go through warm-ups, as he fell on both wrists in the loss to the Suns in an awkward play. Considering he broke his wrist once before in his career, he was a little concerned it could be something serious.

“I went up for the ball, and I think I actually got the foul, but I hit my body and I came down on both hands,” Wade said. “I’ve done that before and I actually broke my wrist before falling that way, so I was kind of nervous. Had a flashback.”

He continued to play but it was clear his right wrist took the brunt of the force and it looked swollen Sunday afternoon.

“It’s funny because the left one was hurting and then after the game the right one was the one that took over,” Wade said. “Yeah, I didn’t even do that (shoot around). You can look at it. It ain’t right. I can’t bend it either way, so I’m just going to get X-rays on it for now, see what the X-rays show, and then if I feel like I need an MRI when we get back to the city, then I’ll do that. It’s moreso the hand than the wrist, I think.”

Wade doesn’t think he’ll have to be shut down before the All-Star break, with the Bulls having games Tuesday and Thursday night before taking a week off. One wonders if it’ll be the best course of action for the 35-year old, as the Bulls could still be trying for a playoff berth when play reconvenes.

[MORE: Dwyane Wade sends out support for Charles Oakley]

As for Butler, the Bulls are taking it day to day, but Hoiberg wouldn’t concede or entertain the possibility of him coming back too soon. Butler was clearly sore after the game Friday night and with a couple games left before the break, how the Bulls handle this could be critical.

Butler practiced in Oakland a day before the Suns game and at times looked pretty healthy but admitted it was hard to push off his right foot during the game and had his foot wrapped up in the locker room.

“It was a little worse after the game,” Hoiberg said. “After the practice, as expected, he had a little bit of soreness in there. We warmed him up before the Phoenix game and he said he was ready to go.

“We talked to the medical guys. They were comfortable with him playing. And then obviously after the first game action since he has had the heel pain, he woke up with pretty significant soreness. With the afternoon game today, give him two days rest and then we’ll make the determination about Toronto.”

How Bulls’ Kris Dunn carved out NBA niche in resurgent 2019-20 season

USA Today

How Bulls’ Kris Dunn carved out NBA niche in resurgent 2019-20 season

NBC Sports Chicago is breaking down the 15 full-time players on the Bulls' roster. Next up is Kris Dunn.

Past: Zach LaVine | Coby White | Tomas Satoransky

2019-20 Stats

7.3 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.0 SPG | 44.4% FG, 25.9% 3P, 74.1% FT | 14.5% USG

Contract Breakdown

Age: 26

July 2016: Dunn signed a 4-year, $17,488,287 rookie-scale contract with Minnesota Timberwolves

2020-21: RFA (QO: $7,091,457)

(via Spotrac)


Seeing the ball, attacking the ball and stealing the ball. At 6-foot-3 with a 6-9 wingspan, Dunn doesn’t discriminate when it comes to ripping opponents — he owns the length and physicality to swallow up guards and hang with wings of all shapes and sizes. In 2019-20, amplified by defensive schemes that demanded aggressive blitzing in pick-and-roll scenarios, Dunn currently sits tied for second in the NBA in steals per game, seventh in steal rate (34.1%) and fourth in deflections per game (3.7)… All in spite of logging only 24.9 minutes per contest across 50 games.

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And even in an underwhelming team-wide season, Dunn’s contributions were impactful. The Bulls were 6.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively in 2019-20 with Dunn on the floor than off, and played their best basketball after he was inserted into the small forward slot of the starting lineup on Nov. 29 with injuries to Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison, going 7-7 in December and bumping their defensive rating to as high as second in the NBA. He was an anchor for a squad that turned opponents over — and scored off said turnovers — at a higher rate than any team in the league by a wide margin.

Most importantly for Dunn, he found his niche, despite coming off an offseason littered with trade rumors. He’s a ball hawk and a bonafide perimeter stopper at a level few in the NBA can boast. A legitimate All-Defense candidate. Just ask Trae Young, Paul George or anyone else that had the misfortune of happening across his path this season.

Areas to Improve

Dunn is a serviceable playmaker in spurts, and actually improved his finishing drastically this season on cut-back volume. But for him to ascend from defensive specialist to truly valuable role player on a winning team, he’s got to find a jump shot.

It’s not just that in 2019-20, he regressed from a 32.3% career mark from 3-point range to 25.9% (24.1% on NBA.com-defined “wide open” long-balls). It’s that other teams stopped treating him as an even marginal threat from outside, opting instead to sag off, hone in on other creators (read: Zach LaVine), and muck up driving and passing lanes. It’s a testament to just how great Dunn’s defense is that he’s still an impactful NBA player at his position despite that deficiency. But no matter how stingy a defender Dunn is, it’s hard to survive in the modern NBA with more than one non-shooter on the floor.

Ceiling Projection

Exiting his rookie contract, Dunn is 26 and coming off a sprained MCL sustained Jan. 31. He'll be a restricted free agent when the offseason begins, but due to his mixed bag of attributes and the Bulls' uncertain position, the market for his services is unclear

As for his individual ceiling: Any point guard of the future premonitions have passed in Chicago. And that’s OK. If he can pull off a Marcus Smart-ian turn as a long-range shooter to at or close to league average, it doesn’t feel outlandish that Dunn could compete for All-Defense consideration as a reserve on a good-to-great team through his prime.


Bulls' Jim Boylen believes he's forming strong relationship with new regime

Bulls' Jim Boylen believes he's forming strong relationship with new regime

In his first public comments on the Bulls' new front office, coach Jim Boylen believes he's forming a strong initial relationship with executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley.

"The relationship has gone really well," Boylen told Jack Doles of WOOD-TV, an NBC affiliate in the coach's hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., with a question and local angle given to Doles by sister station WGN-Ch. 9 in Chicago. "We communicate every day. I think they understand where we were, what we're trying to get to. They've been very supportive and collaborative. It's a process to build this team into what it can be. I just like the fact that we have a relationship already. It's never perfect. Nothing's perfect. You just work at it. Tell the truth. You get your guys to play hard. That's what we're trying to do."


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Boylen spoke after giving a speech at a Unity in the Community event in Grand Rapids in which he continued to show support for social justice and addressing racial inequity. Last month, Boylen participated with Wendell Carter Jr. and other Bulls staffers in a Juneteenth march in Grant Park. And Karnisovas said on a conference call with reporters that Boylen has been vocal in team Zoom discussions on the issues.

"I just think we have to tell the truth. We can't cover things up. We've made mistakes. We've got to own up to those mistakes," Boylen told the Grand Rapids TV station. "It's a difficult time. It's raw right now and it should be. I'm just hoping we can use this moment to be better, all of us."

As for Boylen's future, Karnisovas has empowered Boylen for now, although plenty of speculation about his long-term fit exists. Karnisovas has asked for Boylen's input on player development strategies and potential hires in that department. The front office and coaching staff also have had multiple meetings about the current roster as well as draft and free agency discussions.

Publicly, Karnisovas has made it clear he wants to get to know Boylen and his staff and also watch him in action before making a decison on his future. The NBA and NBPA are discussing possible holding a second so-called "bubble" for the eight teams, including the Bulls, not invited to the NBA's restart in Orlando, Fla. That bubble almost certainly would take place in Chicago and would give Boylen and his staff an opportunity to work in a developmental phase with players for Karnisovas and Eversley to view.

Boylen and his staff are operating as if they'll return for the 2020-21 season, which is how coaches are wired. Boylen has two years remaining on his deal and has a strong relationship with ownership.

"We have a young team," Boylen told the Grand Rapids TV station. "We were 23 1/2 years old. We had an injury-laden season. We need to play. We need to compete. We played very hard. We were a hard-playing team, but we want to keep that edge going into next year. It's hard to do that without the competition part of it. We're hoping we can have some of that."