Bulls

Deng at a crossroads with ailing wrist

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Deng at a crossroads with ailing wrist

Its been evident for a while now, from how it affects his ballhandling to his declining rebounding totals. Luol Dengs left wrist is bothering him.

Privately, hell admit it, saying quietly, It hurts, even after wins or nights when he puts up big numbers. But turn on a camera or a tape recorder and hell claim its fine, even with a huge ice pack on it in the locker room.

At least until Thursday night. Dengs numbers five points on 1-for-9 shooting werent strong, but while his versatile, all-around game cant be judged by statistics alone, it was clear that the torn ligaments in his left wrist have taken their toll, as he could be seen conferring with the teams trainers on the sidelines.

I hate talking about my wrist, he began. Im going to talk with the medical staff and Thibs. The past few games, its escalated a little bit. Got to kind of bring it down again. Just managing it the last few games, Ive been trying to avoid it and everything, but its been a tough one.

Deng declined to have surgery to repair the injury and now insists hell stick to that plan, despite the pain he deals with on a daily basis.

I said it from the start: Im not taking that route. I think mostly its going to be rest, but its getting better. Its definitely better than when I first did it and when I first came back, he said. There was a period of time when it felt great. The last I dont know how many games the pain was kind of high again. Just got to kind of control it and monitor it.

On the court, while hes shot the ball well from long range especially in clutch situations and has even had games where his production is obvious, such as back-to-back 20-point, 10-rebound games in Derrick Roses absence, from dribbling the ball with his left hand to snatching rebounds with two hands, the injurys impact on him has been noticeable as of late.

Its a lot of stuff. It is what it is, he acknowledged. Ive just got to find ways to adjust my game. Ive proved that I can play with it. I know I can play with it. Its just that some days its going to feel great, some days its going to feel terrible. Just got to bring it down.

Still, even with the injury, Deng has been able to impact the game as a defender, offensive facilitator and general source of stability for the Bulls, something that hasnt gone unnoticed by his coach.

I dont get wrapped up in the shooting, said Tom Thibodeau. Theres going to be some nights he doesnt shoot it as well, but what we count on him every night is his defense, playmaking, toughness and hes shown he has the capability of playing well when hes not shooting well, as does every player on our team and thats what we have to recognize. When its not going our way, theres still other ways we can help our team and thats what we have to do.

Since the first-time All-Star silently guts it out most of the time, it might come as a surprise to his teammates that the iron man is even considering the possibility of rest to alleviate the pain.

Tonight I think he was grabbing it a little bit, but he still played, said Rose, who has dealt with his own share of ailments this season. I dont really know how hes feeling right now, but I know he should be able to play through it.

Not only will Deng have to play through it for the rest of the regular season and an expected deep playoff run, as the face of Great Britains national team, hell also have to suit up in the Olympics for the host country. But while it wont get easier any time soon, this is a decision he clearly pondered before opting not to have surgery and should be remembered when he endures occasional struggles.

Bulls not a part of Anthony Davis-to-the-Lakers trade, but it could have an effect on the draft

Bulls not a part of Anthony Davis-to-the-Lakers trade, but it could have an effect on the draft

Farewell, Lonzo Ball-to-the-Bulls rumors.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday evening that the Los Angeles Lakers have finally acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, and the deal doesn't include a third team.

In exchange for Davis, a six-time All-Star about to enter his prime, the Pelicans recieved Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and three first round picks, including the No. 4 pick in next week's NBA Draft.

There was some speculation - also reported by Woj - that a third team would need to get involved in order to satisfy what Pelicans GM David Griffin was looking for in a package for Davis.

Though the Bulls were never directly connected in reports as a potential third team, it made sense considering they own the No. 7 pick and have a need at point guard.

There was also some speculation - though, again, never concrete news or reports - that Zach LaVine could have been an option in a deal, with the Bulls acquiring the No. 4 pick.

Alas, the Bulls aren't part of the deal. But it still may have an effect on them.

The Pelicans now own the Nos. 1 and 4 picks in next week's draft. They're obviously going to take Duke forward Zion Williamson with the first pick but now have options at No. 4. Whereas the Lakers had been linked to Vanderbilt poing guard Darius Garland, the Pelicans really don't have a need there with Ball and Jrue Holiday in the backcourt.

That, in theory, could bump Garland down to No. 6 and the Phoenix Suns, which would then free up the Bulls to take North Carolina's Coby White at No. 7.

Wojnarowski also reported that teams are still inquiring about the No. 4 pick from the Pelicans. It's unlikely the Bulls would depart with LaVine though maybe they could put together some sort of package to move up from No. 7.

What's more likely is the Bulls keep their assets intact in such a weak draft class and move forward with the best player available on the board at No. 7.

But it's officially Woj Bomb season, so buckle up. As is the case every NBA offseason, anything can and will happen.

NBC Sports Boston's Trade Bot comes up with Kris Dunn-Terry Rozier trade

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USA TODAY

NBC Sports Boston's Trade Bot comes up with Kris Dunn-Terry Rozier trade

The NBA landscape is getting ready to undergo a dramatic makeover this offseason, with the vast number of free agents and the volatility of the 2019 draft class. While the Bulls and Boston Celtics are two teams that could have much different views of success next season, they also could be ideal trade partners. Our partners at NBC Sports Boston laid out an intriguing trade offer that certainly got Celtics fans talking.

The NBC Sports Boston “Trade Bot 3000” came up with a scenario in which Danny Ainge targets Bulls guard Kris Dunn.

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This does not come as a huge shock, as GM Danny Ainge has had a liking for Dunn’s game dating back to the 2016 NBA Draft, when he reportedly almost traded then-Celtic Isaiah Thomas fior a lottery pick to select Dunn. Of course since then things have changed quite a bit, as Dunn has failed to develop into a real threat from the perimeter and his great defensive effort has been dragged down by foul troubles (4.3 fouls per 36 minutes).

NBC Sports Boston’s Trade Bot pointed out that Boston would be receiving the New London, Connecticut native with a full season before he is set to hit restricted free agency (2020-21). Dunn’s team-friendly contract would make sense for a Celtics team that is unlikely to have any functional cap space this offseason. And even in the event that the Celtics do create near max cap space, that would likely mean that guards Terry Rozier and Kyrie Irving are no longer on the roster.

Dunn would be a solid option as a starter or backup guard for a new-look Celtics squad that would be built around feeding Jayson Tatum plenty of looks, much more than the 13.1 field goal attempts per game that he averaged over the 2018-19 season. Dunn’s usage rate dropped a significant amount last season and his offensive rating improved as a result of him using less possessions. I would expect that trend to continue under Brad Stevens, who would find more creative ways to keep Dunn involved on offense.

It is simple to see how the trade would be appealing from the Bulls perspective. Though incredibly similar prospects, Rozier presents a greater threat from the 3-point line as compared to Dunn.

He is by no means a knockdown shooter, but the fact that “Scary Terry” has taken 6.3 attempts from 3-point range per 36 minutes (for his career per Basketball-Reference)  definitely matters.

Defenses will have to account for Rozier when he is on the floor, making him a nice partner for LaVine on the offensive end of the floor. But again, Rozier would not be a savior at the PG position. He has many of the same flaws as Dunn, such as generating a tremendously low amount of free throw attempts. As we all know, a fresh start can do wonders for a young player and a trade of this nature would allow the Bulls to add Rozier, while giving him the true maximum salary that only the Celtics would be able to offer.

To make matters even better for Chicago, the Bulls would be collecting a second round pick as well for swapping a player on a rookie deal for a player who is due for a significant raise. One last interesting nugget on a possible Dunn-for-Rozier trade is that the two guards are actually one day apart age-wise. They are at a similar stage in their careers/development, to the point where it would be tough to say which team won the trade.

Let us know how you would feel about NBC Sports Boston Trade Bot’s Dunn-for-Rozier swap at @BullsTalk!