Is Dunn Done?
When Derrick Rose was named the NBA MVP in the spring of 2011 at the age of 22, it looked like the Bulls had solved the point guard position until 2020. Instead, his string of devastating injuries left him a shell of his former self, and Chicago with a hole they’ve been unable to fill.
Tom Thibodeau was able to work around it, with a willing ball-handler in Jimmy Butler, and quick-fix ex-stars like Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, but the failure of Butler-trade-centerpiece Kris Dunn has really set the franchise back.
The Bulls are an emerging team with playoff hopes who need a starting-caliber player to perform at the PG spot. Dunn has yet to be that player, so where does that leave him this year? There are only three options to explore for his future: start him, bench him, or trade him.
This is surely the least-likely option for the Bulls. The front office has openly criticized Dunn and made clear moves to replace his minutes. Dunn could perhaps force his way into the starting line up by outshining free agent addition Tomas Satoransky and lottery pick Coby White in training camp and in the preseason, but even with a better performance to start the year, it seems unlikely that the Bulls would trust Dunn with the keys to the car.
The Bulls have seen almost 100 games of Dunn (98 to be exact) and his 12.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists haven’t inspired a ton of confidence. Those aren’t terrible numbers, but seeing as he led the team to 27 and 22 wins the last two seasons, depths the Bulls haven’t seen since the post-Jordan lean years at the turn of the millenium, the Bulls likely want new.
As a result, this seems like the best option for the Bulls. Some time on the bench could motivate Dunn to work harder and prove himself as the best point guard on the roster. Start Satoransky, use White as the back-up, and see how Dunn responds. If one of the two new additions get hurt, Dunn is back into valuable minutes and demonstrating his ability to the rest of the NBA. At just 25 years of age, Dunn could still have 10 years left in the NBA. 12-4-6 are overqualified numbers for a back-up PG, even if they’re mediocre for a starter.
This seems to be the hope of most Bulls fans. The locals are high on incoming rookie Coby White, and with the addition of Tomas Satoransky, Dunn has become an afterthought. As a result, a lot of fans want to cash in on Dunn. The problem is, there isn’t much to cash in on.
The Bulls could hang onto Dunn until the trade deadline in hopes that he becomes a more meaningful asset, but at what cost? Satoransky seems to be the starting PG going into the year, and if the Bulls intend to push for a playoff spot they won’t want to tinker with their starting lineup too much. If Dunn backs him up, he cuts into valuable developmental minutes for White.
What is a reasonable trade that headlines Kris Dunn? He was the nominal centerpiece of the trade that sent Jimmy Butler out, but he wouldn’t get anyone close to Butler in return. A second rounder and cash considerations? Another prospect who hasn’t quite worked out? None of these possibilities help the Bulls’ bottom line. The Bulls would hate to get nothing, but at this point there aren’t many good options.
Benching Kris Dunn is likely the best of them.