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Bulls make it official and sign rookie Denzel Valentine

Plans change.

No team knows that this summer like the Bulls.

When they selected Denzel Valentine 14th overall in the June draft, the feeling right away was the combo guard/small forward was going to be penciled in as a starter. That’s how highly they thought of the 6-foot-6 former Michigan State standout.

Add a Rajon Rondo and a Dwyane Wade, however, and just like that Valentine has gone from projected starter to another player fighting for rotation minutes.

Not that there wasn’t news on Valentine Saturday afternoon, as the Bulls announced they signed their top rookie selection to a contract.

And while Valentine averaged 11.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game through the first four Summer League contests, they didn’t need the 10-day tournament in Las Vegas to show them that Valentine could be something special.

“Great basketball IQ,’’ Summer League teammates Bobby Portis said of Valentine. “Hard-nosed kid who plays hard. He has a lot of talent. The sky is the limit. There were three or four times I could’ve scored [in the first game with him] but I wasn’t looking for the ball when he passed to me. I messed up four assists for him.’’

It’s that play-making ability that has really been on display so far for Valentine.

“I feel like that’s probably one of the best things I can do, make plays anyway,’’ Valentine said. “That’s first, and making shots always comes with that because it opens up the offense for us.’’

Following Summer League, Valentine will work out on Team USA Select, getting ready for fall camp with the Bulls in September.

“In talking to [MSU] Coach Izzo, the thing he talked about the most is that you can play him all over the court,’’ Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said of Valentine. “He’s a facilitator, he’s an excellent positional rebounder, he can bust out with the ball, and he just gives you the opportunity to just play so many ways. He can get into the paint and he’s always going to make the right decision.

“You look at players at the college level, not many of them on a nightly basis are putting up triple-doubles or close to triple-doubles, and Denzel did that. Again, a well-rounded, versatile basketball player that fits perfectly in how we want to play.’’

NOTE: The Bulls did release a statement on the passing of former center Nate Thurmond.

“The entire Chicago Bulls organization was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Bulls center Nate Thurmond today. Our thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to his wife, Marci, and the entire Thurmond family during this difficult time. He will be missed by all.’’