Injured Bull Denzel Valentine believes his team’s record is ‘misleading’

SHARE Injured Bull Denzel Valentine believes his team’s record is ‘misleading’
SHARE Injured Bull Denzel Valentine believes his team’s record is ‘misleading’

NEW YORK — Swingman Denzel Valentine knew all too well that the Bulls’ record in the standings wasn’t a misprint.

There’s a reason the team is near the basement, but you shouldn’t judge the Bulls’ talent based on that abysmal 11-40 mark, he said.

“We do have a lot of talent,’’ Valentine said Tuesday. “If we would have started the year off healthy, this would be a much different year than it is right now. I think everything that’s happening right now, the losing, it’s all kind of misleading because we just had so many injuries and changes, coach [Fred Hoiberg fired], everything. Everything going on right now is a little misleading.’’

Valentine, who had season-ending surgery after reinjuring his left ankle in training camp, said there were high hopes in the summer because of how well the group was growing together. Those good vibes were quickly extinguished once camp started, with Valentine and big man Lauri Markkanen (right elbow) going down that first week.

Then point guard Kris Dunn (left knee) and forward Bobby Portis (right knee) were hurt the first week of the regular season and missed significant time.

On Dec. 3, management made the change from Hoiberg to Jim Boylen, and that meant the entire offensive system they had been working on during the summer was scrapped.

“I just think that was a lot of traumatic events,’’ Valentine said. “I mean, to lose four players [Dunn, Markkanen, Portis and Valentine] that were playing last year, playing a lot of minutes last year, who were a part of the plans going into this season, it’s kind of like, ‘Uh, where do we go from here?’ But sometimes things happen that way.

“You learn from them. Just a lot of events that happened that we couldn’t control.’’

Valentine, on the other hand, is trying to control his comeback.

A 2016 first-round pick, he is traveling with the team, continuing his rehab on the ankle and doing everything he can to build his upper-body strength.

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“I feel like I’m definitely part of the team, and it’s definitely frustrating to watch,’’ Valentine said. “I just try to encourage the guys, be positive, as vocal as I can. Sit back and learn, watch, try to make the most of it right now. You can still learn a lot of things and get better when you take a step back.’’

Staying out of it

With the Feb. 7 trade deadline approaching, the Bulls are still trying to move center Robin Lopez and forward Jabari Parker, but, according to a source, there hasn’t been that much interest.

Boylen, meanwhile, is staying in his coaching lane.

“I have not gotten that sense, but I’m focused on coaching the team and supporting our guys, so I haven’t had any conversations that way [Tuesday],’’ Boylen said when asked if he thought the roster could be changing soon.

Boylen, however, did say that he does have discussions with Lopez about the rumors, just to make sure Lopez maintains the right frame of mind.

“I’m sure it’s difficult on [Lopez],’’ Boylen said. “I’ve spoken to him about that. It’s a part of our business. It’s not easy. I think he knows how I feel about him. He’s a professional, a mature guy in a difficult situation. He’s been very professional with me.’’

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