MIAMI — Kris Dunn hasn’t been making this easy.
Months before a coaching change was made and the training room was standing room only with wounded, the Bulls entered fall camp with a simple edict for Dunn: Show us.
Show the organization that he can be a lead point guard in a point guard-driven league. More important, let the Bulls know they can invest in Dunn moving forward.
Apparently, Dunn hasn’t shown enough.
Multiple NBA sources have told the Sun-Times that not only have the Bulls been scouting veteran point guards as the Feb. 7 trade deadline approaches, but they are focusing on veteran point guards who are going to be free agents this offseason and deemed fiscally responsible for some summer shopping, headlined by Ricky Rubio and Darren Collison.
According to one scout, the talk is that Dunn has never been pushed by a proven vet, and that’s exactly what he needs in order to either sink or swim in reaching that next level.
If the Bulls don’t make a trade in the next week, one immediate scenario being weighed is promoting Walter Lemon from the G-League and letting him compete with Dunn. He’s a tough-minded guard that backs down from no one.
The Bulls don’t discuss what they consider outside rumors and didn’t change that stance, but in the case of Dunn they really don’t have to. Their actions say plenty.
Those actions were clear in June, when the Bulls brought in point guard Trae Young for a private workout before the draft, and multiple media outlets – including the Sun-Times – reported that the Bulls were debating between big man Wendell Carter Jr. and point guard Collin Sexton hours before their pick at No. 7.
Young was drafted and traded to Atlanta before falling down to the Bulls, while Sexton went to Cleveland right after the Bulls settled on Carter.
Young is averaging 16.5 points and 7.3 assists for a 16-win Hawks team, Sexton is averaging 14.3 points and just 2.8 assists, shooting 41 percent from the field, for an 11-win Cavaliers team.
And then there’s Dunn.
After a knee injury sidelined him for 24 games at the start of the season, there has been plenty of good — 24 points in the victory over San Antonio and the 17-assist game against Indiana — but also some head-shakingly bad stuff.
Take the loss Tuesday in Brooklyn, where Dunn scored 15 points, but had no assists, no steals and six turnovers.
NBA point guards are quarterbacks, a six-turnover outing is equivalent to a three-interception game. It can’t happen.
What coach Jim Boylen likes about Dunn is he doesn’t hide from bad performances. He’s not delusional about his play.
“He’s one of the most respectful, coachable and for-the-team guys I’ve ever been around at this level and at that position,” Boylen said Thursday. “He wants to lead, he wants to make the correct plays, he wants the team to function well when he’s on the floor. It matters to him. When he doesn’t play well, it bothers him and he doesn’t make excuses.
“When you have that attitude, I have great hope for you to improve.”
But will the Bulls invest in that hope this offseason, when Dunn becomes eligible for an extension? Probably not. What they will likely do is follow the Bobby Portis path with a low-ball offer, and then eventually let the market set the price on Dunn as a restricted free agent.
The nice thing for Dunn is he still has 30 games to change minds this season.