Bulls won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day anytime soon

The Bulls’ first-round pick in the 2016 draft missed all of last season after having ankle surgery, and the team wasted no time moving him back on the depth chart and out of the rotation. Are his days with the organization numbered?

SHARE Bulls won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day anytime soon

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bulls guard Shaquille Harrison’s injured hamstring is behind him. He is healthy and even earned some minutes Friday against the Grizzlies.

Forward Chandler Hutchison’s injured hamstring is close to healed. He continued taking contact in practice, even playing four-on-four at the end of the Bulls’ off-day workout Thursday in Memphis.

Just like that, swingman Denzel Valentine is about to see two more players cut in front of him in line.

‘‘It’s very difficult because you never know what’s going to happen, but it’s the business, it’s the game,’’ Valentine said when he was asked about being told he was out of the rotation. ‘‘I’ve just gotta do what I’ve gotta do, you know? Be a great teammate, be healthy and just try and get my work in whenever I can.’’

That’s not easy for Valentine, who was the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. His time with the Bulls has been a roller coaster, but he has had far more downs than ups recently.

After playing in 77 games (37 as a starter) in 2017-18, Valentine appeared to fit the role of a three-point threat off the bench, as well as a versatile playmaker. But ankle surgery cost him all of last season, and the Bulls wasted little time moving on without him.

The Bulls drafted Hutchison in 2018, traded for forward Otto Porter Jr. last season, then drafted combo guard Coby White in June. All those players have pushed Valentine deeper down the depth chart.

Coach Jim Boylen gave Valentine plenty of minutes in the preseason, but it became clear he didn’t consider him a rotation player. Valentine didn’t play in the regular-season opener Wednesday against the Hornets or Friday against the Grizzlies.

Boylen recently talked about his rotation again and said it would be difficult to get Harrison and Hutchison playing time, considering he already was going with a 10-man rotation.

‘‘It’s hard to play 12 guys; it’s hard,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘Is there a situation we can do that? Back-to-back, tough stretch, maybe. But 11 is hard, let alone 12. We’ll just work our way through it as we go. Some of it is gut [decision], feel; some of it is necessity.’’

Not once did Boylen mention Valentine.

So what’s does Valentine’s future hold? The Bulls could hold on to him all season and then decide to rescind his qualifying offer, but they likely will look to deal him.

Valentine knows his time with the Bulls might be running out, but he’s not dwelling on it.

‘‘I just try and control what I can control, which is putting the work in every day and staying ready, being a good teammate,’’ Valentine said. ‘‘Whatever happens, happens. But that’s out of my control right now, so I can’t worry about that.’’

Load management

Boylen said last week that Porter’s playing time would be managed better this season, with the hope of keeping him out of the training room and on the court.

What that means in terms of minutes is keeping Porter near 24 in the first game of back-to-backs, such as Friday against the Grizzlies. The Bulls play their home opener Saturday against the Raptors.

‘‘That’s what’s best for him and that’s what’s best for the team, which is also best for him,’’ Boylen said of the Bulls’ thinking.

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