Kris Dunn’s resurgence could come at a price for Bulls
The fourth-year guard will be a restricted free agent this summer, and the Bulls will have to weigh his value on both ends before deciding what type of commitment they want to give him.
The demise of Bulls guard Kris Dunn once again has been highly exaggerated.
That’s nothing unusual for him. It’s just another reminder that the self-proclaimed “dawg’’ in the yard doesn’t back down from adversity. When push comes to shove, he’ll bite.
“He’s a freaking dawg,” teammate Zach LaVine told reporters when discussing Dunn over the weekend. “He’s not scared of nothing. He’s going to talk his stuff. He’s one of the best defenders out there. He takes that challenge. He brings an energy and toughness to the team. He’ll even talk to me if I’m doing something wrong. He’ll pick me up and get me going. I love everything that he does.”
The Bulls might have to determine Dunn’s value in the marketplace soon.
At 25 years old and nearing the end of his rookie contract, Dunn will be a restricted free agent after this season, his fourth in the NBA.
That means the Bulls must put a value on a point guard who is not a great shooter (22.7 percent from three-point range this season), not a great decision-maker — although the numbers are vastly better in that department this season — and not even a starter.
But he terrorizes the opposition on defense.
Dunn began the season on the bench before injuries to Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison forced him into the starting lineup.
He leads the Bulls in steals with two per game and was near the top of the league in deflections per game.
And he has added more tangible results to his resume this season.
In two meetings with Hawks scoring dynamo Trae Young, Dunn has held him to 7-for-26 shooting, including 1-for-14 from three. Against Jimmy Butler a few weeks ago, Dunn held him to 3-for-14 shooting, including 0-for-5 from three.
The Bulls simply have been a better team since Dunn became a starter. He and Wendell Carter Jr. give the Bulls a defensive presence they haven’t had in at least three years.
“I’m big on defense, and I take pride on it,” Dunn said. “Wendell, he’s a good defender, he takes pride in it, so when you’ve got two guys who really take pride on their defense …”
The last 10 games happen.
In that span, the Bulls are .500, and Dunn is one of the reasons why. He’s averaging 8.8 points, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals while shooting 45.5 percent from the field.
“He helps us get organized at both ends,” coach Jim Boylen. “He’s a great communicator. He’s one of the top defenders in the league. He’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate to me. He takes the challenge, moves to the next play.
“He has improved at the offensive end. His decision-making has improved. And he’s becoming a complete player. But his spirit and his understanding of his role and job in that lineup is what makes it for us.”
All of this for a guy who was told at the end of last season that his services as a starter were no longer needed, and has been used as trade bait since the middle of the 2018-19 campaign.
So has Dunn resurrected his career? It’s safe to say yes, considering what he has done this season.
But that resurgence will come with a cost, and the Bulls will have a final say in what they think that cost should be.