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Bulls coach Jim Boylen wants roster to stay intact as deadline nears

It was another loss to a winning team Monday, and another dismal performance by Lauri Markkanen. And while the big man questioned how he’s being used by his coach, Jim Boylen wants the roster to stay together.

“There are days that we look really good and we play really good basketball, and sometimes we get stagnant,” the Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen said. “Just have to figure out what it is and make it consistent.”
“There are days that we look really good and we play really good basketball, and sometimes we get stagnant,” the Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen said. “Just have to figure out what it is and make it consistent.”
Aaron Gash/AP

MILWAUKEE — In the next week or so, coach Jim Boylen expects those roster conversations he has with his front office to get tougher.

The Feb. 6 trade deadline is drawing closer, and he has been around long enough to know the business of basketball isn’t always pleasant.

Boylen, however, surprisingly insisted that he wants the current band to stay intact.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Boylen said. “I’ve said before that we have a hardworking, high-character group of guys who are willing to be coached and willing to work. That’s a credit to them. Those are things I think are important.”

They might be important, but the team keeps losing.

With the 111-98 loss to the Bucks on Monday, the Bulls are 16-29, including 1-18 against teams that are .500 or better.

“I’m not a fool to think we don’t discuss things and things don’t come up and people don’t call us,” Boylen said of the trade discussions. “That’s part of the league.

“We have not discussed a whole bunch of that yet. I think there will be an opportunity to do that. I’m sure people are calling us. That’s how the league works. I’m sure in the next five to seven days, we’ll sit down and talk about it, see what’s coming in and where it’s at. We’re going to try to focus on winning games and playing good basketball.

“Those things are where my focus is.”

Like a bad script being played out over and over again, the Bulls played well against the Bucks in the first half but were outplayed, outcoached and outhustled in the second half.

A one-point deficit, 53-52, was increased to 16 in the third quarter. There were a few body blows thrown by the visiting team in the fourth quarter, but they did little damage.

The Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

For the Bulls, Zach LaVine had 24 points, but Lauri Markkanen put on another disappearing act, scoring only eight points and shooting 2-for-11 from the field.

Markkanen was asked if he’s being used correctly in this offense.

“There are days that we look really good and we play really good basketball, and sometimes we get stagnant,” Markkanen said. “Just have to figure out what it is and make it consistent.

“If you shoot the ball like [I have], you don’t really deserve touches. I can’t really complain. A lot of our plays, I screen and screen-pop.”

That seemingly has turned Markkanen into nothing more than a spot-up shooter, and he agreed with that assessment.

“Yeah, I think I can do a lot of good things besides just shoot threes,” Markkanen said.

“I haven’t really been able to do that lately. Just have to figure out the way I can attack the rim more and get to the free-throw line.’’

Markkanen said he has talked to Boylen about it, and it’s up to him to make the plays when they’re called for him.

Boylen said he’ll continue to try to get Markkanen going, and he still believes in him.

“I know he cares,” Boylen said. “Our team believes in him. Do I believe in him? Yeah, I believe in him.”