Injury to Kris Dunn might have major implications for Bulls’ trade plans
With the trade deadline Thursday and the heart of the defense expected to miss at least some time with an injury to his right knee, the Bulls have to balance some tough decisions about their roster against the reality of a playoff push.
TORONTO — Bulls veteran Thaddeus Young thought he had seen almost everything in his 13 NBA seasons.
That changed in 13 seconds Friday.
The play in question happened on the first possession of the game against the Nets in New York. Young did everything right by drawing a charge, then things went terribly wrong. As Young fell back, his head hit the right knee of guard Kris Dunn, sending him down to the court in obvious pain.
The Bulls said Saturday that Dunn flew back to Chicago to have an MRI exam and get a detailed diagnosis from team doctors.
Even if it is only a sprain, which is the best-case scenario, losing Dunn for any amount of time could be an organization-changer, especially with the trade deadline Thursday.
Young knows he’s a player the Bulls might be looking to deal.
‘‘I try not to worry about those things,’’ Young said after practice Saturday. ‘‘I try to continue to come and hoop, whether I’m playing for the Bulls or playing for any other organization. Whatever organization I’m playing for, that’s who I’m family with. That’s who I’m going to play for, and that’s who I’m ready to play for.
‘‘If they have to make a business decision, I understand what it is. I’ve been in the game for a long time. I understand organizations have to make changes and business decisions. When you get into a situation and your back is against the wall, you have to learn how to pivot.’’
The Bulls were already without big men Lauri Markkanen (right pelvis) and Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) and forward Otto Porter Jr. (left foot). Rookie big man Daniel Gafford (right thumb) went through a full-contact practice in Toronto and might return Sunday.
Still, the injury to Dunn was a punch in the gut — not only because of how it happened but also because of whom it happened to.
‘‘That’s definitely a first for me,’’ Young said. ‘‘I think the only time I’ve seen something that’s happened like that is [Pacers big man] Myles [Turner] stepped on a ball and rolled his ankle before the game started and couldn’t play. But other than that, I’ve never seen that before.
‘‘It’s just an unfortunate situation for us and for him and for the team. We’ve gotta continue to keep moving and keep him in our prayers and hope for a speedy recovery.’’
That opinion was shared by coach Jim Boylen, who has done his best to change the Bulls’ identity this season into one of a defensive-minded team. Dunn is the poster boy of that philosophy, playing at a level that many think should earn him All-Defensive honors.
‘‘It would be wrong of me not to talk about this, too: He brings other things that maybe you don’t see on the floor,’’ Boylen said of Dunn. ‘‘He’s a great teammate; he relishes in his teammates’ success. He’s a vocal part of our meal room, our meetings, our video. He helps us learn and grow, so we’re going to miss him on a lot of levels.’’
That’s why this latest loss to the roster should be a reality check for the Bulls. It might be time to hit the sell button.
‘‘The health of our team, our future development, our current ability to fight for the playoffs, we’ll take all that into account,’’ Boylen said of the expected meetings that will happen this week.
A player such as Young or swingman Denzel Valentine might be directly affected by those meetings.
‘‘For me, if I’m traded or I’m here, whatever it is, I’m prepared for it,’’ Young said.