Bulls coach Jim Boylen thinks team in tough spot as trade deadline approaches
With so many injuries this season, the evaluation process has taken a hit. That has to be considered as the Bulls near the trade deadline.
TORONTO — Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson has shown extreme patience in Year 3 of the Bulls’ rebuild.
General manager Gar Forman’s powers have been somewhat neutered throughout the season, but he still has a seat at the table when it comes to decision-making.
Both men are going to have to earn their money this week.
The Bulls fell to 19-33 with a 129-102 loss Sunday to the Raptors and have no games left before the trade deadline Thursday. Yes, they are still in striking distance of a playoff spot with one good week, but how often have they put together a good week this season?
The Bulls are 1-20 against teams with .500-or-better records, and it isn’t like their schedule after the deadline is an easy one. That leaves Paxson, Forman and coach Jim Boylen just a few days to meet, discuss the roster and decide which pieces are expendable and whether there’s a market for them.
That will be no easy task, considering all the injuries the Bulls have suffered this season. It has been hard to judge value and development when the players have been in the training room far too often.
‘‘I think in general — not talking about the trade deadline — when you’re in a season where you’d like to win and compete for the playoffs and you’d like to develop, your evaluations are difficult when guys don’t play together and guys are injured,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘To me, that’s more of the issue than maybe the trade deadline.’’
Bulls players will have Monday off, but Boylen won’t have that luxury. He said he expects more organizational discussions to take place, with further decisions about who’s a movable asset and who isn’t.
‘‘We’ll discuss everything that’s out there,’’ Boylen said.
But even if the Bulls deem certain pieces, such as forward Thaddeus Young or swingman Denzel Valentine, to be movable, the market has to want players like that.
There have been multiple reports that trade talks involving star players have been slow because of all the big contracts signed last offseason and the down free-agent market this upcoming summer. But Boylen said he thought that might change as Thursday nears.
‘‘I’m sure it will pick up,’’ he said. ‘‘Everybody will be involved, and we’ll do what’s best for our team and what’s best for our guys.’’
The Bulls made 11 three-pointers in the first half and led 63-60 at the break Sunday, but the Raptors outscored them 35-22 in the third quarter and 34-17 in the fourth to win going away.
The only excitement late came courtesy of a timeout Boylen called with 1:04 left and the Bulls trailing by 25. Cameras caught guard Zach LaVine looking disgusted and mouthing, ‘‘Why?’’
Boylen explained afterward he was trying to get a play called for little-used Adam Mokoka for ‘‘developmental’’ purposes.
‘‘If I can endure the last minute, the last timeout, and coach my team, I think the other team can, too,’’ Boylen said.
As for this road trip, the Bulls played three teams in the playoff picture and went 0-3. As though they needed another reminder to try to sell by Thursday.
‘‘When opportunity knocks, you’ve got to open the door,’’ LaVine said of the trip. ‘‘We just stood there. Might have jiggled the handle a little bit, but that’s about it.’’