Bad news keeps piling up for Bulls as trade deadline approaches

Guard Kris Dunn is sidelined for at least two weeks, the trade talks are minimal, and they only had eight healthy bodies to practice with Tuesday.

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The Bulls’ Kris Dunn is helped off the court after being injured during the game against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in New York.

The Bulls’ Kris Dunn is helped off the court after being injured during the game against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in New York.

Frank Franklin II/AP

The Bulls’ “Run With Us” slogan died a quick death months ago when forward Otto Porter Jr. played just nine games before he was sidelined with a fractured left foot.

Guard Zach LaVine may have found a solid replacement slogan — though it doesn’t exactly sell tickets.

“Nothing has been easy for us this year,’’ LaVine said Tuesday, minutes after a shortened practice in which the Bulls had just eight healthy bodies.

Print it. Throw it on T-shirts, posters and any other goods the Bulls (19-33) can peddle as attendance dwindles at the United Center. Nothing has been easy, and it doesn’t sound as if there will be any relief by the NBA’s trade deadline Thursday.

“It’s very quiet in the league in general,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen said when asked about any trade-related meetings he has had with the front office since Monday. “It seems to be the whole league, for the most part, is standing pat at the moment. I think you always listen, but as far as activity, not a whole bunch has been expressed to me.”

While deadline activity is always fluid, the Bulls aren’t in much of a position to flip this roster through trades anyway. A few weeks ago, there had been some initial interest in forward Thaddeus Young and guard Denzel Valentine. Guard Kris Dunn, who, like Valentine, will be a restricted free agent this summer, had been another possible trade candidate, but any hopes of moving Dunn collapsed Friday night when he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the opening minute against the Nets. He’ll sit for at least the next two weeks, then will be re-evaluated and given an update timetable for a return. The last time Dunn messed up his right MCL, it cost him 23 games, so history isn’t on his side.

“I don’t want to say we’re used to playing undermanned, but it’s almost like we are,” LaVine said. “It just sucks for K.D. He’s been having a really good year, leading the league in steals and things like that. It’s tough.

“We’ve got to keep moving forward. It’s not going to get easier. Teams aren’t going to be like, ‘Oh, let’s take a break because they’re injured.’ We’ve got to go out there and play. We have to have dudes step up in multiple ways.”

Dunn joins big men Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle), Lauri Markkanen (right pelvis) and Porter as key bodies on the shelf — which means even more pressure for LaVine.

Not that he’s spotlight-shy. Still feeling the sting of missing out on playing in front of a home crowd at the All-Star Game on Feb. 16, LaVine accepted an invitation for the Three-Point Shootout over All-Star weekend. (He’llpass on going for his third Slam Dunk Contest title.)

“If I made the All-Star Game, I would’ve felt a lot better about doing the dunk contest,” LaVine said.

As LaVine starts prepping for the shootout, Boylen is doing what he can to help.

“I can’t give away [all] my secrets,’’ the coach said. “I talked to our equipment guys three weeks ago and had them order the same ball racks they use [for the shootout]. Stuff like that. Same ball racks. Where do you put your money balls? What side do you grab the ball from? There’s a lot to it. What side of the floor do you grab the ball from? I think I was with [Marco] Belinelli when he won it [in San Antonio]. So I was a part of that preparation for him.”

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