Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson doesn’t want to see a hint of complacency in the Bulls’ locker room.
He isn’t — at least for now.
‘‘You should be frustrated,’’ guard Zach LaVine said of the Bulls’ 19-34 record. ‘‘If you’re not frustrated, that means you don’t care. I hope everybody is frustrated.’’
When should Paxson start getting concerned about the makeup of his locker room, coaching staff included? When that frustration turns to numbness. When losing becomes acceptable.
That all might be tested very soon.
The Bulls have a two-game road trip — against the 76ers on Sunday and the Wizards on Tuesday — to navigate before getting a breather for the NBA All-Star break. The 76ers are 23-2 at home, and the Wizards just moved ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bulls might have to play those games without a questionable LaVine, who hasn’t missed a game all season but was held out of practice Saturday with a stiff neck.
‘‘The last thing you’d want is for guys to get comfortable in that [losing] environment,’’ Paxson said. ‘‘I know Zach has been frustrated; all of them have. [Forward] Thad [Young] gets frustrated as a vet, and we all are. We have to keep the long term in mind in terms of how our young guys get better and how they develop. That’s going to be the key to our future.’’
It’s the immediate future Paxson is counting on. With the Bulls standing pat at the trade deadline Thursday, Paxson said the critical point will come at the end of February or the beginning of March, when several core players should be back from injury.
Big men Lauri Markkanen (right pelvis) and Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) and forward Otto Porter Jr. (left foot) barely have played together since Porter was acquired at the trade deadline last season. By that time, Carter already had been shut down for the season because of thumb surgery, and Markkanen soon would follow with a rapid heart rate.
While the Bulls standing pat at the deadline didn’t sit well with a majority of the fan base, Paxson explained the decision was based on further evaluation of what the team has and what it still needs.
‘‘Obviously, we need to get Lauri and Wendell back,’’ Paxson said. ‘‘Those are two cornerstones to determine where we’re at and how we’re going.’’
After the All-Star break, the Bulls have a chance to add to the victory column with five consecutive winnable games, including four at home against the Hornets, Suns, Wizards and Thunder. After a quick trip to New York to end the month, the Bulls had better be at close to full strength to tackle a rugged March that includes games against the Heat (twice), Mavericks, Pacers, Celtics, Rockets, Nuggets, 76ers and Jazz.
‘‘The amount of trauma that this team has faced is unusual,’’ coach Jim Boylen said of the injuries. ‘‘It’s a drain on everyone. We have to fight through it in this moment. We’ll evaluate when we get a chance to evaluate. In the meantime, we have to continue to develop and play competitive basketball.’’