With NBA teams preparing for trade deadline, all is quiet with Bulls
With several teams shutting down veteran trade pieces, action might start picking up. But Bulls coach Billy Donovan says he hasn’t had any such conversations with his bosses.
The NBA trade deadline is still more than five weeks away.
The posturing, however, has begun.
The Cavaliers and Pistons have shut down veterans Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, respectively, as they explore trade options or possible buyouts, and the rumor mill has started to churn throughout the league.
But one team still seemingly immune from that, despite some attractive pieces that could be moved, is the Bulls.
According to coach Billy Donovan, his conversations with executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas have been about the current roster and the last player he spoke with about roster security was forward Lauri Markkanen.
‘‘The only conversation I had with anybody about that was Lauri when that extension [talk] kind of came and went [in December],’’ Donovan said Monday. ‘‘I was not so much talking to him about what had happened, but I just wanted to make sure he was in a good place to go out and play because we were just kind of right at the end of the preseason. I have not had any players come to me and talk to me about that.’’
One of the main reasons those concerns haven’t reached Donovan is because of veterans such as forward Thad Young and guard Garrett Temple, who are sounding boards for the young players to discuss their questions and concerns.
‘‘There’s got to be a level of understanding that there’s things you can and cannot control, and what they can control is playing,’’ Donovan said of trade talk. ‘‘I think this is always, to be honest with you, a hard time. You’ve got the All-Star break around the corner, and you’ve got [the trade deadline] coming up.
‘‘The biggest challenge, I think, for myself and the staff coaching-wise is, can we keep these guys really engaged to compete and play? Because even if there is stuff out there, that may or may not be true. I have no idea.
‘‘I have not talked to Arturas in any detail about any of that stuff, and he has not come to me and said, ‘Hey, listen, something is close to happening.’ It’s all been focused on helping these guys — helping the team — get better in some of their roles. That’s kind of where we put the focus.’’
The Sun-Times reported last week that Young was being sought by a handful of teams for a key bench role. But considering Karnisovas really isn’t connected to any player on the roster — except, perhaps, rookie Patrick Williams, whom he drafted — it might get very interesting as March 25 approaches.
That’s a yes
Despite sitting fifth in All-Star fan voting among Eastern Conference guards in the most recent balloting, Bulls star Zach LaVine’s teammates have been supportive in trying to make sure he is elected to the game for the first time in his career.
The latest endorsement came from Young.
‘‘He has done everything possible as far as scoring and passing and getting rebounds and playing hard each game,’’ Young said. ‘‘But I think he has taken a step up as far as playing defense, as well.
‘‘I told him before the season that if we’re able to do some things, you have to become a two-way player. If you want to be an All-Star, you’re going to have to be a two-way player. He’s transitioning to that. And he has done a very good job of leading us.’’