Bulls reserve Daniel Gafford admits that he took playing time for granted

The big man was a starter for a time in late January, and now he’s barely in the rotation, waiting for another opportunity to grab consistent minutes.

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“I just felt like I took the opportunity for granted,’’ the Bulls’ Daniel Gafford said about his stint as a starter. “I came out, I was nonchalant. I was not really aggressive.”

“I just felt like I took the opportunity for granted,’’ the Bulls’ Daniel Gafford said about his stint as a starter. “I came out, I was nonchalant. I was not really aggressive.”

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Reserve center Daniel Gafford has no idea when or if he’ll get consistent big minutes off the bench again, but he promises he’ll be better prepared.

After taking over the starting job for injured Wendell Carter Jr. in late January, Gafford got the nod in 11 consecutive games. After a dismal performance in a loss to the Clippers, however, there wasn’t a 12th.

Gafford got the dreaded DNP (did not play)-coach’s decision in 10 of the next 15 games after being demoted out of the rotation.

But in the Bulls’ victory Sunday against the Pistons, Gafford was called back into extended action after Carter got poked in the eye, and he responded with a career-high 11 rebounds and also had eight points.

The difference now?

“I just felt like I took the opportunity for granted,’’ Gafford said about his stint as a starter. “I came out, I was nonchalant. I was not really aggressive. You know, I just came out like, ‘Hey, I just do this every day.’

‘‘But like I said, I took it for granted, and I basically threw away the things that I was doing, and at that point, I just knew that changes were gonna have to be made because of how I was playing.’’

Gafford is waiting to see if the roster will look different after the trade deadline Thursday and if minutes will open up for him.

As it stands now, Thad Young is the starting center, and Carter is the backup. That means Luke Kornet and Gafford are in sit-and-wait mode.

Getting closer

Guard Garrett Temple (sprained left ankle) missed the game against the Jazz on Monday but was at least listed as doubtful earlier instead of out.

Was it a sign that he is close to a return?

“Garrett continues to make really good progress,’’ coach Billy Donovan said.

“I still can’t say when his return is going to be. The next part is the lateral movement, which is probably the most difficult, just to see how he feels doing that.’’

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