People shouldn’t be writing stories about Bulls reserve Javonte Green with seven games left in the regular season.
Not unless something has gone very wrong with the Bulls.
And it has.
It’s not a criticism of Green, a high-energy wing defender. If anything, he’s taking advantage of the fact that the Bulls have gone from holding down a play-in spot for the Eastern Conference playoffs a month ago to holding auditions before having to make some offseason decisions.
That’s basically where the season is at.
Could the Bulls (26-39) pull off a miracle now that All-Stars Zach LaVine (health and safety protocol) and Nikola Vucevic (hip) are expected back in the starting lineup Thursday? Perhaps if their schedule wasn’t as daunting, sure. On paper, however, a game against the Pistons is the only one the Bulls should be favored to win the rest of the way.
So how does Green factor into all of this? Perhaps not much, but at least he made his presence felt in the Bulls’ 106-94 loss Monday to the 76ers at the United Center.
With the Bulls trailing by 20 points to start the fourth quarter, coach Billy Donovan looked deep on the bench and gave the seldom-used Green the nod.
Acquired from the Celtics at the trade deadline in a three-way deal that also netted big man Daniel Theis, Green’s reputation is one of being a defensive irritant.
He didn’t disappoint. Not only did Green score seven points in a run that cut the Bulls’ deficit to one and forced 76ers coach Doc Rivers to go back to his starters, but he had three rebounds and a steal, was active in getting his hands on the ball for deflections, ran through screens rather than around them and finished a plus-13 for the game.
Was it enough to get him regular work in the Bulls’ rotation? That will be up to Donovan — and to the energy the regular rotation shows. Green and forward Al-Farouq Aminu took advantage of injuries, as well as forward Lauri Markkanen’s absence with an illness.
‘‘Athletically, we had a hard time and needed some guys out there in that fourth quarter at different points because [the 76ers are] a hard team to match up against with their size, and I thought Javonte was a guy who could switch and do some different things,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘[Green and Aminu] helped us get back in the game, [and] I’m not opposed to putting guys out there who are going to give us the best chance or help us to win.’’
A chance is all Green is asking for. In two seasons with the Celtics, he worked his way into the back end of the rotation and seemed to find a niche. But the trade changed all that for him, so now he’s trying to showcase his talents again, whether it’s to the Bulls or another potential team. He will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
‘‘I just bring energy that the team needs,’’ Green said. ‘‘I know that’s what got me here, just playing hard. Everything else is going to follow suit . . . athleticism and also my talent. I work hard to be here. I just know what I have to do to be on the basketball court. My journey was tough, but I’m here.’’
For how long remains to be seen. Let the audition continue.