Bulls’ backcourt suddenly lacks possible assets as trade deadline nears
Even with backcourt players in and out of the lineup for most of the season, the Bulls were still operating from a position of strength with their guards. But with Alex Caruso having wrist surgery Monday and Lonzo Ball expected to have knee surgery this week, that’s no longer the case.
The backcourt seemed to be a position of strength for the Bulls about a month ago.
They had depth few teams in the league were close to having and enough that if the front office wanted to make a trade, moving a guard would make the most sense.
That has changed quickly.
Combo guard Alex Caruso had surgery on his right wrist Monday, and starting point guard Lonzo Ball is preparing to have knee surgery this week. Both were given timelines of six to eight weeks, but Caruso’s was for a re-evaluation of the wrist, not necessarily a return.
With the trade deadline Feb. 10 approaching, the Bulls suddenly are coveting their backcourt assets, needing all hands on deck for both guard spots.
‘‘I have not talked to [executive vice president of basketball operations] Arturas [Karnisovas] about that in specifics — or [general manager] Marc [Eversley] — but I would say this from my perspective: I think a lot of it is going to be the timetable of some of these surgeries with Alex and Lonzo, just finding out when it would be close to a return date,’’ coach Billy Donovan said.
‘‘I’ve said this before, but I think for a lot of front offices, it’s probably difficult to really evaluate teams because teams have been in such flux with COVID. For us it’s been COVID and injuries, so I don’t know if it’s anything backcourt-wise.
‘‘We’re thin there now . . . but our backcourt was never really deep this year because we were always dealing with something. It’s been a flux of guys in and out, so we were never whole back there. So I haven’t had enough conversations with Arturas to really get into any details of what the thought process may be at this point and time.’’
The Bulls aren’t alone in that uncertainty. Most teams have dealt with some COVID-related and injury issues, and some borderline playoff teams are deciding whether they want to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
There has been some movement in the trade market in the last week, but none that has involved the Bulls — specifically addressing their lack of size at power forward.
The Bulls have a little time to see how Caruso and Ball are healing as the deadline ticks down, but it’s not an easy position for Karnisovas to be in.
Donovan said he expects the coaching staff and front office to have a more detailed sitdown soon to discuss the roster from top to bottom.
Forty-one and done
One night after forward DeMar DeRozan scored 41 points in the Bulls’ loss to the Magic, Donovan decided consecutive games in which he had put in 38-plus minutes was enough.
DeRozan was sidelined for load management, especially with the game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City being the second game of a back-to-back.
‘‘You guys had asked me a lot about this, just with the stress we had with these makeup games and so many games condensed,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘And I just think with DeMar, just physically where he’s at, he needs a break here.’’
DeRozan leads the Bulls with 34.8 minutes per game. Troy Brown Jr. started in his place.