Bulls might be able to solve point-guard problem in buyout market

The Bulls have taken a point guard-by-committee approach late in games, and they had too many empty possessions Thursday against the Nets because of it.

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Bulls head coach Billy Donovan gives guard Zach LaVine instructions during the second half of Thursday’s game against the Nets.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan gives guard Zach LaVine instructions during the second half of Thursday’s game against the Nets.

Mary Altaffer/AP

CLEVELAND — By late Thursday, the only thing Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas was interested in was sleep.

Two consecutive days of working the phones and still being unable to get a deal done by the trade deadline left him a bit worn-down.

Not that there was much time for rest and relaxation.

Next up for Karnisovas will be exploring the buyout market. That doesn’t mean he’ll find the piece he’s looking for, but he at least has to look for it.

‘‘We’ll look at it,’’ Karnisovas said when he was asked about taking the buyout route to add some help. ‘‘First I have to look through every trade that actually happened and what kind of roster each team has before we look at the buyout market. So we’ll look at it, for sure.’’

The position the Bulls might want to explore first is point guard, and the latest evidence of that could be seen in their 116-105 loss Thursday to the Nets.

The Bulls were trailing by five with less than seven minutes left after a three-pointer by the Nets’ Yuta Watanabe. No problem for a veteran-led team such as the Bulls, even with their point guard-by-committee approach, right?


Guard Zach LaVine committed a turnover with 6:35 left and another with 6:12 to go. The Nets were unable to capitalize either time, so there was no harm besides the lost possession.

Forward DeMar DeRozan then missed a three-pointer and LaVine came up short on a driving floater. Then LaVine was called for traveling.

That made five consecutive empty possessions in just more than two minutes, and the Bulls fell behind by 12 after another three-pointer by Watanabe.

It was an all-too familiar stretch for the Bulls and offered another hint of how difficult life without injured Lonzo Ball continues to be.

‘‘I still think we can get into offense better, and I don’t feel like that’s Zach’s job or responsibility or that’s on him,’’ coach Billy Donovan said when he was asked about the late-game point-guard issues. ‘‘That’s on everybody collectively.

‘‘Those plays you’re talking about, [LaVine] was in the middle of. But there were also some other possessions, even going to start the third quarter, where maybe Ayo [Dosunmu] or Patrick [Williams] — like, we didn’t get off to a good start. To me, it’s more of the five guys out there.

‘‘We don’t have [Suns point guard] Chris Paul, where it’s just like, ‘I got it, go down the floor,’ and he orchestrates and gets you into whatever he wants to get you into. We have to do it together; all five guys have to take the responsibility to flow into that better. Then we’ve got to screen, we’ve got to cut and we’ve got to move better. At times we do a really good job of it, and then other times we don’t do a consistent job of it.’’

That’s why the Bulls plan to keep an eye on the buyout market. Russell Westbrook, John Wall and Chicago native Patrick Beverley are all candidates to be bought out, so there might be options.

But are they good options? Westbrook is a turnover machine who would help with pacing, but that’s about it. Wall is unreliable in terms of availability. That leaves the volatile Beverley, who isn’t the best at conducting an offense but would bring some much-needed attitude to a team of choir boys.

There’s not much to lose at this point, with the Bulls sitting at 26-29 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

Either way, they need to get something done at point guard sooner than later.

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