Bulls as close to full strength as they’ve been since the rebuild started
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
Denzel Valentine isn’t about to walk through the door at the Advocate Center.
Limp? Maybe. But walk?
Ankle surgery has shut down Valentine, the Bulls’ 2016 first-round pick, for the season.
But on Sunday, aside from Valentine, the Bulls will be as healthy as they’ve been since the rebuild began.
Reserve forward Bobby Portis (right ankle) will be available against the Nets, coach Jim Boylen said, and newly acquired guard Wayne Selden will be active.
And with Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine coming off their best collective performance in the overtime loss to the Pacers, Boylen insisted Saturday that there are “a lot of positives.’’
Now they just need better results.
The 119-116 overtime loss to the Pacers on Friday came on the same day that vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said there was a discussion with Boylen about opening up the offense, but Boylen had said that was going to happen once he saw his young team handle the basics.
So was it a coincidence?
“It’s the things we’ve been working on,’’ Boylen said of the more up-tempo look. “Obviously, we made some great shots. They did, too. You don’t make those every night. But we were No. 1 in paint drives, which is something we talk about. Pass quality’s got to get better. We had three travels; those concern me. We stepped out of bounds once. So four of our 18 [turnovers] were things I think we control. That’s what we’re coaching.’’
Paxson wants to see a quicker offense.
“We’ve talked about [the offense], and the issue right now is we’ve got to get a little more pace to our game,’’ Paxson said. “Jim, [special adviser] Doug Collins, we all talk about it together. I don’t think you can necessarily pay attention to everything all at once. You make a change in-season, it’s very hard for the coach. You didn’t have a training camp to establish things. Practice time is limited. This will be a good time for us to improve in that area. We’ve got a lot of games left.’’
It also helps to have a healthy roster.
Portis will return to his key role off the bench, and while he likely will be on a minutes restriction for the time being, his energy and defense will be welcomed back with open arms.
Well, maybe not by Jabari Parker, who could go back to his last-man-on-the-bench role. Parker did get in against the Pacers but had not played in the previous nine games.
Then there’s Selden, who came over in the Justin Holiday trade with the Grizzlies and was looking forward to building a role with his new teammates.
“I can do different things,’’ Selden said. “I can shoot it, I can create off the dribble, try to be the best defender I can be, give all my effort on the defensive end and just try to keep getting better. I’m athletic. I feel I can do different things on the court to help this team.’’
MarShon Brooks, who also came over from Memphis, will not report to the team. The Bulls agreed to move him elsewhere.
Besides that, all systems should be a go.