Is Kris Dunn a core player moving forward? Sources say Bulls are undecided
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Bulls point guard Kris Dunn isn’t on some player leadership committee. He’s not caught up in stats or numbers.
No, the only things Dunn wants out of his NBA experience right now are to win and to break the spirit of his opposition.
He was successful on both fronts Saturday in San Antonio. Playing in only his third game since returning from an injured left knee, he scored 24 points in the Bulls’ 98-93 upset of the Spurs.
‘‘He has toughness,’’ coach Jim Boylen said. ‘‘He was a football player, which you know I love. He’s competitive, he likes playing on the road and he wants to be great. . . . I like tough guys.’’
No one questions Dunn’s toughness, and his background has been well-documented.
When Dunn was a year old, his mother, Pia, took off from Connecticut with Kris and older brother John, leaving father John Seldon with no idea where they went. Seldon searched for years to find them, getting no help from the courts. (The boys since have been reunited with their father.)
Meanwhile, Pia was in and out of trouble in Alexandria, Virginia, and finally was incarcerated for a long term when Dunn was 9. Afraid to let anyone know they were by themselves, Dunn and his brother hustled to get food and pay rent. His brother won money with trick dice, and Dunn would play local teenagers one-on-one for $20 a pop.
Dunn told the Sun-Times last year that those $20 bets too often were made when his brother had no money to back it up if Dunn happened to lose.
‘‘Now that’s pressure,’’ Dunn said.
Especially when the other betting party was armed. So making two free throws to ice the victory Saturday against the Spurs was kid stuff.
That’s what Dunn’s teammates most appreciate about having him back on the court: He brings a toughness to the floor and seldom leans on excuses when things don’t fall his way.
‘‘It’s great to have him back, obviously,’’ big man Lauri Markkanen said. ‘‘I’m glad [recovering from the knee injury] didn’t take as long as I thought it would take just to get it back. He’s right there already.’’
Dunn needs to be. Sources have indicated the Bulls still are trying to figure out whether Dunn will be part of their core moving forward. Markkanen, guard Zach LaVine and rookie big man Wendell Carter Jr. will be, but Dunn, big man Bobby Portis and injured swingman Denzel Valentine have to prove themselves.
If Dunn doesn’t, the trade deadline Feb. 7 might get interesting. Until then, though, he will get his chances as long as he can stay on the floor. Just don’t ask him about it.
Dunn has turned lukewarm in dealing with the media, especially after a Sun-Times story over the summer in which multiple sources mentioned that he had a few subpar offseason workouts. Maybe he was ticked that the Bulls still were considering using the No. 7 overall pick on another point guard. Whatever the case, however, he has been bland in his answers this season.
And that’s fine. Dunn has bigger things to be concerned about. February is coming fast.