After the All-Star break, the Bulls will have a new look for the rest of the season.
Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said the team is going all in on its younger players at the veterans’ expense for the final 25 games this season.
Basically, Paxson said the Bulls want to evaluate what’s on their roster.
The plan is simple: Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday and Jerian Grant will see a significant decrease in their playing time, while David Nwaba, Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio will see more court action. The Bulls’ rotation and lineup will remain fluid, according to Paxson.
“We’re going to start looking at blocks of games where having a few guys that haven’t been playing much at all, they’ll be having a significant role for us,” Paxson said Tuesday. “The hard thing always in this when you’re doing things like this you’re asking certain people to sacrifice roles and minutes from veteran guys, and that’s what we’re asking some of them … never an easy thing.”
Paxson said this scheme is “not a tryout, it’s to learn.”
Paxson used power forward Bobby Portis and guard Denzel Valentine as examples of what can happen when young players are given consistent minutes.
“From the players’ standpoint, [the goal] is that they gained some confidence in who they are and they get comfortable from the floor and play well,” Paxson said. “I still think we have a lot of really good young talent … In our position, we have to think of the big picture and that’s what we’re doing.
“I know it’s never easy for a lot of players,” he said, “but one thing that I’ve been impressed with all year long with this group is that they’ve been bonded together. They like one another and I don’t see that changing.”
Paxson also reiterated the idea that the core of the Bulls’ rebuild is Lauri Markannen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. And finally, for the rest of the season, they will be able to evaluate how well the three are playing on the floor together.
The trio has only played four games together this season because of injuries and personal reasons. LaVine spent the first two months of the season recovering from an ACL injury he suffered last season and Dunn was sidelined for 11 games with a concussion. Markkanen missed three games in December with a back injury and stayed home from a three-game road trip earlier this month for the birth of his son.
Follow me on Twitter: @madkenney