Kris Dunn is looking GOOD lately.
Obviously, the Bulls points guard isn’t exactly known for his offensive savvy, especially this season, but he has enjoyed a sudden jump toward an “elite” defensive status, which has been great to see. In fact, just yesterday, we discussed Dunn becoming the third Bulls player – ever – to snag 100 steals in the team’s first 50 games, joining an impressive club that previously featured only Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan.
But obviously the offense matters too, so it’s worth asking: Has he shown any progress … like, at all?
Well, actually … yeah!
In addition to being the fastest player this season to 100 steals, Kris Dunn has scored in double figures in six consecutive games, a stretch in which he’s shooting 60.5% from the field. The Bulls are 4-2 in those games.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 29, 2020
Dunn has scored 10+ points in six-straight games, which is only the third time he’s ever accomplished that throughout his career. While none of these performances have been uniquely noteworthy (averaging just 11.5 points per game during this stretch), Dunn has demonstrated some legitimate consistency, shooting a very efficient 60.5 percent from the field (and, of course, combined with his defensive prowess, that makes him a pretty valuable overall player).
Include the fact that Dunn has averaged 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists over these six games (he had his second-best assist total against the Spurs with 8), and he is beginning to look like an even more valuable asset. And, ah, there it is.
The more Dunn proves his value on both ends of the court, the more interesting his trade market could become. As of now, however, we’ve heard only about some interest from the Los Angeles Clippers, and even that wasn’t much. Unlike Thaddeus Young and Denzel Valentine, there just hasn’t been any recent or strong reports regarding the Bulls’ intentions to move Dunn. Of course, those intentions aren’t particularly tough to discern.
Before the regular season began, the Bulls drafted and signed new point guards (Coby White, Tomas Satoransky), as rumors regarding the organization’s attempts to trade Dunn began to circle. Obviously, opinions, plans, and even players can change – and that could well be what happened once Dunn actually started playing this season – but a trade remains at least plausible.
And, indeed, his improved and more consistent performance on the offensive side of the court mixed with the recent defensive explosion might’ve made a trade even more likely, if it changed anything at all. Indeed, this version of Dunn would be a welcomed sight on nearly any roster pushing for the playoffs, and the Bulls might be wise to cash in on him when his value is at a *relative* high.
But that’s not the only legitimate option. I *also* wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bulls debating whether to extend him this offseason.
Even though Dunn has dug out a useful niche for himself this season, his value to the Bulls may exceed that of other teams. Yes, he’s a restricted free agent this summer, which would still give the trading team some control over his future, but that also means if they’re not dying for his services right now, the could try and go after him this offseason.
In fact, that’s exactly what the initial report about the Clippers’ interest shared.
Sources have indicated the Clippers have interest in both players, but they could go after Young in a trade and wait for Dunn to become a restricted free agent this summer (via the Sun-Times).
The counter, of course, is that by waiting on Dunn, a contender would miss out on his value down the stretch and in the postseason – at best – and might not even get the chance to sign him this summer, if the Bulls are intent on matching any offer he receives. Meanwhile, the Bulls risk injury or a drop in performance that leaves them holding an empty bag (no return) with no reason to match or extend Dunn over the summer. It’s a balance – and a tricky one, at that.
At the end of the day, Dunn does feel like a great fit for a contender, but that doesn’t mean the Bulls *must* or *will* trade him. And, hey, if they believe his recent performative uptick is sustainable or useful, they might want to hold onto him past this season anyway. That wouldn’t categorically be a mistake (it’s good to have good players, after all).
In any case, the trade deadline is just over a week away, so we’ll know the Bulls’ true intentions soon. And if he’s still on the team past February 6th, then it could very well mean the organization has made him a part of the plan moving forward.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.