The Chicago Bulls and guard Kris Dunn seem ready to go their separate ways. Where could he end up next?
It’s unfortunate, because I really think he can still be a decent player. Dunn has averaged 12.4 points, 6.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game over his two seasons in with the Bulls. He’s a decent playmaker that sports a 2.31 assist-to-turnover-ratio and his 6’4″, 205-pound frame coupled with his quick hands makes him a pesky on-ball defender.
On the downside, Dunn has had his share of injury issues, playing in 98 of a possible 164 games as a Bull. He also struggles to score consistently, making just 45.0 percent of his 2-pointers and 33.5 percent of his 3’s over the last two years.
Despite being just 25 years old, it seems that the Bulls’ front office has seen enough. They demonstrated as much this summer by drafting Coby White, signing Tomas Satoransky, and retaining Ryan Arcidiacono.
Granted, the 6’7″ Satoransky can play off-ball as a wing, and could receive minutes backing up Zach LaVine. But it looks like the Bulls front office went out of their way to bring in the point guards they truly want for the future. Kris Dunn is on his way out.
Dunn has a year left on the rookie deal he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and it’s worth $5.3 million. That makes him a very movable asset on the trade market. When scouring for destinations, I have three in mind that could make mutually beneficial transactions.
In this search, I sought teams that could use a backup point guard but also have a logjam at the shooting guard position. While Satoransky and Denzel Valentine could fill the gap at the backup 2-guard, the only true SG sitting behind Zach LaVine is Antonio Blakeney.
The Bulls’ desire for a backup shooting guard was evident in their rumored sign-and-trade deal with the Memphis Grizzlies for Justin Holiday. Since then, however, Memphis has added Tyus Jones and De’Anthony Melton for point guard depth, ruling out their need for Dunn.
With Seth Curry, Tim Hardaway Jr., Jalen Brunson, Ryan Broekhoff, and Delon Wright all potentially taking up 2-guard minutes, Dallas is desperately seeking to unload Lee’s $12.8 million contract. To make the numbers work, Chicago would have to send Dunn’s contract as well as Felicio’s two-year deal, which owes him $8.2 million this season.
For the first 10 years of his career, Lee shot 38.9 percent from 3-point range, including 40.6 percent in 2017-18. However, 2018-19 was brutal for him, as he only played in 34 games with Dallas and the New York Knicks and shot an abysmal 29.1 percent from beyond the arc on the season. Perhaps he can find his spark again on the Bulls bench.
Meanwhile, Dallas’ need to drop Lee would bring back a point guard they might not need and a bad contract at center. Wright and JJ Barea also seem poised to back up Luka Doncic at the point. Still, Dunn has the skills to also put in good minutes in certain lineups, which could help them become a sleeper team in the West.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
The Bulls could also trade Dunn straight-up to the LA Clippers for Jerome Robinson. The 22-year-old Robinson has become more expendable with the acquisition of Landry Shamet last season. Shamet came to LA from the Philadelphia 76ers and quickly found his way into the rotation, even starting all six games during the playoffs.
Now, Robinson finds himself as a reserve 2-guard on a Clipper team that will be contending for the NBA title thanks to the arrival of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. He’s stuck at the bottom of the depth chart behind Shamet, Lou Williams, and possibly George or Leonard in certain instances. Robinson’s 40.7 percent shooting from 3-point range and 3.5 assists per game in 24 G-League games last year show that he can be the backup sharpshooting shot creator the Bulls need.
Conversely, the Clippers have Patrick Beverley as the starting point, then probably Shamet and Williams behind him. While Shamet can be a serviceable playmaker, Williams is definitely somebody that needs to work as an off-guard. Bringing in Dunn would give LA a bit more depth at the 1 to take on some of the Western Conference’s toughest teams.
Lastly, my favorite scenario would send Dunn to the Philadelphia 76ers for Zhaire Smith. Philly is in dire need of a backup point. Ben Simmons is the starting man, but newly-acquired backup Raul Neto has shown limited effectiveness in his three years in the NBA.
Philadelphia also have a good problem right now with the parallel ascendance of Smith and rookie Matisse Thybulle. They have both been impressive in their small sample sizes at the Vegas Summer League.
Smith is the better offensive player of the two, but Thybulle’s defensive prowess could also help him make a case to crack the rotation and earn the spot behind Josh Richardson. James Ennis, Shake Milton, and even Dunn himself can fill up any shooting guard minutes left by Zhaire’s departure.
Meanwhile, the Bulls would get an electric 2-guard that can slot in behind LaVine. He has the potential to make plays on both ends of the floor and wow the crowd with the occasional highlight play. If Dunn is leaving Chicago, this is the deal I’m rooting hardest for.
I still have an affinity for Kris Dunn. But in the eyes of many, including the Bulls front office, his tenure in the Windy City has been a disappointment. Now, the team is ready to move on. Hopefully, that new destination will serve as a fresh start for the kid from New London.