Unlikely as it seems, Paxson remains open to keeping Dunn
The Chicago Bulls didn't face top draft pick Zion Williamson on Monday night. He was shut down for summer league after suffering a knee bruise on opening night.
The New Orleans Pelicans landed two more players in the first round, though, and both ran wild in a 109-72 stomping of the Bulls at the Las Vegas summer league. Center Jaxson Hayes unleashed some nasty dunks on his way to 28 points. Guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 23 points and 8 assists.
Rookie guard Coby White led the Bulls with 25 points. Otherwise, it was a night to forget. Chandler Hutchison (8 points) returned to the court after sitting out Sunday's loss to Cleveland. Walt Lemon Jr. was back with the summer squad after taking a couple of days off while he cleared NBA waivers.
Earlier in the day, Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson went on the radio and talked about a couple of new topics after the Bulls added Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky and Luke Kornet in free agency.
The most obvious question is what happens to Kris Dunn, now that the Bulls have White, Satoransky and Ryan Arcidiacono at point guard? Dunn remains on the roster and is under contract for next season. Paxson shared some constructive criticism in his comments.
"We've never given up on him," Paxson told David Kaplan on ESPN Radio. "The biggest thing is he's missed so many games for us the last two years. You want durability and reliability, and he's not the only one. We've had several guys that have missed games.
"But (coach) Jim (Boylen) wants to play more of an up-tempo game, multiple ballhandlers. We talk about that a lot. When you talk about playing with multiple ballhandlers, that means your lead guard, which Kris has been his entire basketball life, has to understand that when that happens he has to get up the floor ahead of the ball.
"Often times, that didn't happen with Kris when (Lauri) Markkanen would bring it up or Zach (LaVine). You have to be willing to run and sprint."
It seems likely the Bulls will try to find a new home for Dunn, but if they can't get anything useful in return, it's also possible they hang on to him and hope his value grows before the February trade deadline.
"Kris is valuable. He's very good defensively," Paxson said. "That's where I think we can play him with different guys, because he's tough and he's physical, he can guard twos and threes.
"I think he can complement many of the players we have right now. But he's going to have to come in, just like a lot of our guys, he's going to have to prove it."
Paxson used the same theme when asked if White would open the season as the starting point guard.
"Not necessarily. Those are the things that have to play out," he said. "The one thing I think you have to be really careful with when you still have a very young team is just give things to players. I still have the belief -- and I know Jim Boylen does, too -- guys have to come in and earn it. If he proves it, then we're in great shape. But he's still a 19-year-old young man."
There was some obvious discussion about the Bulls' future. Yes, Paxson thinks the team can improve next season and the Bulls will someday be a desired free-agent destination.
"I'm most concerned with us putting a competitive team out there on the floor, where once again our fan base is looking at our group saying, 'This is the type of team I want to root for,'" Paxson said. "That's really important to us."
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