Kris Dunn will come off the bench for the Bulls in a season he’s playing for his next contract, and he’s OK with it.
“I’m a professional, as we all are in here,” Dunn said Thursday before the team’s preseason finale against the Hawks at the United Center. “We have to approach it in a professional manner. I’m with the Bulls. I’m going to play hard each game and each practice and try to help the team win.”
Regardless of what the future holds – a trade? a qualifying offer? – Dunn is focused on shoring up the second unit as one of its leaders, likely in concert with Thaddeus Young, who enters his 13th season.
If the Bulls are going to have any shot at making the playoffs, depth will have to play a major role.
“You need it in the league,” Dunn said. “There are going to be games where the starters come out flat and the second unit is going to have to pick it up and allow them to come back in and finish the game. Just having depth is a good thing because injuries occur. You need backups you can trust.”
Trust is the operative word.
Dunn has to trust in the Bulls’ commitment to him as much as they have to trust that he meant it when he said he is committed to staying in Chicago and will buy into whatever role they place him in.
Coach Jim Boylen described a “good” conversation with Dunn this week when he informed him that Tomas Satoransky would start at point guard.
“Before I could even get out the words, ‘Kris, I’m going to bring you off the bench to start the season,’ he had already said, ‘Coach, I’m going to do whatever you need me to do and I’m ready for what you want me to do,’” Boylen recounted. “Before I could even get it out. It was a 2-minute conversation.
“I’ve always said he has great heart for the team. He’s always been very coachable, he accepts criticism, he owns his mistakes, his response is all about the team and what we’re trying to build. It’s role definition and it’s role acceptance. His role acceptance is off the charts.”
Dunn added: “I just appreciate Coach talking to me and being straightforward and being truthful to me. I’m going to do my job and do what’s best for the team.”
He has been consistent in saying he would accept any role but wouldn’t say whether he felt the Bulls acquired Satoransky in a sign-and-trade with the Wizards this summer with the intention of giving Satoransky the starting job.
“I’m not really going to speak on that,” Dunn said. “I feel I’m in a great spot. I love what the coaching staff is doing with me and the team.”
Part of what they’re asking of Dunn is what they’ve always asked of him: Play great defense.
Both Dunn and the Bulls, however, have said that’s not enough for the fourth-year veteran. He has to show progress as a shooter and cut down on turnovers, among other things.
“I’m big on learning the game,” Dunn said. “Keep learning the game is going to allow me to improve each year. I worked on my shot, my dribbling, staying low, finishing. I even worked on defense this summer.”