The Bulls didn’t make a qualifying offer to Dunn, who was a restricted free agent, thereby making the 26-year-old point guard an unrestricted free agent. It didn’t take long for Dunn to find a new home.
He signed with the Atlanta Hawks last month as a backup to superstar point guard Trae Young. The new-look and suddenly formidable Hawks will be the Bulls’ first test of the season on December 23.
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Dunn on the Season Opener vs. Bulls
Dunn was asked what the experience of coming back to the United Center will be like as a visitor. Here’s what he said, per KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago: “Easy. Ain’t no fans so it ain’t going to be, like, kind of heartfelt. Before the game even starts, I might talk to a couple of guys there that I was really close with. Other than that, let’s play ball.”
Dunn is right.
Because of the pandemic, the Bulls have already announced there will be no fans in the stands for games.
Bulls Nation, we will miss seeing you when we take the court later this month. There is no greater feeling than playing in front of you at the @UnitedCenter but right now, following all recommended health and safety guidelines is most important. pic.twitter.com/1PJgoSUyUy
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 3, 2020
Without the fans present, that reaction that is so much a part of a player’s first return to his old team’s building won’t be there.
However, it will be interesting to see if the Bulls and other teams turn to some sort of Zoom-like fan access in the United Center, or if the empty seats will be covered with advertisements ala the NBA Bubble.
Why Didn’t Dunn Show Up for the Offseason Workouts?
The Bulls chose not to bring Dunn back, and there was some talk that it was due to his absence from the team’s voluntary offseason workouts.
The new management group, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Arturas Karnisovas, general manager Marc Eversley and head coach Billy Donovan wanted to get a look at their players, but Dunn chose to rehab his injured knee on his own.
Here are his reasons for staying away:
I was just trying to work on my game throughout the summer. Whatever happens, happens,” Dunn said of his approach as the Bulls’ new management team of Artūras Karnišovas and Marc Eversley took over. “It’s one of those things where you control what you can control the type of deal. They were great to me, had a couple of conversations. I was there early when they first got there, working out, trying to rehab my knee. After that, I kind of departed. Went to Providence, (Rhode Island), Boston. Be around my family and friends, just working on my knee.
Dunn’s reasoning is understandable, but it’s also easy to see how his reluctance to show interest in a new vision might have excluded him from the program moving forward. Perhaps the new brass had already decided they were moving on from Dunn prior to his absence.
We may never know the real answer.
In any case, expect to see the always aggressive Dunn taking every opportunity to pressure the Bulls’ likely starting point guard Coby White and any other ballhandler he’s assigned to guard on opening night.
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