Although the spread of the Omicron variant has had a devastating effect on the league as a whole, there’s a subset of fringe NBA players, cast-offs and old stars who have benefited from the hardship deals it has brought. For his part, a one-time Chicago Bulls starter wants to get in on the action.
Per a report from Marc Stein, former No. 5 overall pick Kris Dunn is signing a deal to play in the G League. As with Isaiah Thomas, Lance Stephenson and others before him, the goal is to play his way into an opportunity and, with a little luck, find a way to stick.
Unlike many of the other players with name value who have earned hardship deals recently, Dunn is still in his prime from an age standpoint. And, as recently as 2020, he was one of the game’s elite defensive players.
Times have been tougher for the old Bull over the least year-plus, however.
Dunn’s Rocky Road
It was just 13 months ago that Dunn signed with the Hawks after Arturas Karnisovas — who was still in his first year as the Bulls’ GM — declined to extend the popular guard a qualifying offer. However, his run in Atlanta went awry in short order.
Dunn was felled by ankle and knee injuries during the 2020-21 campaign and, as a result, appeared in only four games for his new club. Consequently, he found himself outside of the team’s future plans. Still, Dunn had a second-year option on his deal for ’21-22 and, unsurprisingly, he opted into the $5 million payday.
In the end, the Hawks opted to part ways with Dunn, dealing him to the Celtics in August. Weeks later, he was traded again to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Dunn was a player who Memphis had coveted previously, per KC Johnson, and his defensive chops and court vision might have made him a nice backup for Ja Morant. However, he appeared in just one preseason game for the Grizz before they chose to waive him.
Since then, he’s been left to wait for his next opportunity.
His Bulls Days
After spending his first year as a bench baller for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dunn found his way to the Bulls with Zach LaVine in the Jimmy Butler trade. Over the next three years, from 2017 to 2020, the Providence product started in 119 of his 149 appearances with the club.
Over that span, he averaged 10.7 points, 5.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. Although his usage rate plummeted during his final year in a Bulls uniform, he was a star defensively, leading the league in steal percentage (3.8) and finishing second in defensive box plus/minus (3.1) and steals per game (2.0).
His perimeter game never came along on the offensive side, though, where he attempted just 22.6% of his shots from deep while connecting at a meager 31% rate.