Does a Kris Dunn-for-Justin Holiday swap make sense for the Bulls?


The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson dropped some news in his Bulls’ Summer League recap, reporting that point guard Kris Dunn “is available for the right price,” according to league sources. Johnson went on to write that “discussions with the Grizzlies regarding a sign-and-trade for Justin Holiday” have occurred.

The Grizzlies just gave point guard Tyus Jones a three-year, $29 million offer sheet, so they may no longer be in the market for a backup behind No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant. But if the Timberwolves match that offer sheet, a Dunn-to-Memphis deal could certainly happen, and Holiday could find himself with the Bulls for a third stint.

There are two schools of thought in dealing for Holiday. For starters, he’s a six-year veteran who just turned 30 years old. He spaces the floor – more on that in a second – and has experience in the Bulls locker room, having played for them last season. Let’s remember, the two oldest Bulls – Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky – are newcomers. There’s value in having a familiar face in the locker room.

Holiday obviously has a good relationship with head coach Jim Boylen or the Bulls wouldn’t be considering bringing him back – and Holiday wouldn’t have interest in signing off on a sign-and-trade. Let us not forget that Holiday was part of the infamous Leadership Committee before being dealt to Memphis in early January.

On the other hand, Holiday was awful in Memphis. Like, really bad from start to finish. He began his Grizzlies career missing his first 12 3-point attempts over a six-game span in which he shot 17% from the field. He came around to begin February by draining 10 of 22 triples in a four-game span (with the Grizzlies winning three of those) but plummeted back to Earth in the next 13 games, shooting 22.2% from deep.

For what it’s worth, Holiday finished the year strong with the Grizzlies not playing for much of anything. Over the final 11 games, Holiday shot 41.6% from deep on 7.0 attempts and had four games of 20 or more points – he hadn’t topped 20 points since Dec. 7 with the Bulls prior to that stretch. Maybe Holiday finally got comfortable or maybe he sensed his free-agency stock going into freefall. Eiether way, it was an admittedly strong finish after an abysmal 33-game stretch.

Holiday’s final numbers in Memphis read as such: 9.5 points, 38.9% FG, 33.3% 3FG, 3.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 29.1 minutes. His effective field goal percentage of 47.4% was 92nd of 99 players who averaged 29.1 minutes – even with the excellent 11-game closing stretch.

Even with his paltry shooting numbers, the Grizzlies were 3.1 points per 100 possessions better on offense with Holiday (108.9 vs. 105.8). The issue was defensively. Holiday, considered a plus defender in Chicago, made little impact in Memphis. The Grizzlies had a defensive rating of 113.5 with Holiday on the floor. When he went to the bench? Their defensive rating was 107.4, a massive jump.

Adding Holiday would be a low-risk option if the cost is just shedding Dunn. The Bulls could even ask for something else in the deal – Dunn is 25 and on a rookie deal. Holiday would likely slot in somewhere with Denzel Valentine and Chandler Hutchison on the wing, and he makes some sense as an insurance policy if Valentine isn’t fully recovered from ankle surgery that cost him all of last season. But it's probably unrealistic to expect much from Holiday at this point given his shaky performance last season (in a contract year, too) as well as where the Bulls are in their rebuild.

Whatever the deal, it’s clear the Bulls are looking to move Dunn after signing Satoransky, re-signing Ryan Arcidiacono and drafting Coby White. John Paxson said there’d be a makeover at the point guard position, and moving Dunn would essentially complete it.

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