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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Joe Cowley

Goran Dragic unafraid to be honest with Bulls’ struggles at the point

CLEVELAND — After seven years spent knee-deep in “Heat Culture,’’ feelings become secondary to winning.

That’s why veteran Goran Dragic has been a key voice in a Bulls locker room that doesn’t always like to confront the truth.

So when asked Saturday about the ongoing rumors of the Bulls looking to add a point guard on the buyout market — whether that’s Russell Westbrook or someone else — Dragic wasn’t about to take basketball decisions personally. 

Yes, he still feels like he can play the point-guard spot at a high level, and he has a plus/minus of plus-31 this season. But he also knows at age 36, there’s only so many minutes in the legs.

“No, it doesn’t offend me, it doesn’t,’’ Dragic said. “At the end of the day you want to win. I’ve got limited minutes so it’s what can I do in those minutes? I know the plus/minus is good, and I know what I can do. Sometimes I feel more involved, sometimes not.

“But you know, I do think the starting unit needs a point guard, that’s for sure. It is what it is.’’

No offense to current starting point guard Ayo Dosunmu or the point guard-by-committee approach late in games, but Dragic knows what works and what doesn’t.

The last time the Bulls were .500 or better was back on Nov. 7. It’s not working, especially late in games.

The Brooklyn loss was just the latest nail in that coffin, as the Bulls struggled with turnovers and getting into the offense the final seven minutes of the game, eventually losing 116-105 to the Nets, who lost Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant a few days apart from each other.

Dragic is no stranger to big-game moments and is confident he can control the floor in crunch time. But he also can’t check himself into the game.

What say you, Billy Donovan?

“I think the biggest thing is —the one thing I love about Goran is his competitiveness, love his toughness, but there’s also times too where you’re trying to find matchups defensively,’’ the coach said. “The one thing about Alex [Caruso] and Ayo out there is we feel those two on the perimeter have been pretty good, and then even if we’re going against someone a little bit bigger we’ve played Patrick [Williams].

“I’m not opposed to not having [Dragic] do that in terms of closing the game, but also we’ve got to look at how we’re matching up, how we’re playing, how’s he playing, how’s the group playing?’’

Donovan did admit that the team has been actively discussing buyout candidates and possibilities. And while he agreed that the point-guard position was an area of need, he didn’t want to limit the search to just that spot.

“I think it would be a player that we would all feel comfortable that can help us,’’ Donovan said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily, ‘Hey, you need this, need that.’ . . . You would take a good player that can play. 

“But I also think that from the front office’s perspective, they’re going to also look at the fit not only in between the lines playing, but with the group, all those kinds of things.’’

Explaining it away

Donovan stuck to his guns and only played Williams 14 minutes in the loss to the Nets. He said it was not performance-based, with Williams only scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds.

“Sometimes I don’t think it has as much to do with Patrick as the group there, and I think that group that we put in there in the third quarter was playing pretty well,’’ Donovan said.

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