Bulls coach Billy Donovan is using the last two preseason games as a ramp-up ahead of next week’s regular-season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“My goal would be to try to get those guys relatively close to 30 minutes tonight,” Donovan said before Tuesday’s game against the Raptors. “Then the Minnesota game would be pretty close to a full rotation, maybe not quite full game minutes, but certainly close.”
With a five-day break between the last preseason game on Thursday against the Timberwolves and the season opener, Donovan said the team will use those days to practice.
Donovan has used the preseason to experiment and examine various lineup combinations, especially the point guard spot. The position has been a revolving door since former league MVP Derrick Rose hurt his knee more than 11 years ago. Lonzo Ball seemed to grab hold of the position before suffering a knee injury that has kept him out of action since January 2022.
Donovan is still mum on who will win the job.
“I think we’ll get to that point,” he said. “I feel good about the guys back there. Jevon [Carter] … I think it’s a lot for him coming into a new situation and [learning] the terminology, defense, everything. He’s picked up everything very well, but I think also at the point guard position [he’s] learning how to play with guys he’s never played with before.”
Carter, a five-year-pro, started a career-high 39 games for the Bucks last season. Coby White has been the starter for each preseason game and has started 74 games throughout his career.
“Things back there have slowed down,” Donovan said. “There’s a balance for him of not forgetting about himself and being aggressive from that perspective. But in terms of the awareness of what’s going on offensively, where guys are at and things that he’s called and things that he’s doing, I think he’s done a really good job with that.”
Caruso injury update
Guard Alex Caruso injured his ankle in practice and was unavailable for Tuesday’s game. Donovan said he stepped on someone’s foot in practice a couple of days ago, and the staff is being cautious with him.
Caruso is expected to be ready for Thursday’s game against the Timberwolves.
G League signings
The Bulls signed forwards Derrick Favors and Kahlil Whitney to training camp deals late Monday. Donovan said Tuesday that Favors will be in the G League and Whitney will likely join him.
“I’ve always had respect for [Favors] just being in the [Western Conference] with him for a period of time when he was at Utah,” Donovan, the former Thunder coach, said of the 12-year veteran and No. 3 overall pick of the 2010 draft. “I think certainly giving our younger players a veteran, well-respected presence, with Windy City, that’d be good.”
Favors last played for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2021-22 season, averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 39 games. Favors will bring size and 790 games of NBA experience.
Whitney is a strong, athletic forward prospect who played his college ball at Kentucky. Whitney, a Chicago native, played in the G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last season. He averaged 5.5 points in 18 games.