CHICAGO -- Mike Dunleavy turned down more lucrative free-agent offers last summer to come off the bench, knock down jumpers alongside Derrick Rose and play for a winning team for the first time in his 11-year career.
A potential one out of three isn't bad.
Rose is injured. And now that Luol Deng has been traded, Dunleavy is starting. At 17-18, the Bulls could be headed to the playoffs with Dunleavy, for what would be just his third trip to the postseason.
"This definitely isn't what any of us envisioned at the start of this season," Dunleavy said. "But starting doesn't change my approach. Generally, starting I play a little more. But my body feels good so if that's what it calls for, I'm ready."
Dunleavy is averaging 3.6 points more per game as a starter and shooting .474 as a starter to .448 as a reserve.
"After being here a couple of months, I feel comfortable with what we're trying to do at both ends," he said. "Playing with different guys, I think they have a feel for me now. I just want to be consistent."
Generally speaking: On the Bulls' pregame show, general manager Gar Forman echoed sentiments espoused by executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson about the Deng trade. But Forman, who missed Tuesday's news conference while scouting, intimated the Bulls would re-enter the luxury tax eventually with the $20.6 million they saved from the trade.
"By getting out of the tax this year it will give us the ability to go back into (it) in future years when we feel we have a team that's capable or continuing to build toward that championship," Forman said.
Fresh face: Cartier Martin made his Bulls debut, scoring 11 points in 26 minutes Saturday night in the 103-97 victory over the Bobcats. The veteran forward, signed to a 10-day contact Friday, picked the Bulls over other options because of Deng's departure and his familiarity with former teammates Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin.
"I like the Chicago style of playing," Martin said. "I feel I'm a hard-nosed guy, good defender and good shooter. Get all the loose balls, trash guy."
Layups: Ben Gordon and Deng were Bulls rookies together in 2004-05. "It's hard to picture the Bulls without Luol," Gordon said. ... Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who is signed through 2017, on a report suggesting he already could have a deal in place to coach the Knicks next season. "That stuff is ridiculous. First I was being traded. ... I couldn't care less about that stuff. I love the fighting spirit of this team. That's all I'm thinking about." ... Bobcats coach Steve Clifford and Thibodeau worked together for Jeff Van Gundy with the Knicks and Rockets and are known for their detailed preparation. "We used to prepare for summer league games as diligently as a lot of guys prepare for regular-season games," Clifford said.
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