You can scratch Mike Dunleavy Jr.'s name off the list of players who will be moved before the Feb. 20 trade deadline.
The Bulls have already moved one wing player this season, trading Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum, who was subsequently waived in the interest of cap space. Make no mistake about it, though: This team still isn't going to tank.
Giving up Dunleavy would be akin to giving up on the season, even if he's far from a star player. The Bulls enter the post-All-Star-break portion of the season with a 27-25 record, which somehow puts them all the way up at No. 4 in the Eastern Conference standings.
This wasn't supposed to happen.
Derrick Rose's knee injury was supposed to doom the Bulls to a lottery-bound finish and the Deng trade only further reinforced that notion. However, the tough coaching of Tom Thibodeau and the inspired play of role players has prevented an Icarian plunge from grace.
Role players like Dunleavy.
During his first season with the Bulls, the 33-year-old small forward is averaging 11.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 38 percent beyond the arc. Although he's slumped a bit during the first seven games of February, his January splits offer hope for continued production—especially from beyond the arc.
He even got into a bit of a spat with DeMarcus Cousins, who called him a clown earlier in the season:
Now Dunleavy's status as a Boogie-provoker won't help out the Bulls, but his contributions from beyond the arc matter. Chicago isn't exactly brimming with marksmen and every bit of offensive help it can get will be beneficial.
Bleacher Report's James Davis does advocate trading the small forward, though.
"His parting would surely make it harder for the Bulls to keep exceeding expectations and staying in playoff contention, but the upside of that would be a higher spot in what is shaping up to be a very deep draft," writes Davis, but he's operating under the assumption that Chicago isn't interested in competing this year.
So far, there's been no indication of that being true, at least since the Deng trade didn't deter winning.
Should the Bulls be able to hold down a top-six spot in the East, they'll have a great chance at advancing past the first round of the postseason. And the deeper the team goes, the likelier it is that Rose finds a way to return.
There's a long string of logical jumps between keeping Dunleavy and getting Rose back, but at least there's some sort of connection. With each victory, the Chicago front office seems to be getting a further grasp on that concept and management is now acting accordingly.
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