Could Russell Westbrook be the answer to the Bulls’ energy issues?

Could Russell Westbrook be the answer to the Bulls’ energy issues?

Coach Billy Donovan can’t discuss custody by Russell Westbrook potential adjustment with the Bulls as it would violate NBA tampering rules.

As it stands, Westbrook is still under contract with the Jazz after being dealt to them by the Lakers in a three-team trade at the deadline last week. But contractual limitations haven’t stopped Donovan from clarifying what he thinks sets Westbrook apart.

“Every time there was a game, you knew he was always ready to play,” Donovan said. ”He’s a great competitor. He loves competition and plays with great energy and passion.

The Bulls could use a strong infusion of both, giving reports that have linked them to Westbrook in the buyout market a few legs. According to an NBA insider Chris HaynesDonovan sent a message to Westbrook saying the Bulls are the team for him.

Donovan described himself as sounding like a broken record when describing the Bulls’ energy issues. He once again made the reference ahead of their Monday game against the Magic at the United Center.

The Bulls entered the game tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference and are playing like a team – more often than not – that will be away watching the play-in tournament. So what do they have to lose by pursuing 2017 NBA MVP Westbrook?

Westbrook, a 30.4% career three-point shooter, won’t be the answer to the Bulls’ three-point woes (29.1% this month), but he just might be the voice they need in the locker room.

”I don’t know if a player can provide [energy and intensity] or not,” Donovan said. ”It’s certainly a lot to ask of a player who might find himself in a new situation. For our team, we need to be more consistent.

According to ESPN, the Clippers and Heat are also in the mix for Westbrook in the buyout market.

The Bulls are nearly $2 million below the luxury tax threshold, which the property has only paid once in history. If they get Westbrook back on the buyout market, it would likely be for a pro-rated salary to keep the franchise from hitting the threshold.

Again, speaking in generalities and assumptions because he can’t discuss the specifics of a player contracted to another team, Donovan said developing cohesion and fit so late in the season would heavily depend on the communication between the players. There’s nothing Donovan can throw schematically at Westbrook that he hasn’t seen in his 15-year career.

“The biggest issue is how does a guy come in and improve a group?” Donovan said. “A lot of times you have to play with guys over a period of time in order to feel comfortable. There is a period of adaptation.”

Westbrook — or any player in the buyout market, for that matter — would need to be bought out by his team before March 1 to be eligible for playoff roster.

Caruso aggravated

Guard Alex Caruso was ruled out against the Magic after aggravating his sprained left foot on Saturday against the Cavaliers. He was initially injured on February 2 and missed two games.

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