Who will start at point guard for Bulls with Lonzo Ball out? Training camp will sort that out

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) – Bulls coach Billy Donovan views it as a matter for another day deeper into training camp. Defensive menace Alex Caruso carries no strong opinion at this time. Veteran Goran Dragic is just happy to be in Chicago and to have a chance to contribute in any fashion to what should be a playoff team.

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The question – Who’s going to be the Chicago’s starting point guard with Lonzo Ball set to undergo another knee surgery Wednesday? – is perhaps the most intriguing storyline as the Bulls open practice Tuesday. With Ball set to miss a significant portion of time early in the season, Caruso, the newly signed Dragic, Ayo Dosunmu and perhaps even Coby White will factor more into the point guard mix.

“I don’t want to sit there and say it’s like wide open, but we need to compete,” Donovan said at media day Monday at the United Center. “I’m more concerned about how groups function and play together more so than just one position. I do think at the point guard position, there is experience that we’ve got with Goran, there’s experience there with Alex. I think there’s now experience with Ayo. Coby has played back there. I think there’s enough right now. Who starts, how it goes and the starting job, I’m not really that wrapped up in that right now as much as can establish who we want to be as a team going forward.”

The Bulls’ decision on their starting point guard will factor into how they play stylistically. Caruso being inserted into the starting lineup would be a big boost to their defense and mean the half-court offense would primarily be run through stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, as was familiar last season.

“I’ve always been team-first, trying to win games,” Caruso said. “If that’s me starting basketball games, then that’s what we’ll do. If that’s me coming off the bench, that’s fine too. I’ve always been (of the mindset) that I’d rather finish games than start games. So for me, it’s just making sure I’m impacting the game the right way.”

The 36-year-old Dragic is the most traditional point guard option for the Bulls and is plenty comfortable running the high pick-and-roll, but he’s a veteran whom they want to keep fresh. He won’t be playing 36 minutes a night, as Donovan noted while calling Dragic the Bulls’ “most seasoned” point guard option.

“Whether you start him or bring him off the bench, you’re sometimes shortening the game in having him come off the bench,” Donovan said. “That puts him in a situation where you’re maybe able to play him a lot more coming down the stretch.”

Dragic averaged 7.3 points and 4.8 assists in 25.5 minutes across 16 games for Brooklyn last season, which started with him in Toronto. Dragic played in only five games for the Raptors as he missed time for personal reasons and then the team prioritized playing time for younger players. He was then traded to the Spurs and landed with the Nets after a contract buyout before joining the Bulls in July.

“Whatever they need,” Dragic said. “I got a lot of experience. I can be the vocal guy in the locker room if they need me. I can come off the bench and be that spark. I’m at that point in my career, whatever is needed from me, I’m glad to do it. I’m really excited to be a part of this team.”

Dosunmu could split the different between the Caruso and Dragic options as he has been a solid defender and brings offensive punch in transition, but the Bulls also saw diminishing returns on his efficiency when he played heavy minutes in an impressive rookie season.

Whatever route they go, the Bulls know that can’t replicate Ball's otherworldly basketball instincts and superb passing, but they’ll do their best to patch the hole.

“Anytime you lose a good player, it’s always challenging,” Donovan said. “And Lonzo is obviously a terrific player. The injuries are a part of it. I think because of last year, we had a lot of different guys at that spot, Ayo played there quite a bit, so did Coby, so did Alex Caruso. Adding Goran right now gives us obviously a really good veteran there. I think we’ll have to see how these guys jell and mesh once training camp starts and we start practicing. I think we have enough back there that we can get the job done from that standpoint.

“There’s enough balance back there that I think we can figure that out.”

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.

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