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The Bulls have sent forward James Johnson to the D-League today.  Johnson had only played in 12 games this season, and only one in the new year.   I don't put any stock into the stats Johnson put up, but two games stick out in my mind. 

The Bulls were trailing in their home opener, and Johnson sparked them in the fourth quarter, which led to a comeback win for the Bulls.  Johnson scored 8 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, dished out 4 assists, had 3 blocks, 2 steals in 19 minutes.  Some were speculating that if Johnson showed that much energy and played that well, he could take some rotation minutes from Deng.  With Deng playing the most minutes on the team, we know that it wasn't the case.  Three weeks later, Johnson broke a 6-game DNP streak by sparking the Bulls again, this time in Phoenix.  Johnson had 23 minutes in an overtime win, scored 12 points, with 5 rebounds, 3 assists but also fouled out.  He hasn't played meaningful minutes since.

Now my question is, why doesn't he get more time?  I don't know the answer to that, but it could have something to do with practice.  Last year, we heard about his conditioning all of the time.  But in a season where Luol Deng is obviously over worked and underperforming on the offensive side of the ball, you're telling me he can't come in for 6-8 minutes per game? 

It may seem like I'm a big fan of James, but I don't really know how I feel about him.  I didn't like when the Bulls drafted him at the time.  I felt he was a poor man's Tyrus Thomas on draft day.  The Bulls could have used more athleticism that season, but they could have had better players, even though they didn't fit a need.  Jrue Holiday is who I wanted the Bulls to draft, even though Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich were on the roster.  My feeling was that Holliday was a better player, and he could be used for trade bait down the stretch.  Can you use Johnson as trade bait now?  He's a bit of an unknown, and even though he's not 24 yet, how much can other teams value him?  Although, Anthony Randolph really hasn't done much, and apparently, teams are willing to give up lottery picks for him.  Am I a fan of him now?  Not really, although I think he can be useful in resting Deng during the course of a game, and providing a spark off the bench.  I'm just upset with management when they drafted a kid that had some character issues, but a lot of talent waiting to be developed.  They haven't developed him thus far, and maybe sending him to the D-League will help.  But it seems counter-productive to wait to send him to the D-League a year and a half after he was drafted.

Dropping the ball on the 2008 draft might not seem like a big deal when the team is winning, but today it hurts.  When the Bulls need to upgrade, they find that they can't because of the lack of young talent.  Maybe there's a team that believes in Johnson, but they don't have to give up much.