DEERFIELD, Ill. — Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s first NBA team, the 2002-03 Golden State Warriors, lost more games in six weeks than Dunleavy lost in three NCAA seasons. Of course, the son of the former NBA player and coach attended Duke, where the Blue Devils went 95-13 during his time there and won the National Championship in 2001.
Winning pretty much was the only thing Dunleavy knew back then, playing for Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. But basketball as a living got grittier and, while financially rewarding ($67 million over 11 NBA seasons), considerably less fun.
In all this time since being picked No. 3 in the 2002 Draft – four-plus seasons with the Warriors, four-plus more in Indiana and the past two with the Milwaukee Bucks – Dunleavy never has played on a team that won as many games as it lost. They are a combined 113 games under .500 and, even when that was good enough to steal a playoff berth, it didn’t last; the Pacers got bounced in five games by the Bulls in 2011 and the Bucks were swept out by Miami this spring.
That time of the season back in Durham, N.C., when adrenaline flowed like water – March Madness – gave way in Dunleavy’s working life to April Apathy. His NBA clubs had little to do besides “a lot of surfing the Internet for vacation plans,” he said Wednesday.
“It’s nice to have gotten a taste of the playoffs two of the last three years,” Dunleavy said, after standing before the cameras and reporters at the Berto Center, the Chicago Bulls’ practice facility. He officially signed a two-year, $6.2 million free-agent deal with the club when the league’s moratorium lifted.
“Being in those positions has made me want it even more. So that’s why this was so appealing. But yeah, man, you turn on the TV April 20 and a bunch of teams are playing for the trophy and you’re at home, on the couch, doing what you’re doing, it’s depressing.”
Playing for a contender, which Chicago expects to be if MVP guard Derrick Rose makes a complete return from April 2012 knee surgery, should take care of Dunleavy’s personal W-L stats this season, if he’s able to take care of his individual numbers. Last season, he ranked eighth in the league in 3-point field-goal percentage (42.8) while averaging 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 25.9 mostly off the bench. Based on Dunleavy’s on-floor production, Milwaukee – which got outscored by an average of 1.6 points – played at a plus-2.3 points level when he was in game.
The Bulls will be looking to Dunleavy to log time at both small forward and shooting guard, and to pick up offensive slack left by Kyle Korver‘s departure before last season and Marco Belinelli‘s this summer (along with Richard Hamilton‘s release Wednesday). Both the club and the player sought each other swiftly when the market opened July 1 and reached a contract agreement the first day.
“Just for peace of mind and happness, the years and money became less relevant and the situation and culture was most important,” Dunleavy said.