DETROIT - Throughout December, Denzel Valentine was living his dream.
His surgically repaired ankle felt great. After beginning the season out of Jim Boylen's rotation, he was contributing. And the Bulls were winning, going 7-7 on the month.
"Basketball is everything to me," Valentine said.
But when Chandler Hutchison returned from his shoulder, Valentine became the odd man out. He has played nine minutes this month and drew his second straight "Did Not Play - Coach's Decision" Saturday night.
"It's frustrating because I feel I haven't made as big an impact as I want lately," Valentine said. "I know I can help us win and be a better player. All I can do is try to build and learn and grow."
The Feb. 6 trade deadline is approaching. Valentine wants to remain a Bull, but he also wants to play. Plenty of playoff teams seek shooting at the deadline, and Valentine is a career 37.5 percent shooter. While a team like the 76ers may show interest if they don't land a bigger name, Valentine also could be packaged if the Bulls decide to trade Thad Young.
"I let my agent handle that. I try not to worry too much about that. I try to make the most out of my situation right now.," Valentine said. "I feel I can play on any team. I'm trying to make the Chicago Bulls better. Any other stuff is out of my control."
About the only good news lately is that Valentine, who missed all of last season, said his ankle feels great.
"I never think about it," Valentine said. "Dr. [Bob] Anderson is good. He tightened up the ligaments on each side because I rolled my ankles so many times during the years. They were loose. At the beginning of the season, it was a little sore here and there. But it's been good. I'm locked and loaded, ready to go."
Valentine just hopes he gets another rotational shot soon.
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Denzel Valentine frustrated that he has fallen out of Bulls' rotation originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago