Bulls benching veteran starters to evaluate young talent for final 25 games

CHICAGO - Big changes are coming to the Bulls starting lineup for the final 25 games of the season.

Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Justin Holiday will be shifted out of the rotation to make way for Cristiano Felicio, David Nwaba and Cameron Payne.

"You can't play twelve guys in our game," explained Bulls executive vice president John Paxson. "Nine or ten is the most, so we're going to start looking at blocks of games where we'll be having a few guys that haven't been playing much or at all, where they'll have a significant role for us. "

"Having played, I was out of the rotation several times as a player, so I know what it's like or to be asked to take a lesser role. Players have pride in who they are and what they stand for, so it's hard. I don't take that lightly, at all. It's just the position we're in as a young basketball team - 20-37 - with a lot of young guys on this roster, several we haven't had a chance to see play much this year. For us to make the proper evaluation, in terms of who fits us going forward, this is something we have to do."

Nwaba and Felicio will start Thursday night against the Sixers along with Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn.

The three have only played four games together this year.

Paxson and head coach Fred Hoiberg are eager to see what they can do down the stretch.

"I am. I'm excited to see what those three guys can do out there together," remarked Hoiberg. "The only time we've seen them Zach was on a 20-minute per game limit. It is exciting to see those guys. They're just going to be playing with a few other players they wouldn't have normally played with."