CHICAGO – It’s not the first time it’s happened, and the way things are going it won’t be the last when it comes to the Bulls.
It would figure that on a day they get one of their starters back after being out over half the season and another takes a step in a positive direction that their best player will likely be knocked out of the lineup.
So here’s the scenario for Monday: Forward Otto Porter Jr. is back in the Bulls’ lineup for the first time since November 6th and will take the floor against the Mavericks at the United Center for the first time in 51 games.
Lauri Markkanen, who has been out with a stress reaction in his hip, is taking the floor today to practice with the Windy City Bulls as he gets closer to a return.
Yet at the same time, the team will most likely be without their best player for the first time all season, as Zach LaVine is listed as doubtful with a strained left quad. The team’s leading scorer with 25.5 points per game, LaVine had played in the first 60 games of the season.
While it’s unknown if his injury is long term, the news that Porter is returning to the lineup is a positive for the team, considering what’s ahead for the forward. Acquired at the trade deadline in 2019, Porter still has a player option for next season at $28.4 million. Most likely he’ll opt to take that, especially after missing the majority of this season, so the Bulls will get a chance to see what they’ll have with the forward.
Getting Markkanen back would be good for the third-year player to perhaps build a little confidence after a difficult start to the season before his injury. His points per game average was down by nearly four points from last year in 46 games (15) while his rebounds decreased to 6.5.