CHICAGO – One of the big defenses that John Paxson gave for the Bulls being quiet at the trade deadline was the team’s health.
It was because of that, and the lack of it, that the executive vice president along with the rest of the team have hesitated to make any judgments about what the team has in the third year of their rebuild. While many fans panned that reasoning, and the team’s 19-34 record could have certainly justified a trade, it’s has been hard to get any true look at what this Bulls team could be.
Right now Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Wendell Carter Jr. are sitting on the sidelines with injuries. The miserable luck with the ailments has only gotten worse after the new year, and while not an excuse for all their problems, it hasn’t exactly helped the cause.
Then came the news on Saturday that could really set the Bulls back for at least an evening on Zach LaVine. A foul in the first quarter of Thursday’s game in which Jrue Holiday ended up landing on the neck of the guard caused some soreness for LaVine the last two days, and has been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Sixers in Philadelphia.
If he’s out, it would be the guard’s first missed game after appearing in the first 53 of the season and would leave the Bulls virtually depleted offensively. Hopes to get any evaluation of what he has will be quite difficult, and Jim Boylen understands that.
“The amount of trauma this team has faced is unusual. It’s a drain on everyone, and we have to fight through it in this moment,” said Boylen of the team’s injuries. “We’ll evaluate when we get the chance to evaluate. In the meantime, we have to continue to develop and play competitive basketball.”
With nearly all their starters on the sidelines, that’s going to be difficult, as it will be tough to tell how much the Bulls really have with this group if none of them are playing. Boylen said that Markkanen does more every day but won’t practice after the All-Star Break, keeping with the initial diagnosis of 4-to-6 weeks with the hip stress reaction.
Paxson hoped that he along Carter and Porter would return by the end of February, with Dunn’s MCL sprain likely needing a little more time.
“Otto did a little more today than he did yesterday. Wendell did a little bit more today than he did yesterday. Wendell is getting some court work, which is good. Otto’s getting some court work, which is good,” said Boylen. “As you all know, this is a day-to-day process; a guy comes in, feels good, he maybe does a little bit more. A guy comes in sore, we pull him back a little bit.”
While hoping that there are no more setbacks in a year full of them, health-wise.