Mike Dunleavy’s return from back surgery could’ve hit a snag, as Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg announced Dunleavy will visit a doctor Monday after experiencing some soreness.
Dunleavy underwent a lower-back microdiscectomy right before training camp convened, and many hoped he would be back soon, as in a couple of weeks.
Whether that plan is on hold or not is anybody’s guess, especially after Hoiberg indicated Dunleavy was going to start ramping up his activity before the team went on its Circus Trip.
“Mike is going to see a doctor again (Monday), and then we should have a better update after that,” Hoiberg said. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that (Monday).”
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Dunleavy spoke at Bulls’ shootaround in Portland a few days ago and didn’t seem to indicate he suffered any setbacks, trying to look forward to how he can acclimate himself to Hoiberg’s system along with the general restlessness of wanting to play.
“You picture where you can fit in and all that,” Dunleavy said. “It’s just the way it works before you get back out there. But you go through a myriad of emotions, of wanting to be out there, the frustration, tired of sitting out and all that stuff. But you gotta be patient with all that stuff.”
It was clear he had no intentions on rushing things seeing as how his back is so central to everything he or any athlete does.
“I don’t know. Hopefully soon,” Dunleavy said then. “But trying to get completely right and feel good and safe enough to go out there and play.”
Dunleavvy said on the road he often has to choose between having a bad night’s rest while sleeping on hotel room beds, which are too soft for his back or sleeping on the floor for the sake of his back — which isn’t the preferred choice of anybody, one would say.
“It’s a little of (pain management), but I haven’t played since May,” Dunleavy said. “It’s getting into basketball shape, getting my legs under me where I can feel comfortable, where I can go out there and not re-injure myself.”
But with Tony Snell and Doug McDermott struggling to provide what Dunleavy brings in the way of shot-making, team defense, veteran savvy and even taking the right angles on post-entry passes, his importance has been magnified.
Snell is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range, but just 32 percent overall, averaging six points in 22 minutes. He hasn’t connected on more than two field goals in a game since the Bulls’ 23-point win in Philadelphia at the beginning of the month.
“We have a lot of good players playing right now,” Dunleavy said. “We have more than enough. I hope I can come back and contribute even more, but I try to help those other guys filling in for my position. They’ve done good stuff and continue to improve, and I’ll get back when I can. I think we’ve got a good enough team as-is.”
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McDermott has provided more than Snell on offense, shooting 48 percent from the floor and 47 from 3-point range but struggles on defense. Theoretically, Dunleavy is a blend of the two, but he understands what each is dealing with.
“I think either one of the guys, we’ve all been there, I’ve been there in this league. The biggest thing is gonna be consistency,” he said. “Consistency with performance, with shooting, with defense. It’s what all young players struggle with. As you get older and you start figuring more and more things out game by game, that’s a challenge very few guys can skip in terms of consistency.”