Bulls

Bulls' Mike Dunleavy to see doctor Monday after soreness

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Bulls' Mike Dunleavy to see doctor Monday after soreness

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).”

[MORE BULLS: Jimmy Butler playing through the pain for Bulls]

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.”

[MORE BULLS: Derrick Rose on his play against Pacers: 'I played like (bleep)']

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.”

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: