Bulls

Running with the Bulls: More Injury Problems

Running with the Bulls: More Injury Problems

Saturday, Mar. 27, 2010
7:21 P.M.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

When people think of something contagious, its usually the flu. For the Chicago Bulls, however, an epidemic of plantar fasciitis has infected the team this season.

With the flu, you kind of know when youre going to get over it, said Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro. Our situation is very difficult.

Rookie James Johnson is the latest victimjoining Joakim Noah and fellow first-year forward Taj Gibsonand will miss tonights game against New Jersey with a tear in his right foot. Johnson incurred the injury early in Thursdays loss to Miami, but returned to action later in the contest, although he missed Fridays practice.

I just went out there and tried to warm up on his right foot. It wasnt doing so well, said Johnson, who attributed adrenaline to being able to continue to play Thursday night. It was hurt on Thursday, but I love my teammates and Im going to ride with them, no matter what. Im not going to let a little pain stop me. No doctor told me what happened to it so as far as I know, I was good to go and Im going to keep fighting with my dudes as long as I can.

Thats just part of the game. Youre into the game, youre not really worried about pain, youre just worried about winning, Johnson added, before detailing the injury. Ive felt it earlier in the season, but it didnt really faze me. I knew I could play through it. It wasnt anything that was going to keep me out or get massive treatment, noted Johnson.

I want to go out there and give 100 percent while Im out there and I know I cant do that tonight.

Reserve guard Jannero Pargo will start in Johnsons placeJohnson was already starting as a replacement for injured small forward Luol Dengas Del Negro continues to opt for a three-guard look with limited bodies in the frontcourt on the roster. Moving forward, the unpredictability of Johnsons injury, as well as Joakim Noahs return from his own plantar fasciitis issues, inhibits his ability to plan for upcoming matchups.

No one has any idea right now how his foot is going to react. He tried to loosen up prior to tonights game and was in too much pain, said Del Negro. Its partially torn so even if hes able to go, its going to be on a limited minutes basis

Theres a possibility thats hes going be out for a little bit just because he partially tore it, he continued. He came back and played a little bit, which is encouraging, but maybe it swelled up after the game.

For him to even try and go through exercises, I was surprised. Its a very painful injury.

our situation is very difficult

As for Noah, Johnsons comrade-in-feet, is expected to see 20 minutes of action this evening, as he continues to recover from his own bout with the foot ailment, with increasing playing time each period. However, Del Negro was unsure whether that pattern would hold for tomorrows game at Detroit.

I dont know if hes medically cleared. Really what we do is see how he feels after each game, explained Del Negro. If hes finetheres no swelling and hes not changing his stride or his gait, all thatthen we increase his minutes. If hes really sore, then we back it off. The back-to-back might be a little bit of a challenge, but well make that decision tomorrow before the game.

Regarding tonights game, Del Negro focused on the significance, regardless of his ailing roster.

A lot of question marks right now, but we still have a game to play. We have to have a sense of urgency tonight, no matter whos playing and if were good enough, well win, said Del Negro. We dont really have a small forward with Luol and James being out so well just have to make do with a smaller lineup at times. We can play Hak Hakim Warrick and go a little bit bigger. Well just have to mix and match.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Bulls' Tuesday night tilt against the Cavaliers on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. LeBron James will be on your television

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is must-see TV. Now in his 15th NBA season, James has shown no signs of slowing down. Despite playing just one preseason game (against the Bulls), James has shown anything but rust in three games, averaging 25.0 points on 60 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in nearly 37 minutes. He's a threat every night to do something you've never seen on a basketball court, His Airness included. Justin Holiday and Paul Zipser will have their hands full against the game's best player.

2. Lauri Markkanen, Week 2

Small sample size alert! But through the season's first week Markkanen and Ben Simmons are the only rookies averaging a double-double (Dallas' Dennis Smith has played just one game, averaging 16 points and 10 assists). While the Bulls have struggled through two games, Markkanen's net rating is third best on the team and he leads the Bulls bigs in rebounds per game and rebound percentage. Markkanen has shown some versatility offensively, and his 7 free-throw attempts have been a nice surprise as well.

3. Don't forget: The Bulls swept the Cavaliers last year

OK, so expecting a victory Tuesday night in Cleveland isn't smart. The Bulls will be underdogs just like they were in each of the four games last season, all of which were Bulls winners. It was the first time in 52 division series that LeBron James had been swept, which is pretty remarkable considering the Bulls were the No. 8 seed and the Cavs coasted to a third straight NBA Finals. We're not over here predicting a win. But just remember: the Bulls have fared well against James in the regular season.

Zach LaVine not sweating contract extension, anxious to get back in uniform

Zach LaVine not sweating contract extension, anxious to get back in uniform

The Zach LaVine timeline for a Bulls debut remains the same, although he’s ahead of schedule in every metric of his return from ACL surgery this past February.

It doesn’t mean he isn’t angling for more work and pushing his limits to learn the offense he’ll be featured in, along with taking contact “here and there,” in his words. He’s supposed to wait nine months from the day of his February 14 surgery before taking contact, which would put him at a November 14 practice before the Bulls go to Oklahoma City.

“I should be doing contact really soon. It all depends on them,” LaVine said in his first public words since media day several weeks ago. “I’m pushing them as hard as I can, but at the end of the day we still gotta be careful. I feel great. I’m doing everything I was doing before. I’m pretty sure I can do contact, but we’ve got to stick to that schedule. But every day I’m just getting back, trying to as close to 100 percent as I can before I come back.”

LaVine was at Air Canada Centre getting a workout in before the Bulls opener against the Raptors and has gotten in heavy workouts on the off days with the assistant coaches in the meantime.

Sticking to the schedule will be on both LaVine and the Bulls, although both sides could be tempted to cut corners a bit. It would be human nature for the Bulls to show the NBA world their centerpiece from the Jimmy Butler trade on draft night, as well as LaVine to want to be the frontline player he feels he deserves to be.

“Yeah, it’s definitely hard. I don’t like missing games,” LaVine said. “Before the injury I didn’t really miss any games. I think I missed one or two in my career, so it really sucks just sitting there, not being able to help. I try to help as much as I can from the sideline. You know, give a little advice here and there, but yeah it hurts.”

He’s also in line for a big-time extension, having passed the deadline for extensions for players in his 2014 draft class. He’ll have to wait until the summer, especially since it didn’t make sense for him to extend unless it was a max deal.

“Obviously, I want to be here for a long time,” LaVine said. “And I feel the deal is going to get done, either then or next summer. I don’t have any fear in that. I think I know I’ll be in black and red for a little bit longer. I’m very happy and looking forward to that day as well. The main concern is just getting back on the court, get my legs ready and try to help the team as much as possible until then.”

LaVine was averaging a career-high 18.9 points as a third option behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, but will be featured in Fred Hoiberg’s offense as a first and maybe even second option, too—especially seeing how anemic the Bulls offense has looked in the first two games.

“With the team that we have and the system that (Fred Hoiberg) put in, we’re going to get up a lot of threes,” LaVine said. “When we’re on we’re going to blow some teams out with those threes. When we’re off, as the last couple games have shown, it’s going to be a struggle to score sometimes, but I think that’s where I can come in and help, and I can’t wait to get out there and start playing.”

Never lacking for confidence, LaVine hasn’t been deterred by the losing or even the unfortunate Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic incident from last week.

“We’re building something here. People understand we’re going through a little bit of that process,” LaVine said. “But we’re going to play and win. When I’m on the court, I’m trying to win. Wins and losses do happen. We can always take positives from both of those. That’s how you grow.”

As for Mirotic, LaVine hasn’t spoken to him but has sent texts—as it seems many of the Bulls have reached out to their teammate over the last several days.

“It was unfortunate. That’s what happens when two players are battling I guess,” LaVine said. “I don’t think either of them were in the wrong. It was just something that happened, an altercation. Men are men sometimes. We never should have that happen. But I think we’ve moved past it. Bobby’s in a good spot. We’ve all tried to contact Niko. I think we’ll all be able to move forward.”