After leaving Friday's 123-119 loss to the Orlando Magic early in the third quarter with a right shoulder sprain, Lauri Markkanen is "unlikely" to play in the back leg of the teams' back-to-back set on Saturday, according to head coach Billy Donovan.
"Shoulder right now," Donovan said. "Unlikely for tomorrow is what I got from the medical staff. Probably too early to tell. It is a shoulder. We'll probably find out maybe more tomorrow when we get back to Chicago and some imaging is taken, but I don't have anything really more than that."
Markkanen appeared to sustain the injury on a drive to the basket in the first quarter, on which he finished a layup through a foul by Gary Clark. Markkanen notably grimaced and held his shoulder before attempting the free throw to complete the and-one, but, after a brief pause, converted the free throw. He logged another two-and-a-half first quarter minutes -- even making a 3 -- before checking out with 4:49 to play, again noticeably favoring the right shoulder.
Markkanen then returned to the game to start the second quarter after a brief locker room visit, and played eight minutes in the period, scoring 3 points (1-for-4 shooting, 1-for-3 from 3) and pulling down 4 rebounds. He exited the contest for good at the 10:30 mark of the third, grimacing again, with a final line of 13 points (5-for-9 FG) and 5 rebounds.
It's a tough, tough break for both Markkanen and the Bulls. Markkanen entered play averaging a career-high 19.6 points through 13 games, shooting career-best marks from the field (51.1 percent) and 3 (39.6 percent, 7.4 attempts per).
And the Bulls are already playing without Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr., the latter of whom Donovan said before the game is effectively "shut down" for the time being as he receives treatment for a nagging back ailment.
The duration of Markkanen's absence remains to be seen. Markkanen has already missed 7 games this season with a stay in the NBA's health and safety protocols due to close contact with a COVID-19 positive teammate.