Bulls

Daniel Gafford to start for Bulls against Indiana Pacers

gafford.jpg
USA Today

Daniel Gafford to start for Bulls against Indiana Pacers

In advance of hosting the Indiana Pacers Friday night, Jim Boylen announced that Daniel Gafford will make his first NBA start. He'll slide into the center spot alongside Lauri Markkanen in the first unit.

That froncourt duo is something of an adjustment from Wendesday night's game in New Orleans, when Boylen ran Thad Young out with the starters.

"We think for this game that's a good situation," Boylen said of the decision, which will see Gafford match up with Pacers center Myles Turner. "There's a possibility that our starting lineup could float a little bit, I don't want to commit to that [moving forward], I just want you to be aware of it, and we'll see how that goes."

Boylen stressed that the decision is more matchup-based than a referendum on any one player or player combination, and to expect some mixing and matching going forward.

"We have all the confidence in the world in Gaff, this is not about who we're confident in and who we're not," Boylen said. "There's other things that go into it. Sometimes it's who their backups are that goes into it."

Gafford went scoreless with four rebounds and two blocks in 16 minutes of action against the Pelicans, the Bulls' first game without Wendell Carter Jr. Carter is set to miss at least 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain, and said today that he's targeting the All-Star break for his return.

Young had 18 points and six rebounds in 34:44 minutes on 7-for-16 shooting on Wednesday. The hope is Young's presence will help along a Bulls bench that mustered just 23 points in that game.

"Thad's tough and he's experienced, and he plays very hard. He's got great hands, he's got great instincts. We move him around, to his credit, he's done a good job for us," Boylen said. "It seems like he makes one or two threes every game. And we also get him on the box a little bit, and he throws the ball out and he makes good plays."

Boylen also lauded Markkanen for fighting through an ankle ailment of his own last week, and said there's "no doubt" he plays tonight.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Bulls provide update on Kris Dunn recovery timeline from knee injury

dunnhero.jpg
USA Today

Bulls provide update on Kris Dunn recovery timeline from knee injury

Just one day after Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. provided cautiously optimistic updates on their injury recoveries, the Bulls took a hit.

On Wednesday, the team announced that Kris Dunn will continue his current rehabilitation schedule on his right MCL for four to six weeks before "progressing to functional training" and determining if "additional treatment" is required (i.e. reevaluation). That timeline is a result of an MRI and reexamination conducted on Dunn's knee on Feb. 14.

Dunn sprained his right MCL 13 seconds into a loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 31. The Bulls' defensive efficiency and playoff chances have plummeted since that time, and this news confirms suspicions that an extended absence would be in the cards.

To that point: With about two months remaining in the regular season, a four-to-six week reevaluation timeline casts serious doubt on whether Dunn will return at all this year — a possibility the Bulls have already been preparing for.

Dunn is set to his restricted free agency this offseason, and has proven immensely valuable to the Bulls in his third season with the team. Before going down, Dunn was second in the NBA in total steals and the Bulls owned the seventh-rated defense in the league.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Bulls coach Jim Boylen stumps for Rudy Tomjanovich's Hall of Fame bid

boylen.jpg
USA Today

Bulls coach Jim Boylen stumps for Rudy Tomjanovich's Hall of Fame bid

In case you forgot, Jim Boylen once worked for Rudy Tomjanovich. In fact, the former Rockets coach gave Boylen his NBA start, hiring him as an assistant coach and video coordinator way back in 1992.

Boylen saw first-hand the coaching chops and commitment Tomjanovich displayed as the Rockets won back-to-back NBA titles while Michael Jordan was playing baseball in the mid-1990s. So it's beyond loyalty when Boylen says he believes, like many others, that Tomjanovich belongs in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The organization named Tomjanovich a finalist over All-Star weekend in Chicago.

[RELATED: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett highlight Hall of Fame finalists]

"He's deserving," Boylen said. "I don't know why he's not in there yet. It doesn't make sense to me. Two championships, a gold medal."

That's a reference to Tomjanovich coaching USA Basketball's gold-medal winning team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Tomjanovich is an occasional visitor to the Advocate Center to watch Boylen.

"What he did with those Rockets teams and his playoff games — sixth seed in '95 — nobody's duplicated that. To win it from the sixth seed, play on the road like we did," Boylen said. "He has an unbelievable record in elimination games, which I think is a true test of your coaching and being able to communicate your message. I think he's getting in."

Does Boylen possess inside information?

"No," Boylen said, smiling. "He's due."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.