Well, folks, it looks like we're getting closer to evaluation season.
In advance of Saturday night's matchup with the Knicks, Bulls coach Jim Boylen officially confirmed that Wendell Carter Jr. and Denzel Valentine will return to the team's rotation. Carter, who hasn't played since Jan. 6 with a high ankle sprain, will start against the Knicks and operate on a 21-22 minute restriction (Boylen said he'll be deployed in four-to-six minute stints). Valentine, who's missed seven games with hamstring tightness, will run with the second unit.
Coby White, who tweaked his back prior to practice on Thursday, is available, per the Bulls.
Otto Porter Jr. didn't travel with the team to New York. Boylen said his conditioning "is coming" and he hopes to get him back as soon as possible, though the team appears to still be without a specific target date for Porter's return.
The derailing of the Bulls season has coincided with widespread injuries on every level of the roster. Even with the re-additions of Carter and Valentine, the team remains without Lauri Markkanen, Chandler Hutchison and Porter for undefined periods of time, while Kris Dunn and Luke Kornet are currently on recovery schedules that indicate their seasons are likely over. But Boylen didn't run from questioning about his confidence in the team's preventitive practices (especially when training in the offseason).
"I really believe in our training group and our medical (staff)," Boylen said. "I look at it in a couple different ways. We've had trauma. Trauma's different. A broken finger, a broken foot, two knees. You know, things that happen from contact, collision. Those are things I think are very difficult to control. We play hard, we want to run. Our defense is active. But I just think we're in a moment where we've had a tough run. I don't know how to explain it, but we can't cry about it, we gotta fight through it, and the guys that are playing need to play."