Wendell Carter's rookie season ended with a setback and his sophomore campaign began with another.
But if there's any silver lining to the core muscle surgery Carter underwent on Tuesday, it's that it was more about cleaning up existing soreness than a new injury the 20-year-old suffered.
Bulls VP John Paxson revealed Thursday on 670 The Score that Carter had been dealing with the injury since high school, something the Bulls knew when they drafted him 7th overall in 2018.
"He played through it in high school, he played through it at Duke and last year, same thing," Paxson said. "It wasn’t anything that really limited him, it would just get sore. And so when he broke his thumb this year and had a chance to kind of quiet his body down, he was feeling good.
"Our protocol was to work him down this summer, ramp him up for Summer League to see how he felt, and if there was any discomfort we were going to address it."
Carter obviously felt enough discomfort after getting back on the floor post-thumb surgery that the Bulls made the decision to shut him down. They followed the same guidelines that were recommended from multiple specialists who recommended the same process of getting Carter back up to speed this summer and seeing how his core reacted.
The good news is that Carter is no longer expected to have that reocurruing soreness. The timeline given by the Bulls - 6 to 8 weeks - means Carter will be back for the start of training camp in late September.
"The rehab is, it’s aggressive. First day out of surgery, he was doing some core things and walking and he’ll ramp up, he’ll be back in town," Paxson said. "But he’ll be ready by training camp. We think this is something that will free him up and he won’t have any more discomfort and he’ll be able to play."
Carter had a promising rookie season going before suffering a broken thumb that required surgery in January. He averaged 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 25.2 minutes.
He'll start again in Year 2, but the Bulls have added multiple options - perhaps as insurance - behim him in second-round pick Daniel Gafford and stretch big Luke Kornet. Gafford has been excellent in Summer League thus far, averaging 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 26.2 minutes.