Bulls

Lauri Markkanen to miss four to six weeks with pelvis injury

Lauri Markkanen to miss four to six weeks with pelvis injury

Friday afternoon, the Bulls announced that Lauri Markkanen will miss extended time with a stress reaction of his right pelvis. Markkanen underwent an MRI that revealed the injury on Jan. 23.

It's another chapter in an injury-riddled campaign and career for Markkanen — this will be his third extended absence in the past two seasons. Earlier this season, Markkanen played through nagging oblique and, more recently, ankle ailments, something head coach Jim Boylen said he's proud of him for doing.

"We’re always going to look out for the best interest of our guy. Lauri had a goal to play 82 games and he fought through the oblique and he fought through the ankle. We felt those were things that were acceptable fight through, and this is something that we are going to have him fight through," Boylen said. "He wants to play, he’s disappointed that he’s not playing and we hope we get him back as soon as possible."

Markkanen and Boylen didn't pinpoint an exact incident that sparked the injury, both saying it's something that has been ailing Markkanen for some time.

"I can't think of specific, like, what happened. Just a couple games now, it just felt like normal soreness, been getting normal treatment, like just how it is and trying to get ready for a game and that's how it's been," Markkanen said, adding that he first started feeling the soreness about 10 days ago.

"I really wanted to play, but at the same time I had to take a step back and think what’s actually smart."

While the Bulls made no mention of a procedure in their statement, Markkanen will undergo a 'period of rest', with a recovery timetable of 4-6 weeks. The news adds another layer to a tumultious month of January for the team — Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford and Otto Porter Jr. are all currently sidelined and without exact designations for return.

"I haven't had enough time to think about all that. I just got the news a little while ago," Markkanen said when asked about the implications of the injury.

Still, it's a surprising and unfortunate setback for Markkanen, who has been enduring an up and down campaign. Markkanen is currently averaging career lows in points (15), rebounds (6.5) and field goal attempts (12) per game. Thad Young will slide into the starting lineup in his place.

"When it rains it pours, right?" Young said. "It’s a big blow to what we do, big blow to how our offense has been moving and operating... But for us, what's wrong with him, we have to think about the long-term situation and the health of our players."

Through it all, the Bulls' mentality remains next-man-up.

"We just take this opportunity to develop our roster. Some next man has to step up. And we keep trying to play hard and play the right way," Boylen said. "This happens in our league. It happens, its part of the business. It’s disappointing, but hopefully he comes back sooner than later. In the meantime, we got to play basketball games and play the right way."

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NBA Mock Draft 4.0: Top of the 2020 NBA Draft still a mystery

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USA TODAY

NBA Mock Draft 4.0: Top of the 2020 NBA Draft still a mystery

One thing we know for sure about the 2020 NBA Draft: no team executives will be losing sleep on the eve of the lottery hoping to land the first or second pick like a year ago when the top prizes where generational power forward Zion Williamson and point guard extraordinaire Ja Morant.

Matter of fact, teams might prefer not to land one of the top three picks so they can pay less guaranteed money to a player who may not have a huge impact,

As we get closer to the start of conference tournaments around the country, no player has really distinguished himself as the clear cut No. 1 choice. Georgia’s Anthony Edwards gets credit for being available to play all season, but his poor shooting percentages from the field and the 3-point line for a bad college team hardly scream top overall pick.

Injuries and eligibility questions have kept a few of the top prospects off the court, so NBA executives will put more emphasis than ever on the information they gather during the draft combine and individual workouts.

Here’s a snapshot at where things stand in late February with our fourth mock draft.

Bulls rule out Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison and more vs. Hornets

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USA Today

Bulls rule out Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison and more vs. Hornets

The Bulls' injury housekeeping continues.

After Wednesday afternoon practice, Jim Boylen ruled out Otto Porter Jr. (foot), Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle), Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) and Denzel Valentine (hamstring) for Thursday night's matchup with the Charlotte Hornets.

Porter (full) and Carter (limited) both participated in practice. Carter had repeatedly expressed a desire to return in the Bulls' first game out of the break, but it appears he's not quite there yet.

While Boylen said he hasn't decided on starters for the Hornets game yet, he made a point to add that Daniel Gafford has "got his legs back" and that his rim protection will be much-needed to remedy the team's precipitous defensive slide — in five games since Kris Dunn went down with an MCL sprain, they're dead last in the NBA in defensive rating (123.2).

Hutchison had filled in nicely for Dunn over the five games leading up to the All-Star break, but something evidently re-flared up in the shoulder that caused him to miss 17 games between November and January of this season. With 19 appearances in a row dating back to Jan. 6, Hutchison was one game away from matching his career high for consecutive games played. Alas.

"We have struggled with new guys playing and some of our experienced guys not out there. So, we will just keep hammering away at it," Boylen said of the team's recent defensive woes. "I think we all know our system is solid and been productive, but personnel is a big part of that. So, we'll just keep working on our guys in that system and keep trying to perfect it."

This news dump comes on the heels of a report from the Bulls this morning that extended Dunn's reevaluation timeline to four-to-six weeks after an MRI and reexamination on his right knee on Feb. 14. The Bulls get the benefit of three straight under-.500 opponents (Hornets, Suns, Wizards) out of the break, but if guys don't start getting back soon, matters could devolve.

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