It was reported on Friday night that Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen will be out six-to-eight weeks with what is listed as a a high grade lateral elbow sprain.

This news comes shortly after Denzel Valentine was also reported to be dealing with an injury, depleting a bit of the depth that will be a positive for this current Bulls squad.

There is obviously never a great time for your franchise cornerstone to get injured, but but two days before the preseason opener is definitely far from ideal.

Jeff Stotts of Rotowire stated the average number of games missed for a moderate UCL sprain, comparing it to the rehab of the Charlotte Hornets Nic Batum, who had the same injury during last year's preseason:

At the time, it looks like the best-case for a Markkanen return is in early November. But there is no reason for the Bulls to rush him back, considering this season is about developing chemistry, and losing him for an extended period time would seriously damage the potential for the front office to properly evaluate this roster. 

 

Last season, Markkanen made a splash in his rookie season, scoring 15.2 points per game to go along with 7.5 rebounds and 145 3-pointers made. This injury stalls the start to his sophomore season, in which many are expecting him to make another big leap in development. 

In the meantime, Fred Hoiberg will have a chance to play Jabari Parker at the power forward spot more often. The preseason will surely help shape his decision on who steps into Markkanen's starting role in the lineup, a spot Bobby Portis may not be thrusted into immediately because of his importance to the bench unit. 

Markkanen's recovery will end up being a critical factor in what the direction this team goes in this season, as the Bulls have a particularly brutal stretch at the start of opponents to start the year.

But lottery-bound or not, the Bulls will be happy as long as Markkanen can make a full recovery with no lingering issues.