MINNEAPOLIS — Jim Boylen’s goals for Lauri Markkanen’s return are simple.
“Play hard, man. Rebound. Defend. Push the ball when you have an opportunity in the multihandler system. Make good decisions. Just compete,” Boylen said following Wednesday’s morning shootaround at Target Center. “I want his compete level to be high, which I’m sure it will be. Everything else will fall into place.”
Sidelined since Jan. 22 with an early stress reaction of his right pelvis, Markkanen will start and play roughly 18 to 20 minutes against the Timberwolves. Coincidentally, Markkanen’s last game before the Bulls shut him down to avoid a stress fracture came against the Timberwolves.
Markkanen scored 21 points that game and said back in Chicago on Tuesday that he hopes to use these final 21 games as a way to establish a consistent rhythm after a mostly disappointing season.
Besides Markkanen, Boylen said Wendell Carter Jr. will start and have his minutes restriction increased to 22 to 24 minutes. Otto Porter Jr. will come off the bench for his second game back and play 20 to 22 minutes.
“More balance,” Boylen said when asked why Porter is coming off the bench. “He feels and we feel for his minutes, the way he can play 4 or 5, sit through the quarter break and play again is really good for him.”
Kris Dunn is out for the season and Zach LaVine is out roughly a week with a strained left quad. But Boylen still envisions a time when his frontline players are not only playing but playing extended minutes.
“Where we’re at, we kind of have this 10 percent rule as far as minutes. If it’s 20, now it’s going to be 22,” Boylen said. “But yeah, we’d like to get our guys healthy and playing together and continue to try to build on this.”