Solemates: King James appreciates Lauri Markkanen's shoe game


Solemates: King James appreciates Lauri Markkanen's shoe game

Lauri Markkanen continues to impress the king of the NBA with his skills and his kicks. 

During Friday's one-point loss to the Kings, the Bulls rookie caught LeBron James' eye -- at least on Twitter -- when he laced up a pair of the superstar's signature shoes:  

That retweet is a hat tip of sorts to the 20-year-old from Finland, who has slipped on other LeBrons in the past

Oddly enough, though, when it comes to the "Phantom" LeBron 7s, King James and Markkanen have now worn the edition the same amount of times in NBA action. According to Comples, James rocked the sneaker -- which was released in 2010 -- only once, even though the design was praised for its classy and clean appearance. Markkanen shot only 5-for-13 while sporting them, so he may want to put the pair into early retirement, too. 

But this weekend wasn't the first time James acknowledged Markkanen. After a matchup early in the season, the three-time champ noticed something besides what was on the rookie's feet

“Very confident. Very confident. Watched him a lot at Arizona, Had to stay up very late to watch those Arizona games,” James said to reporters after the Cavs beat the Bulls on Oct. 24. “But very confident kid. Can shoot the heck out of the ball. He's going to continue to get better.”

Isn't LeBron a free agent after this season? 

Jokes aside, with the Cavs coming to the United Center on Monday for what will almost certainly be a blowout, the shoe storyline is something to watch.

Will Markkanen pay homage with LeBrons or opt for another pair from his closet? 

Bulls injury notes: Coby White news, an update on Wendell Carter Jr. and more

Bulls injury notes: Coby White news, an update on Wendell Carter Jr. and more

Another February practice, another laundry list of injury updates from your Chicago Bulls.

The most alarming nugget came just before media availability when the team announced Coby White had tweaked his back ahead of practice. White didn't practice and his status hasn’t been updated for this Saturday's bout with the Knicks.

"He was doing his practice routine that he does every day, every practice day. His pre-practice routine. So, just one of those things," Boylen said when asked about the injury. "We feel he can work his way through this and we'll see how he feels tonight, and he'll do his treatment all day, and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."

On a brighter note, Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and Denzel Valentine all participated in practice after some contact work with the Windy City Bulls on Wednesday. Carter put his chances of playing Saturday at about "80 to 90 percent " and said he'll definitely be on a minutes restriction whenever he returns.

"It’s been pretty frustrating because I’ve been wanting to get back out there right after All-Star break but I knew it was going to be a process. So, just getting my wind back," Carter said of the slow-moving nature of the recovery process. "They told me [the ankle is] not going to be 100 percent perfect when I come back. Just moreso getting my strength back in my ankle because I haven’t been playing for over a month now. It’s going to be a little bit weak but continuing to play, continuing to put more stress on it is going to make it stronger."

Boylen said he's "hopeful" that Carter and Valentine will play against the Knicks, but ruled Porter out. According to Boylen, there hasn't been a setback in Porter's progress — he's been cleared for contact and is participating in practice regularly — but there is still no exact target date for his return.

Here's a name you haven't heard in a while: Lauri Markkanen was on the floor shooting and working through some drills near the end of practice. Markkanen is five weeks into his initial four-to-six-week recovery timeline from an early stress reaction in his pelvis.

"He just had his workout in. He didn't have any contact today. He got his conditioning in, his lift in, his shooting in, his skillwork in. We call it a batting practice day," Boylen said of Markkanen, adding that he thinks Markkanen is close to being cleared for contact.

"Lauri's a worker," Boylen continued. "When he gets his chance to do his work, he does his work. When he can get into that mode and he gets his clearance, he gets after it. When we can have contact with him, we will and we'll evaluate that as we go."

Luke Kornet is ruled out for the next six to eight weeks (likely ending his season) with a severely sprained ankle and fracture of his fifth metatarsal on Thursday morning. Chandler Hutchison remains out with shoulder soreness and has no timeline to return.

RELATED: Why the Bulls' loss to OKC was a statistical anomaly

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Bulls' Luke Kornet ruled out for six to eight weeks with severe ankle sprain

USA Today

Bulls' Luke Kornet ruled out for six to eight weeks with severe ankle sprain

The Bulls announced Thursday that further testing on Luke Kornet's injured ankle has revealed a "severe sprain and fracture of his fifth metatarsal." He's expected to miss six-to-eight weeks.

With just six-and-a-half weeks (and 23 games) remaining in the Bulls' season, this timeline could mark the end of his campaign. Kornet sprained his ankle at a practice on Feb. 21 and has sported a walking boot and crutches ever since. 

If Kornet doesn't return before April 15, it's a somber end to what was an up-and-down season. After signing a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Bulls last offseason, Kornet struggled with a sinus affliction that ultimately required sinus obstruction surgery back in November. He missed five games following the operation and fell out of the rotation in lieu of Daniel Gafford shortly thereafter.

But he resurfaced in January in light of injuries to Wendell Carter Jr. and Gafford. In 17 games between Jan. 11 and Feb. 20, Kornet made 14 starts, averaging 9.8 points and 3.5 rebounds on 47.4% field goal shooting in 23.2 minutes per game.

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