Drenched in sweat, Pau Gasol sauntered over to the light media contingent with a smile having just finished his first shooting workout after injuring his knee a couple weeks ago.
“Moving better, feeling better,” Gasol said.
In a season full of injuries for the Bulls, Gasol’s right knee acting up proved virtually no one is exempt from the bug that has ravaged the Bulls like a slow-moving flu. Try as he might, Gasol fought it off as long as he could before the knee swelled heavily enough that he could no longer give it a go.
“I was feeling some discomfort, soreness, pain to a certain degree,” Gasol said. “Trying to play through it, manage it for awhile actually. But after the Miami game the knee gave out and had that reaction.
“The alarms went off and we tried to find out what’s going on and we did, now we’re managing it. Hopefully it won’t get worse and we won’t have an episode like we did after the Miami game.”
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Barring any episode, Gasol could return as early as Monday depending on how he does Sunday and after Monday’s shootaround before the Bulls go for three straight wins against the Sacramento Kings.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg seemed cautiously optimistic about the possibility, although it appears Wednesday against the New York Knicks looks to be the more prudent assumption.
“He’s doing better, it’s his first day on the floor,” Hoiberg said. “Maybe (Monday). I don’t want to rule anything out at this point. He’s going to have a couple good days if we wanted him to play Monday.”
It almost seemed the Bulls had become too reliant on Gasol offensively, especially without Joakim Noah out for the season and Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose having absences due to injury.
The near triple-doubles began piling up as Gasol was used more and more as a hub, which could’ve taken its toll. At age 35, the Bulls have watched Gasol’s minutes as much as possible, given the attrition.
“Couldn’t bend my knee to a certain degree. Then it pinched,” Gasol said. “That was a big part of it. Now the pounding of play with the fluid and the games and the schedule and the minutes, I don’t know. A little bit of everything I guess.”
Assuming he makes it back without a setback, it gives the Bulls yet another chance to establish some consistency.
“We’re all healthier and in a better situation,” Gasol said. “You might think about resting for a game or two at times but we don’t have that luxury with the situation we’re in, so we have to push it and to the limit.”
Other injury updates
The Bulls will be without E’Twaun Moore for at least the next week, Hoiberg announced at Saturday’s shootaround. Moore strained his left hamstring early in Thursday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets, resulting in him having an MRI.
Whether he gets back fully in seven days remains to be seen but he won’t be able to do anything for at least four games. Moore has averaged in double figures since the All-Star break, scoring 11.1 points per game on 51 percent shooting and 49 percent from 3 in 15 games (12 starts).
“We’ll evaluate him from there,” Hoiberg said. “It’s something he’ll have to stay off of for awhile, try to keep it loose and stretched out. Get it back in a week and see.”