AUBURN HILLS, MICH. Despite suffering a painful elbow injury in the Bulls 40-point home-opening win over the Grizzlies on Sunday, backup point guard C.J. Watson is with the team on its current road trip.
Id rather be here with my teammates. Id rather be here cheering them on, be with the team, just being around the players, said Watson, who will do cardiovascular work and ride an exercise bike while his left arm is in a sling to maintain a semblance of fitness. Theres not a better feeling than being around your teammates and being around the game you love.
Before the Bulls' game against the Pistons Wednesday, head coach Tom Thibodeau lauded Watson's devotion to the team.
"You saw the injury. He is tough. He's anxious to get back," said Thibodeau. "He's such a big part of the team. I like having him around. I think it's important for him mentally to be on top of what we're doing."
The injury was certainly a setback for the Bulls, who will turn to third-string point guard John Lucas III in his absence and will also lean on swingman Ronnie Brewer for additional ballhandling duties, but will most likely increase starter Derrick Roses minutes in close-game situations. But Watson had been playing well early in the season, dishing out nine assists in the Bulls win at Sacramento and sparking an eventually-failed comeback against his former team, Golden State.
Its a sprain and a tear in my ligament, and just day-to-day. Maybe a week, week-and-a-half, two weeks, I dont know yet. It just depends on how I feel and how fast it heals, said Watson prior to Wednesdays game against the Pistons. Im going to come back when Im ready and able to play, and actually help the team. Im not going to try to rush it back or anything like that, so just going to take it day by day and see how it feels.
I watched it a couple of times and it hurt me just looking at it, and it happened to me, so it was pretty bad, he elaborated. I didnt know what it was. I just know that it hurt real bad and I know that I would miss some time, and thank God its not a knee thing or anything, so just try to heal fast and get back on the court with my teammates.
As gruesome as the injury was, Watson was prepared for the results, after suffering a similar injury to his back in the 2009, when he was with the Warriors.
I actually did the same thing to my right elbow. Thats why I wear the arm sleeve. I know how it feels and how its going to heal. I didnt miss that much time, so hopefully I wont miss much time now, said Watson, who is right-handed. Actually, I dove over the chairs of the bench. I fell on the concrete and hit my elbow, so that one probably hurt a little worse.
I just wore a brace and went out there and played, and it just started to heal on its own, he continued. It affected me a little bit. I couldnt really shoot long distance, passing was off, dribbling was off, everything was different, so its going to take some time to get back to normal.
Watson joked that he wouldnt make the same mistake again.
Especially when were up by 40. Im going to start chilling. Im going to have them be mad at me from now. Its too much of a risk out there.