Bulls

Mike Dunleavy's setback also a setback for Bulls

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Mike Dunleavy's setback also a setback for Bulls

Nobody’s confusing Mike Dunleavy with being the savior for this Bulls’ team, but the news about the setback with his back injury is clearly a huge blow.

Dunleavy went to see specialists on the west coast this week after suffering a setback at a time when it appeared like he would be rounding closer to game action after he underwent lower back surgery right before training camp.

He’ll have to undergo four to six weeks of rehab before being re-evaluated again to see if he can go back to on-court action, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports.

“We're just going to put him back on the rehab schedule,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We don't have a time frame yet at this point. He's just got to continue to get better, make progress every day and hopefully we'll get him back out there on the floor.”

Another six weeks leads well into the new calendar year, which brings more doubt into whether Dunleavy will actually play this season. He’s advancing in age and back injuries are nothing to trifle with.

Dunleavy, 35, has been a consistent performer in his two years in Chicago, adding an element of toughness and savvy in addition to his actual production. Tony Snell and Doug McDermott have shown flashes in his absence but the consistency from a night-to-night basis hasn’t been there.

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Snell and McDermott have each shot 24 of 52 from 3-point range, ranking seventh in the NBA in terms of accuracy.

“Well, he is a valuable piece. He's a veteran influence for our guys,” Hoiberg said. “I'm really pleased with what Tony and Doug have done in Mike's absence up to this point. E'Twaun (Moore) has also filled in. We've had some different lineups just based on the different injuries we've had. Kirk (Hinrich) has obviously given us great minutes when he's been out there.

“So the guys have obviously filled in very well, and filled the role that Mike would give our team. So, again, we'll take a cautious approach with Mike and I'm confident the guys filling in will continue to play well.”

Hoiberg isn’t exactly sure what happened to cause Dunleavy’s setback, and it came as a bit of a surprise considering he traveled with the team on its west coast swing right before thanksgiving, a trek that required him to sleep in foreign hotel rooms and beds, a tricky prospect considering it’s his lower back.

Hoiberg said he doesn’t think it’ll change anything with the organization’s plans not to make any personnel moves to absorb his absence.

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There was no update for Nikola Mirotic, who suffered a concussion early in Wednesday’s game against Denver and didn’t return. His status for Saturday’s game against Charlotte is still in the air and will be determined by the medical staff.

“We held him out today, per the concussion protocol,” Hoiberg said. “He's got to go through some tests. He feels better, feels a lot better than he did yesterday so he'll continue to go through tests throughout the day. It'll be a decision they make on Niko's status tomorrow.”

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Joakim Noah stepped up in Mirotic’s absence, but Hoiberg didn’t indicate whether Noah would automatically become a starter or even if rookie Bobby Portis will get some valuable playing time.

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

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USA TODAY

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

Lauri Markkanen has been making headlines this offseason, mostly for bulking up considerably, and making appearances around Chicago at Nike camps and Jabari Parker’s camp, but as the season nears, his on-the-court exploits are starting to come up as well. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated put Lauri Markkanen on their list of five breakout candidates for the 2018-19 season

SI writer Michael Shapiro had this to say about Markkanen:


Markkanen has all the tools to be a future All-Star, and it looks as though he has the mindset, too. He seemed to take his matchup with Porzingis personally in early January, demanding the ball down the stretch en route to a career-high 33 points in a road victory. The Bulls enter 2018-19 on the outside of the East playoff picture, but Chicago is now home to the NBA’s newest unicorn.

High praise indeed for Markkanen, and well-deserved praise considering that he finished with a usage rate lower with the Bulls than his college stint at Arizona, yet still was able to have an impact on the Bulls. Shapiro mentioned Markkanen’s burgeoning off-the-dribble game as the skill that most stood out, and speaks to the Finnish big man’s All-Star potential. 

While the 21-year-old’s threes lived up to the hype, it was his prowess of the bounce that made the biggest impression. Markkanen showed a deft handle and array of canny fakes in the post, adding a mean streak to boot. The Finnisher lived up to his nickname, unafraid of contact and eager to fight for position in the post. The stereotype of the soft European big man doesn’t apply here.

The numbers back this up. 

Among the Bulls top 10 players in drives per game last season, Markkanen finished second in field percentage (on drives) at 46.1 percent. If that numbers rises, or more likely, Markkanen drives to the basket more, his scoring total will increase. And when it came to finishing around the paint in general, he shot  67.6 percent on shots from zero-to-three feet, making him the third best in that range out of the Bulls top nine rotation players last season. Yet among the same group of players, Markkanen ranked sixth in shot attempts from zero-to-three feet. With the presence of Wendell Carter Jr., and another year of internal growth from Bobby Portis- bigs that can stretch the floor -Markkanen should be the recipient of more plays putting him in a position to score around the basket.

On a roster that will surely give big minutes to Parker, Kris Dunn, Carter, Chandler Hutchison and a working-his-way-back to form Zach LaVine, Markkanen may be surest 3-point shooter on the floor. This means defenses will key in on his outside shot. If players are routinely closing out hard on Markkanen- as they should -this will open up more driving opportunities for the nimble seven-footer. 

The third or fourth season is usually when young players take the leap from good to great, but Markkanen will be playing with the most talented group of teammates he has ever been surrounded with. How he handles playing with this group will go a long way towards establishing what kind of player he will be in the future, specifically if he is an All-Star caliber talent. On the 2018-19 Bulls, someone will have to hover around a 20 percent usage rate, making them a clear third-option, whoever that player is, his last name should not be Markkanen.