The rash of injuries that seems to hit the Chicago Bulls each and every preseason and Training Camp looks set to continue with Wendell Carter Jr. still not recovering from a bruised tailbone.
It’s not only his latest health problems that has coach Jim Boylen concerned with the second-year center, but he’s also worried by the number of injuries Carter has accumulated over the last nine months. A thumb surgery limited the number of games he could play as a rookie, as well as a sports hernia that’s been a recurring issue since he was a teen. Although Boylen said Carter’s injury that occurred in the final 20 minutes of the nearly 3-hour practice “likely isn’t serious”, he still missed the New Orleans Pelicans game on Wednesday.
The only good news with Carter’s injury is that it gives the Bulls a chance to try out different line-ups, including putting power forward Lauri Markkanen at center. Markkanen had some solid results when he had some time there last season. “We’ve talked about the versatility of this roster, how we’re going to play,” Boylen said. “We flip a guy from black to red, or white to the red team, and we keep playing our same way.”
Aside from Carter, there’s been a trend for young players sustaining injuries at the Advocate Center for the last four or five years. Rookie big man Daniel Gafford has also been diagnosed with various bruises, and a right elbow hyperextension on the first day of Training Camp. “I worry about the (Gafford) elbow. When you hyperextend an elbow, which is what Lauri did last year and if you’ve ever done that, that’s a really weird kind of thing. You can roll an ankle, but an elbow, if it’s at the point where it hurts, it probably means you popped it pretty good,” said Boylen.
Small forward Chandler Hutchison, already sidelined after being diagnosed with a left hamstring strain back in September, got sent home from training camp with a virus, and center Luke Kornet dealt with a turf toe before his first preseason action against the Pelicans.
Recent developments are similar to last season’s camp when the Bulls lost power forward Lauri Markkanen for two months to a high-grade lateral elbow sprain and Denzel Valentine was out for the season after surgery on his ankle.
With all these injuries for the Bulls stemming the way beyond the past two seasons, is this the unluckiest NBA team when it comes to preseason injuries? With a potential rehab process of countless hours in the gym on the treadmill and strength training for injury recovery, let’s hope Carter Jr., Gafford, and/or Hutchison won’t be missing many more games.