Bulls

Bulls: Dunn to Miss Season Opener, Lauri Markkanen Set to Return on Sunday

The Bulls 114-101 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in last night’s preseason contest came at a price. Bulls point guard Kris Dunn left the game with an open dislocation of his left index finger. With the injury to Dunn on Friday night, the Bulls rebuild is off to a rocky start with all three of the players acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade dealing with injuries. The three have not played a single minute together in a Bulls uniform and none of them will play together for some time.

Chicago Bulls Head Coach Fred Hoiberg said that Dunn will visit a hand specialist on Monday, but offered no timetable for the return of the second-year guard. The finger itself looked gruesome, just ask Bulls’ point guard Jerian Grant who caught a look at it before leaving the court, “I don’t really want to believe what I saw, it was pretty bad.”

Grant and Dunn were in a battle for the starting point guard position, and even before the unfortunate injury to Dunn last night, Grant was winning the battle between the two. Now Grant has won by default as the general belief is that Dunn will miss at least two to four weeks of action with the finger injury.

Dunn turned in his best performance of the exhibition slate on Friday night before he left the game, scoring 11 points while recording three rebounds and a pair of assists. Jerian Grant scored four points and grabbed a rebound and four assists on Friday night, his worst performance of the three preseason contests thus far.

When asked about how he feels about his performance this preseason Grant had this to say, “I feel I’ve played alright. The offense has moved well. My main thing is to get other guys involved. But as a point guard in this league, I gotta remember to be aggressive. Make people guard me at the same time I’m guarding them.”

Head Coach Fred Hoiberg said that Dunn is “in good spirits” after the setback on Friday night, and said that he [Hoiberg] loved Dunn’s pace and aggressiveness on Friday night before the injury, and is “excited to get him back out there before too long.”

Fred Hoiberg will use the remaining three preseason games to audition guys like Ryan Arcidiacono and Denzel Valentine for the backup role to Jerian Grant at the point.

Lauri Markkanen was absent from the Bulls lineup once again on Friday night with nagging back spasms. The Bulls’ first round selection in this past April’s NBA Draft was expected to miss the first two games against New Orleans and Dallas, and has now missed all three games. Fortunately Head Coach Fred Hoiberg related this afternoon that Markkanen made it through the Bulls Saturday morning practice with no issues with his injured back, and is expected to make his Bulls debut on Sunday against New Orleans.

As far as Hoiberg’s plans for Markkanen’s role in his offense Hoiberg had this today today at the Advocate Center, “He’ll play some four, he’ll play a little bit of five,” Hoiberg said. “The plan hasn’t really been put into place as far as how many minutes he could play. We’ll try to gradually get him back in there. But it’s important for him to learn both spots, the four and the five.”

Markkanen was drafted as a stretch four, and wing scoring threat with defensive limitations which is concerning that Head Coach Fred Hoiberg is looking to play Markkanen at the more defense heavy power forward and center positions. Also concerning is the fact that the Bulls allowed their first round pick and a cornerstone of the future log heavy minutes in this summer’s Euro Basket tournament. Now Markkanen is entering his rookie campaign in Chicago with an ailing back, just not an ideal beginning to the Bulls rebuild.

The third piece in the Jimmy Butler trade this spring is also missing-in-action to this point and for the foreseeable future. Zach LaVine, who is recovering from a torn ACL last season, still has no timetable for his return to basketball activity. Late November is the general consensus at this point, but we would see the calendar turn on 2017 before we see LaVine on the court if the Bulls play it safe with one of the pieces of their future.

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1 reply »

  1. Sorry to hear this news. LaVine and Dunn will become valued parts of your lineup – hated to lose them, but as a MN fan am excited to see Butler/Gibson. Kris is a good defender – and LaVine works hard – should return better than ever.

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