Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau can’t be blamed for this one.
The Bulls announced that forward Mike Dunleavy successfully underwent a low back microdiscectomy procedure Friday afternoon at Rush University Medical Center, and is expected to be out 8-10 weeks in the recovery process.
According to a statement, Dunleavy had experienced some occasional back discomfort over the summer, and there were no signs that it was letting up. The Bulls tried rehab solutions that didn’t require surgery, but there was no relief in those measures.
The timing couldn’t be worse for the Bulls, who will likely open training camp next week with Dunleavy on the shelf, as well as Taj Gibson recovering from offseason ankle surgery.
As for Dunleavy, 35, the Bulls just inked him to a three-year, $14.4 million free-agent contract back in July, keeping him from the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was coming off a regular season in which he led the Bulls with 1.7 threes per game, and was expected to be one of several outside threats in the new high-octane offense of first-year coach Fred Hoiberg that was being hyped.
What that means for the Bulls short-term is that Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott will enter camp looking to fill the void for Dunleavy at the small forward spot.
For McDermott that means growing up quicker than expected after a rough rookie season.
“There’s a line there, and this is a business,’’ McDermott said in the summer, when discussing again playing behind Dunleavy. “We have a chance to win a title right away next year, and I think Mike is a huge part of our success. I think our record without him kind of shows that. He does a lot of things for us that maybe the fans don’t see, and he’s just a great teammate.
“To be honest, he’s also a great guy for me to learn from for a couple more years, so I’m glad he’s back.’’