Denzel Valentine believes he’ll be a factor in the NBA someday.
And someday soon.
Valentine is adamant about it, no matter what outsiders believe. So confidence isn’t the problem with the former Michigan State standout, whom the Bulls picked 14th overall in the 2016 draft.
His health is.
That reared its ugly head again Saturday, when the Bulls announced a bone bruise in his left ankle — not a sprain — will keep Valentine sidelined for at least another two weeks.
“It is frustrating, especially because it’s the start of the season, home opener,” Valentine said. “You just feel the energy. It just feels like I’m supposed to be out there. It kind of sucks because I put a lot of work in this summer, and just being around the guys and everything, you want to be out there so bad. Things happen for a reason.
“That we know what’s going on, I at least have a time frame and can kind of be patient with it a little bit. It’s bad news, but it’s good news at the same time because it gives me some time to actually get ready.”
Valentine will be re-evaluated in two weeks. If the bruise has healed, the Bulls will figure out where his conditioning is and set a more definitive return date.
So it’s a waiting game for the key reserve.
“I’m a fighter, not a quitter,” Valentine said. “I’m a winner, so I just deal with the hand that’s dealt. I can’t be negative about it. I just got to fight, stay mentally strong. This is going to be [sweet] when I come back and have a great year.’’
That’s what the organization was counting on this season to be for Valentine, who was projected to be a valuable playmaking forward/guard off the bench.
The Bulls have to hope that the left ankle, which was surgically repaired in 2017, won’t continue to be a roadblock in his development.
“My ankle is actually feeling better,” Valentine said. “It’s just some healing … it’s just time. I don’t think it’s anything where I can’t walk or anything, so I’m still going to be able to do stuff. I don’t think I’ll fall that far behind.”
The Dunn plan
Kris Dunn missed his second consecutive game because of the birth of his son, but coach Fred Hoiberg said Dunn will play Monday in Dallas.
Dunn, who left Philadelphia before the opener, is scheduled to fly to Dallas on Monday afternoon and resume his starting duties.
While he was absent, Cameron Payne started, with Ryan Arcidiacono backing up. Newly signed point guard Tyler Ulis also dressed. Hoiberg said Ulis has picked up the offense and defense quickly since signing last week.
A team source confirmed a report that the Bulls will sign guard Shaquille Harrison on Sunday and waive big man Omer Asik.
Asik, who was acquired in the Nikola Mirotic trade, has been away from the team since the start of training camp because of inflammatory arthritis.