clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bulls reserve center Luke Kornet sleepwalks his way into surgery

The big man had a procedure to repair a sinus obstruction, and the hope is that he will start living up to two-year, $4.5 million contract the Bulls gave him during the offseason.

Bulls backup center Luke Kornet underwent surgery to repair a sinus obstruction.
Bulls backup center Luke Kornet underwent surgery to repair a sinus obstruction.
Tony Dejak/AP

So that’s why Bulls reserve center Luke Kornet looked as though he had been sleepwalking through a lot of his minutes this season.

The Bulls announced Monday that Kornet had a surgical procedure to address a sinus obstruction. Kornet suffered a broken nose Dec. 19 of last season while playing for the Knicks. That led to complications that eventually called for further action to be taken.

‘‘Luke Kornet is a piece of what we’re building,’’ coach Jim Boylen said. ‘‘We signed him to help us play better. Like other guys on our team, he has not played as well as we have hoped. We discussed his sinuses a month ago. We felt — and he felt — we could work our way through it, [but] over time it got worse.

‘‘The No. 1 thing that’s not happening for him is he doesn’t sleep. So as the season went on and he continued to not sleep, we didn’t think this was the right thing to do. He didn’t feel it, either. I thought our process was solid and in line in what we believe in but also allowing [the player] to have a say.’’

The Bulls signed Kornet to a two-year, $4.5 million contract during the offseason. He started the season as a key reserve with the second unit but quickly fell out of that role with some below-average showings.

Yes, his lack of physicality was an issue, but it was more than that. He looked more like a liability than ‘‘a piece’’ in what the Bulls are building.

And while Boylen gave a reason about why Kornet’s play was subpar, he insisted Kornet has to be closer to the player the Bulls’ analytics department liked so much when he returns, which might sometime next week.

‘‘He needs to play better,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘He knows it; I’ve had that conversation with him. We had this diagnosis on the nose three weeks ago to a month, but it got to a point where his sleep patterns and his overall health we felt was suffering. So I held him out these last two games more because of that than anything.

‘‘Does he need to play better? Of course. I think he’s a winning player; the math says he’s a winning player. He’s got to play better for us. So we’ll see what happens when he comes back.’’

Old-school mentality

Not only did the Bulls recall rookie big man Daniel Gafford from the G League, but they gave him some minutes Monday against the Bucks.

Because of the Bucks’ size on the front line, Boylen wanted an extra body to counter it. The 6-10 Gafford, the Bulls’ second-round pick in June, fit what they needed.

Gafford responded with 20 points — the first points of his career — on 10-for-12 shooting and five rebounds in 20 minutes.

‘‘Just coming in and being an energy guy,’’ Gafford said of his mentality. ‘‘Coming in, getting rebounds, putting pressure on the rim to where, you know: ‘Hey, you just can’t come in and get anything easy. You’re either going to get hit, or I’m going to block the shot . . . or you’re going to dunk on me.’ One of the three things.

‘‘Nine out of 10 times it’s not going to happen, but if you dunk on me, I’m going to give you your props. Then we’re going to go down, and I’m going to get a bucket on you.’’