Bulls have no clarity on an Otto Porter Jr. return this season

The calendar is starting to work against Porter’s return this season, especially considering that his broken left foot hasn’t made much progress. Coach Jim Boylen did say that shutting him down for the season hasn’t been discussed yet.

SHARE Bulls have no clarity on an Otto Porter Jr. return this season
The Bulls are not sure when Otto Porter Jr. might return.

The Bulls are not sure when Otto Porter Jr. might return.

Nell Redmond/AP

There was a brief moment of excitement Monday.

As Bulls coach Jim Boylen was doing his pregame media session outside the visiting locker room at TD Garden, out walked forward Otto Porter Jr., workout clothes on, not a walking boot in sight.

But excitement often vanishes quickly when it comes to Porter. And what looked to be a visit to the court was nothing more than a quick lift in the workout room.

When talk came around to Porter (broken left foot) again Wednesday, Boylen didn’t offer up much when asked if his timetable had changed.

“There’s no clarity,’’ Boylen said. “He’s basically where he’s at. We’ll wait to see.’’

It could be a long wait.

Porter played in only nine games to start the season before suffering what was first diagnosed as a bruise. Further testing was done when the healing wasn’t going anywhere, and it was diagnosed again, this time as a break.

There has been little progress since.

“Every day I just hope it’s a little better, he hopes it’s a little better,’’ Boylen said. “He’s very frustrated. I just try to keep him up and be positive, and ‘We’ll take you back when you come back.’ Like I’ve said before, the injury thing is very hard on the team. It’s even harder on the player. You’ve got a prideful guy that knows he can help us win and is a big part of what we’re building, and he can’t play.’’

But the situation also has to be viewed realistically.

The All-Star break is only a few weeks away, and let’s say Porter starts activity at that point, a big if considering he was still in the walking boot to start the week. By the time he gets reconditioned and maybe sees some practice time with the G League Windy City Bulls, the season could very well be into March.

Why even play him then?

Porter has a player option for next season at $28.4 million, so he’s likely untradable. The last thing the Bulls need is another Porter setback because then he’d become dead money next season, once again on the rehab hamster wheel.

Boylen was asked if there had been any discussions about just shutting him down for the rest of the season, and he said it hasn’t reached that point yet.

“We haven’t discussed that,’’ Boylen said. “We’ll always do what’s in his best interests and his career, his future. I think he just wants to get out with the guys and play.

“He’s very vocal still. He’s like another coach out there in our film sessions, so he’s engaged, he’s locked in even if he’s not out there.’’

Lots of looks

The Bulls’ bench has had more than a few different looks, and with the thumb injury to rookie Daniel Gafford in the first quarter against the Wizards, it likely will see even more changes.

Gafford dislocated his right thumb, and X-rays were negative. The initial prognosis is that he’ll be sidelined two to four weeks.

There have been too many lulls recently from the bench, especially on the offensive end, and that was one of the reasons Boylen reinserted Ryan Arcidiacono in that group.

“For me, do whatever is needed out there,’’ Arcidiacono said. “If I can knock down a shot or at least take some, that could open up the spacing for Coby [White] to drive. As a group, we just need to battle out there. Don’t give them easy looks and keep them away from any runs or spurts.’’

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