Injured guard Denzel Valentine surprisingly is still a Bull

New coach Billy Donovan isn’t committing to a starting or closing unit just yet, but he is confident that Valentine, who has a hamstring injury, will eventually factor in.

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Denzel Valentine said his latest hamstring injury happened on Nov. 16, but he plans to be back on the court by next week.

Denzel Valentine said his latest hamstring injury happened on Nov. 16, but he plans to be back on the court by next week.

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Billy Donovan admittedly isn’t married to a closing lineup.

Heck, as of Wednesday, the new Bulls coach won’t even ask a starting lineup out on a date. Just four team practices in and four preseason games yet to play, Donovan is making sure he doesn’t rush into anything.

And then in the background of everything? Even if Donovan was sold on the exact rotation of his personnel, the spikes in the coronavirus and the havoc it has been wreaking on the college game have the coach understanding that everything should be written in pencil rather than pen.

“It’s gonna happen,” Donovan said. “You can have a situation where you feel like you’ve got a pretty good rotation, you’re playing nine or 10 guys, and all of a sudden three or four guys in that rotation test positive, and you’re having to utilize someone else. I think you have to be prepared for those situations.

“This part of training camp has been good because we’ve been able to play a lot and we’ve been able to use everybody that’s in training camp and can participate. But I think once the season does start and rosters are set, we’re going to have to do a good job with guys not in the rotation, of working with them and try to keep them ready for the sake that something like that may happen. It might not even be the virus. Someone could get hurt, so I’ve always believed in trying to keep as many guys engaged as you can.”

Two players not engaged these days?

The team announced that veteran guard Garrett Temple tested positive for the coronavirus just before camp started and still is waiting for him to get through the protocol. An injury that went under the radar, however, was Denzel Valentine and his ailing hamstring that has sidelined the guard in the past.

According to Valentine, the latest hamstring injury happened on Nov. 16. But fresh off a recently signed $4.6 million qualifying offer, he plans to be back on the court by next week.

Donovan wasn’t as optimistic.

“He has just not done anything at all with his hamstring,” Donovan said. “What he’s done is he’s rehabbed, he’s tried to get himself back. Certainly he’s behind based on where the rest of the guys are and what they’ve done. We’re hopeful, maybe this coming up weekend, after the weekend, we can get him back in the flow and just see where he’s at physically, but I know that hamstring is something he’s had to deal with in the past. And I think with the shortened season and the shortened training camp, he’s going to have a lot to do physically to try and get himself back.”

The bigger picture as far as Valentine was concerned, is that he’s still wearing a Bulls uniform when he does get healthy.

That didn’t seem remotely possible last season, when Valentine was in and out of the Jim Boylen doghouse and was expecting to be traded several times during the year.

While the relationship with Boylen was more cold war than coach-player, Valentine wasn’t going to dwell on a guy that he privately lost respect for as Boylen’s tenure went on.

“It was tough, my role last year,” Valentine said. “But, hey, it is what it is. That’s in the past. I’m trying to be as positive as I can moving forward. I’m happy to be here. I love the city of Chicago. I love my teammates. And the new management and the new coaches seem cool for now. So I’m just going to embrace what’s going on now and look forward and not look in the past and just control what I can control for now.”

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