The Bulls’ late-season evaluation process better yield some answers
As long as there are no setbacks, Lauri Markkanen (right pelvis), Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) and Otto Porter Jr. (left foot) are on track to be back at the start of March. That will leave the Bulls 20-plus games to evaluate their core moving forward.
WASHINGTON — Coach Jim Boylen isn’t quite sure whether 20-plus games at the end of this season will be enough to evaluate what the Bulls’ core is capable of going into next season.
Then again, he knows he doesn’t have much of a choice.
Even if Lauri Markkanen (right pelvis), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot) and Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) can make it back from injury by the beginning of March with no setbacks, time is a luxury the Bulls don’t have.
‘‘We have to just take it as it comes,’’ Boylen said when asked Tuesday if the evaluation process will be enough to answer all the questions the franchise has in Year 3 of the rebuild. ‘‘I think the question is a good one, and I think we’ll be able to answer that as we go. The pieces are going to have to play together. Are we going to have to look at some different lineups when that comes up? We will.
‘‘So I think all those decisions and evaluations will be made as we go and then made as we see what we have. Twenty games is the sample size. I don’t know if that’s a good one or enough of one.’’
The Bulls haven’t had a full roster since Porter went down after only nine games. It has been mix-and-match since then, with more bodies piling up in the training room along the way.
Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said that was one of the main reasons the Bulls stood pat at the trade deadline last week. They didn’t want to throw away any pieces without getting a feel of exactly what the pieces would add up to when they’re put together.
The good news from Boylen was that Markkanen, Porter and Carter have made positive jumps in their rehab in the last few days, with Carter and Porter the two who likely will return to practice first.
‘‘I hate to put that on them,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘We hope that’s the case. We’re going to have some guys rescanned, re-MRI-ed in the next week to 10 days. If the scans look good and things are clear . . . we’ll take those things and work together with them. See how it goes.
‘‘We don’t want to put anybody in jeopardy. I’d love to have a few more bodies for Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday’s practice. That would be encouraging for the homestand [after the All-Star break].’’
Dunn and done?
The one missing piece in the evaluation talk is Kris Dunn.
Unfortunately for Dunn (sprained medial collateral ligament in right knee), he’ll have far less than 20-some games to impress even if he’s able to return this season.
That’s not a great scenario, considering Dunn will be a restricted free agent this summer, so the market might force the Bulls’ hand one way or the other.
‘‘Dunn still has some swelling in that knee,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘[His return is] later in the year. And once his swelling goes down, he will get rescanned and all that.’’
What that means is Tomas Satoransky will remain the starting point guard in title only, with Zach LaVine and rookie Coby White as the primary playmakers.