Bulls’ depleted frontcourt might not be getting help anytime soon
Otto Porter Jr.’s back injury isn’t progressing quickly, and Chandler Hutchison is in a sensitive situation in which the organization wants to give him as much room as he needs.
The Bulls hope center Wendell Carter Jr. soon will be able to return from an injured right quadriceps that has sidelined him for more than three weeks.
Unfortunately for them, it seems Carter is the only help a depleted frontcourt might be getting back anytime soon.
Coach Billy Donovan said forward Otto Porter Jr. has made only ‘‘incremental gains’’ in rehabbing a chronic lower-back problem, and forward Chandler Hutchison, who is with the team but out for personal reasons, is on his own timeline with no pressure from the organization.
‘‘[Porter’s] still dealing with discomfort,’’ Donovan said Wednesday. ‘‘It’s been very, very limited for him. Obviously, part of the rehab and recovery is to work on some strengthening and some mobility in his lower back, but he’s still dealing with some symptoms in his lower back. He’s made some incremental gains, but I wouldn’t say he’s really made some significant gains. Some of his rehab has been maybe limited to how he’s feeling a little bit, so there’s certain things he can do physically and other things he can’t do.’’
It wasn’t the news the Bulls were hoping for as they continue through a long stretch of games against teams with physical frontcourts.
Even worse, the Bulls are worried that this might be a recurring issue for Porter and that he might be out longer than anticipated. Porter will be eligible for free agency after the season and has to show he’s functional to get his next deal on the market. But he’s definitely going to take his time and make sure there are no lingering issues or setbacks because the last thing he wants is to enter free agency still hurt.
‘‘He has had some discomfort shooting, but, like, he can get out there and do some things in the weight room, so it’s really kind of a program to get him stronger, get him feeling better and just rehabbing him to the point where we can get him back working with the team in practice or individual workouts,’’ Donovan said.
Hutchison’s situation is much more sensitive, with the Bulls giving him the room he needs to work through some things.
‘‘He’s working on some of the things that are challenges right now, but a lot of it is going to be on his timetable on how he’s doing,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘But he’s in constant dialogue, he’s around the team, he’s around the guys and I have great respect for the way he’s handled himself and the line of communication, how open and honest he’s been. We’ll look forward to getting him back, but it’s really going to be on him to see how he’s progressing and how he’s doing.’’
Donovan doesn’t usually live in ‘‘what-ifs,’’ but he was asked whether executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas might look to add to the roster with a trade if the short-handed nights continue.
‘‘We have not had discussions about that,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘I think anytime something comes up that’s pertinent information, Arturas has been great communicating that. I think if something like that was to come about, we would probably talk about that. But we haven’t had that discussion at all.’’