It won’t be the ideal start to fall camp with two key young Bulls in street clothes.
Patrick Williams is dealing with a severely sprained left ankle, and Coby White is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
But the fall injury issues have become a tradition for the Bulls.
The coronavirus sidelined several players last fall, and Wendell Carter Jr. was slowed in the 2019-20 camp with a bruised tailbone. And who can forget such classics as Lauri Markkanen’s elbow, Bobby Portis’ punch and Derrick Rose’s orbital fracture courtesy of Taj Gibson’s elbow?
The problem this time, however, is that this was expected to be an important camp for Williams and White.
Williams was penciled in as the starting power forward for an already thin frontcourt and was looking to enjoy his first taste of NBA normalcy since being selected out of Florida State with the fourth pick in the 2020 draft.
With the league trying to maneuver through the pandemic, Williams, 20, had no offseason camps with vets and no Summer League last year, and he had to work out on his own. This offseason, he was on the Select Team that helped get Team USA ready for the Summer Olympics, had a solid showing in the Las Vegas Summer League and was beginning to prepare for camp with individual workouts before the ankle injury.
Williams is expected back early in the regular season, but these are valuable missed reps with a team that has undergone a major face-lift since last year.
Then there’s White, who’s on track to be back in November.
The Bulls have depth in the backcourt with the additions of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, but White was being counted on to be a much-needed scoring presence off the bench. Now he’ll have to find his way back into a rotation that already will have regular-season games under its belt.
The good news for the healthy players who will begin practice Tuesday is that the new faces are a bit weathered.
DeMar DeRozan is 32, and Ball and Caruso have played with the Lakers, and that can age anyone.
So there could be some growing pains in camp and early in the season as players heal, but the high expectations after all the roster moves are still warranted.
“I don’t want to put any limitations on it,’’ Ball said this offseason. “I think the sky is the limit. I think we have a lot of different pieces. We just gotta take it one game at a time, one day at a time. Mold as a unit and go from there.
“I don’t want to put any boundaries. I just want to go there and play, have fun and win games.’’
DeRozan also was embracing that mentality.
“If everybody is on the same page and mentality and wants to win, it don’t matter about a fit because it’s all going to come together how it needs to come together to make it work,’’ DeRozan said. “Because the common denominator is winning. So if you have that mentality going into it, everything will be figured out how it needs to be figured out in a process.’’