LOS ANGELES – An eight-game losing streak, a current five-city trip that feels more like a death march, and now the news of rookie Wendell Carter Jr.
It seems the Bulls starting center fell during the first half of the Lakers loss, bent his left thumb back, and after an MRI was conducted Wednesday morning, the concern was that he tore a ligament, which would have required surgery or at least a cast for the next four-to-six weeks, depending on the severity of the tear. But luckily, the MRI revealed no tear, and Carter’s status is day-to-day.
And oh by the way, Carter Jr’s left knee was also bothering him, so according to coach Jim Boylen, they figured since he was in the MRI tube for the thumb, go ahead and scan the knee.
Results were expected to be announced on Thursday.
No wonder Zach LaVine wasn’t in the best of moods when afternoon practice at UCLA came to an end.
When the Bulls matched the four-year, $78-million contract offer from the Sacramento Kings this offseason, they did so feeling it was a solid investment in the then-restricted free agent. When LaVine put pen to paper, inking that deal, he did so feeling like Year 2 of the rebuild would be a serious move forward for his organization.
A 10-34 record, a coaching change, and now another date with the lottery? Not exactly what he had in mind.
That’s why LaVine very candidly told the Sun-Times that he would evaluate how the rest of the season goes, but will definitely test how much power that new contract gives him.
“You mean having a little bit of a say so?’’ LaVine said. “I think I have a good relationship with the front office and the coaching staff, but we’ll see how good this summer. I’m not worried about that right now, but let this play out and those times will change once that time comes.’’
What LaVine has already gaged is that for this thing to move forward the Bulls need star power. More than they definitely have right now.
“Hell, we’re going to need that eventually, because if what we’re doing right now isn’t working something has to change,’’ LaVine said. “I think we’ll evaluate that in the summer time. Regardless, I’m going to keep going out here and try and do the best I can for this team and myself. That’s all I can do until we get to that offseason.’’
The organization was hoping that LaVine would continue doing what he’s shown he can do, but there was hope that Lauri Markkanen would take a huge jump in Year 2, Kris Dunn would continue to grow at the point guard spot, and the addition of Carter Jr. would help button up the defense because of his ability to play the role of rim protector.
Very little of that has gone right.
Markkanen was sidelined for 10 weeks with a badly sprained right elbow suffered in training camp, and now seems to be in a rut of forgetting his aggressiveness. Dunn has battled knee and ankle injuries, and now Carter could miss significant time.
LaVine is averaging 23.2 points a game and insisted several times he’s trying to do everything he can, but the lack of winning and help on a nightly basis has an expiration date, specifically this offseason come exit meetings.
“It feels like my rookie year again right now, but I’m just older in the process of it,’’ LaVine said. “We have a lot of young guys and when you’re younger, like 19 or 20, you’re working on your game. But when you’re a few years in, and you have goals, I’m not going to lie this is getting tough, man. I’m trying to stay locked in and level-headed, but this is getting tough.’’