Lauri Markkanen set to make his Bulls season debut off the bench tonight
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HOUSTON – Fred Hoiberg finally has his “unicorn’’ back.
The Bulls coach said on Saturday that Lauri Markkanen will make his season debut against the Rockets, coming off the bench and dealing with a minutes restriction of somewhere in the 20s.
Markkanen has been on the shelf since the first week of training camp, when he badly sprained his right elbow. It thankfully did not require surgery, but did take longer than the six-to-eight week initial diagnosis.
“I feel good,’’ Markkanen said on Friday. “I’ve got a couple practices in and no pain, so that’s a good sign. There’s been nothing the next day after practice. I’ve been playing normally. So that’s good.’’
The All-Rookie first-teamer has a great schedule to work with in his return, with the Bulls only playing Tuesday in Indianapolis, and then not again until Friday.
As far as when Markkanen returns to the starting lineup, that is still up in the air.
“Yeah, we’ll have a couple days to evaluate what we’re going to do with our lineup moving forward, so we’ll see how it goes with the lineup tonight,’’ Hoiberg said. “You’re going to see both [Markkanen and Jabari Parker] out there as far as both frontline four, five positions. Jabari got a lot of work at the three-spot before Lauri went down and Bobby [Portis] went down, so it’s about getting him re-acclimated to playing that position as well. We’ll see how it goes. Tonight, the important thing is getting Lauri back.’’