Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen takes big strides Monday, but timetable unchanged
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BOSTON — A videotaped interview with Bulls rookie center Wendell Carter during Wednesday afternoon’s shootaround had viral potential. Second-year big man Lauri Markkanen claims it’s because Carter dropped an expletive. But common sense says it’s because of what was caught on film in the background.
While Carter was talking to the camera, Markkanen threw down a nasty dunk using only his right arm — the one he injured Sept. 27 in practice to shelve him before the start of the season.
Coach Fred Hoiberg said Markkanen went from only shooting three-footers Monday afternoon to putting up three-pointers two days later.
However, the timetable for his return hasn’t changed.
“He’s gradually been moving [his shooting range] back,” Hoiberg said. “[On Wednesday], he was able to get in his conditioning workout — a lot of high-quality reps, as far as shooting — and doing it with range. The fact he didn’t have any discomfort is obviously a great sign.”
But maybe not quite the sign Bulls fans wanted.
“Yeah, same timeframe,” Hoiberg said. “We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. A lot will depend on how he feels [Thursday] morning, and then hopefully get him a couple more quality workouts on this road trip. But [he’s] still a couple weeks away.”
Markkanen originally was given a six-to-eight-week return estimate after spraining his elbow. While there have been no setbacks, the Bulls changed it to an eight- to 10-week window earlier this week.
Markkanen’s increased abilities Wednesday didn’t seem to impress Hoiberg.
Asked if he saw the dunk, Hoiberg said, “I saw his threes. He shot it well. Obviously, he’s rusty. He hasn’t taken shots in six weeks. It’s going to take some time to get that aspect back and his conditioning back.”
The other injured
Kris Dunn (left knee) and Bobby Portis (right knee) both made the Bulls’ two-game road trip. Hoiberg said each put in solid rehab work Monday.
“Kris and Bobby both had really good workouts in the weight room and hopefully in the next few days will be able to do some straight-ahead running,” Hoiberg said.
Denzel Valentine (left ankle), who appeared to have the mildest injury of the four injured Bulls, was not with the team on the trip. He’s now considered out “indefinitely.”
“He’s back home right now,” Hoiberg said. “There’s no update on Denzel.”
‘That’s the league’
It’s a bad time for the Bulls to be undermanned, but it’s even worse when they play with a lack of energy, as they did far too many times against the Celtics.
And the schedule won’t do the Bulls any favors the next few weeks. They head to Milwaukee on Friday, then play again Saturday at home against the Raptors. In one seven-game stretch from Nov. 26 through Dec. 8, the Bulls will play the Spurs, Bucks, Pistons, Rockets, Pacers and Thunder, then the Celtics again.
“That’s the league,” center Robin Lopez said. “I think we’re all aware of that. You play whoever comes up on the schedule with whoever you’ve got on the roster. No one is going to feel sorry for you.”