Bulls sign Walt Lemon Jr. for the last six games of the regular season

SHARE Bulls sign Walt Lemon Jr. for the last six games of the regular season

Guard Walt Lemon Jr. has been on the Bulls’ radar since late January.

On Friday, he was in a Bulls uniform — and not the Windy City version.

The team announced that it had signed Lemon to an NBA contract, taking him off the G League roster and giving him an opportunity to show what he can do at the highest level in the last six games.

Was Lemon’s promotion long overdue? Possibly, considering the inconsistent play Jim Boylen has gotten at point guard since taking over as coach Dec. 3.

But the move was more a reminder that the rebuild is shut down for the time being.

Boylen said after the afternoon practice that point guard Kris Dunn (back strain) and forward Otto Porter Jr. (right shoulder) were out for the game against the Raptors on Saturday. Guard Zach LaVine (right patellar tendinitis) was doubtful.

After shutting down forward Lauri Markkanen (rapid heart rate) for the season after the loss Wednesday to the Trail Blazers, it seems as though Porter and Dunn could be done, as well, and LaVine isn’t too far behind.

That’s why Lemon is getting the nod. The Bulls could only dress nine players against the Trail Blazers and were badly in need of help.

“[Lemon] can pass and get downhill; I like how tough he is,’’ Boylen said. “He competes. It means the world to him to be part of this group.’’


• More injury concerns than actual talent development during Bulls’ rebuild

• Bulls announce big man Lauri Markkanen will miss the rest of the season

Lemon, 26, said he was actually in tears when he heard the news. A Chicago native, Lemon, who’s 6-3, grew up idolizing Derrick Rose, so getting to play for his hometown team has meaning to him.

“It’s a dream come true,’’ Lemon said. “I grew up watching this team. I actually cried. It’s a dream to play in the NBA again. I don’t care if it’s five games or two games, for me to put a jersey on is special.’’

In late January, the Sun-Times reported that Lemon was opening some eyes with the Windy City Bulls, averaging 20.1 points, 8.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals after being released from his two-way contract with the Celtics on Nov. 29.

At the time Lemon was being discussed, Dunn was struggling with inconsistency, and the thought was to bring in some more competition to push Dunn in practice because the Bulls weren’t looking to add a point guard by the February trade deadline. Instead, they opted to ride Ryan Arcidiacono in that backup role, as well as develop Shaquille Harrison at the point.

Now, however, it’s all hands on deck with the undermanned Bulls scheduled to play three games in the next five nights.

As expected, Markkanen worked out with a heart monitor and will be under close scrutiny the next few weeks. He’s also scheduled for further testing.

“I wasn’t really worried at any point,’’ Markkanen said. “I just kind of felt really weird and just kind of how I normally [feel] after a workout. . . . It wasn’t scary.

“Everything I’ve gotten so far is that everything’s good. We’re monitoring me when I’m working out, so it’s safe. We’re trying to get some additional information, but everything’s fine as of now.’’

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