The Chicago Bulls are officially set to start Training Camp today, ahead of their first preseason game on October 7th (eeeek … we’re almost there!). And it’s with that context that the VP of Basketball Operations, John Paxson, shared the team’s health status during Monday’s Media Day.
Here’s what the Bulls are dealing with:
Chandler Hutchison (hamstring) will be "out for a little bit," John Paxson says.
Luke Kornet has turf toe.
Denzel Valentine (ankle) and Wendell Carter Jr. (core muscle surgery) are "ready to go," Paxson says.
— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) September 30, 2019
Fortunately for the Bulls, the team’s projected starters appear healthy and good to go. After a season riddled with injury trouble across the rotation, this certainly feels like a small victory for a squad that had Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter and Zach LaVine on the court for a total of only 325 minutes last season.
Of course, the biggest concern over the offseason was whether Wendell Carter Jr. would be a full go come Training Camp, but according to the man himself, he’s feeling just fine.
“I feel like I’m at 100 percent now,” Carter Jr. said. “I feel a lot better than I have the past five or six years, so I feel like this surgery was definitely a necessity … I’m ready for the season.”
Wendell Carter Jr. says he’s 100 percent healthy, and Otto Porter Jr. raves about Tomas Satoransky. pic.twitter.com/PrHAqVhtxa
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) September 30, 2019
Aw, look at the two sitting together. Fun Fact: They both shared this podium before sharing the court.
Anyway, Carter Jr.’s core muscle surgery kept him off the hardwood during a bulk of the team’s September workouts, but he told reporters yesterday that he’s been out there trying to gain his strength back. He also did mention that he got to compete in some of Jim Boylen’s one-on-one tournament this past month. Honestly, I think a healthy Wendell probably could’ve won the whole thing.
A surprisingly healthy addition to the Training Camp roster is Denzel Valentine. A couple of days ago, the Sun-Times reported that Valentine wouldn’t be ready for full basketball activity, but all signs pointed to the opposite during Media Day.
“I have to get back into game shape,” Valentine told NBC Sports Chicago. “But I’m 100 percent healthy.”
As social media has demonstrated, people are prone to forget Valentine is even on the team. But chances are these folks will quickly remember him once the season starts. With the team’s lack of true-wing depth, Valentine is in line to be the primary back-up to Zach LaVine. A healthy Valentine isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but having him ready to go for the start of training camp and preseason will really help the Bulls coaching staff better evaluate this group.
On the not-so-great side of things, new Bulls center Luke Kornet will miss a few days with turf toe, while Chandler Hutchison is still dealing with a hamstring issue.
Hutchison is in a similar situation as Valentine, just at small forward. Not having the second-year forward on the floor most likely means more minutes for Satoransky at the three. Boylen also mentioned yesterday that Thaddeus Young has experience playing there as well, so it might be worth monitoring how they test things out while Hutchison’s inactive.
As for Kornet, while he isn’t expected to be out long, this gives rookie Daniel Gafford an opportunity to make an immediate push for the backup center position. Many already believe he has what it takes to beat out Kornet for the job (after all, he’s the more defensively sound and athletic option), but now the door’s wide open.