The Bulls injury report is an absolute mess.
On Thursday after practice, Jim Boylen met with the media and provided several updates on the status of the team’s now EIGHT injured players. Previously with seven sidelined, Boylen announced rookie Coby White tweaked his back and did not participate in practice. AHHHHHH!!
To be clear, all we know right now is that White’s injury was enough of a problem to keep him out today. Hopefully, that is more of a precautionary measure, and White can still be on the floor for Saturday’s game against the New York Knicks.
Boylen did say he believes White “can work his way through this,” but I’m not sure we should internalize any optimism based on that information – not when it comes from Boylen (more on that in a second). Indeed, if White is legitimately dealing with an injury, I don’t want him working his way through it. Even if minor, the Bulls have absolutely no reason to play him and risk further problems at this point in his rookie season. In fact, with only 23 games left to play and the playoffs far in the distance, no key players should see the court unless they are 100 percent healthy.
And I suppose that does seem to be the continued approach the team is taking with Otto Porter. While K.C. Johnson did report that Porter practiced today, Boylen already ruled out Porter for this weekend’s game against the New York Knicks. The whole Porter timeline continues to be extremely frustrating. As I said, nobody should be on the court unless fully healthy, but we were previously told Porter would return “around” the All-Star break. Instead, Porter will actually not return until at least March.
Meanwhile, the same comments were said about Wendell Carter Jr., who told reporters he wanted to play in the first game out of the break against the Charlotte Hornets. At least, in this case, it appears Carter Jr. might finally be ready to return after scrimmaging with the Windy City Bulls yesterday and continuing to practice in full with the team.
Here’s what he said after practice:
Whenever he returns, he will play under an undetermined minutes restriction.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 27, 2020
Our Lauri Markkanen updates have been pretty nonexistent, but according to the Chicago Tribune’s Jamal Collier, he has not been cleared for contact practice and continues to just get some shots up:
Lauri Markkanen getting some work in pic.twitter.com/hPhISfstyY
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) February 27, 2020
And, in case you missed it, the Bulls also announced Luke Kornet will miss 6-8 weeks earlier today with a foot and ankle injury.
Now, before I wrap this up, I want to give some general thoughts on the Bulls’ continued injury struggles. A lot of unluckiness must go into eight players suffering from some kind of injury, but I’m not sure that’s where we can place all the blame.
We have no reason to believe the Bulls practices and the medical staff is doing an adequate job given the number of injuries we’ve seen pop up for this team over the past couple of years (as well as the length of those injuries and frequently fumbled timelines). Whether the Bulls are waiting six days to provide us with an update, sharing inconsistent return dates, or not immediately tending to a player’s injury, this season has delivered a ton of red flags when it comes to how the organization handles player injuries.
Personally, the biggest concern is how Boylen perceives injury – and I swear this isn’t me simply trying to kick him while he’s down, so just stick with me. I tend to think Boylen downplays what it means to be injured in this league and how it can impact players in the long-term. To drive this home, here are a couple of examples that come to mind:
- He refused to remove Daniel Gafford not once, but twice from games this season when he’s clearly suffered an injury.
- Randomly, Boylen decided to tell reporters about Markkanen’s sore oblique and then praised him for fighting through it: “If you’ve ever had one of those, it’s just a weird injury. It’s not enough to keep you out. It’s not enough to stop your momentum. But it’s enough to maybe influence how you do things and how you play, and he’s fought through it and I’m really proud of him (via Chicago Tribune).”
- This was especially weird because this news came after Markkanen received plenty of criticism for his play at the beginning of the season. In general, with his eventual pelvis injury, it’s fair to speculate that he hasn’t played fully healthy for the entire season.
- The front office literally told him to stop commenting on player injuries.
- Lastly, I always remember this one quote from the offseason that rubbed me the wrong way:
“The thing that sold me on him was I remember when he played here [Feb. 10, 2018]. He had a big game, and I think Bobby [Portis] took him out [on a flagrant foul]. I saw him in the hallway after that game. I walked up to him, and he was already showered and dressed, talking to some people, and I said, ‘Hey, how you doing, man?’ Because that was a nasty fall, if you recall. He was like, ‘Coach, I’m going to be fine. I’m ready to play tomorrow.’ It wasn’t, ‘Yeah, Coach, I’m banged up or he hit me hard.’ It was, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’ I mean, he looked like he had a full concussion, but I just like that mindset of, ‘No, I’m playing'” (via the Sun-Times).
Sure, that could just be read as a coach praising a player’s toughness, but doesn’t it just sound a bit off? Especially in the context we have now, Boylen seems to praise the idea of a player battling through injury. I mean, Satoransky’s injury was pretty rough, and while I get liking the toughness, I don’t get discouraging players from saying something like “I’m banged up.”
All of this to say, sometimes injury trouble isn’t all coincidental. And, I swear, if White is injured in any capacity, give him the necessary rest.