It’s a Valentine’s Day miracle!
According to head coach Billy Donovan, Wendell Carter Jr. participated fully in practice today and is “moving closer and closer to playing.”
Donovan: “He’s certainly moving closer and closer to playing.” https://t.co/YoqPsdMRqw
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) February 14, 2021
We first got an inkling that Carter Jr. could be on track to return sooner than expected when Donovan told reporters that he had been “progressing in a very positive way” before the Bulls matchup against the Pelicans. NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer shared footage of Carter Jr. getting shots up in shootaround, and the Bulls broadcast showed similar footage of him running some dribbling drills ahead of Friday night’s tip-off. Carter Jr. was also upgraded from inactive to doubtful before Friday’s game, as well.
Carter Jr.’s initial diagnosis released by the team on January 26th said that the big man would have to be re-evaluated in four weeks due to the severeness of the quad contusion. And, oftentimes, when the words re-evaluation are used, this signifies that it could very well be even longer than that timeframe before we see the player back on the court. However, it appears Carter Jr. has made a speedy recovery, as we are less than three weeks out from the announcement.
Of course, the team has not shared an exact game they are targeting for Carter Jr.’s return, but I think it’s safe to say we should be looking at any of the four matchups this week against the Pacers, Hornets, 76ers, and Kings. The Bulls desperately need their starting center back, as backup Daniel Gafford has repeatedly struggled in the starting lineup, and the team has dropped from 14th in REBs per game with him on the court to 28th.