All things considered, this news could have been a lot worse.
When Derrick Jones Jr. hit the hardwood just seconds into Wednesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, I don’t think I was alone in fearing the worst. He tried to evade Kevin Durant on a Bulls’ fastbreak before landing awkwardly on his right leg. Trainers had to assist Jones back into the locker room, and the 24-year-old appeared to be in immense pain.
Head coach Billy Donovan did not have any updates after the game, but we now know that Jones avoided any structural damage, per Shams Charania. Instead, the 24-year-old suffered a bone bruise and is expected to return to the floor in 4-to-6 weeks. Again, considering how it looked, this feels like a win for the Chicago Bulls.
Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr. has suffered a bone bruise in his right knee and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Jones avoided structural damage to the knee after going down in the opening seconds of Wednesday night’s game vs. Nets.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 13, 2022
Still, the news has a significant impact on the Bulls’ already-depleted frontcourt and struggling defense. Patrick Williams remains out with his wrist injury, while small-ball utility man Javonte Green continues to work his way back from a groin injury. Alex Caruso – whose presence would allow for the Bulls to move DeMar DeRozan into the power forward spot – also remains in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Overall, the injury further stresses the team’s need for frontcourt bodies in the coming months. As good as Jones has been for Chicago, he was already an undersized reserve, and one had to wonder if Chicago could rely on him in a more physical playoff matchup. Now, add in the injury, and the urgency to add a more experienced and appropriately-sized piece at the power forward position could increase.
I should probably also mention that Jones’ expiring contract (worth roughly $9.5 million) could be viewed as one of the organization’s better trade assets at this season’s deadline. While I’m not necessarily advocating for the team to move him, the news of this injury being less severe than originally thought leaves the door open for other teams to possibly be interested in his services this season.