Well, here’s a little bit of good news (with some extra, potential trade deadline implications). The reported timeline on the recovery for Derrick Jones Jr. (knee) was initially somewhere between 4-6 weeks. But now, according to the Bulls, it could be less than half of that.
Bulls says DJJ out 2-4 weeks. pic.twitter.com/wFFHAym6nX
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 13, 2022
Why does this matter? Well, on the most foundational level, the Bulls would obviously love to get Derrick Jones Jr. back on the court, especially considering that he was filling in for the injured Javonte Green, who was filling in for the injured Patrick Williams (who’s likely going to miss the entire regular season). The Bulls could use Jones. Full stop.
If we can take this update at face value (hold that thought), Derrick Jones Jr. could be back as early as the end of January, missing only 8 games total. The previous optimistic timeline had him out until mid-February, missing as many as 20 games. Either way, he’ll be out against – at least – the Celtics (Jan. 15), Cavaliers (Jan. 19), and Bucks (Jan. 21). So don’t go ringing any bells just yet.
But the absence of Green on the court isn’t the only consideration. Or rather, it’s not necessarily the only reason for the news.
It’s also possible the sudden change in diagnosis could be related to the NBA Trade Deadline (February 10) and in two different ways. First, the Bulls may have realized that they lost a little too much leverage in announcing how long they may be without their third backup at a position of need. If you shorten that timeline by half, suddenly the perceived “urgency” to get a deal done could settle a bit, returning some leverage back to Arturas Karnisovas. Who knows if it’s enough to help meaningfully impact a deal, but it’s a non-zero consideration.
And secondly, there’s also the fact that Derrick Jones Jr. was mentioned as part of the potential package for Jerami Grant in the rumor that came out just this evening.
The Bulls are one of several teams linked to Jerami Grant. A package of Williams, Jones Jr. and the protected first-round pick from Portland is the likely asking price for Grant. Multiple league sources said the current leaguewide impression is that Karnišovas values and intends to keep Coby White, whom coach Billy Donovan recently called “a winning player.”
The inclusion of Derrick Jones Jr.’s expiring contract is likely more about salary-matching than return value, but, again, that’s not to say a shorter recovery timeline doesn’t change the calculus of such a deal.
So no matter which way you slice it, this is good news for the Bulls, who are hopefully *actually* as optimistic as their updated timeline suggests.