9:19pm: The Bulls have provided an update on Carter, announcing that he is expected to be on the shelf for four-to-six weeks due to a severe right ankle sprain. If he misses a full six weeks, Carter won’t be back in Chicago’s lineup until after the All-Star break.
4:17pm: The Bulls are expected to be without second-year big man Wendell Carter Jr. for multiple weeks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that an MRI revealed a high right ankle sprain for Carter.
The team has yet to issue an official update of its own, and Charania notes that Carter will be evaluated daily. However, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago also hears that it’s a “serious” sprain for Carter and that the injury will be a week-to-week issue rather than a day-to-day one.
Although Carter is only 20 years old, he has been a stabilizing presence in Chicago’s frontcourt, nearly averaging a double-double (11.7 PPG, 9.9 RPG) and anchoring a surprisingly strong defense.
With Carter starting the club’s first 37 games and averaging 30.0 minutes per contest, the Bulls have the eighth-best defense rating in the NBA. The team clearly missed him on Wednesday, surrendering 123 points and recording a 120.6 defensive rating vs. the Pelicans.
With Carter on the shelf, it appears the Bulls will roll with Thaddeus Young as a frontcourt starter alongside Lauri Markkanen. Rookie Daniel Gafford should also see an increase in playing time, with little-used center Luke Kornet perhaps getting a longer look as well.