As the Bulls get ready to resume the season, they could have a couple of important players back in the lineup, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Lauri Markkanen, who has missed 13 games with a strained right shoulder, and Otto Porter Jr., who has been sidelined for 15 games with back spasms, practiced Wednesday and may return tonight. Both players remained in Chicago during the All-Star break to do rehab work.
Markkanen, who wore an undershirt with padding on the shoulder, told reporters he feels “good to go.” The coaching staff doesn’t plan to have him on a minutes restriction whenever he returns. Porter called his back issue a “weird pain” that was easy to reaggravate by doing simple tasks.
“I feel good about what they did today. Both guys went through everything,” coach Billy Donovan said after Wednesday’s practice. “Both guys went through contact. Both guys played. I think the biggest thing for me is when you come out of a late, unnormal practice time where you are finishing up at 7 (p.m. CT) the guys have to go in right now and meet with the medical staff, go through rehab. We’ll see how they are feeling. Certainly they are moving closer and closer to playing.”
There’s more from Chicago:
- The Spurs’ decision to part ways with LaMarcus Aldridge may affect the trade market if the Bulls decide to unload Thaddeus Young, points out K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports. Teams that have been considered possible destinations for Young, such as the Celtics and Trail Blazers, are now believed to be in the running for Aldridge.
- Porter dismissed rumors that he might seek a buyout, saying his focus remains on doing whatever he can to help the Bulls, Johnson adds in the same story. Porter is making $28,489,239 this season and is headed for free agency this summer. “I’ve just been in the gym every day, trying to get my body back,” he said. “Whatever is going on out there, I have no idea about. My agent would probably tell me if something was going on, but he hasn’t said anything.”
- The Bulls didn’t hold a formal organizational meeting during the break to talk about potential trades, but Donovan tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that there have been frequent discussions on the topic among the front office and coaches.
- In case you missed it, Bulls guard Zach LaVine is among the 15 new players under consideration for the U.S. Olympic team.