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Friday was not a good day for the Chicago Bulls.
First, coach Fred Hoiberg announced guard Denzell Valentine will be re-evalauted in one to two weeks for a moderate sprain of his left ankle, which had been surgically repaired.
Hours later, the Bulls announced in a statement that Lauri Markkanen suffered a high-grade sprain of his right elbow during practice Thursday. After an MRI examination revealed the extent of the injury, the team estimated one of the Bulls’ foundation pieces will miss six to eight weeks.
INJURY UPDATE: Lauri Markkanen sustained a right elbow injury in practice yesterday. He underwent an MRI today that showed a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Markkanen is estimated to be out six-to-eight weeks. pic.twitter.com/lwSdKvKIiS
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) September 29, 2018
Markkanen is coming off a rookie season in which he averaged 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 29.7 minutes in 68 games (all starts), shooting 43.4 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from deep and 84.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Here’s video of Markkanen talking about his injury, courtesy of K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Here's video of Lauri Markkanen discussing his injury: https://t.co/hUy7cq2hBp
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) September 29, 2018
Chicago acquired his draft rights to the 7-footer, the seventh overall selection in the 2017 draft, in the deal that sent All-Star Jimmy Butler to Minnesota on draft night. Butler is in the midst of a messy holdout with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Bulls tip off their preseason schedule Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center. They will begin their regular season Oct. 18 against the 76ers in Philadelphia.
Going by the team’s estimated timeline, Markkanen could miss anywhere from 12 to 19 regular-season games.
At media day, Markkanen, who cut back on his time spent with the Finnish national team to work on his body and had bulked up to 240 pounds, spoke of how good he felt.
“I feel fresh,” he said. “We’ve been playing here every day. I’ve been going up and down the court. But it’s different than (working with the Finnish national team). I’ve been able to work on my body and be healthy. So I feel good.
“(Being an All-Star) is eventually my goal. I don’t know when it’s going to happen,” he continued. “But I’d like to set that as a goal for me on a personal side. But I’m not worried about All-Star right now. Just going to work and hopefully get more wins than 27 like last year.”
Valentine had surgery on his left ankle in May 2017, which he sprained badly twice during his rookie season.
“Denzel Valentine tweaked his ankle a little bit on the first day. He will be out for about a week and then re-evaluated.” Coach Hoiberg
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) September 28, 2018
Friday’s double-dose of bad news for the Bulls recalls how encouraged team executive vice president John Paxson was in regard to the team during media-day interviews.
“What’s exciting is we’re healthy,” Paxson said.
That’s not the case right now, however. On top of the news on Valentine and Markkanen, first-round draft pick Wendell Carter Jr. missed practice Friday after landing on his left shoulder during a fall at practice Thursday.