Diapers to dunks: Markkanen back with Chicago Bulls after birth of child
While Kris Dunn needs time to get back in shape after missing three weeks with a concussion, Lauri Markkanen should be ready to roll coming off paternity leave.
Markkanen missed the three games on the Chicago Bulls' winless Western road trip due to the birth of his first child. He practiced with the Windy City Bulls on Tuesday and was back with teammates Wednesday at the Advocate Center, claiming he has changed a few diapers.
"It's awesome (being a father). It still hasn't hit me yet, though," Markkanen said. "I'm really excited to play basketball again. I can't remember when was the last game I played. It's been awhile, so I'm glad."
Here's a hint: His last game was Jan. 28 when the Bulls lost a Sunday afternoon home game to Milwaukee. Markkanen tried to fly out for this Monday's game at Sacramento but scrapped those plans when his flight was canceled.
"I think (staying home) was a smart move to actually get a really good workout in on Monday and be ready to go," Markkanen said. "I feel good. I had a lot of good workouts. Did some running. I'm glad I got to play a little bit up and down yesterday as well."
Dunn on Rising Stars:
Kris Dunn's return to game action is uncertain and he's also not sure yet if he will play in the Rising Stars Challenge during all-star weekend.
"I don't know yet," he said Wednesday. "We'll see how these next couple days go and if I get back on the court before the break. The biggest thing is conditioning and getting my rhythm back, trying to get some contact in.
"I've got to play with a mouthpiece. That's the first time I played with a mouthpiece in a basketball game, just a lot of adjustments I've got to figure out."
Lauri Markkanen also was selected to play in the Rising Stars game. He and Dunn would be on opposite sides if they both participate, since the game is a United States vs. the World format.
"It's going to be fun going against Kris, for the most part," Markkanen said. "He's going to iso me a little bit. We talked about it. So I'll try to hold my own."
Trade deadline looms:
The NBA's trade deadline is Thursday at 2 p.m., Central time. The Bulls already pulled off the trade everyone expected, sending Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans for a first-round pick and three players.
Rookie Lauri Markkanen shared his thoughts on watching Mirotic leave from afar, since Markkanen was home for the birth of his child when the trade occurred.
"He helped me a lot on the court and off the court to adjust to the NBA," Markkanen said. "It was tough to see him leave, but we've just got to move on. Hopefully we can meet up at some point."
Of the players acquired from New Orleans, center Omer Asik is expected to be a regular member of the team. Point guard Jameer Nelson participated in noncontact portions of Wednesday's practice but may be released after the trade deadline. Guard Tony Allen, out since Dec. 1 with a leg injury, will not report to the Bulls.