Bad luck returns, Bulls suffer two injuries at opening practice
The Bulls' goal of being healthier this season is not off to a great start.
During Tuesday's initial practice of training camp, center Wendell Carter Jr. went down with a left ankle sprain, while rookie center Daniel Gafford suffered a right elbow hyperextension.
Head coach Jim Boylen didn't think Carter's injury was serious and called his status day-to-day, but he's not sure about Gafford, who will get further evaluation.
"I feel it's a guy (Carter) that plays really hard and stepped on a foot and sprained an ankle, which can happen to anybody," Boylen said. "I'm not going to overplay it. He looked at me and acted like, 'Coach, I'm going to be just fine.' But it's not the time of the year to make a guy play or ask him to play, so I'm not concerned."
After a good start to his rookie season, Carter played in just 44 games due to a torn ligament in his left thumb, so he was part of last season's avalanche of bad luck.
Gafford's injury was an unwelcome déjà vu for the Bulls, considering Lauri Markkanen suffered a similar injury in the opening days of last year's camp and was sidelined until Dec. 1.
"Yeah, I worry about the elbow," Boylen said. "You can roll an ankle, but an elbow, if it's at the point where it hurts, it probably means you popped it pretty good."
Boylen took over for Fred Hoiberg last year in the middle of the season, so this was the first practice of his first training camp as an NBA head coach. Tuesday's session at the Advocate Center lasted three hours as Boylen decided to have one long workout rather than two sessions. League rules mandate that if a team practices twice in a day, one of them has to be a noncontact walk-through.
"The vibe was good. Everybody was excited," Otto Porter Jr. said. "We continued to work on the things that we did in September, added a lot of things, and got after it."
The injuries did allow Boylen to test his plan of having a versatile lineup. The idea is to be able to play the same style, even if a player is out with an injury.
Newcomer Tomas Satoransky said he spent a lot of time Tuesday playing with Kris Dunn in the backcourt, with a front line of Zach LaVine, Porter and Markkanen.
"We flip a guy from black to red, or white to the red team and we keep playing our same way," Boylen said. "Today (with Carter's injury), it just kind of happened in real time -- which was good. We get to see that, now we'll watch that film and we'll coach to that. We do different things when Lauri's at five than when Wendell's at five, but it's within the same system."
Satoransky, a native of the Czech Republic, said Boylen's passion during Tuesday's practice reminded him of a European coach.
"It's a lot of energy there," Satoransky said. "He runs up and down talking to each player. I love this type of communication when the coach is with you. I feel also that you can talk to him at anytime. That's the important for the player when he has that kind of confidence and there's this open relationship."