After two surgeries, Carter feels ready to move faster
The Bulls made some progress in their goal of staying healthier this season.
After suffering injuries on the opening day of training camp, both Wendell Carter (ankle) and Daniel Gafford (elbow) returned to the court Wednesday.
"Honest to God, it doesn't hurt at all now," Carter said at the Advocate Center. "I stepped on someone's foot. Adrenaline was going, so it hurt real bad at the moment. This morning it felt good. I was walking around my crib good. It's straight."
Carter played in just 44 games as a rookie after suffering a torn ligament in his left thumb. In July, he had surgery to repair a sports hernia. The Bulls are counting on Carter to anchor the interior defense, so they'll need him on the court this season.
The hernia is something that had bothered Carter for several years, so he thinks he's moving faster now that it's been repaired.
"This is the best I've felt in a very, very long time," Carter said. "It was going on since I was 15 years old. I used to go to the doctor every summer and have tight hips. I kept stretching. And me stretching made it worse.
"Once I got to the league, I remember one practice I went to make a move and it hurt real bad. It hurt for me to walk and stuff. But it wasn't a pain I haven't felt before, so I thought I could play through it."
After an MRI, doctors felt surgery was a good option, so Carter decided to see if he could start this season pain-free.
The 6-foot-10 Carter said he added 15 pounds during the offseason, going from 255 to 270 pounds. He's hoping he'll be better equipped to guard some of the league's taller centers, but coach Jim Boylen said the team didn't ask him to add weight.
"I just think he's filling out," Boylen said. "He's just a big dude. He's proportioned. He's 6 percent body fat. I mean, I never heard of that for a guy that (size). Dream was like that."
That's a reference to Hakeem Olajuwon, who was at the peak of his career when Boylen was an assistant with the Houston Rockets in the 1990s. Boylen isn't suggesting Carter will become one of the NBA's great centers like Olajuwon. But he sees some physical similarities.
"I didn't have a chance to coach Hakeem at 19 and 20," Boylen said. "But the combination of (Carter's) intelligence, his feet, his instincts, his physical presence, I think give him -- with the experience -- the ability to do some of those things, the ability to impact the game at both ends. "We don't really talk about him being a center. I talk about him being a dominant player on the defensive end and an evolving player on the offensive end."
Gafford 's hyperextended left elbow had Boylen concerned on Tuesday. The second-round draft pick ended up not going for an MRI exam and was able to return to practice. Luke Kornet (turf toe) and Chandler Hutchison (hamstring) remain sidelined.
"Yeah, (Gafford) didn't go for any further testing," Boylen said. "We gave him a glass of milk and sent him out there.
"You're never going to be 100 percent, so you kind of have to learn how to play with a nick or two, and I thought both of those guys kind of fought through. It was a tough practice."