Chicago Bulls' Valentine hoping he can contribute again after year on sideline
After having surgery last fall to tighten the ligaments in his ankle, Denzel Valentine didn't get back to basketball activities until August, roughly a 10-month layoff.
Now heading into his fourth season with the Chicago Bulls, Valentine is something of a mystery, since he hasn't played in so long.
"I expect to have a great year, be healthy this year, be able to do what I do, contribute, be a good teammate and try to help this team win," he said.
Valentine sprained his ankle during preseason workouts last year, tried to participate in the start of training camp, but it never felt right and he eventually settled on season-ending surgery. The procedure came with a surprisingly long recovery.
"It was like six months for it to start to be functional and from then on, I had to get it stronger, that took two or three months," Valentine said. "So it's been a long time. The last week of August, that was the first time I did basketball. I wanted to make sure I was fully healthy before I returned to play."
Valentine was hoping to show improvement last season but thinks he can still pick up where he left off.
"I think I did get better as far as my mentality," he said. "I think sitting out, I saw a lot of things that I have picked up on. I think mentally I got a little stronger being able to handle some adversity, and I think I gave my body a break for a year, kind of let everything heal up."
As a rookie, 3-point shooting was Valentine's main contribution. He showed an ability to drive to the basket and score during his second season. The Bulls could use some reliable 3-point shooting, so if he can do that, he figures to see the court.
"I've been really happy with Denzel," coach Jim Boylen said. "He makes shots, he communicates. He's a natural leader. He has a great gift too of acknowledging mistakes and taking ownership of a mistake and moving on. He's a great example to me of what a professional is. He's very mature that way."
Preseason opener approaches:
The Bulls will have an open practice for season ticketholders Saturday, then take a day off before Monday's preseason opener against Milwaukee at the United Center. Coach Jim Boylen doesn't expect any players to log heavy minutes against the Bucks.
"We'll move people around, we'll change lineups," Boylen said. "We've got to look at lineups and we've got to get guys used to playing with each other. We've got seven new guys. We're going to use that time to get familiar with each other and we'll progress as it goes."
Bulls add center:
The Bulls signed 6-foot-10 center Simisola Shittu on Friday. The native of Burlington, Ontario, played one season at Vanderbilt, where he averaged 10.9 points and 6.7 rebounds. He was a highly regarded prospect coming out of high school, playing in both the McDonald's All-America and Jordan Brand Classic all-star games.
Five players sat out Friday's practice at the Berto Center.
Center Wendell Carter Jr. sat out for the second day with a bruised tailbone. Guard Shaq Harrison suffered a hamstring injury in the previous practice, while Denzel Valentine was given a rest day.
Of the two guys who have yet to join practice, coach Jim Boylen said center Luke Kornet (turf toe) is feeling better and Chandler Hutchison did some running for the first time since injuring his hamstring last month.