Carter, Porter return to Chicago Bulls practice
Maybe calling it a playoff push is inappropriate for a team that is 17 games below .500. But the Bulls took a positive step Tuesday when both Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter practiced on the first day back from all-star break.
Carter has been out since Jan. 6 with a sprained right ankle, Porter since Nov. 6 with a broken foot. Carter seems the more likely of the two to play Thursday when the Bulls host Charlotte, but he wasn't ready to commit.
"My status? Just taking it one day at a time," Carter said at the Advocate Center. "I did a couple of live things at practice today and it felt OK. So I'm just taking it slow, don't want to rush anything and end up hurting it again. So that's where I'm at right now. Of course I want to play Thursday, but I'm going to do what's best for the team and myself."
Coach Jim Boylen said Carter was on the court for two possessions, off for two, to ease him back in. Boylen said Porter "got his legs back under him."
"I was able to do everything," Porter said. "I feel good. I'll continue a day at a time, make sure my pain is free and just try to get back out there with the guys."
Porter seems unlikely to play this week, considering how long he's been sidelined, but he offered no timetable.
"If I'm 100 percent, that's when I'll know," Porter said. "Time will only tell."
Porter was asked if he's not 100 percent now, where is he?
"Close to that," he answered.
Boylen had no update on Lauri Markkanen (stress reaction in pelvis) or Kris Dunn (right-knee sprain), so there's no telling when those players might be ready to join practice.
Carter ready for stretch run:
Wendell Carter Jr. said he doesn't care what anyone thinks of the Bulls' playoff chances, the final 27 games of the season are important to him.
"Very important," he said. "We still have a chance to make it to the playoffs, but if not, all it's going to do is help us set the tone for next year. So I think these last 27 games we should take very, very seriously and no matter what people outside this organization are saying, we still have a shot.
"So I feel like it's very important for us to play hard."
The Bulls will resume play 5 games behind Orlando for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
"We're all competitors," Carter said. "We all want to go out there, we want to win. No matter if it's the last game of the season and we have no chance of making it to the playoffs. We go out there, I'm playing my heart out. That's kind of how I am as a player."
LaVine dunk gets attention:
Zach LaVine got plenty of questions last weekend about why he didn't do the dunk contest, especially when a video spread on social media of LaVine attempting a free-throw line 360 at the Advocate Center. He didn't make it.
"It wasn't even supposed to go viral," LaVine said of his dunk attempt. "I got mad at my friend. He was with me, recording them. I was just messing around, trying to see what I still had, what I could do. It was just fun."
LaVine was asked if he had ever made that dunk. The answer is yes and of course it's on video. When he played for Minnesota, LaVine finished the free-throw line 360 at what appeared to be a practice or shootaround in New Orleans. Kris Dunn can be seen in the video, which would place the possible timing as November 2016, about 10 weeks before his Timberwolves career ended with a torn ACL.
"Andrew Wiggins recorded it in Minnesota," LaVine said. "I could probably do it again."