Bulls star forward Lauri Markkanen was sidelined in last night’s 111-104 loss to the Boston Celtics early in the fourth quarter after an apparent ankle injury. He suffered the injury after falling onto Celtics guard Marcus Smart, a play in which it seems his ankle got caught between Smart’s body after being called for foul earlier in that possession.
Markkanen headed straight for the locker room after what seemed to be a rolled ankle, and while he did end up returning to the bench, he was deemed unavailable to check back in for the Bulls. Recent free agent signing Thaddeus Young closed the game for the Bulls, and while he did hit a clutch three-pointer and forced multiple turnovers down the stretch, it wasn’t enough thanks to some late-game heroics from Jayson Tatum.
The 22-year-old Finnish product finished the game with 15 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal in 29 minutes of play. While Markkanen has struggled during the early stages of the season, he has been finding his form as of late, shooting over 40% from three throughout December, 50% from the field, and averaging better than 17 points per game.
While an official timeline for Markkanen’s return is yet to be released, sources believe his time frame could range between 1-3 weeks. This isn’t the first injury that Markkanen has suffered throughout his NBA career. He missed nearly two months last season with a hyperextended elbow, was shut down last April with over-exhaustion issues, and recently a report came out which stated he was dealing with a sore oblique throughout the month of November.
No Lauri Markkanen for a period of time would be a huge loss for the Chicago Bulls, who currently sit just over three games out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. They have been playing improved basketball under lead guard Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen was just beginning to find his groove.
While time will tell how long Markkanen will be sidelined for, the Bulls certainly have plenty of options to fall back on. Thaddeus Young, Wendell Carter Jr., and Chandler Hutchison are all capable of playing extended minutes at the power forward position, and this could be an opportunity for the Bulls to trial new lineups and test out some different combinations.
The Bulls face off against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow. It will be a big test of their depth, especially if Markkanen is sidelined. The Mavericks, however, are also expected to look to their bench with fellow star forward Kristaps Porzingis ruled out with a sore knee, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.