(670 The Score) Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. will miss at least the next four weeks with what the team called a “severe” right quad contusion.
An MRI on Tuesday confirmed the Bulls’ original diagnosis. Carter will continue a daily therapy regimen and be re-evaluated in four weeks, the team said in a press release. That timeline means Carter will miss at least the Bulls’ next 13 games – assuming they’re played amid the COVID-19 protocols – and almost certainly a handful more in the best-case scenario, as he’d then need time to get back in game shape. Carter suffered the injury in a collision with teammate Denzel Valentine in practice last Wednesday and has missed the past three games.
“They couldn't do the MRI until the swelling went down and once the swelling went down they realized it was a pretty significant bruise there that he's got,” coach Billy Donovan said. “And it's probably gonna take a little bit longer to heal and then obviously get him back on the court. The hard part, I think, for him and the length and period of time is one, to let him heal. And then the other part of it is once he does heal, we got to get him back running and moving and conditioning and doing those things, and that's gonna take some time too. So he's been able, I think I said, feeling better. There was a little bit more mobility. But he's not going to really be able to do much conditioning or anything during this time until he fully heals.”
Carter, 21, is averaging 12.8 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 53.3% in 14 games this season. In his third NBA season, Carter has been injury prone, as he played 44 of 82 games as a rookie and then 43 of 65 games in the pandemic-altered 2019-’20 season.
Daniel Gafford has started the past three games at center in his absence, and Donovan plans to fill Carter’s void with a committee. That means in addition to more playing time for Gafford, Lauri Markkanen and Thad Young will see more center minutes.
“Any time you lose a player, you know you’re not going to have somebody recreate that player on your roster,” Donovan said. “And I don’t think it’s fair to ask other players to recreate that player. Wendell’s got specific and unique skill sets to his game. He’s a really good rim protector. I think his numbers have always been good there. I think he’s a guy that really works to try and screen and free guys up as well. I think he’d gotten better playing in the pocket. He was starting to score the ball a little bit better, he was starting to feel a little more comfortable inside the framework of his role as being a facilitator for us.”
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.