Bulls Extremely Shorthanded Against Blazers

Lauri Markkanen (illness) has joined a long list of teammates who are out.

Cody Westerlund
March 27, 2019 - 4:57 pm
Bulls coach Jim Boylen

Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today Sports


CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The Bulls will be about as shorthanded as it gets when they host the Blazers on Wednesday evening.

Plagued by an illness and "extreme fatigue" that caused him to leave at halftime of a loss at Toronto on Tuesday, Lauri Markkanen has joined Zach LaVine (thigh, knee), Otto Porter Jr. (shoulder) and Kris Dunn (back) as being ruled out. They represent four-fifths of the primary starting lineup that the Bulls have been using in the second half of the season. 

Those four join Wendell Carter Jr., (thumb), Denzel Valentine (ankle) and Chandler Hutchison (toe) as Bulls who had previously been ruled as out for the season. 

Markkanen was evaluated by the Bulls medical staff and the Raptors team physician after leaving the game Tuesday evening. He was deemed "stable," the Bulls said, but they still chose to send him to a local hospital for testing and had him remain in Toronto overnight as the team flew back to Chicago. Boylen was in coach Jim Boylen's office around 2 p.m. Wednesday, then went to the doctor for more testing.

Boylen mentioned Markkanen wanted to play, but the team vetoed that.

"It's always serious when a guy doesn't feel well," Boylen said. "I think it's always serious. We take those things to heart. He's a big part of what we're building, a big piece to this team, an important piece to the future. He's a young developing guy. As much as we think every moment on the floor helps us, we also have to protect him and his future. I think we're handling it exactly how he should be handling it."

LaVine will miss his fourth straight game, while Porter will sit out for the fifth straight time. The Bulls haven't ruled either one out for the season yet, though executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson admitted Porter's track is "trending" that way. Dunn will miss his second straight game.

NBA rules require teams to have eight players available on the bench for games. Two-way players Rawle Alkins and Brandon Sampson are with the Bulls, which should give them nine healthy players. That means Alkins and Sampson will miss the Windy City Bulls' playoff opener at the Westchester Knicks in New York on Wednesday night.

The Bulls' attrition comes down a homestretch in which they still have an outside chance to have a bottom-three record in the NBA, which brings with it 14 percent odds to land the No. 1 draft pick. At 21-54, the Bulls have the fourth-worst record and are two games clear of the Cavaliers, who are 19-56. The fourth-worst team receives 12.5 percent odds.

The Bulls will start Shaq Harrison, Antonio Blakeney, Sampson, Wayne Selden and Robin Lopez. It will be their 23rd starting lineup of the season.

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for 670TheScore.com and covers the Bulls. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.