Dwyane Wade and Paul Zipser are doubtful for the Bulls' game Tuesday against the Raptors after undergoing MRI exams on their injured right wrist and left ankle, respectively.
The status of the Bulls' second-round pick obviously doesn't affect the rotation equally to that of a future Hall of Famer. But the fact it affects it all says a lot about where the Bulls' recent first-round picks stand these days.
Yes, Bobby Portis tied his season high with 16 points Sunday as he moved into the rotation for Nikola Mirotic, who didn't practice again Monday because of back spasms. And Doug McDermott sank four 3-pointers en route to 16 points.
But the starting five of Jerian Grant, Michael Carter-Williams, McDermott and veterans Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez got buried early in the blowout loss to the Timberwolves. And with Wade, Zipser and Mirotic likely out again against a Raptors team the Bulls have defeated 10 straight times, the young players need to provide more consistency.
"There's no excuse," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Those guys are out here practicing. They're NBA players. You have to go fight and give yourself a chance. We didn't do that against Minnesota.
"These guys are itching for their opportunity. Now it's about performing, doing things the right way, building the right habits for a lot of guys who haven't had a lot of playing time."
Granted, it's hard to fully judge the Bulls these days because of the health picture.
They're 0-3 without both Wade and Jimmy Butler, who participated in part of Monday's practice. They're 1-2 when Butler sits and Wade plays. And they're 3-1 when Wade sits and Butler plays.
Butler, who will test his sore right heel at Tuesday's morning shootaround, doesn't regret playing Friday in Phoenix.
"It wasn't a mistake," Butler said. "I love the game. I love fighting with these guys. I'll take that risk."
But it's clear the Bulls have been searching for consistency on the perimeter beyond Butler and Wade all season. Zipser hasn't done much beyond solid positional defense and knocking down the occasional open 3-pointer.
Photos from the Bulls-Timberwolves game on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, in Minneapolis.
This season, that has been enough.
"We're fully capable of playing good basketball," Hoiberg said. "You have to get off to good starts, take care of the basketball, rebound. But it's basics. It's the fundamentals and little things we have to do better if you want a chance to win."
Hoiberg downplayed the idea that help could be coming, despite the Bulls being linked in rumors to 76ers big man Jahlil Okafor, a Young High School alumnus.
"None that I'm aware of," Hoiberg said when asked if management is preparing to make changes before the Feb. 23 deadline.
It's an open secret that the Bulls have shopped Mirotic and Rajon Rondo. And a league source said the Bulls have been gauging the trade market to try to acquire, not surrender, a first-round pick. The 76ers asked for a first-round pick and a player in advanced talks with the Pelicans regarding Okafor.
"All 30 teams are calling each other," Hoiberg said. "I'm sure most of them are lying to each other until those last couple days before the deadline.
"Our job right now is to try to get our team focused and playing solid basketball, try to get a defensive edge back. We've been very poor the last four games, giving up over 50 percent (shooting). You're not going to win many games, especially on the road, when that happens."
Getting healthy would help too. While the MRI results weren't made immediately available, Wade said late Sunday he couldn't bend his wrist.
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