The Chicago Bulls' disappointing season took yet another bad turn in recent days.
Wendell Carter Jr., their first-round pick in last year's draft, suffered a thumb injury during their loss to the Lakers, and initially, it was though to just be a sprain. However, after another examination, doctors determined he will need surgery. The recovery will take eight-to-12 weeks, and could bring an early end to his season. Via NBA.com/Bulls:
Wendell Carter Jr. sustained a left thumb injury in the game at the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 15. A MRI was performed the next day in Los Angeles, with the initial diagnosis of an acute on chronic thumb sprain. He was examined today by Bulls hand specialists, Drs. John Fernandez and Mark Cohen. Repeat physical examination, testing under live fluoroscopic XR, and review of all tests determined the extent of the thumb injury and associated instability. Surgery is recommended with an anticipated recovery and return to sport time of 8-12 weeks.
The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that Carter is expected to undergo surgery on Monday.
The main takeaway here is obvious, and it's that this is a terrible blow for Carter, who was enjoying an impressive rookie campaign. Over 44 games, Carter was putting up 10.3 points, seven rebounds and 1.3 blocks a night -- numbers that had him top-eight or better among rookies in all three categories. In addition, he had shown off some nice passing ability, such that he could operate as a hub of the Bulls' offense at times.
In what has been another dismal season in Chicago, who will be back in action on Monday when they face the Cavaliers (1 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass extension), Carter's development was one of the lone bright spots. Now, his season could very well be over. Even if he's ready at the early end of that timeline, that would leave only a few weeks remaining in the season, and it's probably wisest for the Bulls to just sit him out and make sure he's fully recovered.