Bulls' Otto Porter Jr. back on injury report with return timetable uncertain

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Rob Schaefer
·2 min read
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Porter back on Bulls' injury report, return uncertain originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After playing six first quarter minutes in the Bulls' Jan. 8 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Otto Porter Jr. tweaked his back and left the game. Since, he's missed four of 10 games (including Wednesday night's inactive against the New York Knicks with what the team has terms back spasms) -- twice due to maintenance on the second leg of a back-to-back.

But after Porter's back stiffened up against the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 30, he landed on the Bulls' injury report. Though he played 18 minutes -- scoring 3 points without a made field goal -- Monday against the Knicks after spending most of the day questionable, he's missing the matchup Wednesday, even with a practice day separating those games.

"It’s been something that’s been bothering and nagging with him," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said before Wednesday's tip. "I think I mentioned maybe after the Portland game, we didn’t play him down the stretch. He was not feeling great. He got some treatment. He felt better going into the last game against New York. And I think toward the second half just wasn’t feeling great. So we’re going to try to just help him get corrected and feeling better.

"Obviously, I think he wants to play, but I think he knows he can’t play to the level he knows he needs to. Right now, we’re going to rest him and let him get some rehab, some treatment."

As for Friday's game in Orlando against the Magic? "We’ll see what happens," Donovan said.

Donovan did add that Porter has been able to shoot and run, so he's not completely sidelined. And the conversations around his treatment have flowed between Porter, the Bulls medical staff and Donovan.

In six games since Jan. 8, Porter is averaging 22.7 minutes, 9.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from 3. In nine games before: 25.4 minutes, 14 points, 6.9 rebounds with a 41.7 percent success rate from behind the arc, filling in capably for Lauri Markkanen in the starting lineup for five games.

"He needs some time to get himself right physically. I don’t think there’s any question about that," Donovan said. "If it takes through Orlando we’ll do that. We’re not trying to rush him back."

Donovan called Porter's health one of the most important storylines of the 2020-21 campaign during preseason. The hope is that with attentiveness, this latest spell won't turn into another extended absence. Porter entered 2020-21 having appeared in just 29 of a possible 93 games since being traded to the Bulls, missing 51 of 65 last season.

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