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Bulls’ Denzel Valentine to undergo ankle surgery that likely ends his season

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Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad news

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Another year, another major lower-body surgery for Chicago Bulls guard Denzel Valentine.

Valentine’s injury history with his ankle is long and concerning.

During the 2017 offseason, he underwent surgery on his left ankle precluded by two separate ankle injuries during the 2016-2017 season that forced him to miss 25 games. This season, he reinjured his left ankle in a practice on Sept. 28 and the Bulls ruled him out for one to two weeks. That timetable kept on getting pushed back until the Bulls officially labeled his status as out indefinitely at the beginning of April when his ankle didn’t respond well to an increased workload.

For Valentine, a player who wasn’t athletic in the first place, a second ankle injury piled on top of a April 2018 arthroscopic knee surgery on his left knee is almost a worse-case scenario for him and also hurts the Bulls’ chances of flipping around their 4-13 start to the season.

With Valentine not able to play the rest of the season, expect continued high dosages of Antonio Blakeney at the 2-guard position. Justin Holiday, a 29-year-old veteran on a developmental team, is averaging a career high in minutes this season (34.9 minutes per game), a trend that should continue now that Valentine is assuredly out for the rest of the season. And, hopefully, rookie Chandler Hutchison shows notable development on the wing.

Two-way player Rawle Alkins may earn some run here soon as well. He’s a max-effort guy with an NBA-ready body who relentlessly attacks the basket on drives and attacks the boards for rebounds. He’s averaging 12.9 points on nearly 50 percent from the field in eight G League contests this season.

The much-maligned Valentine had an easy-to-see-role in a Hoiberg-style offense as a good floor spacer capable of setting up his teammates. But another major surgery could put his Bulls, and possibly his NBA, future in question, though his fourth-year team option was picked up for next season.

From Derrick Rose to Joakim Noah to Luol Deng and everybody in between, this is yet another devastating injury for a Chicago Bulls player. Prayers up to Denzel.