Those waiting for Denzel Valentine to come help save the Chicago Bulls won’t be happy with this news.
Over at the Chicago Sun-Times, Joe Cowley reports that John Paxson indicated Valentine will remain out indefinitely after his left ankle didn’t respond well to a workload increase. The Athletic’s Stephen Noh was in New Orleans last night as well, and reported that Valentine “looked dejected in the locker room”.
Valentine initially injured his ankle way back during a Sept. 28 practice and at the time the Bulls ruled him out for only one to two weeks. Forty one days later, and the issue with Valentine’s ankle hasn’t been resolved. That’s bad news for a player who the injury bug has bitten hard throughout his short NBA career. Valentine underwent arthroscopic surgery (this word haunts the nightmares of Chicago Bulls fans) on his left knee in April. 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.
When healthy, Valentine showed marked improvement between his first and second years in the league and his most marketable NBA skill (his 3-point shooting) is something that is at a premium across the league. Valentine’s evolution into a fairly reliable playmaker on the Bulls second unit last season was something many hoped he could build on this season. Remember, he averaged almost eight assists per game his senior season at Michigan State.
But he can’t stay on the court right now, and you have to wonder to what degree the injuries put his NBA career in jeopardy. The Bulls did recently pick up the team option for next season, so he’s guaranteed $3.4m before potentially hitting restricted free agency after that season.
Until he does get healthy, expect to continue to see heavy dosages of Chandler Hutchison at small forward, Antonio Blakeney at the Bulls backup two guard position, and Jabari Parker running the second unit.