With Bulls training camp imminent, a familiar theme resurfaced.
The Bulls announced that starting small forward Mike Dunleavy underwent a lower-back microdiscectomy Friday at Rush University Medical Center. Dunleavy, 35, will miss eight to 10 weeks, including training camp, which starts Tuesday.
The news on Dunleavy, who resisted strong overtures from LeBron James and the Cavaliers to re-sign with a three-year, $14.4 million deal, comes on top of Taj Gibson coming off left ankle surgery and Joakim Noah trying to prove he has put behind him the left knee troubles he experienced last season.
If Dunleavy, who shot 40.7 percent from 3-point range last season, sits eight weeks, he would miss 12 regular-season games. If he’s out 10 weeks, that would rise to 16 games.
New coach Fred Hoiberg is expected to use a deeper rotation this season, which means Dunleavy’s injury offers a prime opportunity for Tony Snell, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. Still, the Bulls, well-versed in injuries, acknowledged the “unfortunate timing” of Dunleavy’s procedure.
In a statement, the team said Dunleavy “experienced some occasional back discomfort over the summer which had recently worsened. Conservative measures failed to satisfactorily resolve his symptoms.”
The team, possibly sensitive to criticism over perceived injury mishandlings, added in the statement that “it was imperative all conservative measures were exhausted prior to making this decision.”
Dunleavy played all 82 games in his first season in Chicago in 2013-14. He missed 19 games because of a right ankle injury last season. With Hoiberg expected to make 3-point shooting an even greater emphasis, his role is critical.
McDermott endured a difficult rookie season in which he first fell out of Tom Thibodeau’s rotation and then underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a small tear in his right meniscus. A native of Ames, Iowa, like Hoiberg, McDermott talked in the offseason about his fresh start.
“I have a good sense of his style,” McDermott said. “I think I'll fit in great. He has a great offensive mind. His team (at Iowa State) shot a lot of 3s. They ran a lot of pick-and-rolls, and I assume Derrick (Rose) will be in a lot more pick-and-rolls.
“I feel I can be a great spacer for the team and show my versatility a little more. I can see (Hoiberg) playing like the Warriors, going small and using shooters.”
Dunleavy eventually will be one of those. The Bulls, as they’re accustomed to doing, will just have to wait awhile.