Denzel Valentine didn’t practice Tuesday, the two-week mark since spraining his surgically repaired left ankle in the first practice of Bulls training camp.
Coach Fred Hoiberg wouldn’t concede that Valentine will miss the entire five-game preseason schedule, which concludes Friday. But it doesn’t take a doctor — or even a coach — to recognize how likely that scenario is.
The question now becomes whether Valentine is ready for the Oct. 18 regular-season opener against the 76ers in Philadelphia.
“He’s starting to do a little bit more on the floor,” Hoiberg said. “We’ll see these next couple of days how he responds. He’s day-to-day.”
With Lauri Markkanen sidelined six to eight weeks with an elbow injury, the Bulls shifted Jabari Parker from small to power forward. Valentine could have challenged Justin Holiday for the starting small forward slot until Markkanen returns.
The third-year guard averaged 10.2 points while shooting 38.6 percent from 3-point range last season.
Zach LaVine scored 26 points in 25 minutes against the Hornets, his second strong offensive outing of the preseason.
“I love when Zach attacks the basket,” Hoiberg said. “We have several of those examples on film of him getting into the paint. Generally, good things happen when you get a play at the rim, whether it’s for him or a dump-off (pass) or a corner 3-pointer or getting fouled.”
LaVine is shooting 52.6 percent overall and 40 percent from 3-point range in the preseason.
‘D’ it up
The Bulls, who are incorporating more switching on defense this season, have allowed at least 60 first-half points in all three preseason games.
“We’re still working some things out obviously on that end,” Hoiberg said. “We have had some good possessions when we have gone to the switch. Obviously, we have let the roller get behind us and the back side hasn’t been pulled over to help out in the paint.”
But Hoiberg also said turnovers and poor shot selection have compromised the defense. And Parker echoed comments he made shortly after signing about how good offense can help defense.
“It’s a matter of trying to hit them back with a good offense in return,” he said. “We have some good looks and it doesn’t help that we don’t make baskets. We can’t let that dictate our defensive energy.”
Tough to stomach
Hoiberg said rookie Wendell Carter Jr. didn’t play in the fourth quarter against the Hornets because of a “stomach issue.” Insert punch line about watching the Bulls’ defense here.