Bulls lose yet another key player to injury for 2-4 weeks

Denver Nuggets v Chicago Bulls
Denver Nuggets v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Down three of their six-highest paid players, the Chicago Bulls needed a lengthy All-Star Break rest more than anyone in the Eastern Conference. Although Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball will be sidelined for the rest of the season, the Bulls are relying on Patrick Williams to make a speedy return to get back into the playoff race by the end of the season.

Even the healthy players could use a bit of a break, as they've been forced to shoulder a heavier load now that the rotation has grown increasingly thin. In fact, DeMar DeRozan and Coby White actually rank 1st and 2nd in total minutes played this season, with Nikola Vucevic not too far behind at 27th.

That much is especially true for Torrey Craig, who was forced to miss 22 games earlier in the season with a foot sprain injury. Craig was not quite as impactful in the six post-injury games he played before the All-Star Break, so this rest should been a crucial time to get his legs back under him.

Unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse. Instead of bouncing back from his foot injury, Craig's problems have only worsened as he is expected to miss the next two to four weeks due to what is being described as a knee sprain injury.

The Bulls are going to struggle to stay afloat without Torrey Craig through their final 27 games.

The Bulls were akready playing undermanned to begin with, so losing another 3-and-D specialit is going to be a massive blow moving forward. Other than Patrick Williams, nobody on this Bulls roster fills the same role as a versatile wing defender and reliable three-point shooter like Craig.

Averaging 6.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game off the bench while shooting 37.4% from beyond the arc, Craig is a player who knows his role and thrives in it. Although he's not exactly stuffing the stat sheet, it's hard to be mad about that production from a player on a veteran's minimum contract.

In his absence, expect Dalen Terry and rookie Julian Phillips to receive larger roles on the wing. As much as I hope for the best for these two, I can't quite say I have the upmost confidence in their ability to be key contributors for a playoff contending roster at this early stage of their careers.

At the very least, the good news here is that Craig should be able to make a return in time for a potential playoff run. The bad news is that the Bulls may not be able to stay in playoff contention without him.

If all else fails, Chicago does still have Craig under contract for cheap through next season. With how unfortunate the Bulls have been with injuries this year, it might be best for the team to regroup and begin making plans about how this team can bounce back next season. In an Eastern Conference that has more talent at the top than ever before, I'm just not sure that Chicago has enough firepower left to be the threat that Arturas Karnisovas clearly still believes the Bulls to be.

3 Bulls not named Coby White who have impressed this season. dark. Next. 3 Bulls not named Coby White who have impressed this season