Bulls Get Brutal Injury Update on Key Defensive Presence, Veteran Leader

Torrey Craig, Chicago Bulls

Getty Torrey Craig #13 of the Chicago Bulls.

It hasn’t been the most productive season for Chicago Bulls forward Torrey Craig.

The seventh-year man is averaging 6.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.0 assists this season. All of those numbers represent dropoffs from last season. Even his three-point efficiency fell from a career-high 39.5% last season to 38.2% this season. That is still his second-highest mark ever.

The Bulls have valued his hustle and defensive presence more than anything. But they will have to navigate life without him for the next two months at least.

“Chicago Bulls forward Torrey Craig has been diagnosed with an acute sprain of his right plantar fascia,” read the official team press release on December 19. “Craig will be immobilized for approximately four weeks followed by a period of rehabilitation projected to require an additional four to six weeks.”

“The injury, which Craig suffered in the second quarter at Miami on December 16, was revealed following an MRI at Rush Hospital today,” the release continued.

“Updates will be provided as appropriate.”

To make matters worse, it is the 33-year-old Craig’s birthday. The team shared a graphic to that effect earlier in the day before updating his status.

The projected timeline would put him on track to return by the Bulls’ Valentine’s Day matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. That is the final of a four-game road trip – and one of five road games in six outings – which is not when teams typically bring players back.

Especially because that will bump up against the All-Star break.

The Bulls return from the hiatus with a home date against the Boston Celtics on February 22. But their three-game homestand that starts with the Detroit Pistons (February 27) could be a sweet spot if Craig is healthy enough.

That would also be the 10-week mark.

Torrey Craig’s Impact Felt by Young Bulls

Craig signed a two-year, $5.4 million contract in free agency this past offseason. The Bulls brought him in, not only to help on the court but also to push fourth-year forward – and former No. 4 overall pick – Patrick Williams.

The veteran briefly wrestled the starting job away from the youngster.

But head coach Billy Donovan eventually replaced him with Alex Caruso before reinstating Williams amid ongoing injury issues for Caruso.

“He cares about winning and defense. That’s it. He takes pride in every matchup he has. He never wants a double-team. And especially on the defensive end, he’s always talking and teaching us young guys,” Coby White said, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago on December 19. “And the one thing I love about him is he’s not afraid to use his voice.”

Bulls Await Zach LaVine’s Return

Craig’s is just the latest injury concern for the Bulls, who are still without two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine. LaVine has missed the last nine games with foot inflammation, but Donovan did note the guard had made progress in his rehabilitation.

“Billy Donovan said Zach LaVine has started straight-ahead running and light shooting with no setbacks,” Johnson posted on X on December 18. “Said LaVine will need ‘some kind of ramp-up of physical activity in a practice or against player development guys’ whenever he’s cleared before he plays.”

That would seem to put him on track for his anticipated return timeline.

“I’m told that he could possibly return from his injury probably the first week of January,” Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported on December 18. “So it’s still a little time with him being out. He wants to make sure he doesn’t have any setbacks when he returns.”