Chuck Checks In - 12.11.20

Bulls basketball is back and Chuck is fired up for tonight's matchup against the Rockets
Lauri Markkanen
by Chuck Swirsky
Remind Me Later

Body

Game night from The United Center. Houston at Bulls:

RADIO: 670 The Score 6:45 Pre. Chuck Swirsky and Bill Wennington.
TV: NBCSC - 7PM: Adam Amin and Stacey King.

CCI PREVIEW: Bulls ball is back! It feels great to not only see these four words in print but to feel the vibe that is very prevalent around the Advocate Center. Before we "chop it up" and talk hoops, a quick word to everyone.

My heart is extremely sensitive during these times to those who have felt the loss of loved ones and whom have been directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19. Whether it's physical, emotional or financial, I stand with you. This has been so hard for all of us to navigate through the stormy seas of life and words alone cannot replace or attempt to be sufficient, especially in a column. But what I do hope to accomplish is to inform, offer insight and some humor (I'll do my best) along the way through CCI and my Bulls radio broadcasts on 670 The Score. Blessings to all of you.

Now let's talk Bulls ball!

With an infusion of a new front office and coaching staff, the Bulls are definitely heading in the right direction. This young core group has plenty of upside but collectively must stay healthy to make inroads for success in the Eastern Conference. Denzel Valentine, who will be called upon to play valuable minutes, will miss these two games against the Rockets with a hamstring injury. Garrett Temple is recovering from coronavirus and will not play.

Head Coach Billy Donovan is a proven winner who will maximize the skill set of his roster. I expect break out seasons for Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen. I expect Coby White to flourish, continuing his growth as a young, budding star. I expect Zach LaVine to emerge as an elite, surefire NBA All-Star caliber player. LaVine finished 11th in the Association in scoring a year ago averaging a career high 25 points per game. LaVine is all about winning. He loves playing for the Bulls and loves playing in Chicago. He is a true professional and will continue to be a leader on this team, but he will have assistance in that department with the mergence of 20-year-old White and 21-year-old Carter Jr. Lauri Markkanen has the skill set to be an impact player. With a new coach with big plans, Markkanen can finally display his arsenal of outside shooting and post up play. Otto Porter Jr is my "X" factor. He is a very talented wing and here's hoping for a healthy and successful year.

Coach Donovan will mix and match tonight and display different rotations to get a feel for his ball club. One player who definitely is in the mix is first round pick Patrick Williams. Williams is a flat out physical specimen. At 6-8, 225lbs, Williams is making his presence felt in scrimmages. His length, big hands and passion to play defense has won over the coaching staff and veteran players alike. He is an extremely mature young man who just turned 19 four months ago. He's going to be fun to watch. Enjoy the journey, Bulls fans.

The Rockets will be without the NBA's leading scorer James Harden. Harden is undergoing NBA protocol as he continues his testing after rejoining the team several days ago. He wants out. Period. There are tons of speculation about his future but remember, he has two, perhaps three (player option) years left on his contract. Lots of drama. John Wall, who came over from Washington in the Russell Westbrook blockbuster trade, is expected to start against the Bulls. This will be his first action in nearly two full years. Wall has been sidelined first with a heel injury, followed by a left Achilles tear. He has worked extremely hard and I'm thrilled he's back on the court. We may also get a glimpse of Wall's Kentucky teammate, DeMarcus Cousins, who signed with the Lakers last season but suffered an unfortunate ACL injury and missed all of last season. Veteran Eric Gordon has impressed first year Head Coach Stephen Silas as a two way talent. Gordon played well against OKC in the opening round of the playoffs.

CCI NBA NEWS AND NOTES:

The Nets and Kyrie Irving have each been fined 25-thousand dollars by the NBA for violating league rules governing media interview access.

The Clippers extended the contract of Paul George — 4 years, 190 million.

Indiana's T.J. Warren is listed week-to-week with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Warren's teammmate, Brian Bowen, will be out 6-8 weeks with a partially torn groin muscle.

Congrats to LeBron James on being named Time Magazine's Athlete of the Year.

Former Bulls General Manager Gar Forman has joined the front office staff of the New Orleans Pelicans as a special advisor.

Drop me a line tonight while you're listening/watching Reach out by email to cswirsky@bulls.com or Twitter @ctsbulls. I read EVERY one of your posts and appreciate the time you take to reach out. You are appreciated.

Always a pleasure.

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