Mike Dunleavy likely will be unable to play longer than previously anticipated.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said prior to Monday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs that Dunleavy experienced a setback in his recovery from preseason back surgery and would now be going to see additional specialists.
The preseason estimate was that Dunleavy would be out eight to 10 weeks, which translated to a return perhaps sometime after Thanksgiving. Dunleavy, however, made it clear at the time he wasn’t committed to any schedule because of the delicacy of back surgery and would return when he was able. But now it appears it will be a much longer process as Dunleavy.
“Mike’s had a little setback with his back,” acknowledged Hoiberg. “He had a little pain this week. He feels better after taking a couple of days off. We had him see the doctor today and the recommendation was for him to get off the floor and focus on straight rehab for about two weeks.
“We’ve also consulted with some other doctors,” Hoiberg said. “Specialists around the country. So he’s going to have to see a couple of those as well. We’ll know more after this week when he goes out and sees these two doctors.”
Hoiberg indicated the Bulls don’t yet know the particular issue, which is why Dunleavy will see other specialists.
“He was really sore when we went out on the West Coast and he (increased) his activity level quite a bit,” Hoiberg explained. ���It quieted down the last few days when he had inactivity, which I thought was a good sign. Now it’s about getting the muscles strengthened in the back and core and see a specialist and put a plan together and hopefully get him back out there. He had general soreness in that area. We’ll know more after this week.”
It seems clear that nothing is clear yet, though it hardly sounds like Dunleavy will play any time in December given he was just starting to get in shape and not scrimmaging. So Dunleavy’s rehabilitation remains unclear and uncertain and will depend on the medical prognosis and how Dunleavy’s back reacts to that.
Obviously, back surgeries are delicate. For example, Warriors coach Steve Kerr had what was supposed to be routine back surgery in the summer and be ready to start the season as a coach. Yet, he’s not even able to do that, though there were complications with Kerr’s surgery and he had to have a second surgery. Hoiberg said the Bulls do not know what further treatment Dunleavy will require until he sees the specialists.
Dunleavy signed a three-year extension this past summer with the third season partially guaranteed. The Bulls were hoping for a speedy return for Dunleavy with Tony Snell and Doug McDermott struggling for consistency at the small forward position. Snell is averaging six points and shooting 32 percent. McDermott is shooting 46.8 percent on threes, among the league leaders. He is averaging 8.8 points.
Aaron Brooks remained out Monday with a hamstring injury while Kirk Hinrich was out with a hip pointer sustained against Indiana Friday.
“Aaron still tightness in that hamstring,” said Hoiberg. “We’ll reevaulate him tomorrow. (Kirk is) feeling better every day, but he took a pretty good shot to his hip. Jimmy has some soreness in his heel, but we are not overly concerned about his foot.”