Bulls lose Markkanen, Valentine to injuries

The Chicago Bulls will be without second-year forward Lauri Markkanen for six to eight weeks as the result of a high-grade lateral elbow sprain.

Apr 6, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen (24) controls the ball as Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) defends during the second half at TD Garden. Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Markkanen, 21, suffered the injury during practice on Thursday. The No. 7 overall pick in last year’s draft, Markkanen averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in 68 games as a rookie.

The Bulls also announced Friday that guard Denzel Valentine has a mild left ankle sprain and will sit out until he can be re-evaluated in a week or two. The injury, which occurred during practice Tuesday, leaves Valentine in doubt of being ready to start the season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 18.

Drafted 14th overall by the Bulls in 2016, Valentine averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 27.2 minutes across 77 games (37 starts) last season.

—The Los Angeles Lakers brought in two big men in the offseason, but they could be counting on 6-foot-9 forward Kyle Kuzma to play center in some situations.

The Lakers signed one 7-footer in JaVale McGee, formerly of Golden State, and drafted another in Moritz Wagner from Michigan to join 7-foot-1 Ivica Zubac. But head coach Luke Walton said as the team started camp that he wanted to look at small lineups. LeBron James also could play center in some scenarios.

Julius Randle, a 6-foot-9 power forward, played some center for the Lakers last season, but he signed with New Orleans as a free agent. Walton said he could see Kuzma, a 23-year-old in his second season, doing the same thing.

—Magic Johnson reached back into Lakers history and hired his former teammate, Kurt Rambis, to help plot the franchise’s future.

Rambis, 60, will serve as senior basketball advisor and will report to team president Johnson, who announced the news. Rambis’ job will be to help the coaches and the basketball operations staff with their day-to-day duties. He worked in a variety of coaching and front office jobs with the Lakers from 1994-2009 and again from 2013-14.

Rambis was the Minnesota Timberwolves’ head coach from 2009-11 and spent the past four seasons as associate head coach of the New York Knicks. He served briefly as the team’s interim head coach. The 6-foot-8 Rambis spent 14 years as an NBA power forward, including nine with the Lakers.

—Two key veteran players on the Minnesota Timberwolves — Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose — admit they were caught off-guard by the trade demands of teammate Jimmy Butler.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to look at it from a player’s standpoint and a business standpoint,” Gibson told ESPN. “He’s trying to do what he got to do but everybody’s calling him. It’s more of a [situation where] I’ve got to go see him kind of thing. But I worked out with him all summer so when I said what I meant, it was like a right hook, I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t know.”

Gibson and Rose each played with Butler on the Chicago Bulls, with Gibson in particular close with the 29-year-old star forward. The two each offered their support for Butler despite the situation.

—Philadelphia 76ers forward Wilson Chandler exited the team’s 104-84 preseason victory over Melbourne United with a left hamstring strain.

Chandler was injured in the first half of the contest and did not return.

Chander, 31, played four minutes off the bench, totaling two rebounds. It was his 76ers debut after being acquired in a trade with the Denver Nuggets over the offseason.

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