Doctors recommend Bulls’ Wendell Carter undergo thumb surgery

CHICAGO – Chicago-based hand specialists have prescribed Bulls rookie Wendell Carter undergo surgery to repair a left thumb injury. In the event that Carter selects to have the surgery, the recuperation time is 8-12 weeks.

Carter sprained his thumb during a Jan. 15 game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Carter played the entire game with medical tape on his thumb. He underwent testing on Thursday that left both Carter and the Bulls optimistic that the damage was not serious. Carter even told reporters that he hoped to play in the Bulls’ home game against the Miami Heat on Saturday.

Further testing Friday morning uncovered a more grim diagnosis.

Carter’s high-IQ play and defensive potential made him an uncommon bright spot for a Bulls group buried in a losing season. Chicago, which positions 24th in protective effectiveness and 29th in point differential, has lost 10 games by 20 or more points and four games – the a large portion of any group in the league – by at least 30 or more points. Carter was touted as one of the group’s best defenders.

“At this moment, we’ve lost two of our best defenders in the Justin Holiday trade and Wendell Carter being hurt,” coach Jim Boylen said. “Somebody is going to have to step up. We need physicality. We are desperately seeking more physical play. And maybe our most physical guy now is hurt.”

Carter effectively missed Thursday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. Bobby Portis started in his place.

Carter’s all-encompassing absence wouldn’t change the organization’s direction on trade talks involving Robin Lopez, a league source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Lopez and his $14 million expiring contract will remain in the marketplace leading into the trade deadline.

Carter has averaged 10.3 points, 7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 blocks per game through 44 games.

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