Jalen Brunson’s injury changed but his status for playing remains up in the air.
Tom Thibodeau clarified that Brunson suffered a contused right foot — not the sprained ankle the coach originally announced — which kept the point guard out of Tuesday’s practice.
Will Brunson play Wednesday in Chicago?
“Questionable,” Thibodeau answered. “Feeling a lot better.”
Brunson suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over the Kings, when Sacramento’s Davion Mitchell fell on his leg under the hoop.
Brunson hasn’t missed a game this season and entered Tuesday at 39th in the NBA in total minutes. Thibodeau wouldn’t reveal his rotation plan if Brunson is unavailable, but the obvious options include increased playing time for Immanuel Quickley and/or Miles McBride.
Derrick Rose is the wildcard after getting booted from the rotation. The former MVP hasn’t played in four straight games, but it’d be fitting if he returns Wednesday in Chicago — the hometown city of Rose’s greatest accomplishments as a member of the Bulls.
“There’s great versatility,” Thibodeau said. “There are guys who have played a lot with the starters and there are some starters that have played a lot with the bench. So just get in there and get the job done and the next guys, whether it’s [McBride or Quickley] or Derrick, they’ve all had experience with the starters so I’m confident with their ability.”
There’s a big offensive hole if Brunson doesn’t play. He leads the team in assists (6.3 per game) and is second in scoring (20.1 points per game).
“He’s been steady for us every night, controlling the tempo,” RJ Barrett said. “Even in the games where he doesn’t shoot his best, he’s really been the floor general. So when it comes to game time we’ll see [if he plays].”
The Knicks can settle down in Chicago.
They begin a unique road trip with consecutive games against the Bulls on Wednesday and Friday, giving them at least four days in the same city — a rarity in the NBA — after flying in on Tuesday.
“I like it. It’s different,” Thibodeau said. “I think it’s good for us. That’s the challenge of the schedule. Sometimes it’s back-to-back. It used to be a home-and-home but now it’s different because you stay in the same city. So that part’s better in terms of not having to travel. You’re looking at an early start [6:30 p.m. tipoff on Wednesday].”
The Bulls (11-15), considered a playoff team before the season, have been a disappointment with Zach LaVine struggling. If they continue down this path, they will be the No. 1 team to watch before the trade deadline with Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan also on the roster. The Knicks (14-13) carry a season-best four-game winning streak.
Barrett is looking forward to his ‘baseball’ series.
“It’s gonna be interesting. Baseball does that a lot. Yeah, so it’ll be cool, going there for two games,” Barrett said. “It should be two hard-fought games, so just go in and try to continue what we’ve been doing.”