Bulls’ Dunleavy out 8-10 weeks after back surgery

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It is the big question for the Chicago Bulls this season: With a more reasonable minutes distribution under Fred Hoiberg, can the team stay healthier?

This is not a good start.

Starting small forward Mike Dunleavy is out 8-10 weeks following back surgery, the Bulls announced late Friday. Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com confirmed the report. Here is what the Bulls said in their press release.

Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy successfully underwent a low back microdiscectomy procedure earlier today at Rush University Medical Center. Dunleavy had experienced some occasional back discomfort over the summer which had recently worsened. Conservative measures failed to satisfactorily resolve his symptoms, therefore, the decision was made to perform the surgery. The timing is unfortunate, but it was imperative that all conservative measures were exhausted prior to making this decision.

Based on the Bulls’ announced timeline, this means a return around Thanksgiving.

Dunleavy — who signed a three-year extension with the Bulls this summer — and his ability to hit the three is key to the floor spacing for the Bulls. Expect this to thrust second-year man Doug McDermott into the spotlight in Chicago.

This is not how the Bulls wanted the Hoiberg era to begin, but if they can keep the other key players healthy and get Dunleavy back it’s far from a devastating blow. It’s just going to make it a rougher start to the season.