The Chicago Bulls, who are either snakebitten or have a shoddy medical staff, have yet another player who will be on the shelf long-term. As the 2023-24 regular season winds down, the ninth-seeded Bulls can ill afford any additional absences while making a (fairly pointless) “play-in push” (i.e. a charge to appear in the NBA’s play-in tournament and then likely lose, if we’re being honest about their chances). But here we are.

Chicago has announced today in a press statement that rookie forward Julian Phillips has suffered a right foot sprain. The team notes that he will wear a walking boot while he recuperates. The Bulls have already lost point guard Lonzo Ball, shooting guard Zach LaVine, and combo forward Patrick Williams for the year to their various ailments. Ball, of course, hasn’t played a game since January 2022, three knee surgeries ago.

Most Improved Player candidate Coby White, meanwhile, seems to have avoided a long-term issue when he suffered a mild hip strain against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. The 6’5″ former North Carolina Tar Heel is considered day-to-day moving forward. Losing White could prove detrimental to Chicago’s postseason hopes.

That said, being without Phillips is still a big bummer, too. The athletic, rim-rolling rookie, 20, hurt his foot while the Bulls were in the midst of being decimated by the Dallas Mavericks, to the tune of a 127-92 obliteration on Monday. He did play 11 minutes on Wednesday for some reason, despite being hurt. That would be a point against Chicago’s medical staffers, given what’s come since. He missed Chicago’s 126-114 Thursday loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. And now he might be done for the year.

Damian Lillard, Julian Phillips
Damian Lillard #0 of the Milwaukee Bucks passes around Julian Phillips #15 of the Chicago Bulls during the second half at the United Center on March 01, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. Phillips is now in…

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Chicago traded into the second round to snag Phillips, a fairly raw prospect who seems to fit the drafting MO of Bulls team president Arturas Karnisovas. Karnisovas likes springy, defense-first players with undercooked offensive games. It’s a strange choice, given that the top of the roster is loaded with aging “win-now” vets.

Phillips had already shown signs of life during his first pro season. The 6’8″ player was selected with the No. 35 pick out of the University of Tennessee. He’s appeared in 40 games for Chicago, playing mostly at small forward and power forward. Averaging just 8.1 minutes per bout, Phillips has fairly a modest stat line of 2.2 points on 41.6% shooting from the floor, plus 0.9 rebounds. But he’s emerged as an intriguing cog for a club badly in need of defensive frontcourt help, especially with Williams out for good and Torrey Craig and Alex Caruso frequently hurt.