Bulls F Markkanen on track to make ’18-19 debut

Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen has been upgraded to probable and could make his season debut in Saturday’s game against the Houston Rockets.

Markkanen has been sidelined with an elbow sprain since September. Initially, he was scheduled to be out six to eight weeks. He has missed 23 games.

He participated in his first full contact practice Tuesday. Afterward, he told reporters that he felt “fine” and had no residual soreness.

“I felt like I was in pretty good shape,” Markkanen said after Tuesday’s practice. “My shot felt fine.”

The Finnish forward participated in shootaround before the Bulls’ 107-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

“Lauri feels great,” coach Fred Hoiberg said Friday. “We’re getting there. We’re getting closer and we’re still taking it day by day, but the important thing now is he’s doing a little more each day with the contact. We had a good hard practice yesterday, and he responded very well to it.”

Hoiberg had said he expected Markkanen would participate in a week of practice before playing in a game.

Last season, Markkanen averaged 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in his rookie campaign.

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