Storyline: Zach LaVine Injury

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Bulls guard Zach LaVine finds himself in a non-negotiable situation. That’s why begging coach Fred Hoiberg for even a sniff of playing time in either overtime Monday would have fallen on deaf ears. Not that LaVine didn’t think about it, especially as he sat on the bench and watched his teammates lose their grip on a game they owned most of the evening. ‘‘It should have never gotten to that point,’’ LaVine said, referring to the Bulls’ double-overtime loss to the Pelicans.

LaVine resides in the land of minutes restrictions these days. In his first three games after returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, it was a firm 20. In his last two, it was bumped up to 24. More is not an option. ‘‘I don’t think I’m going to play any more minutes [than they allow],’’ LaVine said. ‘‘I think it’s a set schedule right now, regardless of how I do or how I’m feeling.’’ That means what he makes of those minutes is what matters in his road back from the injury. ‘‘It sucked that I had to sit out the remainder of the game, but that’s just the way it is right now,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘So I’ve got to deal with it.’’

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, the centerpiece of this offseason’s blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade, will make his season debut on Saturday against the Detroit Pistons, the team announced. LaVine, who was recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in February as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, will be limited to 20 minutes per game initially, according to Bulls executive vice president John Paxson, and won’t play the second night of back-to-backs before the All-Star break.

Chicago G Zach LaVine (left ACL) was slated to practice with Windy City of the G League on Tuesday night. Hoiberg said LaVine, who sustained a minor back strain about a week ago, will practice with Chicago on Thursday and begin six straight days of practice with contact on Saturday. “He’s got a lot of hurdles to clear yet in the process, but it’s going to be good to get him back with consecutive days of full-contact practice and we’ll see how he responds,” Hoiberg said.

KC Johnson: Lavine had full G League practice. Hoiberg: “I think he’ll help everybody on the floor. There’s going to have to be so much attention drawn to him with his ability to get on the break and create his own shot when teams switch. He and Lauri on pick-and-roll actions will be great.”
7 months ago via ESPN

LaVine was working with Bulls staff members after Tuesday’s first practice, but is not able to participate fully at this point. “He’s doing a lot of things,” Hoiberg said after Tuesday’s first official practice of the year. “Basically on a 1-on-0 workout he has no restrictions. He’s doing a lot of extra running. He’s been a monster in the weight room, he’s putting up a lot of weight, which shows the strength of that leg, is probably where it needs to be. “

The 22-year-old is not worried that the major injury came during a breakout third season in the league, or that it may eventually complicate talks about a possible big-money extension. Instead, LaVine said he is attacking the long, mundane rehab process the same way he attacks the gym for workouts that helped turn him into one of the rising young stars in the league. “Going out here like I’m going to get 500 shots. Instead, I’m doing 500 leg lifts,” LaVine said. “It’s the same difference. Everything’s been positive with me. I’m just focused.”

The hardest part will be avoiding the mental let-downs that can come from such a long, grueling period of time away from the game. Timberwolves joked that he has a simple plan for helping LaVine to feel like he’s a part of the team while he’s out. “Yell at him daily,” Thibodeau deadpanned. “The first time I got back, he almost poked me a little bit and said, ‘I ain’t yelled at you in (a month). Let me get some frustration out,'” LaVine said. “It’s still funny.”

With Zach LaVine out since Feb. 3 because of a torn ACL in his left knee, Towns and Wiggins have had to shoulder even more of the load. The sense of urgency has worn well on the reigning rookie of the year. “Desperation makes you do a lot of things you couldn’t normally do,” Towns said. “Being so close to the playoffs, I have a lot of desperation trying to play the best that I can so I can try to help us get to the playoffs and get that eighth spot.”
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