His legs were stronger from endless weight training he had done as part of his rehabilitation, but his body wasn’t right. He had put on weight, shooting past 210 and suddenly lugging nearly 15 more pounds than he was accustomed to carrying. And he didn’t trust any of it. Publicly, Zach LaVine maintained that his surgically repaired left knee was fine, and structurally it was. But deep down, he knew he something was off. He wouldn’t talk about it, rejecting rust or a lack of rhythm as factors to a so-so return to action. That was window dressing, a prideful athlete willing his mind to believe something his body wasn’t quite ready to do.
For Zach LaVine, it’s been a long, hard road to recovery. But nearly 21 months after suffering a career-altering injury, LaVine and those who know him best can finally say he’s back. Their hope, which is rooted in tireless and meticulous work, is that he’s also better than ever. “He just felt he was a shadow of himself last year, and the Bulls fans didn’t really get to see the true Zach LaVine coming off that injury,” said Tony Willis, a longtime family friend and trainer to LaVine. “So he’s super motivated to get back to where he was and to surpass that.”
Nick Friedell: Hoiberg stressed that he is excited for LaVine to be able to start the season healthy with the Bulls. Last season as he recovered from ACL injury, LaVine spent much of his time getting reps with Windy City Bulls before returning to the floor.
Nick Friedell: From Bulls perspective on LaVine, 4 yrs for $60 mil has always felt like preferred number to them. At 23, nobody is sure what kind of player he'll become. If I'm the Bulls I'm not going too much higher than that because I'm still not convinced he's worth that big of an investment
KC Johnson: Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn are done for season, per Bulls. Not enough time/practices to get them in game shape.
Vincent Goodwill: Kris Dunn will be out tomorrow, along with Lauri Markkanen. Zach LaVine will be a game time decision with tendinitis. Skeleton crew against Cavs, perhaps
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.’’
Nick Friedell: Zach LaVine hits a three with his first shot. After missing almost a year -- that one had to feel particularly nice.
Mike McGraw: Fred Hoiberg on adjusting to LaVine: “We're going to run a lot of the same things that we did. We put this system in place with Zach in mind." #Bulls
Nick Friedell: Fred Hoiberg is excited for Zach LaVine to cross the last hurdle in his return. LaVine will play about 20 minutes tonight. Hoiberg is hopeful LaVine will be able to play a few more minutes in a week or so.
When asked for a prediction on how LaVine would do, Wiggins predicted 30 points. Not likely, considering LaVine will be on a 20-minute limit to start with. But both Wiggins and Towns will be rooting their friend on. “I’m happy for him,’’ Towns said. “He’s been working tremendously hard to get back on the court, and anyone who knows Zach knows he’s a hard worker. He itches to play the game of basketball every day.’’
“I know he’s going to kill it,’’ Wiggins said of LaVine. “We still talk all the time. He’s excited. He’s been ready to come back for a long time. He worked so hard to get to this point. I think he’ll go out and kill 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.
KC Johnson: Bulls say exec VP John Paxson will update how meeting to set Zach LaVine’s debut went before practice Tuesday. As of yesterday, sounded like his window to possibly play started Saturday vs. Pistons.
The Chicago Bulls hope to decide on a return date for guard Zach LaVine early next week. LaVine will travel with the team to games at Dallas and Indiana on Friday and Saturday. Coach Fred Hoiberg says the two-time slam dunk champion will meet with doctors, trainers, management and coaches after the Bulls return home.
Fred Hoiberg says Zach LaVine has had a few good practices in a row. He will continue working out with the Bulls this week. Then the Bulls' front office and medical staff will meet with LaVine over the weekend and they will decide what the next step will be as far as playing goes.
KC Johnson: Zach LaVine shed his knee brace: "It’s like adding three pounds on your leg. So I made the decision to not go with it. It’s safe. It’s more between me and the doctor and stuff like that, so I appreciate that.”
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: Sounding more and more like LaVine's debut will be in January, not December. He's currently on an every other day plan. Hoiberg said they want multiple consecutive days of work.
KC Johnson: LaVine: "I’ve been working out for the last eight, nine months and you come in and play 5-on-5 and you’re tired in 3 minutes. Just got to get that down, get my rhythm down. But I’m progressing really fast. And I feel good."
KC Johnson: LaVine: "This isn’t a losing situation. We might not have the best record right now. But we don’t have that outlook on our team. We’re positive. We go at each other. We’re looking to improve. I know I’m not a loser. They’re not losers. We’re in the right state of mind."
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."
KC Johnson: Hoiberg said LaVine was doing windmill dunks in 3-on-3 session yesterday. “He got me excited,” Hoiberg said.
Darnell Mayberry: LaVine said he doesn't have a specific date in mind for when he'd like to play. "When I’m out here playing the way I should be in practice, I’ll be able to go out there and do what I need to do on the court." #Bulls #BullsNation
Darnell Mayberry: Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg didn't rule out Zach LaVine spending time in the G-League to regain his rhythm. "We haven’t really determined that yet," Hoiberg said. "I think a lot will depend on how things go in practice then we’ll make that decision." #Bulls #BullsNation
Darnell Mayberry: LaVine: "I’ve been doing everything, from dunking to running. The only thing I haven’t been cleared for is contact." #Bulls #BullsNation
Darnell Mayberry: LaVine: "I’ve tested myself in many ways to show that I’m OK. I’m just happy that I’m at that point now." #Bulls #BullsNation
Vincent Goodwill: As expected, Bulls' Zach LaVine cleared for contact practice. Bulls out west for the week
Darnell Mayberry: Zach LaVine has been cleared for full-contact practice. Still no definite timetable for his return. But he says he feels great.
KC Johnson: Hoiberg reiterated that LaVine is on track to be cleared for contact practices on next week's West Coast trip.
Mike McGraw: Hoiberg thinks Zach LaVine could be ready for full contact in about 3 weeks. #Bulls pic.twitter.com/OU884JNkRr
KC Johnson: Re LaVine: As long as he returns without issue from injury, as all expect, Bulls will re-sign him next summer. He's centerpiece of rebuild.
"Zach is coming along great," Hoiberg said Thursday. "He's been really good, very vocal with our players. He's ahead of schedule. He's cleared to do more movement. He's not cleared for contact yet, but he's moving around in unpredictable movements now, which is important."
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. “
Fred Hoiberg: “But as far as letting that graft fully mature, generally from what we understand from our doctors is it takes a full nine months. Which would put us really in the middle of November before he would be cleared for any type of contact so I do think it's safe to say he won't be with us on opening night but he's making great progress."
Mike McGraw: Hoiberg on LaVine: "Basically, 1 on 0 he has no restrictions." Thinks doctors will wait full 9 months before cleared for contact. #Bulls
Zach LaVine on when he will be back on the floor: "As soon as possible." Says his vertical is higher than it was before the injury.
There's no timetable just yet for LaVine's return to action this season. He has been progressing steadily all summer in his rehab, with no worries that he'll be able to return to the athleticism that has become a hallmark of his game. Weeks ago, the Bulls were looking to analyze his progress to date, putting LaVine through a series of drills and tests. His standing vertical leap tested higher than even his pre-draft measurements, according to a league source.
Marc J. Spears: Bulls guard @Zach LaVine says he's ahead of schedule from knee surgery and he will be ready for training camp. @ESPYS
"I'm attacking this injury like I do everything in life, working my butt off for it every day," the personable LaVine said. "I feel like with my ability I'm able to come back early. But I really haven't set a timetable for that. I'm very confident that I'll come back better. This has given me time to work on my mental game, my strength and learn the game more. I have no fear at all coming back from this."
Vincent Goodwill: As for LaVine, still a-ways away from substantial basketball activity. “Training softly” it’s being termed. ACL is not something to rush
KC Johnson: Thibodeau consistently raved about LaVine's work ethic. He has been progressing well in rehab from Feb. ACL tear.
Jon Krawczynski: Ricky Rubio said this about LaVine and I agree with him: He's moving remarkably well for less than 2 months from the injury. Walking freely
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."
"It seems like he didn't have surgery," Rubio said. "He's walking around here, and me and (Rush) spent like six weeks with crutches. He's shooting already. He's a freak athlete, and you can tell the way he's recovering, if the season was one or two months more, he probably would play."
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."
Dieng misses the familiarity of the two-man game they often played together and how LaVine’s ability to stretch the floor with his three-point shooting and to attack the rim, created room in which Dieng could work. “Honestly, I’ve been struggling without him on the court because I know a lot of stuff when I pop [off a screen] or a when I roll,” Dieng said. “He knows when to hit me, where to give me the ball.”
“Both of us were on the bench, we started when Flip was here,” Dieng said. “We get to know each other. That’s how that two-man game start, with me and Zach. He was on the bench and wanted to play. I was, too. When we got in, I tried to get him the ball and he’d try to hit me.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that guard Zach LaVine will undergo surgery to reconstruct a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his left knee on Tuesday, February 14. The surgery will be performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in collaboration with Timberwolves Team Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Diane Dahm of Mayo Clinic. Timberwolves Director of Athletic Therapy Matt Duhamel will accompany LaVine to Los Angeles.
Jabari Parker: @ZachLaVine. Just wanted to reach out and say keep your head high bro. You going to be jumping even higher soon, trust me, I know lol.
LeBron James: Don't know you personally but love your talent homie. Have a healthy and speedy recovery @ZachLaVine!! Minor set back/major comeback.
Timberwolves PR: #Twolves guard Zach LaVine will miss the remainder of the season after MRI reveals a torn ACL in left knee.
Jamal Crawford: Prayers up for my little brother @zachlavine. The way you work I know you'll be back better than ever!!! Love
Shabazz Muhammad: Pray up for my teammate and brother @Zach LaVine I know he will come back stronger then ever! 🙏
Tim MacMahon: Timberwolves SG Zach LaVine hopes to play against the Mavs after missing the previous two games due to a hip contusion. The final decision will be made after he warms up.
May 22, 2022 | 7:42 pm EDT Update
Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler (knee) intends to play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics on Monday, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The six-time All-Star is being listed as questionable for Monday. Miami is also listing Kyle Lowry (hamstring), Tyler Herro (groin), P.J. Tucker (knee), Max Strus (hamstring) and Gabe Vincent (hamstring) as questionable.
May 22, 2022 | 5:43 pm EDT Update
Since these bench decorum issues generally have been resolved after the league intervenes, technical fouls have not been used a deterrent, and the league does not plan to start issuing techs during the conference finals. However, the topic will be discussed in the offseason, and the league will explore ways to address bench decorum during games in real time, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.