Bulls Hopeful Zach LaVine Can Return Next Week

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said that Zach LaVine‘s sore left knee has been responding well to treatment and he continues to do on-court work, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Donovan added that there’s still no specific date the team is targeting for LaVine’s return, but is hopeful it could occur “middle-to-late” next week.

The Bulls play Wednesday, Jan. 26 against Toronto, Friday, Jan. 28 at San Antonio, and Sunday, Jan. 30 against Portland, so it’s possible LaVine could return on one of those dates. Assuming things continue to progress in a positive direction, I would imagine the team will be cautious with its star player and would guess Sunday as the most likely outcome, but it all depends on how he’s feeling.

An MRI last Saturday revealed no structural damage to Lavine’s knee, but he had played through soreness for a couple of weeks prior to exiting the team’s loss against Golden State last Friday with “discomfort.” LaVine played less than four minutes in the 42-point loss, but through 38 contests, he still holds stellar averages of 24.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists this season, shooting 49% from the floor and 41% from deep.

LaVine’s strong play is a major reason why the Bulls are 28-15, tied with Miami for first place in the East. The Bulls have gone 1-2 in LaVine’s absence thus far (1-3 counting the game against Golden State) and face the defending champion Bucks on Friday night.

Chicago has been hit hard by injuries this season. In addition to LaVine, second-year forward Patrick Williams had wrist surgery and is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season, Javonte Green has been dealing with a strained adductor, Derrick Jones Jr. has a bone bruise in his right knee, and Lonzo Ball is undergoing knee surgery next week to repair a torn meniscus, which will sideline him for several weeks. The team also had three games postponed in December due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

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