Chicago Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine tore his left ACL in 2017 when he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. So when the two-time Slam Dunk champion hurt his left knee on January 14 against the Golden State Warriors, Bulls fans were worried about his ACL.
Fortunately, LaVine and the Bulls caught an immense break after the guard’s MRI results came back.
Zach LaVine has no structural damage in his knee
LaVine’s MRI revealed no significant structural damage in his knee. He has begun a period of targeted therapy and will be reassessed in one week. The Washington native is not expected to miss significant time.
“Well, obviously very optimistic and very grateful that it wasn’t something more,” Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said, via ESPN. “That’s why they wanted to do the MRI, so he’ll continue to get therapy and we’ll re-evaluate him after a period of time. I don’t think it’s something that’s long-term, which is a good thing. So the biggest thing is how does he respond to therapy, treatment, those kinds of things. I think once they see how he responds to the therapy there will be a clearer view of when a return date will be possible.”
According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, LaVine played through minor swelling in his left knee. He took himself out when he experienced discomfort during the first quarter of the Bulls-Golden State Warriors game after grabbing an offensive rebound.
The Bulls should count their blessings that LaVine didn’t suffer a severe injury. He’s on pace to make his second straight All-Star game, and his sound play is a big reason why Chicago has the top record in the Eastern Conference.
Zach LaVine is putting up stellar numbers
LaVine is averaging 24.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while shooting 49.1% from the field, 41.2% from beyond the arc, and 87.2% from the free-throw line this season. The Bulls are well on their way to making the postseason for the first time since 2017, and LaVine and DeMar DeRozan could be the first set of Chicago teammates to start in an All-Star Game since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in 1997.
This is a big year for LaVine. He becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer and could get paid handsomely. The UCLA product signed a four-year, $78 million deal with the Bulls in 2018 and has thoroughly outplayed that contract. All signs point toward LaVine and Chicago coming to terms on a new deal in the offseason, so the 26-year-old shouldn’t feel the need to rush back until his knee is 100%.
However, the Bulls may have to acquire another electric scorer while LaVine is out. They also need a rim protector.
Bulls don’t have enough scoring with Flight 8 out
The Bulls have five players averaging over double-figures: DeRozan, LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, and Coby White. Their scoring will go down with LaVine out, so Vucevic, Ball, and White have to step up. However, Ball is experiencing left knee soreness and will miss a few games.
With LaVine and Ball out, the Bulls will struggle. The front office should use this period to acquire another 20-point scorer and rim protector. Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant could be the scorer, while Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner could be the rim protector.
Bulls fans will undoubtedly miss LaVine while he’s sidelined, but at least they haven’t watched him play his final game of the season.