The Chicago Bulls have gone 10-6 since Zach LaVine went out just after Thanksgiving with a foot infection, but he is now close to a return — and just in time to showcase himself before the trade deadline (not that will change the dynamic).
The first sign of LaVine’s return was the Bulls assigning him to the Windy City Bulls in time for a full contact practice Monday. Those practices are the first step to a return.
When asked about LaVine Tuesday before the Bulls loss to the 76ers, coach Billy Donovan said a return within a week was “realistic.” Here is more, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
“I don’t know what the exact date’s going to be, but the way he’s progressing right now and the fact that he’s in full-fledged contact, [it’s] very, very positive…
“So far, he practiced with those guys yesterday and then again today and all the reports I got is that it went very, very well. He responded well coming back in this morning, and we’ll see how he responds tomorrow. But with the schedule of Windy City and them being in town and able to practice, it’s good … with our schedule, it’s hard to get him actual live right reps and playing against live bodies. So this has been good for him to be back there.”
The Bulls also remain without Nikola Vucevic and Torrey Craig, although Vucevic is closer to a return.
LaVine is averaging 21 points a game, shooting 33.6% from 3 (below his career average and likely in part due to the foot issues), and is grabbing 4.9 rebounds a night.
LaVine’s representatives and the Bulls both seek a trade that suits the All-Star wing. However, the combination of his massive contract (the remainder of $40 million this season plus $138 million guaranteed over the next three seasons), his injury history, and the perception he does not contribute much to winning outside scoring has limited the market for him.
Maybe his play upon his return to the court can boost those trade possibilities, although considering his contract that is not likely.