Zach LaVine’s time away from the court appears to be coming to an end. On Tuesday, Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said the guard began full-contact practices with the Windy City Bulls of the G League and experienced no setbacks with his ankle.
If the All-Star guard continues with this trajectory, Donovan said LaVine could be back on the court as early as Friday, when the Bulls welcome the Charlotte Hornets to town.
“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,” Donovan said, via ESPN.
“I don’t know what the medical [team], how much data they want to see in terms of game load, kind of practices that he can handle. But everything that’s been thrown at him in terms of the way he’s progressed, he’s handled really, really well.”
LaVine, who has missed Chicago’s past 16 games, will have another practice with the Windy City Bulls on Wednesday.
During this stretch, the Bulls have stormed back into the Eastern Conference picture. Chicago has gone 10-6, and there’s now cautious optimism that LaVine, whose name was floated in trade talks prior to the injury, will want to remain with the Bulls.
“I think he has always been … whatever he can do to help the team has kind of been his mentality,” Donovan said. “I think the one thing that’s always a little bit different when you talk to players that have been out, it’s like you talk to them, and it’s a totally different perspective when you’re sitting out looking at it from a non-competitive standpoint. When you’re not in the game and you can see the game. I think he sees how we’re playing, what we’re doing, and I think that the thing that he’d want to do is come in and contribute and enhance that and make it better.
“To me, [our discussions have] been very, very positive. I think he wants to help the group as much as he can. I think I’ve said this before, I don’t think it’s necessarily so much that he has to change his game. It’s what he does really, really well — can he bring that to the table for us?”
LaVine was averaging 21 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game prior to his injury. He was shooting 44.3% from the field and 33.6% from 3-point range. The Bulls have the 10th-best record in the East at 15-20.