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The Chicago Bulls have faced a lot this season in terms of injuries and COVID-19. And, for the most part, they’ve managed to overcome those setbacks and continue along the winning track. However, Zach LaVine’s knee injury, especially in tandem with Lonzo Ball’s torn meniscus, could be a different animal.
Entering Friday’s game against the Bucks — and counting his four-minute stint against the Warriors — Chicago is 1-3 since LaVine went down. Moreover, the team has been outscored by 12.3 points per 100 possessions over that span.
Thankfully, the Bulls may not have to continue on without their star wing for too much longer. Billy Donovan just gave an encouraging update on the situation.
As relayed by team insider KC Johnson, the Bulls coach indicated that LaVine “continues to respond well to treatment and is doing on-court work.” He further noted that there’s no official return date as of yet, but that the club is “optimistic” that it will come “middle to late next week.”
Time For LaVine to Switch His Game Up?
Although LaVine looks to have avoided serious injury on this occasion, he was still banged up enough to get ruled out of six games. After the showdown with the Bucks, he’ll miss bouts with the Magic and Thunder as well.
Given the lack of separation between the teams at the top of the East standings — the sixth-place Cavs are only 2.5 games behind the No. 1 Bulls as of this writing — LaVine missing even that amount of games could prove costly.
To that end, Sam Smith wondered whether the injury might serve as a wake-up call, prompting LaVine to make some changes to his game in order to lessen the physical toll on his body going forward.
“The comment you most often hear when players are discussing injuries is they’ll listen to their body,” Smith wrote. “I wonder if Zach LaVine’s body said, ‘Enough with the dunking, already.’”
The longtime hoops scribe went on to compare the Bulls star’s dunking prowess relative to the rest of his game to an ice cream sundae.
“[LaVine] has extraordinary basketball skills with his shooting, passing, ball handling and the ability to get to the basket past defenders. The dunk is the cherry on top of his skills sundae. But aren’t those maraschino cherries dyed and said to be potentially harmful?”
Perhaps so, Sam.
Bulls Keeping Coby White?
After a sluggish start to his 2021-22 campaign, Bulls guard Coby White has rebounded to play the most efficient basketball of his career so far. He has been especially good since the Ball injury forced him back into the starting lineup three games ago.
The former No. 7 overall pick has averaged 17.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals. He has also connected on a whopping 52.6% of his 6.3 three-point attempts per contest.
It would seem that the Bulls place a higher value on that output than what they could potentially bring in by using White as a trade piece.
Ahead of the Bucks game, Johnson had this to say about the guard and how he could factor into Chicago’s trade deadline plans: “In my conversations with other executives around the league, at least as of now, the impression I’m getting is that the Bulls intend to keep Coby White.”