LaVine wants to play through thumb injury, but isn't sure how it will go

The Bulls received some bad news this week with Zach LaVine suffering a left thumb injury during Monday's game in Toronto.

How bad is the news? Well, no one is quite sure yet. It was diagnosed as a partial ligament tear and LaVine plans to play through it. But how much it hinders him, the chances that he'll eventually need time off for it to heal - that's unknown at the moment.

"Tear in the tendon, it's just like a grade 1-2 sprain, but small tear and just seeing how it feels," LaVine said after Wednesday's practice at the Advocate Center. "Obviously last game played through it a little bit."

A right-handed shooter, LaVine had the left thumb taped and after talking to reporters, he put some shots up and showed no signs of the injury. He did some parts of practice, but wanted to be cautious not to makes things worse.

"This is the first day of playing with it in practice just to see how it feels," he said. "I felt better than I did obviously in the game when it hurt a lot more. But we'll see how it goes, I'm going to try and manage it as best I can and see how it feels tomorrow."

A torn thumb ligament is a relatively common injury in basketball and the Bulls have dealt with it several times over the years. It's easy for the thumb to get caught in a bad spot if an opponent hacks down on it or it's hit by the ball the wrong way.

"I already had a jammed thumb and then it just got caught on a play and it just went back a little bit," he said. "I think right now it's just trying to figure out how to manage the pain and keep it safe, and then going forward I'll get more information on it.

"Obviously, I don't want to put myself in any danger, I don't have all the information on it yet. We'll see how I feel tomorrow and going from there. But you know me, I try to play through everything. If I'm able to, I will. If not we'll see how it goes."

With the Bulls off to a 4-0 start for the first time in 25 years, there is a feeling they should be able to weather the storm better than they have in the recent past if LaVine has to sit out for any length of time.

DeMar DeRozan is averaging 22.5 points per game, just slightly behind LaVine's 25.5. Lonzo Ball has shot it well from 3-point range and center Nikola Vucevic has been a 20-point scorer in the past. The Bulls have also seen a few flashes from rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu suggesting he might be ready to take on a bigger role.

"He (LaVine) could be (limited)," coach Billy Donovan said. "I don't want to say it's severe, but it's more than mild. We just have to see how he feels and how he's doing.

"I think it's just something that's going to take some time to tell. I would think that if he does not jam it again or get hit there again that it will heal and he'll be OK. But I think any time a guy's out there playing, that could happen."

The Bulls have tougher opponents on the horizon, beginning with the Knicks on Thursday at the United Center. The Bulls will honor Joakim Noah on Thursday and new Hall of Famer Toni Kukoc on Saturday against Utah.


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