LaVine hopes knee issue won't shut him down for season

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Bulls' Zach LaVine is likely to sit for a second-straight game Tuesday.

    The Bulls' Zach LaVine is likely to sit for a second-straight game Tuesday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 3/11/2019 5:44 PM

Such is the life of a lottery-bound team.

The Bulls' leading scorer, Zach LaVine, has developed some soreness in his right knee and now it's time for the franchise to weigh whether there's any point in him coming back this season. Coach Jim Boylen called LaVine doubtful for Tuesday's home game against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.

 

LaVine missed Sunday's game at Detroit and things didn't go well, with the Bulls losing 131-108. On Monday at the Advocate Center, LaVine was in no mood for shutdown talk.

"I think it's still just day-to-day," LaVine said. "I felt a little bit more of the same today so I did some more treatment. See where it goes tomorrow. I'm going to get some ice and see if ice helps me out."

The Bulls listed his injury as right patellar tendinitis, which can have varying degrees of seriousness and can generally be solved with rest and rehab. It's typical in the NBA for this injury to knock someone out for a game or two, but guys have missed full seasons. LaVine's ACL tear in 2016 was in his left knee.

"At this point of the season, everybody is feeling (something)," LaVine said. "I'm used to playing heavy minutes. So I think it's just a little irritated.

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"I want to be out there regardless. But there's no reason to go out there and try to risk anything right now. It's not smart."

The Bulls (19-49) have 14 games remaining. Even though they've built some positive momentum since the Otto Porter Jr. trade, getting the best odds possible in the draft lottery is also a reasonable goal. Their chances of dropping into the bottom three have gotten a boost with Phoenix suddenly getting hot. The Suns have won four of five and took down both Milwaukee and Golden State in the past week.

LaVine has been on the best run of his career, though. Since the all-star break, he's averaged 28.2 point and 4.8 assists, while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. If he could keep that up next season, being chosen for the all-star team would be a realistic goal.

"It breaks my heart," Boylen said. "It breaks my heart when he's worked at it, he's been very coachable, teachable, he's grown. He's done everything I've asked him to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"So it's painful, man. It's like your family when somebody's doing really well and then something happens where they can't do that anymore. So hopefully he can come back and help us."

Boylen said there's been no discussion about shutting LaVine down for the season. The Bulls pulled the plug on both LaVine and Kris Dunn at the end of last season when injuries popped up, but they seem less likely to do that this year with the new lineup starting to build some chemistry. The Bulls have gone 7-7 since the trade.

"It's not the situation or the time of the year to push a guy to try and get a certain seed or homecourt," Boylen said. "That's as simply as I can put it. We have to understand that. I think you know my personality, I want to win every game and play our butt off every game, but we've got to be smart too."

Ryan Arcidiacono started in LaVine's place Sunday and as always, injuries provide a chance for other guys to step up. The best response Sunday came from Wayne Selden Jr., who led the team with 18 points.

"We're not going to jeopardize anyone's future, our future, for one win," Boylen said. "That being said, we have to manage being competitive and fighting and caring and all that."

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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