LaVine still hesitant to join all-star dunk contest

  • Chicago Bulls' Zach LaVine (8) drives to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks' George Hill during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Milwaukee.

    Chicago Bulls' Zach LaVine (8) drives to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks' George Hill during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Milwaukee.

Updated 1/20/2020 10:07 PM

MILWAUKEE -- The field has yet to become official, but it sounds like Zach LaVine is cooling on the idea of returning to the slam-dunk contest when NBA All-Star Weekend hits Chicago next month.

Of course, he'd prefer to be in the actual All-Star Game, but the Bulls' 16-29 record will be tough to overcome.


"Like I said, I'd rather be in the game than be in the dunk contest," he said before the Bulls played Milwaukee on Monday. "I think I've shown everything I can dunking. I think I've shown I can win that pretty easily, but if I'm in the game, yeah, I'll think about doing it.

"I'd like to do the 3-point contest, but obviously where I'm at now I think my sights are on something bigger than just doing contests. I want to be in that group where you're playing in the game and obviously once you start winning you can be considered for All-NBA and things like that."

The dunk contest has evolved over the years to where it seems to be a showcase for new players. The biggest stars stopped participating. Since LaVine won two in a row in 2015-16, the winners were two rookies -- Donovan Mitchell and Hamidou Diallo -- along with journeyman Glenn Robinson III.

LaVine is averaging 30.6 points in January, which is fifth best in the league but still behind Atlanta's Trae Young, who also plays for a losing team but was leading the most recent fan vote for starters.

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"I think everything comes with winning," LaVine said. "Everybody on the team succeeds with winning, and I think that's where it's got to come from first. I'm going out here just trying to do my part."

Trade deadline looms:

The NBA trade deadline is a little more than two weeks away, on Feb. 6. It doesn't seem there's a lot the Bulls can do to change their roster, but losing teams are usually looking to get better.

Before Monday's game in Milwaukee, coach Jim Boylen gave a plug for letting the current group keep growing.

"I've said before, we have a hardworking, high-character group of guys and guys who are willing to be coached and willing to work," he said. "That's a credit to them. Those are things I think are important. But I'm not a fool to think we don't discuss things and things don't come up and people don't call us. That's part of the league."

Zach LaVine has learned during six years in the league that your friends can be traded away at any time.

"We're in a tough position where I think we're competitive, but obviously we're not there yet," he said. "I'm in a place of my career now where I'm able to deal with whatever is thrown at you."

Bulls horns:

Former Bulls center Robin Lopez was out with an illness Monday and not in the building. ... Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo tied his season high with 8 turnovers. ... Milwaukee shot a season-high 57.7 percent from the field.


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