Bulls plan on LaVine, Ball missing at least three more games
While Alex Caruso and Tyler Cook came off the Bulls' injury list Wednesday, expect Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball to miss at least three more games.
Coach Billy Donovan said the team is planning to keep LaVine and Ball in Chicago to rehab knee injuries when the team embarks on a quick three-game trip to Milwaukee, Orlando and Oklahoma City beginning Friday.
Before facing the Cavs, Donovan said the news is good on LaVine, while the team is waiting to see how Ball responds to treatment.
"(LaVine) has responded well to therapy," Donovan said. "He has been back on the floor, hasn't done any running, jumping, any of that. Been able to shoot free throws, has been able to do strength training and those kind of things. He has responded well. I don't have a return date for him at this point in time, but certainly he feels a lot better today than he did."
Ball missed the last two games with a sore left knee. On Wednesday, his injury designation was revised to left knee bone contusion. Ball went on the two-game road trip, but came back early, before Monday's game in Memphis, when the injury didn't respond to initial treatment.
"Now they switched to a different kind of treatment for him and they'll see how that treatment works out and there will be another step after that if we need it," Donovan said. "That's why there was a reason to get him back as soon as possible from Memphis because you just don't want to waste days."
LaVine injured his left knee in the first quarter of last Friday's loss to Golden State when he landed after grabbing a rebound.
Caruso on a limit:
The plan was for Alex Caruso to be limited to 22-24 minutes Wednesday. He's played in just two complete games since Dec. 4, between a hamstring strain, left foot sprain and visit to protocols.
"I don't really have an expectation that he's going to pick up where he left off in early December. I think that would be unfair," coach Billy Donovan said. "I think him being back with his voice and how hard he'll play and the way that he'll compete is always a positive for our team."
Markkanen tries new role:
A few years ago, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. were supposed to be the Bulls' power forward-center combination of the future. Now both have essentially changed positions with new teams.
Carter is playing power forward in Orlando with Mo Bamba at center. Markkanen is the small forward on a tall Cleveland front line that includes center Jarrett Allen and rookie Evan Mobley.
"It is an uncomfortable position for him at times," Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "Some of the matchups we put him on can be uncomfortable, but I think the group works and it's more about the trio of guys. Evan and Jarrett are both skilled enough to make it work."
Markkanen started the night averaging 13.3 points and shooting 32.5% from 3-point range, both career-lows, but the Cavs have been one of the league's most surprising teams.