Zach LaVine feels confident about a full recovery from his ACL injury

SHARE Zach LaVine feels confident about a full recovery from his ACL injury
SHARE Zach LaVine feels confident about a full recovery from his ACL injury

The Bulls have had some bad experiences with torn anterior cruciate ligaments during the last five years.

Zach LaVine is looking to change that.

The organization was derailed in 2012 by Derrick Rose’s torn ACL and his subsequent rehabilitation drama. LaVine, who was acquired from Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade, has a much different approach.

Rather than worrying about branding and future contracts, LaVine has actually had to be restrained from how vigorously he has attacked his rehab.

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said on several occasions that LaVine had to be shut down by doctors for going too hard.

All good news for the Bulls, as LaVine recovers from a torn left ACL suffered in February.

“I’m feeling really good,’’ LaVine said Tuesday in his introductory news conference. “Attacking this injury like I do everything in life. Working my butt off for it every day. In the gym doing as much as possible. There’s always that base timeline of 9 to 12 months.

‘‘I feel like with my ability I’m always able to come back early, but I really haven’t set a timetable for that. I’m really confident that I’m going to come back better than I have, and this will give me time to work on my mental game, my strength, just learn the game of basketball more. I have no fear at all coming back from this.’’

The good news for the Bulls is there’s no urgency to rush the 22-year-old. With the rebuild jump-started and the organization focused on tanking for at least this season, trying to run LaVine out there by November — almost nine months after the injury — makes no sense.

Yes, the high-flying guard is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-best 18.9 points in 47 starts, but his new front office can afford to wait until he’s 100 percent.

As far as being a key piece in this new Bulls young core, LaVine called it humbling.

“I’m just here trying to do the best I can,’’ LaVine said. “Not everybody gets this opportunity, so just growing up I was a ‘Space Jam’ fan. I know everything about Michael Jordan . . . it’s just a great opportunity.

‘‘It’s very humbling and very satisfying to be here in these colors and this city, do the best I can for them.’’

Rookie blues

Kris Dunn, also acquired in the Butler trade, is coming off a disappointing rookie season. He averaged just 3.8 points and shot only 29 percent from three-point range.

Dunn, however, credited Thibodeau for teaching him how to be a pro.

“My rookie season, there were a lot of ups and downs, basically like a roller coaster ride,’’ Dunn said. “Playing under Tom, he helped me become a professional. He loves players that love to work. He made sure all his guys are always in the gym working hard, attacking every day, trying to improve each day. Just keep learning the game.’’

Changing perceptions

First-round pick [7th overall] Lauri Markkanen said that he is aware that 7-foot Euro players who like to shoot from outside have a reputation of being soft at the NBA level, but the rookie intends to continue changing that.

“I know that stereotype is there, but I don’t include myself in that,’’ Markkanen said. “I’m not soft. I play hard. I see why everybody thinks, [but it’s going away] slowly from players just coming from overseas and changing that.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

RELATED STORIES

Give hope — and three new Bulls players — a chance

Bulls’ front office has drawn line in sand on Dwyane Wade’s future


The Latest
The lion cub, born March 15, is named Pilipili, after the Swahili word for “pepper.”
The survey involved 1,250 adults, which, coincidentally, is also the number of sports-media professionals in Chicago who openly are betting on the players and teams they yap and/or write about.
Which side of town does the Cubs-White Sox rivalry mean more to?
All signs point towards the Bulls and LaVine getting a deal done to make him a max player the next five years, but the unrestricted free agent wants to be wined and dined by other suitors just to hear what’s out there. That means there’s always a chance LaVine could stray.
There are reasons to think the Fire can turn things around, but also stay on their slide.