To start or not to start remains the question with Zach LaVine’s Bulls debut

SHARE To start or not to start remains the question with Zach LaVine’s Bulls debut

NEW YORK — The Zach LaVine debut countdown continued to wind down toward Saturday.

Until then, however, coach Fred Hoiberg has to endure more teases.


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Hoiberg relayed a story from practice Tuesday in which LaVine got the ball, beat all nine guys up the floor with his speed and finished the possession with a dunk.

It was a little reminder of what’s coming.

“Two fast-paced guards [LaVine and Kris Dunn] that are both attack players, and I do think they’ll play well off of each other,’’ Hoiberg said Wednesday. “[LaVine’s] overall speed really fits with Kris, and to get out and run on the break is something we want to do a lot of. They’ll try to attack early in possessions before the defense can get set, and I think for both of those guys, that’s a big strength of theirs, and they will play well off of each other.’’

What remains to be determined is when they’ll get that opportunity.

The team announced Tuesday that LaVine would return Saturday against the Pistons and would be restricted to 20 minutes, but will he start or come off the bench?

Hoiberg said that would be discussed over “the next couple of days.’’

He reiterated that LaVine must be ready to run with the starters and the reserves because as his minutes increase, there’s a chance he could see time at the point with the second unit.

“The last month, he’s been practicing with both teams, and we’re continuing to do that,’’ Hoiberg said. “He’s got to be ready to play with both groups.

‘‘There may be stretches where we play Zach with the ball in his hands, and we’ll get that all figured out the next couple of days.’’

In that scenario, Jerian Grant would play off the ball, and it would give LaVine a chance to be teamed with the ultra-athletic David Nwaba.

LaVine wasn’t getting too wrapped up into whom he’ll play with Saturday. He’s just thrilled to be playing again.

“That’s for the coaches to manage,’’ LaVine said. “That’s something that’s outside of my realm.

‘‘I’m going to go play the 20 minutes or whatever it is without thinking about that restriction at the end. I feel like that’s more for them to manage and for me to go out there and play and perform.’’

Dead topic

Nikola Mirotic isn’t the only Bull who could draw trade interest.

Big man Robin Lopez also could be available and possibly Justin Holiday if a team needs a rotation wing player.

Just don’t ask vice president of basketball operations John Paxson about the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“Not even going to comment on that stuff,’’ Paxson said. “It’s a month away, and we’ll see where it goes.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.


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