Bulls’ Zach LaVine talks coronavirus, returning from quad injury
The Bulls guard admitted that Tuesday was a strange day, not only for players in the locker room, but because of the new rules on how to deal with the media in the wake of the coronavirus scare.
Guard Zach LaVine understood that Tuesday was the new normal.
It was strange for him to be escorted by public-relations people at the United Center to speak to the media before the game, and, as he said several times, “it’s going to be an adjustment.’’
All the major sports leagues, including the NBA, made the decision Monday night to close locker-room access to all nonessential personnel in response to coronavirus concerns.
So coach Jim Boylen, LaVine and rookie Coby White met with the media in the Concert Club, sitting at a table and keeping the requested distance of six to eight feet.
“It’s going to be different,’’ LaVine said. “It’s going to be an adjustment because you pretty much have your set routine coming in and out of arenas. So it’s gonna be different, different for you guys, obviously, too. I think everybody just has to adjust to it, but knowing the bigger picture and reason why, as well, it’s for everybody to be safe.’’
LaVine did say that the players have discussed the virus and the situation but haven’t been dwelling on it. As one of the team leaders, LaVine said it’s about doing the obvious — washing hands, limiting contact and “staying safe.’’
“It gets scary because it’s unknown,’’ LaVine said. “Obviously, if we’re taking precautions like this, it’s getting more and more serious. I just hope everybody is staying safe, staying healthy, staying clean, washing hands and things like that.
“The main thing is it’s unknown for sports and entertainment people, our little circle, and how it could be affected because you’re around so many people, you go on flights all the time, have so many interactions. You see how easy it spreads, so you just want to make sure everyone is safe and doing the right thing.’’
LaVine had other concerns on his 25th birthday, such as getting over a left quadriceps injury that has sidelined him for the last five games.
He did get a workout in before the game against the Cavaliers, and his hope was to return this weekend, when the Bulls travel to Florida to play the Magic and Heat.
“Just trying to find the right time to come back,’’ LaVine said. “I don’t want to push it and reinjure it, so it’s going to be trying to find that nice balance. I feel good right now. Anytime within the next couple of games I feel like I’ll be good, sometime within the next week.’’
The Bulls have made a practice of shutting down players at the end of seasons for development/tanking purposes. LaVine has been included in that scenario in the past.
He’s hoping that’s not the case this season.
“I mean, obviously, that’s happened before with players,’’ LaVine said. “That’s a conversation that they would want to have with me first. You guys know me; I don’t want to shut anything down. I don’t care about that other stuff. I like playing basketball, first and foremost. If I’m healthy, I want to go out there and play, finish the season just for me personally.’’
Plans for Otto
Boylen said forward Otto Porter Jr. will continue to see his minutes increase, but there are no plans to move him back into the starting lineup this season.
“I think he’s been productive where he’s at,’’ Boylen said.
“He’s done a good job every game in getting a little bit better. He’s a talented guy who can score, and we need that.
‘‘So I won’t jump into anything on that just yet.’’