With each game, Bulls get better grasp on Zach LaVine’s knee management
The workload numbers are being monitored by the Bulls’ medical staff, but the key to making sure they have the All-Star guard for the long haul this season is constant communication among LaVine, his medical people and the Bulls’ staff.
NEW YORK — There are still a lot of unknowns about Zach LaVine and the management program he has been on for his surgically repaired left knee since the start of the regular season, but coach Billy Donovan provided some clarity Tuesday.
Donovan said that while the medical staff monitors all the numbers for LaVine each game, it’s not necessarily about how many miles he runs or steps he takes.
‘‘I think the thing for him is it’s the cumulative,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘That’s really where I think they’re concerned, like the cumulative buildup of things. He could be totally fine today, come out of this game totally fine. Then let’s say he plays tomorrow. He can wake up the next day and be in some discomfort.
‘‘You’re trying to make him feel well all the time, but they’re trying to wrap their heads around and come up with, ‘OK, we know when he gets to these amount of loads, that’s when he starts to feel some discomfort.’ It’s not necessarily the game load.’’
What that means is that LaVine might play Wednesday against the Hornets, even with it being the second game of a back-to-back. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible. More important, it means the communication between LaVine, his medical camp and the Bulls’ staff is all but constant.
And it will have to stay that way if the Bulls want to protect LaVine from further injury — and from himself.
‘‘I mean, he’s on the phone with them after every game, before games, shootaround . . . they’re in constant dialogue all the time with regards to that,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘There’s times where he feels good where you feel like, ‘OK, he could go.’ But this is what he’s had before, and if we throw him into this now, there’s a probability or possibility he could feel it the next day. That’s what they’re trying to eliminate.’’
Of the eight games the Bulls have played so far, LaVine has missed three.
Guard Coby White suffered a bruised left thigh during the Bulls’ loss Saturday to the 76ers, but he said the adrenaline kept him out on the court.
That adrenaline, however, obviously doesn’t last forever. White gave it a go in pregame warmups before the Bulls took on the Nets and was ruled out with the injury.
Donovan said there was significant swelling, but a clean MRI exam eased some minds. The Bulls expect White’s status to be day-to-day. He is averaging 8.1 points but is shooting only 29.4% from three-point range.
Beat the ‘Drum’ slowly
Big man Andre Drummond didn’t make the trip New York, with the medical staff wanting him to stay back and continue getting work on his sprained left shoulder. There doesn’t seem to be an exact timetable for his return.
‘‘Everything on the MRI came back clean,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘He does have a shoulder sprain. We don’t think it’s going
to be this long-term situation, but he is having some mobility issues, and that’s why he stayed back, just to get some extra work on himself.’’
The Bulls’ bench could use Drummond, who is averaging 10.2 rebounds in 16.8 minutes in the six games he has played. Drummond also has a 22.5 player efficiency rating, which is second on the team to forward DeMar DeRozan’s 23.05.