Bulls coach Billy Donovan appreciates Zach LaVine’s leadership style

While LaVine can be very blunt in his replies at times, what the coach appreciates about him is his authentic leadership style. Maybe that’s why the two can have a difference of opinion and move on.

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Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, right, fist-bumps guard Zach LaVine.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, right, fist-bumps guard Zach LaVine.

Mary Altaffer/AP

It wasn’t the answer Bulls fans necessarily wanted to hear from Zach LaVine, but it was the answer he gave.

When asked if he sought advice from teammate DeMar DeRozan in the aftermath of his “difficult’’ late-game benching Friday, LaVine said, “It’s not a difficult moment for me. I had a bad game. You think it’s a difficult moment? We lost a game. I didn’t have a good game; I didn’t shoot well. It’s not a difficult moment. I got to go home and see my kid. I didn’t have a difficult day.’’

Honest? Likely.

But is it the kind of statement a leader should make? That’s up for interpretation.

Whether it was playing for different teams or going through numerous coaching changes, LaVine’s leadership skills seemingly have been a work in progress. But by all accounts, he has stepped up the last few years, and while he might not be as hands-on as DeRozan is with the younger players, he is well-respected.

Coach Billy Donovan reiterated that Monday.

“I think guys that are at Zach’s level as a player, the one thing I’ve always admitted, and I think he’s no different, is there’s always areas in the offseason that he looks and tries to get better at,’’ Donovan said. “One of the things I respect about him in terms of the leadership role is he doesn’t fake it. What I mean by that is try to be someone he’s not in that role. I think one of the main things in a leadership position is you’ve got to be yourself.’’

That’s why Donovan and LaVine were able to move on from the decision to bench him so quickly, with both speaking their minds and pulling no punches.

“There’s a lot of different ways to lead, you know?’’ Donovan said. “Probably Tim Duncan led different than Kobe Bryant or LeBron James; they’re all different. I think the biggest thing is to be authentic and real and genuine and true to who you are, and I think [LaVine] really tries to do that. I think his voice would always carry weight just because he’s being genuine and true to himself, and I think that’s always been important to him.’’

So did LaVine have that conversation with DeRozan?

“I didn’t talk to DeMar about anything like that,’’ LaVine said. “I went home and chilled and digested the loss and got ready for [the Saturday] practice.’’

White gets some more minutes

Coby White made his return from a thigh bruise Friday, but Donovan was only able to get him in for four minutes.

He played 14 minutes against the Celtics on Monday, but getting him back into the rotation on a full-time basis is going to be a slow process.

“We had a good practice [Sunday], some contact, so that helped [White] a little,’’ Donovan said. “He’s still doing some things after practices, as well.

“We have to try to help get him back into the rotation, get his feet back under him.’’

White was averaging just under 22 minutes before the injury.

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