Bulls guard Zach LaVine leaving team to see specialist about his knee
Just when DeMar DeRozan was hoping to get some help back, he will have to continue to carry the load.
Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan might not want to fold up his Superman cape anytime soon.
A team source confirmed guard Zach LaVine will head to Los Angeles to see a specialist about the discomfort he has been feeling in his left knee and might miss the Bulls’ next two games leading into the All-Star break.
The Bulls don’t want to rule LaVine out of the game Wednesday against the Kings just yet, and LaVine doesn’t think there is any major structural damage in the knee. But the fact that he has had swelling and pain in the joint going back to last month is weighing on his mind.
LaVine still plans to participate in All-Star Weekend, but that’s contingent on what he finds out. He was invited to take part in the three-point contest Saturday and was named a reserve for the All-Star Game on Sunday.
What also has been weighing on LaVine’s mind is being available for a possible deep playoff run, as well as the huge payday that’s sitting out there for him as a free agent this summer, when he will be looking for a max or super-max contract.
LaVine already has missed six games with the knee issue. It’s the same knee that was surgically repaired after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the joint in 2017.
Therein lies the extra caution. If LaVine has to have exploratory surgery or simply has to rest the knee in the short term, that would put the Bulls down yet another significant piece.
Guard Lonzo Ball has started his rehab process after having surgery on his left knee, forward Patrick Williams has been getting some work in with his surgically repaired left wrist and might be back in a month and guard Alex Caruso is still on his original timetable to be re-evaluated after the fractured right wrist he suffered last month.
The Bulls enter the week before the All-Star break in second place in the Eastern Conference, but they have one of the more difficult schedules left this season. They still have to face the Bucks three times and the Heat and Cavaliers twice each. They also have a game apiece against the Jazz, Suns and Grizzlies.
That means DeRozan will have to continue to carry the Bulls on his back, something he has done while scoring 35 points or more in each of their last five games.
‘‘I just try to go out there and try to win, no matter what, and whatever the outcome comes with it,’’ DeRozan said when asked about the streak Saturday. ‘‘My sole purpose of playing the way I play is just to win, and whatever accomplishments come with it, they just come with it.’’
DeRozan already has put himself in the MVP discussion this season, but if he can keep the Bulls afloat through all of this, he will bolster his case.
Coach Billy Donovan has coached a lot of elite scorers — Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, to name a few — so knows how impressive DeRozan has been, especially while doing most of his damage on midrange shots.
‘‘[DeRozan’s] just a different kind of scorer,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Durant, obviously, is off the charts as a scorer. And having Russell Westbrook as a scorer. Carmelo [Anthony], I had a little bit later. Paul George. In terms of how [DeRozan] plays and what he does and where he gets to on the floor in today’s day and age . . . .
‘‘When I was coaching Chris Paul two years ago, he was an unbelievable midrange player. The unfortunate part is, in today’s NBA, there’s been a devaluing of those shots. And I think that not all three-point shots are created equal. I think people really seeing how dynamic [DeRozan] is, I’d rather take two points than no points, you know?’’