Bulls guard Zach LaVine is becoming his own boss — like it or not
Whether it’s how he has handled his injured left knee or his decisions on when and where he’ll play, LaVine made it clear Saturday that while outside opinions are appreciated, his opinion is the one that matters.
CLEVELAND — Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine is a lot more defiant these days.
It’s not in a malicious way, and it’s not even on purpose. LaVine has just reached a point in his life where he wants to walk to the beat of his own drum and supply the drumsticks and music, as well.
So when asked Saturday about Bulls fans wanting him to sit out All-Star Weekend to rest his left knee, he didn’t hesitate.
“That’s their opinion,’’ LaVine said with a laugh.
“You know this All-Star Game means a lot to a lot of us. We put in a lot of hard work and dedication. If I’m healthy to play, then I’m going to play. It means a lot to me.’’
LaVine actually should’ve said, “if I’m healthy enough,’’ because he won’t be fully healthy the rest of this season.
A sore knee that sometimes swells up after games is his reality.
That’s what the trip to Los Angeles last week to see a specialist was all about.
He had some maintenance done on the knee with platelet-rich plasma and cortisone injections to try to get him through the rest of the season, but LaVine admitted that he might have to “take care of it’’ in the offseason.
LaVine didn’t say if that meant a scope or simply rest, but he’s just going to do things on his terms and on his schedule.
Until then, he’s going to endure some painful nights. He hopes to come up with a plan to ensure that he is as close to full strength as possible for the playoffs. His pending free agency and the max contract he feels he’s due are on the back burner in his decision-making.
“This season has been incredible for me, obviously, for many reasons,’’ LaVine said. “I hate missing games, personally. I try to play through as much as I can, but if I’m able to go out there and still be myself, contribute at the high level that I expect myself to, I’m going to do that.’’
The good news is the condensed schedule through the first half is behind him and his teammates. There are more days off and fewer back-to-backs.
Even so, his teammates know what LaVine is willing to endure and have his back.
“That’s another sacrifice,’’ Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan said of LaVine’s knee. “That’s why we go back to making sacrifices. Just Zach alone on the court changes the dynamic of our team in whatever form or fashion he’s out there. He knows himself better than anybody, and the one thing I would stress to him is if he can play, play. But when it comes to being 100%, I haven’t been 100% in 13 years, so we just gotta figure out a way.
“We’re going to help him through it. He doesn’t have to be the Zach of the last few years. We just gotta figure out a way where we don’t put too much load on him, so it doesn’t affect him down the line.’’
If LaVine gets through the game Sunday night for Team Durant with no setbacks, the plan is to ease him back into it with the three days off, then the game against the Hawks at the United Center on Thursday. After that, just take it “day by day.’’
And for those who take issue with that?
There’s a good chance LaVine doesn’t care.