Bulls coping with Zach LaVine being less than 100%
The Bulls’ All-Star guard has had moments of tentativeness, especially on the defensive end the last few games, and that just might be his reality the rest of the season.
MIAMI — The film didn’t lie. Neither did Bulls guard Zach LaVine on Wednesday.
LaVine has had moments of tentativeness — especially defensively — the last few games, and that might be his reality for the rest of the season. He still is dealing with a left knee that isn’t 100% and won’t be until the offseason — an offseason, by the way, in which surgery is on the table.
‘‘I might not be 100%, but me at 80%, 70%, whatever it is, [I’m] still one of the best players in the NBA [and] damn sure one of the best players on the court when we play,’’ LaVine said after practice at FTX Arena.
When asked whether surgery was in his future, he replied: ‘‘I don’t know. That’s going to be a discussion for me and my doctor to figure out a plan of action to make me feel that I can get back to 100%.’’
LaVine said the stability in the joint isn’t the issue, but he said he still has some pain and problems with range of motion. Not all the time, but it’s there.
‘‘I mean, my knee isn’t 100%,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘That’s just the reality of it. You can go look at it from my game [Jan. 14] with Golden State on. I’m not going to be 100% the same way. Now, can I still go out here and contribute? I can still do that, but it’s just something I’ve got to fight through until the end of the season. I’m not going to be a person that shuts it down. We’re having a great year, I’m having a good year, so I’m going to go out there and help my team anyway I can.
‘‘If it didn’t feel sturdy or structurally right, I wouldn’t be playing. I don’t want to say, ‘I’m not dumb,’ but I’m not going to go out there and risk really [bleeping] something up. It’s a little restrictive motion, some pain here and there, but everybody has to deal with that. I’m OK dealing with that and still going out and playing.’’
So how are the Bulls going to handle LaVine and his workload the rest of the way? That’s not going to change.
He’s working ‘‘overtime’’ with trainers and staying in constant communication with coach Billy Donovan, his medical people in Los Angeles and the Bulls’ medical staff. Getting fluid drained from the knee last month and having a lubricant put in the joint was only a Band-Aid to get him to the offseason.
‘‘I’ll deal with it later,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘We don’t know what that is going to be and how exactly we’re going to approach it. But . . . it’s making me feel better for the time being and getting me to a place where I feel comfortable playing and being effective on the court over this last stretch. And then [in] the offseason, I’ll deal with whatever I have to.’’
LaVine said his decision to continue playing this season was because of the coaching staff and his teammates and all the good the Bulls have going. The fact he’s eligible for free agency this summer is secondary.
‘‘I don’t know how people can take that, but that’s their opinion,’’ LaVine said of those who don’t understand his priorities. ‘‘I really don’t care. It’s not going to affect me or the way I conduct myself for my teammates or my team. There’s nothing else about it that goes into it for me, or you would’ve seen a whole different outcome.’’