Bulls are giving their veteran core an encore

Zach LaVine is OK with the plan to see how far the Bulls can go with a healthy roster next season.

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Zach LaVine signed a five-year, $215 million max contract to return to the Bulls.

Zach LaVine signed a five-year, $215 million max contract to return to the Bulls.

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There have been a few good moments.

Marko Simonovic’s 27-point, 13-rebound showcase, and rookie Dalen Terry putting up 14 points and five rebounds in a comeback victory against the Raptors. Then there has been Terry’s overall in-your-face demeanor on the court.

So, yes, there have been some nice stories during this Summer League for the Bulls.

But help?

Actual on-court, crunch-time help in a big late-March Eastern Conference showdown?

That likely won’t be coming from the Summer League roster.

And, frankly, Zach LaVine is fine with that.

When LaVine sat down with executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley to discuss the future and why he should stay a Bull for $215 million over the next five years, the two-time All-Star knew the current core would be leaned on to carry the load.

That means LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic remain the “Big Three,’’ and Patrick Williams, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso headline an important supporting cast buttressed by the additions of Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic.

“I mean, obviously [last season] was tough because we started off so good, and we could see the ceiling and the goal of the team in the first half of the season,’’ LaVine said. “But injuries happen, and you want to see a full roster and a full team all the way through. I think we had some key additions already, adding guys like Goran and Drummond, so I think it’s gonna be good. As long as guys stay healthy, I think that’s the biggest thing for any team. We get to go back at it again.’’

But the five teams in front of the Bulls in the conference aren’t about to simply cede their territory.

The Celtics added Malcolm Brogdon, the 76ers grabbed P.J. Tucker and the Bucks kept their core together.

“People are going to move every year, and there’s still a lot of movement that I think can happen during the offseason,’’ LaVine said of the new-look landscape. “It’s just teams trying to get better and better, and I think we’re trying to do the same thing, as well. We made some additions but pretty much have the same core of guys intact and want to run it back.

“I think that’s what AK and Marc were going to go after and really see what this team is like when whole and healthy.

‘‘I’m fine with it. I understood how good we were in the first half of the year, but we’ve got to put two halves together and really go after it. I’m excited for the competition.’’

That sounds good, but will the Bulls even be fully healthy?

Karnisovas spoke on ESPN during the Summer League win Tuesday against Toronto and was asked about Ball’s left-knee rehab.

Like Eversley said a few weeks ago, there was optimism that the knee was improving and guarded optimism about Ball being ready for the start of training camp.

No wonder Dragic was added. He could prove to be a key insurance policy.

“[Ball is] progressing,’’ Karnisovas said. “That’s as much as I can say.

‘‘He’s getting better. Probably not at the speed that we would like. But he’s getting better.

“Hopefully, he’s going to be ready for training camp. That’s just our hope.’’

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