Bulls guard Zach LaVine isn’t surprised he’s not headed to All-Star Game

When the All-Star Game reserves were announced and LaVine was left off, he pointed to his slow start and where his team is in the standings as key reasons.

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Zach LaVine

Bulls guard Zach LaVine has had a few seasons in which he had a legitimate argument about being snubbed for the All-Star Game. But this season was not one of them.

Speaking to reporters Saturday for the first time since the NBA announced the All-Star reserves Thursday, LaVine knew early on this season that he wasn’t running a good enough campaign to be included.

After all, he was coming off clean-up surgery on his left knee and was dealing with a load-management schedule right out of the gate.

“I didn’t feel like I played at an All-Star level at the beginning of the season,’’ LaVine said. “That’s coming back off of injury. I started slow and then started picking it up. I am where I’m supposed to be at. I know who I am as a player. I think the league knows that, too.’’

It likely does, but it also sees where LaVine’s team is in the standings.

Considering DeMar DeRozan’s numbers and reputation, LaVine knew that 10th place in the Eastern Conference wasn’t going to scream to the rest of the league that the Bulls deserved two players in the game Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City.

“I think we need to be in a better position for us to have two or three guys in the All-Star Game,’’ LaVine said. “I think we’re sitting 10th right now. That’s not good. I think bigger picture, you’re not worried about All-Star, you’re trying to get your team back in the playoff picture.

“[DeRozan] deserves it. He’s been one of the best players in the league. Obviously, our record hasn’t been great this year. But he’s a big reason why we win a lot of our games, especially late [in the] game. And I think everything that comes his way, he deserves. He works for it. He’s a great guy and a great teammate.’’

But don’t feel bad for LaVine. He plans to use the time off to get somewhere warm for a quick family vacation, reset his body and prepare for a turnaround in the final two months.

As for DeRozan, he’ll play in his sixth All-Star Game and second with the Bulls.

Drum beat

While Donovan appreciated veteran Andre Drummond staying ready off the bench and putting up 15 points and 11 rebounds Thursday against the Hornets, it didn’t change the fact that his playing time remained matchup-based.

“As you go through the analytics, there’s been a lot of merit with Derrick [Jones Jr.] at the five spot,’’ Donovan said. “But there’s also been some real significant rebounding problems with that, too. So it kind of comes with a cost.

“There’s going to be some games where they’re small and we can switch and there’s not that threat of size and physicality at the rim, and Derrick might be the better option. And there’s going to be times we played, like Charlotte, where Drum’s going to be the better option.’’

No Caruso

Bulls guard Alex Caruso sat out again Saturday with a sprained left foot. The good news was that it didn’t seem like a long-term injury.

“He’s had that happen before,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. “He really felt substantially better the next morning, but there really hasn’t been a lot of change from [Friday] to [Saturday]. Just a matter of treating it and see how he responds day-to-day. But I’m not quite sure when we’d have him available again.’’

Caruso now has missed seven games this season because of injuries.

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