Bulls’ Zach LaVine set to make final rehab push starting Dec. 30
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BOSTON — Bulls guard Zach LaVine is coming to an NBA arena soon. Coach Fred Hoiberg all but promised that Saturday.
The back strain LaVine suffered more than a week ago was a minor setback in his rehab from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. But Hoiberg said LaVine will start a series of six consecutive full-contact practices Dec. 30. LaVine will be evaluated after that, and a date for his Bulls debut might be set.
‘‘We’ll try to get him six straight practices with full contact, see how he responds to that,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘If he responds well, we should be able to get him back in the lineup shortly thereafter.’’
What is still up for debate is whether LaVine will play a game with the G League’s Windy City Bulls to get some rust off or jump right into the fire.
The six consecutive practices will take LaVine through Jan. 4. The Bulls have back-to-back road games Jan. 5 against the Mavericks and Jan. 6 against the Pacers, and Windy City plays a home game Jan. 6.
The Bulls might take the G League route, allow LaVine to rest Jan. 7, then make him available for a home game Jan. 8 against the Rockets at the United Center.
Hoiberg said LaVine would have a say in how he wants it handled.
‘‘Yeah, we’ll get together and talk it out,’’ Hoiberg said.
Hoiberg also said that while LaVine strained his back while dunking, there will be no restrictions on him working on his above-the-rim game during the full-contact practices.
‘‘You have to go out there and not have any restrictions,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘You can’t go out there and think [cautiously].’’
Forward Nikola Mirotic isn’t eligible to be traded until mid-January, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some logical destinations for him.
Playoff-bound teams such as the Thunder (.353 from three-point range) and Bucks (.353) could use outside shooting, and they aren’t alone. Other teams with postseason dreams but shooting nightmares include the Raptors (.354 from three-point range), Wizards (.357), Spurs (.360) and Nuggets (.369).
Mirotic entered the Bulls’ game against the Celtics shooting 49 percent from three-point range and 53 percent overall. He has a no-trade clause in his contract this season, but he let the organization know a month ago that he would be willing to waive it. Sources said that stance hasn’t changed, although Mirotic would want to go to a team he thinks can make a serious run in the postseason.
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