Zach LaVine is doing windmill dunks and going between-the-legs for throwdowns, according to a verified witness by the name of Kris Dunn.
But LaVine will not be making his debut Monday night against the Houston Rockets as LaVine, his representatives, the Bulls front office and team doctors will meet together later Monday afternoon to discuss his return date.
His representatives are in Chicago, and there should be an update around game time Monday. The Bulls will be in New York on Wednesday to play the Knicks, and then there’s two days off before a Saturday night game against the Detroit Pistons — the team he tore his ACL playing against last February.
If one had to guess, the start of that three-game homestand would be the best bet for a debut.
“That will all be discussed in a couple hours,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We’ll try to figure out the best day to get him back in uniform for Zach, for the team. Hard part going into this stretch, we haven’t had much practice time with all the back to backs, playing seven games in 11 days. With Windy City having back to back as well. All of that will be discussed and then we’ll find the best day to get him back in uniform.”
Dunn is the one Bull who’s familiar with the pre-injury LaVine, as the two played together in Minnesota last season. Dunn is probably the one Bull who will have to make the biggest adjustment to playing with LaVine, as when LaVine’s assumed restrictions are lifted, the two will have to share space and the ball in the Bulls’ backcourt.
“I understand his game. I know his spots,” Dunn said. “If he gets the ball off the rim or somebody passes to him in transition, let him go. I’m going to find my way. And if I have the ball, he’s going to find his way. We know how to feed off each other. We know how to read each other. We’ve played with each other. It’s not a difficult thing for us.”
When asked how much conversation he’s had with LaVine about sharing the ball, Dunn deadpanned and replied: “Zero. The reason is because I played with Zach last year.”
The Bulls have gotten accustomed to playing without a go-to scorer at that position, so it will be an adjustment for the rest of the roster. Scoring hasn’t been a problem since the return of Nikola Mirotic, so sacrifices will come from somewhere to accommodate a guy who can score 20 in his sleep.
Before his injury last season, LaVine averaged 18.9 points in 47 games as a third option behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Ideally in Chicago, he’ll likely evolve into the first option, as the centerpiece to the Jimmy Butler deal last June.
“None of these guys have played with Zach besides me,” Dunn said. “In practice, it’s kind of hard to simulate to a game. It’s definitely going to be an adjustment, but I think it’s going to be a good one. Zach is not a selfish player. He takes the right shots. If he sees somebody open, he’s going to pass the ball. It’s all about playing the right way.”