Zach LaVine is having a banner season for the Chicago Bulls. The two-time Slam Dunk champion is averaging 24.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists and was selected to his second straight All-Star Game.
LaVine was drafted by Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant in the 2022 All-Star Draft on TNT. Behind the Washington native and DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and are on their way to making the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
The Bulls finish the first half of the season by facing the San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings. Although they will be favored in both games, Chicago will be without LaVine, who has left the team to address a concerning situation.
LaVine Is in Los Angeles
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, LaVine is in Los Angeles getting further evaluation on his left knee. The two-time All-Star hurt his knee on January 14 against the Golden State Warriors, and although he only missed five games, LaVine has been experiencing discomfort in the knee for several weeks.
“LaVine appeared to struggle through Friday’s victory over Minnesota, shooting 5-of-14 and noticeably wincing on the floor,” Wojnarowski wrote in his report. “LaVine sat out Saturday’s victory over Oklahoma City, and he missed consecutive games against Indiana and Philadelphia on Feb. 4 and 6. He will miss games on Monday and Wednesday ahead of the All-Star break, sources said.”
LaVine underwent an MRI on his knee after the Warriors game and the results showed no structural damage. The Bulls superstar tore his left ACL during the 2016-17 season when he was on the Minnesota Timberwolves, so Chicago’s front office was relieved LaVine’s ACL was intact.
However, even though the MRI revealed no structural damage, there’s “certainly a level of concern” within the Bulls organization, per Wojnarowski.
LaVine is one of the fiercest competitors in the NBA. He wants to play in the 2022 All-Star Game and showcase his skills on the league’s biggest stage. However, the UCLA product must be smart and sit out the All-Star Game since he has a lot on the line moving forward.
LaVine Becomes Free Agent in Summer
It’s admirable that LaVine wants to play in the All-Star Game and represent the Bulls. However, it’s an exhibition game. It makes zero sense for LaVine to put unnecessary pressure on his ailing knee, no matter what the knee specialist in Los Angeles says.
The smart thing for LaVine to do is sit out the All-Star Game and get extra rest and treatment. The 26-year-old becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and has set himself up for a max contract. The last thing LaVine wants to do is jeopardize millions of dollars by playing in an All-Star Game.
The Bulls signed LaVine to a four-year, $78 million contract in the summer of 2018. The man nicknamed “Flight 8” is third in Chicago history in 3-point field goals and second in points per game. He has earned a significant pay raise and it would be a bummer if he misses out on it by hurting his knee even more.
Bulls fans are hoping LaVine’s visit to Los Angeles goes smoothly and that the doctor doesn’t see anything major. Until LaVine is back with the team, DeRozan will carry the club.