The Chicago Bulls will only go as far as their young players take them. One of those players the Bulls are counting on is guard Zach LaVine, who currently rehabbing from a torn ACL. It appears that LaVine’s timeline does not match that of the Bulls, who need every semblance of hope they can have for the future.
It was in early February when Zach LaVine last played in an NBA game. The 22-year-old, then with the Minnesota Timberwolves, tore his ACL on a random play against the Detroit Pistons, according to ESPN. Five months later, LaVine is gaining ground on a full recovery.
A lot has changed for Zach LaVine between now and when he initially tore his ACL. It begins with him starting over with a brand new team, the Chicago Bulls. LaVine joins the Bulls after one of the NBA’s biggest trades of the offseason. He was the centerpiece for the Bulls deal with the Timberwolves. Zach LaVine will be linked to Jimmy Butler for the foreseeable future.
Zach LaVine and Jimmy Butler were dealt for each other as part of a five-player trade (courtesy of the Twin-Cities Pioneer Press) on the night of the NBA draft. Bulls’ fans and Timberwolves’ fans alike will follow the progress that each player makes until they are no with their new teams. The comparisons will begin once Zach LaVine returns to the hardwood, in his first season with the Bulls.
When Zach LaVine makes his Chicago Bulls’ debut could be sooner than expected. He gathered with reporters shortly before the ESPY’s and declared that he was ahead of schedule (courtesy of Bleacher Report). According to LaVine, he will be ready when the Chicago Bulls start training camp.
Such a speedy recovery could be deemed as miraculous or daring, but there is a huge benefit for Zach LaVine to return quickly.
Zach LaVine is eligible for a contract extension with the Chicago Bulls in October. He gets an opportunity to show the Bulls what he has to offer before negotiations on a long-term deal begins. Coming back early and making a good impression with the Bulls could give LaVine a little bit of leverage in discussions.
Not that the Bulls want him to fail. In fact, the Bulls will do whatever they can to help Zach LaVine pay off as a good investment. Even after suffering from the torn ACL, LaVine is the most athletic player the Bulls have had since Derrick Rose.
It is a fact that becomes evident after watching LaVine perform in-game dunks such as the ones shown below.
The Chicago Bulls will protect Zach LaVine from himself if they have to. Which is why there is a report from the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson about the Bulls’ offseason plans for LaVine. Bulls’ general manager Gar Forman, is saying the team will take things slowly with Zach LaVine as he recovers from his knee surgery.
“We haven’t put a timeline or date on it, but I do know that we’ll be really conservative in that we look at this as a big-window move as far as bringing in Zach [LaVine] at 22 years old. He’s been fantastic. He’s been in our gym working out, working with our athletic performance staff. He came out here and spent some time with the young players and continues to work with our staff.”
Being conservative with Zach LaVine will work for the Chicago Bulls up until a certain point. After that point has come to a conclusion the Bulls must unleash LaVine, who will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
The Chicago Bulls will try make Zach LaVine the face of the franchise. Neither party should force things if there is some unevenness in the beginning.
With experience from what happened when Derrick Rose was attempting his return from a torn ACL, the Bulls know where everything went wrong. The Bulls cannot have any repeat performances with LaVine. Zach LaVine and Derrick Rose are two different types of players, despite any athletic comparisons.
Rose, for as explosive as he was prior to tearing his ACL in 2012 (courtesy of ESPN), he does not have the height of Zach LaVine. Derrick Rose also did not have LaVine’s jump shot, nor the time in the offseason to rehab.
By clearing certain hurdles in his rehab, Zach LaVine will be able to continue to strengthen his outside shot with the Bulls over the summer.
There will be other facets that Zach LaVine will have to add to his game, with the Chicago Bulls, such as his passing and defense. LaVine is proving to be aggressive with his rehabilitation, now it has to translate on the hardwood. If it does, Zach LaVine’s time with the Bulls will be memorable.
[Featured Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]