Although the start to the 2023-24 season has been far from ideal for the Chicago Bulls, it appears things may finally be trending up. Despite a disappointing 8-14 record, the Bulls have been winners in three consecutive contests, slowly building positive momentum for a potential climb up the Eastern Conference standings. Their secret? No Zach LaVine.
In response to Chicago's poor start and nagging foot soreness, LaVine was rested for a week to allow his injury sufficient time to heal. Without his ball-dominant presence on offense and mediocre defense around to drag the team down, the Bulls churned out three straight wins after starting the season 5-14.
It's been a night and day difference since LaVine exited the starting lineup, now that the Bulls are playing an up-tempo brand of basketball, DeMar DeRozan is leaning into a new role as a primary facilitator, and the youth is being provided ample opportunity to shine. Coby White, in particular, looks to be on the brink of a breakout season. Just a few months removed from signing an affordable three-year extension with the Bulls, that should be music to the front office's e
As it turns out, LaVine's foot soreness is more severe than initially believed. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports that Zach is set to potentially miss another month of basketball.
Zach LaVine to miss up to a month due to foot injury while Bulls explore a potential trade for the All-Star guard.
This lengthy extension to LaVine's original diagnosis of foot soreness — a relatively mild injury — has many understandably skeptical about this report's truthfulness. Fortunately, he couldn't dodge questions surrounding his apparent injury at yesterday's practice.
“Am I still a part of this team and very committed? Yeah. I got a Bulls jersey on. I committed here," LaVine told reporters, "For as long as I’ll be here, I’ll still support and love Chicago and play my heart out for those guys (teammates). That’s never going to change.”
Still, it's impossible to ignore the convenient timing of this injury update. Players who signed new contracts this summer aren't eligible to be traded until December 15 at the earliest, and in some cases, not until January 15. This means a third of all players in the league can't be traded yet, significantly limiting Chicago's options on the open market. It would seem the Bulls are keeping LaVine on reserve as they feel their options out, likely to avoid risking injury and further tanking his trade value with poor play.
When the Bulls do inevitably begin trade discussions for LaVine, the Lakers are undoubtedly expected to be among the teams interested in acquiring his services. Although I do hope the Bulls can get a sizeable return for the two-time All-Star, I'm even more excited about this opening up more opportunities for Coby White, Patrick Williams, and Ayo Dosunmu to continue with their development. This team has already proven it can win three games in a row as currently constructed. Hopefully, we'll soon see how far they can go when they don't have over $40 million in LaVine's cap hit sitting on the bench