It wasn't that long ago when it felt like the biggest worry on the mind of Chicago Bulls fans was whether or not Zach LaVine would be able to reincorporate himself into the starting lineup after a foot injury caused him to miss the entirety of December. After a hot 3-0 start, however, LaVine managed to put any worries to rest as he helped propel Chicago to five wins in their last seven games.
The good vibes would come to an unfortunate early end, however, as LaVine is set to miss extended time once again after twisting his ankle during Thursday's game in Toronto. Zach attempted to play through the injury, but ultimately returned to the bench as the Bulls picked up a big win over the Raptors.
Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the bad news of LaVine's sprained ankle diagnosis last night. This injury will keep the two-time All-Star sidelined for at least one-to-two weeks, Charania reports.
Already having missed 18 of 45 games this season, this is another big blow for a star guard like LaVine who has had an increasingly difficult time remaining healthy and staying on the court. With critical games against inconsistent powerhouses like the Lakers and Suns coming up on this three-game road trip, this is terrible news for a Bulls team that has finally crawled back to within three games of .500.
Zach LaVine suffers an ankle sprain injury that will significantly hamper the Bulls ahead of the trade deadline.
This injury does not only hurt Chicago's chances of winning games over the next two weeks, but it's also an unfortunate turn of events for the front office. if the rumors are to be believed, there weren't many other teams lining up to trade for LaVine and his bloated max contract in the first place. Suffering yet another injury, it's becoming increasingly unlikely that any team is willing to dish out a big package to acquire his services.
LaVine's declining play is also a big part of the equation here, as he's currently playing like a shadow of his former All-Star self. Averaging 25.8 points while shooting an electric 49.1% from the field and 40.4% from three-point range during his pair of All-Star seasons (125 games), LaVine's numbers have since taken a precipitous drop off a cliff. Zach is now averaging 19.5 points per game while posting disappointing shooting splits of 45.2% from the field and 34.9% from beyond the arc.
As you might expect, these are not the type of numbers that would inspire confidence in any interested suitors. We've heard rumors of teams such as the Lakers, Kings, and Warriors perhaps registering interest, but they're more likely to look elsewhere if LaVine doesn't seem like the type of player they can rely on for the next three years — this much is especially true when there are still other palatable (and cheaper) options on the trade block, such as Atlanta's Dejounte Murray and Charlotte's Terry Rozier.
Arturas Karnisovas has proven himself to be a stoic general manager thus far, one unlikely to make rash decisions or sell his players when their stock is at their lowest. In fact, Karnisovas doesn't seem particularly interested in making moves at all.
With the unfortunate timing of this LaVine injury, all signs point toward yet another quite and unproductive trade deadline for a Chicago Bulls team that would rather tread water than face the music and commit to an inevitable retooling of the roster.