Donovan provides update on Zach LaVine’s knee injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
After scoring 25 points in the Chicago Bulls’ comeback victory at the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, Zach LaVine experienced some “discomfort,” as head coach Billy Donovan describes it, in his left knee.
It’s the same knee that LaVine surgically repaired in 2017 that has dogged him since he tweaked it in the first quarter of a loss to the Warriors on Jan. 14 at the United Center. The same knee that sidelined LaVine three games before the 2022 All-Star break and required a mid-February trip to Los Angeles to see an outside specialist and receive targeted treatment.
And it’s the same knee that Donovan has repeatedly pointed out, he, LaVine and the Bulls medical staff will be watching closely throughout the 2021-22 season as the All-Star guard attempts to continue playing at a self-described 70-80% full health. After the Pistons game, this oversight resulted in LaVine missing Thursday morning Bulls practice, Saturday morning shootout, and Saturday night game with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“When he (LaVine) feels good, he wants to play. He wants to play all the time. But I think he had a little bit of discomfort there, didn’t feel good,” Donovan told reporters before. the Cavaliers game. “And I think the decision was made by Zach and the medical staff that it’s best to just take off tonight and see where he is tomorrow and get to Sacramento (Monday).”
It’s the first game LaVine has missed since the All-Star break. In seven games since receiving treatment — which involved draining fluid from the area and injecting lubricant — he’s averaging 24.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 36 .3 minutes per game.
As Donovan subtly warned, it might only be a matter of time before LaVine ran out of time again. Still, the absence coming after two days off between games prompted a question about the Bulls coach’s level of concern.
“We had a day and then yesterday, and I think the feeling was to see if we can get him back to zero where he feels a little bit better,” Donovan said. “It’s not one of those things we plotted, it’s what we do, we sit it here back to back, we sit it here. It must be almost daylight -today just to see how he’s feeling, you know? I don’t know if it’s necessarily concerning or not, the fact that he’s had two days, it’s just that there’s some discomfort there.
But does recurring body aches and missing a game represent regression for LaVine?
“No,” Donovan said. “All I’ve gotten from the doctors is that they feel totally comfortable with him. There’s obviously a team of doctors involved in this. You know, one of the doctors involved is a guy who dealt with his ACL surgery many years ago.
“Obviously our doctors here, our medical staff, there’s a lot of people involved who make these decisions and I think everyone feels very, very comfortable that they’re playing, that’s OK, and it doesn’t necessarily regress. It’s just something he’s going to have to manage and deal with throughout the season.”
And so, the Bulls too. At least Alex Caruso returned to action against Cleveland soothes the blow.