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CHICAGO — The wait is finally over for Chicago Bulls fans.
High-flyer Zach LaVine, the centerpiece the Bulls acquired over the summer in the Jimmy Butler trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, has fully recovered from his left ACL tear and will make his Bulls debut Saturday night at home versus the Detroit Pistons — the team LaVine tore his ACL against in 2017.
Bulls executive vice president John Paxson told reporters Tuesday LaVine will be on a minutes restriction as he eases his way back into game action and won’t play in back-to-backs initially.
“We’re going to look at this in kind of week installments,” Paxson said. “Zach will initially play 20 minutes per game. In talking with the coaches, we’re not going to put him in a situation where we’re saving minutes for end of games, anything like that. Fred [Hoiberg], Jim Boylen [assistant coach] and I are going to talk on Thursday about how the minutes will be distributed. This is the continuation and ending of his rehab. That’s how we’re looking at it. He has done everything at such a top level getting back ready to play and I know he’s really anxious to.
“We will re-evaluate when we get to the All-Star break. The idea will be, as we go week to week, considering no setbacks and he’s doing well, we’ll marginally ramp up his minutes as each week goes by and see how he’s doing. Our mindset is this is still part of the rehab for Zach. He needs to play. No matter what you do in practice, he needs those game minutes. So we’re going to give him those game minutes now.”
Before he tore his ACL with the Timberwolves last season, LaVine was averaging 18.9 points per game and beginning to find his comfort spots on the floor with more regularity compared to his first two years. The explosive guard is a fan of head coach Fred Hoiberg‘s uptempo offense from everything he’s been taught and seen and envisions himself fitting in nicely.
“It’s a lot of reads,” LaVine said of Hoiberg’s offense back in December. “And you have to go through game situations with the reads. It’s very similar to what I was doing last year but a lot of different calls. It’s really cool just learning all the different plays and the way we can get into things and the way you can disguise them. I feel good in isolated situations, pick-and-roll.”