CHICAGO — As he continues to ramp up workouts in practice and make steady progress in his recovery from a torn left ACL, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine is trying to stay patient and not skip steps, which can be hard for the high-flyer at times since he’s watched his teammates lose nine straight games.
LaVine spoke with reporters prior to Tuesday’s practice and says even though the Bulls have the worst record in the NBA at 3-19, the team’s mindset and work ethic have not changed one bit, a big reason why he’s so eager to return.
“This isn’t a losing situation,” LaVine told reporters at the Advocate Center. “We might not have the best record right now, but we don’t have that outlook on our team. We’re coming in and we’re positive. We go at each other. We’re looking to improve. We don’t have that loser mentality. I know I’m not a loser. They’re not losers. We’re in the right state of mind.”
The Bulls have a short two-game road trip this week, making stops in Indiana and Charlotte. LaVine won’t travel and will stay behind to practice with the Windy City Bulls — Chicago’s G-league affiliate.
LaVine was the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade over the summer and the Bulls have made it known publicly and privately that they will not rush the 22-year-old back. LaVine says he does not have a target date for when he would like to make his season debut and wants to make sure his timing and body feel right.
“I still don’t know the exact date,” LaVine said. “I just know when my timing’s right. I’m trying to get all the plays down fluently. I like being the best-conditioned person on the floor. That’s what I’ve had the last three or four years in the NBA. Once I get that back, I think I’ll be ready to go. The hard part is just sitting there watching, knowing you can help.”
Before he tore his ACL with the Minnesota 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. “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.
“But you can just tell I ain’t been up and down in a while. My conditioning is slow. I get tired quickly. I gotta get used to that again. Nothing simulates game conditioning. I’ve been working out for the last eight, nine months and you come in and play 5-on-5 and you’re tired in 3 minutes. Just got to get my rhythm down. But I’m progressing really fast. And I feel good.”