For the first time since April 14th, Zach LaVine is back with his teammates.
The All-Star had missed the previous eight games due to the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols. Reporters at the United Center for tonight’s matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks were the first to point out LaVine’s return, who is seated in the last row of the bench in a mask and street clothes.
Zach LaVine is back on the Bulls bench tonight. He’s currently masked up and in street clothes.
— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) May 1, 2021
This is new development. Previously, LaVine had been in quarantine away from the team. https://t.co/IzEjhwDfcg
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 1, 2021
While seeing LaVine back in the building is a positive sign, it came as a complete surprise. Head coach Billy Donovan said prior to the team’s matchup with the New York Knicks that LaVine would remain out through the rest of this week, and that the team was hoping to have a better idea of his return by some time next week. Likewise, here is what he said just an hour or so before game time:
“He’s still in the protocol. I think I mentioned on the road trip, I’ll probably know a little bit more I think once we get through this weekend and have a little bit more of an update for everybody. But right now he is still in the health and safety protocols with the league.
To be fair, in none of these comments did Donovan say LaVine wouldn’t rejoin the team in some capacity before next week. However, it sure did feel that way with the lack of information that was provided.
Regardless, LaVine is out of quarantine and that’s great news. The question now is how many more tests and how much more conditioning does he need to do before he can get back on the court. After the two games this weekend (I’m assuming he will not miraculously appear for tomorrow night’s battle with the Hawks), the Bulls will only have eight games remaining.