Head coach Billy Donovan announced during his pre-game press conference on Monday that Zach LaVine has cleared NBA Protocols. The All-Star has started individual workouts, and the hope is that he can suit up for Thursday night’s game in Charlotte. Tonight will be the 11th game he has missed.
Zach LaVine has cleared NBA protocols and can rejoin the team, per Billy Donovan.
He's out tonight but the hope is Zach is good to play on Thursday vs the Hornets. pic.twitter.com/ZNzKwjV1BB
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) May 3, 2021
If LaVine can make his return on Thursday, it will be interesting to see if it comes with a minutes restriction. We’ve received minimal updates on his physical status over the last couple of weeks, and it’s unclear how much work (if any) he was able to do to keep his conditioning in check while in quarantine. With that said, some of his posts over social media have suggested that he’s felt (at least) close to 100 percent.
Relatedly, the Bulls will only have seven games left after tonight. So while it will be very nice to have LaVine back in the lineup when fans finally enter the United Center on May 7th, it’s unclear how much of an impact he can have on the Bulls play-in tournament race. The team is currently 3.0 games behind the Washington Wizards for the 10th seed and prime for another loss tonight with Nikola Vucevic reportedly missing his second-straight game.
Vucevic apparently had an MRI on his hip to ensure there weren’t any greater issues at play. The test showed nothing significant, according to Donovan, so one could only hope that Vucevic also returns to the court on Thursday. After all, while the play-in tournament might be out of reach, the more time he and LaVine can share on the court together, the better.
Nikola Vucevic is out vs. 76ers. Had an MRI on his hip, per Billy Donovan, that didn’t show anything significant.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 3, 2021