As the Chicago Bulls begin their final 23 games of the regular season, Zach LaVine is no longer listed on the team’s injury report.
LaVine was officially removed from the team’s list ahead of tonight’s matchup with the Atlanta Hawks. While it may have been an expected move after a positive specialist visit and All-Star Weekend participation, this officially signals that the Bulls view him as ready to resume a normal workload.
The scoring guard certainly looked like his old self this past Sunday at the All-Star Game, nailing a step-back 3-pointer and clocking key possessions for Team Durant down the stretch. When asked after the game how his knee felt, LaVine pointed toward his 360 slam as an indication that all is well.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 21, 2022
We should still monitor LaVine closer than others over the next handful of games, but he does appear confident this is a manageable situation. And, as the Bulls add LaVine back into the mix, we can also expect them to incorporate the newly-acquired Tristan Thompson. Officially signing with the Bulls earlier this All-Star break, Thompson was in the gym with his new teammates this weekend and named “available” for tonight’s contest at the United Center, per the Chicago Sun-Times.
Thompson will immediately bolster this team’s backcourt, providing Billy Donovan with a capable rebounder and aggressive post presence to sub in behind All-Star Nikola Vucevic. Exactly how long of leash he has tonight will be something to watch out for, but Thompson told reporters on Wednesday he prides himself in being “one of those guys you can just plug in there and go out and play.”
In other news, Alex Caruso could be seen on the court passing the ball around at Bulls practice with his wrist wrapped up. Donovan said he is expected to start working more with the basketball later this week. As for Lonzo Ball and Patrick Williams, both seem to be making progress in their own way, as Ball has “ramped up” running and Williams continues to work through dribbling and shooting.
Bulls injury updates from Billy Donovan:
• Lonzo Ball has "ramped up" his running of late
• Alex Caruso will hopefully be able to do work with ball late this week or early next week
• Patrick Williams is working with ball, but no contact or date to return to practice yet
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) February 24, 2022
The Bulls have appeared optimistic that all players can return to the court before the playoffs start-up in April, so one can only assume we get some more consistent updates on the status of each player moving forward. For now, though, a healthy LaVine and a frontcourt upgrade in Thompson feels like a good way to start a crucial stretch of the season.