After playing through an under-the-radar knee injury for a good chunk of the 2021-22 season, Zach LaVine received arthroscopic surgery in late May.
Despite all signs pointing toward a full and quick recovery this summer, ensuring LaVine was 100 percent felt like a Media Day priority. Fortunately, the first words to come out of the max-talent were exactly what fans hoped to hear.
“I feel really good,” LaVine said on Monday. “Being able to rehab a lot this summer and then get back into training. Surgery is surgery, but having a small evasive surgery like that is great. Being able to get back to 100 percent was all I was looking for, so I feel good going into camp.”
Arturas Karnisovas also proclaimed that LaVine is a full-go for training camp. The Bulls will start their practices on Tuesday before preseason action begins on Oct. 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans. How much we’ll actually see LaVine in those games is anyone’s guess, but it’s reassuring to know that any limited playing time will be due to his title as franchise player and not because of a lingering knee issue.
Alongside his bolstered body is also the kind of mentality that only comes with wins and a heavy wallet. After his his first taste of real success last season – and the biggest paycheck in franchise history – LaVine spoke to reporters like the franchise leader this front office expects him to be. Not only did he sound confident in what this roster is capable of achieving in Year 2, but he instantly set the tone for how this group must approach things moving forward.
“If they’re not high, what are we doing here? Obviously, we’re a team that held a top seed in the East all the way until we got to the All-Star break. [We] made our first playoff berth, got our feet wet. Our expectations need to be really high. If we’re not thinking we can compete for championships, we’re selling ourself short.”
Say what you will about this group’s actual championship ceiling, but this is the kind of psyche I want to see a franchise player possess. Year after year LaVine and the organization would preach steady progress and playoff aspirations. Now, with an experienced core and playoff appearance under the belt (as shaky as it might have been), LaVine knows it’s time for this organization to be hold itself to an even higher standard. He re-committed to the Bulls to win basketball games, and it’s his responsibility to constantly remind them of that.
We’ll have plenty more thoughts on what LaVine and his teammates had to say at training camp throughout the week. For now, you can catch his full Media Day press conference below: