Rumor has it Zach LaVine could make his Chicago Bulls debut sometime in mid-December.
From the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson:
Hoiberg reiterated Zach LaVine is scheduled to be cleared for contact on the West Coast trip. LaVine has been pointing to the Nov. 20 practice in Los Angeles. The goal is for LaVine to play games likely in mid-December.
Getting LaVine back before the New Year would be super convenient for the Bulls’ purposes. They aren’t trying to win games, and he won’t boost their victory totals too much anyway. But they need to see what he’s worth to their future.
Remember: LaVine will be a restricted free agent this summer. And while he’s working his way back from an ACL injury, this setback doesn’t figure to torpedo his market value.
Just as Jabari Parker is expected to receive plenty of interest in an admittedly depressed market, LaVine is supposed to garner something well in excess of eight figures annually. The Bulls needn’t worry about potentially matching a max offer sheet. That ship has sailed in light of LaVine’s injury and, again, a slumping free-agent market. But any sort of long-term investment will cost them serious coin; locking him up for under $14 or $15 million per year would be a true shock.
The point: The Bulls need him on the floor to test this value—to see how his bounce responds to recovery from an ACL injury, to understand whether he has the potential to be an alpha scorer, plus-facilitator and maybe, just maybe, a better defender than he’s shown over the first three years of his career. Getting him back in December assures they’ll have more than half the season, assuming he doesn’t suffer any other setbacks, to gather on-court intel and gauge his physical progression following an injury that once signaled the beginning of the end for another starry guard in their employ: Derrick Rose.