By Cody Westerlund–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Bulls understand as well as any franchise the harrowing impact of knee injuries, arriving in their current rebuilding state in part because of the three knee surgeries former star Derrick Rose underwent in his Chicago tenure that derailed his career and the team’s championship hopes.
It’s with that as context the Bulls relayed this message late Thursday night: There’s no reason to lose sleep over Zach LaVine’s injury history.
One of three youngsters acquired from the Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade, the 22-year-old LaVine is currently rehabbing after tearing the ACL in his left knee in early February. That rehab is going as well as he could hope, the Bulls said, with executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson saying he’s “coming along great.”
“We talked to him earlier,” general manager Gar Forman said. “I know Dr. (Brian) Cole talked to him, we talked to people over there. He’s working, they said he’s doing great, he’s ahead of schedule. But until he comes in, and he’ll come in early next week and take his physical, I don’t think we’ll have any kind of timeline on it.”
ACL recovery timelines in basketball often take around nine months, though every case varies. A nine-month timeline would have LaVine good to go in early November. Training camp starts in late September, while the regular season starts in late October.
Paxson admitted there’s “always risk in anything” and added the team would utilize a cautious approach.
“Any time you have something like this, you’re going to follow doctors’ advice and the rehab thing,” Paxson said. “I think we would, in this type of thing, we’d err on the side of being cautious with him. We want him to come back healthy and ready to play. So the standard by which we determine the workload he gets by playing again, we’ll be cautious.
LaVine averaged 18.9 points in 47 games last season while shooting 38.7 percent on 3-pointers.
“Here’s a guy that’s 22 years old and averages 20 a game,” Paxson said. “He can score the basketball, he can run. He can shoot the basketball. He shot over 40 percent from three.”
Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for CBSChicago.com and covers the Bulls. He’s also the co-host of the @LockedOnBulls podcast, which you can subscribe to on iTunes and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.