Zach LaVine

Bulls say Zach LaVine to miss 3-4 more weeks with foot injury

Team has gone 3-0 since soreness in right foot sidelined the dynamic scorer

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The Chicago Bulls are 3-0 since Zach LaVine succumbed to right foot soreness that the team originally said would be re-evaluated on Friday.

Instead, the Bulls expedited that process and announced following Wednesday’s home victory over the Charlotte Hornets that LaVine will be out "an additional estimated three to four more weeks" with what now is being called right foot inflammation.

The team made the announcement after media access had concluded, but coach Billy Donovan and players already had addressed the theme of how well the team has played in LaVine’s absence.

“I think it’s given us a lot of confidence. Obviously, with Zach out, being the caliber of player he is, it allows for more opportunity. But you can’t replace Zach LaVine,” Coby White said. “We try to do it collectively and try to make up for what he does on the floor.”

The Bulls posted season-highs of 32 assists in consecutive victories over the Bucks and Pelicans. And while Wednesday’s victory over the Hornets wasn’t as artful offensively, eight players scored at least six points and the Bulls finished with 23 assists despite shooting just 42.2 percent.

“We still have to clean up on a lot of things,” DeMar DeRozan said. “We can get a lot better offensively with our execution. We still haven’t scratched the surface of how good we can be.”

LaVine typically sits on the bench during games in street clothes but spent Wednesday’s game getting evaluated. If LaVine misses three more weeks, he’d miss nine games. If the injury stretches to four weeks, he’d miss 13.

LaVine won’t travel to San Antonio for Friday’s game but will address reporters on Thursday.

DeRozan scored 29 points and finished plus-17 against the Hornets. White finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists and is playing the best all-around basketball of his career. Nikola Vucevic posted his second double-double in three games since LaVine went down. Ayo Dosunmu has played well in LaVine’s absence, although he had four turnovers against Charlotte. And Alex Caruso is Alex Caruso, with teammates even stumping for him to make his first All-Star appearance this season.

“All-Star AC 2024,” White said lightheartedly postgame.

LaVine has struggled through a disappointing season to this point. He’s shooting just 44.3 percent overall and 33.6 percent from 3-point range, both below his career percentages. And his decision-making has at times stalled the Bulls’ desire to play faster, all while being open for the first time to a change of address.

While his teammates have supported him and said all the right things, his presence and the consistent losing created near-daily distractions. At least for the last three games, with winning obviously changing vibes, that storyline has dissipated.

Wednesday's news can't be viewed without the backdrop of LaVine and the Bulls both being open to finding him a new home. In fact, as recently as Monday's practice, Donovan said LaVine was "a lot better than he was when he was first diagnosed" and that LaVine was "optimistic."

LaVine also typically plays through injuries, including playing in a contract season through a knee injury that needed an arthroscopic procedure during the offseason.

Instead, he'll be sidelined for the foreseeable future. The NBA doesn't really open for business on trades until Dec. 15, when many players who signed deals in the offseason are first eligible to be dealt.

In the case of the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the teams who may show interest in LaVine, some of their assets can't be dealt until Jan. 15.

LaVine was one of the most vocal cheerleaders from the bench the last two games. It’s a spot he’ll have to get used to over the coming weeks as his injury and trade sagas play out simultaneously.

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