The Chicago Bulls are struggling mightily, to the point where many believe they are the worst team in the NBA at the moment. However, there is some level of hope on the horizon with Zach LaVine and Nikola Mirotic looking to return from injury in the near future. In fact, there was visual evidence of LaVine dunking in practice this week and, well, there certainly has been no shortage of coverage when it comes to Mirotic’s ability to get past issues stemming from being punched by teammate Bobby Portis.
While neither is ready to return imminently, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune brings word that the Bulls are planning to utilize their G League team in an interesting way this week. In short, the team will leave both LaVine and Mirotic in Chicago during a quick road trip to Denver and both players will be taking the floor in practice alongside the Windy City squad.
Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg shed positive light on both players but, despite throwing cold water on the pure speed of LaVine’s return, he said the following about the guard most believe will be Chicago’s offensive focal point in a few weeks.
“He’s had three really good days with us since he’s been cleared for full contact. It started out in San Francisco. He was able to play 3-on-3. Then he came back and had a really good 1-on-1 session. But when you get out there 5-on-5, you have to be in the right spots offensively and defensively. It’s a whole new thing for him. It’s not just about obviously getting the knee where it needs to be. I think everybody is comfortable with that. Now it’s about getting his timing and conditioning level to where it needs to be where he can go on the floor and not think, which is important in this as well.”
It took LaVine less than 10 months to return to practice following a high-profile ACL surgery and, even if there are questions about his ultimate NBA destiny, he certainly provides much needed optimism to the proceedings for Chicago’s fledgling roster. As for Mirotic, the tensions with Portis are ongoing but he would certainly help the Bulls from the standpoint of offensive dynamism and all signs are as positive as could be expected at this stage.
Neither Zach LaVine nor Nikola Mirotic will singlehandedly flip Chicago’s on-court fortunes but every bit helps for a team with real needs.