Bulls lose Zach LaVine for season opener, perhaps longer

The Chicago Bulls visit Miami Wednesday night for their season opener, but they’ll be without the franchise player they signed to a $215M extension this summer.

LaVine had surgery on his balky knee in May, after toughing it out and playing despite knee soreness for the second half of the season. He still made his second straight All-Star team, and the injury didn’t stop him from averaging 24.7 points per game in March. By all accounts, the surgery seemed successfully, and LaVine only sat out the final game of the preseason, averaging nearly 22 minutes in three games.

Last week LaVine said, “The main thing is I’m healthy and I feel really good and I’m getting to know the new offense and new team. Not having any aches and pains and being able to play without any limitations in my own mind is huge.”

The team and LaVine say the injury is simply “load management,” but it’s hard to imagine that the Bulls had planned to rest him in the first two games of the season, especially after he played in the preseason. Most likely, something cropped up in the ten days since his last preseason game, and the team wants to be cautious. Lonzo Ball is out indefinitely with his own mysterious knee issues, so Chicago may be trying to avoid another spiraling knee issue.

Until then, Ayo Dosunmu will be starting in Ball’s place. The Bulls haven’t announced who’s taking over for LaVine in the starting lineup, but there’s really no replacing their $215M man. 

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