The Chicago Bulls got some tough news as they enter the final stretch of the NBA regular season.
According to ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, All-Star combo guard Zach LaVine is expected to miss several games after entering the league’s health and safety protocols on Thursday. The specific number of games he’ll be out is uncertain.
As a result of the health and safety protocol issues, the team was forced to call off today’s practice, per ESPN.
Chicago Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine is expected to miss several games after entering into the league's health and safety protocol, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 15, 2021
This news couldn’t come at a much worse time for Chicago.
Even with LaVine on the court, the Bulls have been slipping recently. The team is currently on a four-game losing streak, dropping them into some dangerous territory as we approach the postseason.
Currently in tenth place in the Eastern Conference standings, Chicago are right on the bubble as the last-team-in under the NBA’s new playoff system (7-10 seed play-in tournament). Just one game ahead of the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards in 11th and 12th place, the Bulls squad doesn’t have much room for error moving forward.
Prior to this unfortunate news, LaVine was enjoying the best year of his career so far. Averaging career highs in points (27.5), assists (5.1) and rebounds (5.1), the high-flying guard earned his first All-Star appearance in his seventh NBA season.
With LaVine out, his newly-acquired All-Star counterpart Nikola Vucevic will have to pick up the slack. Through 11 games with the Bulls, the former Orlando Magic star has already established himself as the team’s clear second scoring option — averaging 22.5 points per game. He also leads the team with an impressive 9.8 rebounds per game.
From a backcourt standpoint, the brunt of the scoring load will now fall on second-year baller Coby White. As of right now, the former North Carolina standout is ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 14.5 ppg.
The Bulls will take on the Memphis Grizzlies without LaVine on Friday night.