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Analysis Bulls

Is It Time for the Bulls to Shut LaVine Down?

Chicago Bulls' guard Zach LaVine was sidelined once again for Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers as he continues to rehab a strained patellar tendon. 

Chicago Bulls’ guard Zach LaVine was sidelined once again for Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers as he continues to rehab a strained patellar tendon. 

The injury also kept LaVine on the bench during Sunday’s game, a 131-108 loss to the Detroit Pistons, and reportedly caused him to miss team practice on Monday. He also missed Tuesday night’s game against the Lakers. 

Coach Jim Boylen, per 670 The Score, said the team will be cautious with LaVine moving forward.

“What we’re hoping for is every day he responds and gets a little better,” Boylen said. “We got 14 games left in the regular season and we need to manage our team appropriately, but also strive to get better and grow and develop who we can.”

So should one of Boylen’s decisions in managing the team by to sit LaVine for the rest of the season? LaVine sure seems to think so.

“There’s no reason to go out there and try to risk anything right now,” he said, via Chicago Tribune’s KC Johnson. “It’s not smart.” 

It’s certainly not smart, Zach. 

In a season going nowhere, it’s time for the Bulls to take a serious look at shutting down LaVine for the remaining 14 games. The short-term picture is grim without LaVine, the Bulls leading scorer at 24.3 points a game, out of the lineup, but the Bulls have much more to lose than they have to gain by allowing him to play. 

Losing LaVine for an extended period of time, even with the offseason fast approaching, could derail the Bulls rebuild that’s finally starting to look like a success. If the Bulls were close to a playoff spot, this conversation would be much different. But as the team sits, officially eliminated from the playoffs for the second straight season, they can’t afford to lose a crucial part of their future by allowing him to play the rest of the season.

Player development, as Boylen mentioned, has to be the main goal for the remaining 14 games, and the rest of the Bulls roster will be tested if the team does choose to sit LaVine. 

Otto Porter, who’s proven himself (somewhat) worthy of his massive contract would be taking on even more responsibility and would likely be tasked with picking up the scoring slack. Ryan Arcidiacono, who started in place of LaVine on Sunday, would likely take over a majority of LaVine’s minutes, which would allow the Bulls to evaluate whether or not he really belongs on their roster. Similarly, Kris Dunn, who the Bulls will need to make a decision on next summer, will get a chance to prove that he’s worth the money the Bulls will have to shell out to keep him. 

So, as painful as it may be for fans to watch, sitting LaVine would allow other players to get some much-needed development. If there’s one bit of good news for Bulls fans regarding the injury, it’s that LaVine’s injury is not on the knee he had surgically repaired in 2017 and he’ll likely be back scar-free next season. 

Follow Katy on Twitter @katyduffy_ for more Bulls news and opinion. 

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