Bulls' Zach LaVine cleared for full-contact practice in comeback from ACL tear

The Bulls added Zach LaVine in the draft-night trade that shipped Jimmy Butler to Minnesota.

Since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in early February, Zach LaVine’s rehab has moved along at a brisk pace. His recovery has been free of complications even as his situation changed after the Minnesota Timberwolves shipped him, along with 2016 lottery pick Kris Dunn, to the Chicago Bulls on the night of the 2017 NBA draft in exchange for All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler.

On Monday, 10 months after he suffered his knee injury against the Detroit Pistons, LaVine received good news from his doctors in Los Angeles: he’d been cleared to take contact in practice.

At 3-13, the rebuilding Bulls are in no rush to get LaVine back as they angle for a top-five lottery pick in 2018’s draft. So far, they’re doing a good job of simultaneously tanking and accruing young talent, headlined by Finnish shooter Lauri Markkanen, whom Chicago chose with the No. 7 pick in the 2017 draft, another piece in the Butler deal.

At this rate, though, LaVine appears to be moving toward making his Bulls debut in December:

Instead of being a tertiary cog in Minnesota’s rebuilding process, LaVine’s now expected to be a leader and go-to scoring option in Chicago’s young lineup. Prior to his injury, Lavine was averaging 18.9 points per game in Minnesota and knocking down 40 percent of his tries from beyond the arc.

LaVine’s role will undoubtedly change in Chicago, now that he won’t be buttressed by Andrew Wiggins or Karl Anthony-Towns. He’ll also be playing in Fred Hoiberg’s offensive scheme, which is dependent on floor-spacing and shooters. LaVine’s return could go a long way toward helping one of the NBA’s worst offensive teams.