Zach LaVine will not play in the Chicago Bulls season opener Wednesday against the Miami Heat, sparking concerns about his availability for the season as he continues to recover from left knee surgery.
LaVine told reporters after shootaround Wednesday that he isn’t experiencing specific pain or soreness in the knee and described his absence as injury “management.”
Although LaVine said he isn’t experiencing a “flare-up” of pain in the knee, he was vague in his description of what specific symptom led to the determination to sit out the opener.
“I just want to make sure I’m safe with bringing myself back in and managing it the way it is,” LaVine said. “Just going forward, I want to make sure I’m 100% at the end of the season.”
LaVine in May underwent arthroscopic surgery in his left knee to address a lingering injury that limited his availability throughout the latter half of last season.
The surgery impeded his ability to train over the summer and kept him from competing in five-on-five scrimmages — a critical step in returning to game shape — until training camp in September. LaVine played in three of the Bulls’ four preseason games, averaging 21.8 minutes before sitting out the finale.
The injury didn’t dispel confidence in LaVine from the Bulls front office, which signed the guard to a five-year, $215 million maximum contract in the offseason.
The Bulls have not decided whether LaVine will play in Friday’s road game against the Washington Wizards or in Saturday’s home opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
LaVine said those decisions will be made on a day-to-day basis and added the Bulls have not set a timeline or goal date for him to be available for every game.
“I wish I had a crystal ball to look into the future. I really do,” LaVine said. “It’d be great if I could figure that out. I’d look up some lottery ticket numbers if I could do that.”