Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic have only played 14 games together, but he guard has called the process seamless and sees big things moving forward.
Thanks to a few bumps and bruises, as well as a stint in quarantine for Zach LaVine, the on-the-court time for the Bulls guard and fellow All-Star Nikola Vucevic is just 14 games after Tuesday’s contest against the Nets.
Yet, LaVine feels the gelling for the two has been fairly seamless ever since the former Orlando big man was acquired at the trade deadline.
“Whenever I’ve had the chance to get with him and talk with him and then when I play with him in the game, it’s been good,’’ LaVine said. “Even from the beginning, I think it’s been good. I think the part we had to get down was how we were going to assert ourselves with the lineup and rest of team, and what’s the correct lineup to go out there with us and the correct spacing in offense or what pace we’re going to play at.’’
According to LaVine, it’s the make-up of Vucevic that makes things so easy, specifically his laid-back, low-maintenance demeanor.
“A lot of his response with me is, ‘Whatever you want to do and I’ll figure it out,’ ‘’ LaVine said. “It’s pretty easy.’’
The best part of the relationship? The time it will have to continue to grow. Unless executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has a major trade planned this summer, Vucevic is signed for two more seasons, while LaVine is signed for one more season, but could see an extension offered this summer.
“We’re two guys who know how to play the game and we play pretty good off each other already,’’ LaVine said. “It will just keep getting better with time. And obviously going forward, they’re going to need both of us.’’
Troy Brown Jr. missed his 12th-straight game, still dealing with a left ankle sprain that has been tougher to get over than initially thought.
According to Donovan, he remained close and was actually cleared to play, but it’s about getting his conditioning back before just tossing him out there in must-win games.
“He’s had two days of contact,’’ Donovan said. “The biggest issue we’re having with him right now just from a medical side, from Troy’s side, is there enough of a ramp up time for him to compete? You know with the limited amount of practice and trying to create situations for him with player development guys where he can have some contact and play some five-on-five and three-on-three; he’s done that. But I do think he needs a little bit more time.’’
Brown was really the only significant injury, with Daniel Theis back in the lineup after missing the game with Detroit because of a sore hip.
LaVine said he is still interested in playing for Team USA in the Summer Olympics this offseason, but is in a holding pattern since he was added to the player pool.
“All I’ve gotten is that they’ve invited me so far,’’ LaVine said. “I don’t even think there’s going to be a tryout or anything like that. I think they’re just going to select 15 guys. We’ll see what happens. Obviously, I would love to go out there and represent my country. I think I’ve shown what kind of player I am and what I can contribute to a team.’’