CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls will be without guard Zach LaVine for Saturday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers because of his left knee discomfort, but the team will have guard Alex Caruso in the lineup for the first time since he had wrist surgery in January.
Bulls coach Billy Donovan said the team will manage LaVine’s knee day-to-day for the rest of the season.
“The feeling was to see if we can get him back down to ground zero where he’s feeling a little bit better,” Donovan said before the game. “It’s not one of these things where we’ve mapped out, this is what we’re doing, we’re sitting him here on his back-to-back. We’re sitting him here. It’s going to be day-to-day just to see how he’s feeling.”
LaVine will miss his 11th game since injuring his knee in the first quarter of a game against the Warriors on Jan. 12. His MRI following the injury came back clean, and he saw a knee specialist in Los Angeles during the week before the All-Star break in February, when he received a platelet-rich plasma therapy and a cortisone injection and had fluid drained from his left knee.
LaVine played in the Bulls’ first seven games following the break, averaging 24.4 points on 48.2% shooting (36.7% from 3), which is not too far from his production this season of 24.6 points on 48.2% shooting (39.5% from 3) in 54 games.
“Everything that I’ve got from the doctors is that they feel totally comfortable with him playing,” Donovan said. “It’s just something that he’s going to have to manage and deal with throughout the course of the season.”
Caruso is returning to the lineup for the first time since breaking his left wrist Jan. 21. He will be on a 24-30 minutes restriction, playing in just his third game since Dec. 20. Caruso had been cleared for individual work for the past 10 days and participated in a full practice on Friday.
“[The season] just been really choppy for him,” Donovan said. “It’s been a game here, a game there, he’s been out for a long period of time. So certainly, I think getting him back gives you a jolt. There’s no question about that, but I just don’t know where he’s at. He hasn’t played in so long.”
Caruso, who is playing in just his 29th game this season, said after practice Friday that his wrist will need time to strengthen over the rest of the season, but he has not felt limited by anything on the court.
“Still not perfect, it’s not 100 percent healed, but the bone is healed,” Caruso said Friday. “The only soreness and stiffness is just soft tissue stuff that’s healing from surgery. I feel like I’m in a good spot. We’ll see how everything progresses. If I can stay on this course, maybe there are good things to come.”