SAN ANTONIO – It will likely never reach the soap-opera status that the Derrick Rose knee drama took on for the Bulls a decade ago.
But the Zach LaVine “left knee management” saga was starting to at least feel like the beginnings of a spin-off.
Listed as questionable leading up to the Spurs game on Friday, coach Billy Donovan made it official in his pre-game presser that LaVine would indeed miss the front-end of the back-to-back games, instead looking to play Saturday night when Philadelphia comes to the United Center.
It was the third game LaVine missed, and likely his norm for the time being when it comes to back-to-backs.
What Donovan did clear up was the Bulls medical team now seems to have a better grasp of the situation and how they want to handle it.
That was not necessarily the case last week, when LaVine missed the two road games to open the season in Miami and Washington, debuting last Saturday against Cleveland.
“I think there’s going to be a combination of the scheduling where [LaVine] may be able to get more rest on the front-end or back-end, what he’s come out of load-wise leading up to that point,” Donovan said. “I think there will be a lot of things that will go into it.
“Like I mentioned when the season started and he missed those two games, it was a lot of the medical guys had to get a grasp of how he was doing. But we just want to make sure that we’re managing him well and not putting him in situations that are preventing him from being on the floor when he can be.”
This weekend was the second of four back-to-backs the Bulls will play through the first three weeks of the regular season, with the next on Tuesday and Wednesday, playing in Brooklyn and then back home for Charlotte.
They do have a back-to-back, home-and-home with Toronto on Nov. 6-7, and then the schedule lightens up.
If the same schedule is kept intact, LaVine would likely continue sitting out the first game – which also happens to be all road games.
The unknown in all of this remained if this would be the way the entire season will be handled or just the first half?
LaVine couldn’t answer that when he was asked last week, and Donovan reiterated what his guard originally said.
The good news was that LaVine did get a light workout in during the Thursday practice, and also made the trip to be around his teammates.
Alex Caruso again started in his place.
It’s been baby steps, but Patrick Williams has shown a bit more life on the offensive end the past few games, and done it his way, which means not pressing the issue.
One thing the former No. 4 overall pick won’t do is shoot just to shoot, even if teammates are telling him to.
“They know I won’t,” Williams said of that idea. “Once I start to see, ‘OK, these are the spots I need to be aggressive,’ then I think it will be OK. Because then the coaching staff knows, and now the players know, ‘Hey, in these moments, Pat will be aggressive. Let’s use his skillset to help us.’ But as long as we keep winning, that’s what matters first and foremost.”