Chicago Bulls All-Star SG Zach LaVine is planning on returning to the lineup on Thursday vs. the Charlotte Hornets, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Wednesday morning. LaVine has been out since April 14 while in health and safety protocols. Three weeks later and LaVine is back to help the Bulls, well, try to sneak into the play-in tournament? That doesn’t seem all that possible with so few games left this season.
The Bulls are on a four-game losing streak and are 4.0 games back of the 10-seed in the Eastern Conference, the final spot that qualifies for the play-in tournament. With seven games left in the regular season, Chicago would need to win out essentially and get a ton of help from the Washington Wizards and/or Toronto Raptors (being bad), in order to get in. LaVine’s All-Star season appears to be for nothing and the acquisition of C Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline didn’t exactly work out well in the short term.
Chances are if LaVine is back on Thursday, he’ll enter the starting lineup in place of Thaddeus Young. The Bulls can then play Garrett Temple at SF and Patrick Williams at PF with Daniel Theis at C with Vuce, who was out Monday with a hip injury. Coby White should stick at PG unless coach Billy Donovan wants to banish him back to the bench again.