Guard Zach LaVine is all set for his Saturday debut and will do so as a starter

Life is about to change for Denzel Valentine.

Heck, the Bulls’ front office is hoping that life is about to change for everyone associated with the organization come 7:10 p.m. on Saturday.

Finally, the key piece in the Jimmy Butler trade is about to take the floor with the Pistons in town, and all eyes will be on guard Zach LaVine.

“I’m just anxious,” LaVine said on Friday. “Extremely excited, ready to get back to playing again. You wait all this time, do all this rehab. It doesn’t simulate actual games. Going through practices and scrimmages don’t give you that full itch. Now I have something I can go after.”

Something to scratch.

LaVine has been rehabbing since a February torn left anterior cruciate ligament sidelined him from what he does best – play basketball and often do so above the rim.

It was expected to be a nine-month recovery timetable, but with the Bulls in no rush to win games, as well as the ghost of Derrick Rose and what he went through with his ACL rehab lurking, caution has been the focus in bring LaVine along.

Now it’s about letting LaVine go, and that’s why coach Fred Hoiberg named the fourth-year player a starter against Detroit.

“Part of it is Zach,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously when those guys get warmed up, to get him right out there as opposed to sitting on the bench and having to think and cooling down, to get him out there right away is important.

“That’s going to be his role, as a starter. I had conversations with all the guys it is going to affect with the rotation and minutes and everyone has taken it great. The bottom line is all of our guys are excited about getting Zach back in the lineup.”

LaVine will take the starting spot that Valentine had occupied, with the second-year player starting in 31 of the 42 games he’s played in. That also means Justin Holiday will slide to the small forward spot, but still stay on that wing in Hoiberg’s offense.

“That’s how it works when you get a player back in the fold,” Hoiberg said of the change. “It’s how it worked with the front line when we got Bobby [Portis] back [from suspension] and got Niko [Mirotic] back [from injury]. It affected certain guys’ minutes and their spots in the rotation, and everyone handed it beautifully.

“The same thing has to happen now with Zach coming back, but everyone is excited about getting a really talented player back in the lineup and hopefully it works out well for us.”

The plan for LaVine is to get about five minutes of work in that first quarter, and then another five minutes at the start of the second half. He will be restricted to 20 minutes total, so the other 10 minutes will be a look and feel situation from Hoiberg and the staff.

Expect that to be his way of life for about a week, and then they will revisit the restrictions and slowly open it up.

“Another guy, another …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun-Times – Sports


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