The Chicago Bulls are closer to seeing the full return of their offseason trade on the court.
Guard Zach LaVine, part of the package acquired for dealing All-Star guard Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves during the offseason, was assigned to the Windy City Bulls of the G League for another practice session. He had practiced with the team yesterday as well, having "no complications" while doing so.
The team said in a release that it will recall both he and forward/center Cristiano Felício (who is also on a brief assignment there) after practice.
Despite his season-long absence, the Bulls thrived in December with a surprising 10-6 record. Their surge was sparked by veteran forward Nikola Mirotic's return from facial fractures suffered during an in-practice fight with teammate Bobby Portis. The two not only made amends, but have since become an unlikely and dominant duo for the Bulls. Lineups featuring both players have outscored opponents by nearly 20 points per 100 possessions.
If he can return to form, LaVine provides Chicago a primary scoring option to divert defensive attention that has been gathering on Mirotic and standout rookie forward Lauri Markkanen (14.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg).
Before suffering a torn ACL last season, the former NBA Slam Dunk Contest was enjoying a career-best season with the Timberwolves, averaging 18.9 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting. His return would form a comeback backcourt next to former Timberwolves teammate Kris Dunn, who is enjoying a breakout season after a disappointing rookie campaign in Minnesota.
Despite their feel-good December, the Bulls are a 13-24 and 6 games out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.