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Chicago Bulls' Zach LaVine cleared for full-contact drills

From NBA media reports

A key part of a rebuilding season, like the one the Chicago Bulls are decidedly in the midst of, is determining which players will be a part of whatever the future entails. The Bulls are making those judgments with each game, but the one player that likely is exempt from that crucible is guard Zach LaVine — the centerpiece player acquired in last summer’s Jimmy Butler trade.

Knee surgery cut short LaVine’s 2016-17 season and has kept him on the shelf thus far in 2017-18. However, the Bulls got some good news last night as LaVine’s surgeon has cleared him for full-contact drills going forward. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune has more:

When LaVine will play his first game hasn’t been determined. But the centerpiece acquisition in the Jimmy Butler trade said last week in Oklahoma City he’s targeting mid- to late December.

“As long as I’m progressing and doing what I need to do on the court, this thing can go fast and I can be out there playing with the guys,” LaVine told reporters in Los Angeles.

The Bulls held an atypically late — and light — Monday afternoon practice at UCLA, where LaVine played for one season before entering the NBA draft. They did so to allow LaVine to visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache in the morning and then join the afternoon workout. ElAttrache is the team physician for the Dodgers and Rams and a consultant to the Lakers, Kings and Ducks.

“It feels good mentally to be cleared,” LaVine told reporters. “My jumping and athleticism are good. (Bulls) training staff told (ElAttrache) that.

“All my strength numbers are there. We reiterated how I progressed (from a) muscular (standpoint). Physically, I’m more than capable (of) playing.”

Johnson reports that the Bulls and coach Fred Hoiberg plan to have LaVine do a little more each day, with the initial focus being on two-on-two games for contact. As well, Hoiberg says LaVine has some mental hurdles to overcome.

Coach Fred Hoiberg said the plan is for LaVine to try to do a little more each day, focusing on two-on-two initially for contact. Hoiberg said there will be some mental hurdles as well.

“When you see him playing without hesitation, that will be an indication he’s ready,” Hoiberg told reporters. “Just to watch him move and run gets you excited. You can do a lot of things with that athleticism.”