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Zach LaVine eager to embrace excitement of long-awaited Bulls debut

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We can officially start the clock on last summer’s big trade between the Bulls and the Wolves because one of the main pieces in that deal is now active.

Zach LaVine suits up Saturday for the Bulls, almost a year after knee surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered while still a member of the Wolves. The Bulls have high hopes for the springy guard, who will be on a minutes restriction for the near future; perhaps until sometime after the All-Star break the Bulls could feel comfortable enough to remove the leash.

That’s a moment that LaVine, as quoted by NBC Sports Chicago, says can’t wait to see:

LaVine will play the first 5 to 6 minutes of the first and third quarters. His other minutes will be determined as the game progresses.

“It’s gonna be a lot of excitement and emotion coming in,” LaVine said. “I think I’ll be able to handle that pretty well. It’s playing the game I love and it’s doing it. It’s like riding a bike. You might wobble a bit but I can get back going straight and going faster each and every game.”

Look, Jimmy Butler was a good get for the Wolves, who needed a veteran presence and someone who was more than a locker room leader. Butler is likely to be an All-Star again and among other things is serving as an example of how to play defense, something the Wolves have lacked, even in Tom Thibodeau’s first season.

But right now, the Bulls are walking around with their chin up, too. Markkanen is a strong contender for the All-Rookie team and Dunn is feeling more comfortable as a starting point guard while working through his flaws (mainly shooting).

The Bulls needed to make good on the Butler deal if only because he was, by far, their most valuable commodity. There’s a general feeling in the NBA that teams don’t get fair value for their stars, but if LaVine recovers well, the haul the Bulls got for Butler will go against that theory.