Zach LaVine leaves Bulls’ game against Warriors with left knee injury

By Paul Sullivan

CHICAGO — With a little less than a month to go until the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline, all is quiet on the Chicago Bulls’ front.

Coach Billy Donovan said Friday that he has had conversations with executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas and general manger Marc Eversley, but nothing appears imminent.

“I have not gotten into specifics as it relates to players, the trade deadline,” Donovan said. “His comment to me, Artūras , when we spoke, was ‘When we get closer to this we’ll fill you in.’

“I just didn’t get a sense there was much going on. The hard part of it is it has been hard for front offices to evaluate teams this season because teams have been in and out, and they haven’t been whole. … So I think Artūras is looking at all those things. But there’s been no (talk of) ‘Hey, we’ve got to do it right now.’ ”

Donovan said team chemistry must be considered when pondering any deals, and so far the front office likes what it has seen.

“With the chemistry being as good as it is you want to make sure whatever you’re doing ... continues,” he said.

The Bulls haven’t had their whole team together in a while because of injuries and COVID-19-related absences. The latest injury occurred roughly 3 1/2 minutes into Friday’s game against the Golden State Warriors when Zach LaVine exited with a left knee injury.

The extent of the injury was not immediately known, but LaVine walked off the court on his own. The loss of their star forward was felt immediately, and the Warriors took advantage of a lackadaisical defensive effort in the second quarter, shooting 57.7% from the field (30 for 52) and taking a 78-47 lead into the half.

The sellout crowd booed the Bulls off the floor as they left for the locker room at halftime.

The Bulls already were down and out before LaVine’s injury. Derrick Jones Jr. will miss two to four weeks with a bone bruise on his right knee suffered in the opening minute of Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets. That has left the Bulls even thinner than usual at the forward spot, with Javonte Green also out.

Troy Brown started in place of Jones on Friday.

“It’s a big loss,” center Nikola Vučević said of Jones. “He’s been playing really well for us. He’s been able to cover a lot of different positions offensively and defensively. Gives us a lot of quickness on the court. I guess the positive is there is no ligament damage or anything like that, so he won’t be out for too long. Especially this time of year, with the schedule looking the way it is until the All-Star break, you don’t want to have to miss people.

“You just have to deal with it. It’s an opportunity for somebody else to come in and step up. Hopefully we can get Alex (Caruso) and Javonte back soon as well, that will help a little bit. Sure you feel bad for D.J. because he’s been playing really well for us.”

Caruso also remained out Friday while in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols and won’t play Saturday, Donovan said. The loss of their top defensive player has been felt recently, but the Bulls don’t want to rush Caruso back after his recent left foot injury.

“The biggest thing is we have to make sure health-wise he has some work under his belt once he gets out of this,” Donovan said. “I don’t know when he would be able to rejoin us. I don’t think it’s going to be like this long, prolonged thing for weeks.”

The Warriors and Bulls on Friday were both coming off brutal losses, with the Brooklyn Nets trouncing the Bulls on Wednesday and the Warriors losing big Thursday night in Milwaukee after trailing 77-38 at the half. The 39-point deficit was the worst at the half by a Warriors team since moving from Philadelphia to San Francisco in 1962-63, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

“I thought we got a little demoralized,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We were facing a team that had lost four out of five, and they’re world champs and were ready for us. And they played a great game, just smacked us. It happens once in a while.”


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