Zach LaVine

Bulls' Zach LaVine to miss 1-2 weeks with sprained ankle

Guard suffered injury in Thursday's victory in Toronto in his 7th game back from 17-game absence

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With the NBA trade deadline less than three weeks away, Zach LaVine is expected to be sidelined for at least one and possibly two weeks with the sprained right ankle he suffered in Thursday's victory over the Toronto Raptors.

The team's public and media relations staff confirmed the latest injury blow for LaVine, who was playing in his seventh game back after missing 17 with right foot inflammation. The Bulls went 10-7 in LaVine's absence and were 5-2 since his return.

LaVine rolled his right ankle with 10 minutes, 39 seconds left in the third quarter when he stepped on Jontay Porter’s foot on a drive. LaVine walked gingerly straight to the locker room, throwing a towel in frustration as he left.

LaVine returned at the 5:40 mark of the third quarter but then he checked out after a mere 2:20 stint in the fourth quarter and didn't finish the game, leaving for good with 7:23 remaining. Afterward, coach Billy Donovan told reporters in Toronto that he didn't like the way that LaVine was moving and that LaVine confirmed he didn't feel 100 percent.

LaVine finished with eight points on a season-low seven shots. This continued LaVine’s trend in the seven games since his return from that 17-game absence. LaVine had said he was most focused on defense and setting up teammates. He attempted eight shots in two of his first six games back before Thursday and averaged 11.1 shots---down from the 15 he has averaged overall this season and 18 he averaged last season---in his seven games back.

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 8. Even before this latest injury setback, a concrete trade market had yet to materialize for LaVine, who is averaging 19.5 points on 45.2 percent shooting, including 34.9 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers are below last season's averages of 24.8 points on 48.5 percent shooting, including 37.5 percent from 3-point range.

With LaVine's injury history that includes two left knee surgeries, only one playoff appearance in nine seasons and three years and roughly $138 million remaining on his max contract, sources said teams haven't seriously engaged with the Bulls, who held exploratory trade talks centered on LaVine last offseason.

Those talks, plus the Bulls' early stumbles that led to a 5-14 start, pushed LaVine and his representative to convey to the Bulls in early November that he'd be open to a new home---a new stance for LaVine. The Bulls have been focused on LaVine's future first and foremost ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

But that stance may have to change given this latest injury setback and the lack of a market. Alex Caruso always draws calls from playoff-hungry teams, while DeMar DeRozan, who could be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has been linked to possible interest from the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bulls currently sit ninth in the Eastern Conference, five games out of the guaranteed playoff picture. Speaking to NBC Sports Chicago earlier this week in Cleveland, LaVine said he's not focused on his future.

“We’re winning,” LaVine said following the Bulls’ morning shootaround on Monday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. “There’s nothing better than that.

“I don’t think about (trades) at all. Unless I get a call from my agent, it’s just another day at the office for me. I’m glad to be out here playing. I’ve been in trade talks for a long time, obviously. I think this year was bigger than years prior. But at the end of the day, it’s nothing new.”

Asked about his low shot attempts since his return and whether he'd prefer to be in more on-ball than catch-and-shoot situations, LaVine demurred.

"“I’m good in any situation. I feel like, offensively, there isn’t a position or a style that I’m not comfortable in or can’t adapt to. I have that amount of confidence in my game,” LaVine said. “If it’s passing, creating, shooting, on the ball, finishing, I can adjust to any system.”

The Bulls play the Memphis Grizzlies at home on Saturday before leaving for a three-game trip out West against the Phoenix Suns, Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. If LaVine misses a full two weeks, he could miss up to six games.

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