Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg offered an optimistic assessment of Zach LaVine’s recovery from left ACL surgery, while stressing the late-November timeline to be cleared for contact remains intact.
“Zach is coming along great,” Hoiberg said Thursday. “He’s been really good, very vocal with our players. He’s ahead of schedule. He’s cleared to do more movement. He’s not cleared for contact yet, but he’s moving around in unpredictable movements now, which is important.”
At the Sept. 25 media day, LaVine said doctors told him nine months is the safe estimate to be cleared for contact. LaVine suffered the injury while playing for the Timberwolves on Feb. 3. The Bulls have said they will proceed conservatively with the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade.
Monday is the deadline for rookie-scale contract extensions. General manager Gar Forman, who is talking to LaVine’s representatives, has said the Bulls didn’t trade Butler to not re-sign LaVine. So it’s simply a matter of reaching terms by Monday or, more likely, next offseason when LaVine would become a restricted free agent.
Back it up: Hoiberg said he’d be comfortable using Ryan Arcidiacono as his backup point guard in Kris Dunn’s absence.
“He’s a guy who competes,” Hoiberg said. “He did a really nice job getting us into an offense the other day. He’s just a good, solid, competitive point guard who I think everybody is comfortable with. His pace was excellent. He’s a guy that pushes players as well. He gets underneath (opponents), frustrates them. And that’s great for our point guards.”
Arciadiacono, who earned Most Outstanding Player honors as Villanova won the 2016 NCAA title, signed a two-way contract that means he’s scheduled to play for the Windy City Bulls in the G League. But he can spend up to 45 days in the NBA on this deal and also could sign a different deal if needed.
Hoiberg said the two-way contract wouldn’t influence how Arcidiacono is used in Dunn’s absence. Arcidiacono is keeping an even keel.
“You never want to see a teammate go down, especially someone who has worked as hard as he has throughout the summer,” Arcidiacono said of Dunn. “But it’s an opportunity for me to contribute any way I can on the court. I’m just trying to get the guys better in practice. Get us into the offense. Get guys in the right position to shoot, play some solid defense and don’t turn the ball over.”
Best foot forward: Nikola Mirotic, who mildly sprained his left ankle and left Tuesday’s game in the first quarter, got shots up and participated in the non-contact portions of practice Thursday.
“If it were the regular season, I definitely would play,” Mirotic said. “But they don’t want to risk and I don’t want to risk either. I’ll be fine.”
Hoiberg has said Mirotic is on track to start at power forward in the season opener.
“He really has been solid in making good, simple basketball plays,” Hoiberg said. “That’s the reason he’s starting.”