Newly acquired Nikola Vucevic’s start with the Chicago Bulls hasn’t been picture perfect, and things aren’t getting easier for either party anytime soon.
They’ve dropped both games since acquiring the two-time All-Star at the trade deadline, and walk into Tuesday’s match up facing a red hot Phoenix Suns team that’s won five of their last six.
Vucevic has posted back-to-back 21-point, nine-rebound games since being acquired from the Orlando Magic on Thursday. But on Tuesday night, he’ll be without teammate Zach LaVine.
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LaVine Injury Update
It was clear walking out of the Chicago Bulls’ poor performance loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night that Zach LaVine wasn’t at 100 percent.
But the All-Star guard told reporters (via NBC Sports) after the game that he was committed to playing through it:
If I feel like I’m a detriment to the team and I’m hurting, I’ll sit out. But I can play through pain. That’s one thing, as long as they clear me and they say I’m OK to play, I’m going to go out there and try to do what I do.
And that he did, taking the floor for an entire 32 minutes against the Golden State Warriors in what became another loss for the new-look Bulls. LaVine scored just 12 points on four-of-16 shooting from the field.
Now, listed as ‘questionable’ for Tuesday’s bout with the Suns, the 26-year old guard is considering taking time off to get back to 100 percent, with a playoff push for Chicago looming.
LaVine told reporters on Monday that he rolled his ankle again in the Warriors game, and has a decision to make regarding his status for Tuesday as the injury is even more serious now:
I feel I’m back at square one again. So I’m going to have to try to make some adjustments. Obviously, I’ll do everything I can to get myself ready to go, but I’ll have a conversation going forward (with the Bulls’ medical staff) and figure it out.
What does this mean for Nikola Vucevic?
Familiar Territory for Vucevic
The Chicago Bulls shocked the entire NBA when they pulled off their deal for Vucevic last Thursday, acquiring a two-time All-Star who had otherwise been rumored as unavailable.
Still, even then, a number of people around the league remain skeptical that this move does much for their hopes at a playoff berth, let alone title contention.
Vucevic and LaVine feel like two out of three necessary core pieces, and that’s at their ceiling. So naturally fans are questioning the timing of such a move, and it doesn’t help that Chicago is winless since the trade.
Wednesday night’s game presents a chance for Vucevic to remind fans of his abilities as an individual, and why the cost to bring him to Chicago was so high in the first place. And hopefully, get a win along the way, too.
The irony of the situation is that Wednesday night’s game doesn’t present an unfamiliar feeling for Vucevic.
He played the majority of this season in Orlando without Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, or Jonathan Isaac. None of those three guys are All-Stars, but they represent the three best Magic players outside of Vucevic.
Now in Chicago, he’ll be tasked again with carrying a team, even if only for a game or two.
The Chicago Bulls walked out of Thursday’s trade deadline with two All-Stars.
Now, for the immediate future, they may be back to just one.
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