The Chicago Bulls (17-21) got off to a slow start to the season. But the Bulls have been playing some outstanding basketball of late. The Bulls have won 12 of their last 19 games with a +2.1 scoring margin despite being without their second-leading scorer, Zach LaVine, for most of this stretch with a foot injury. Two of the seven losses came against the Milwaukee Bucks (OT) and Miami Heat (by two points).
LaVine returned to action on Friday, tallying 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds in Chicago’s 104-91 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. LaVine also played Monday night’s return game in Charlotte while dealing with “right shoulder soreness.”
The downgrade comes with “right shoulder soreness” addition to the right foot inflammation https://t.co/lrmJlaH7dE
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 8, 2024
NBA Rumors: Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine Trade Packaged, Cade Cunningham & LaMelo Ball Injury Updates
Before the tipoff of the Bulls-Hornets game, NBA Insider Marc Stein revealed that the Bulls’ recent resurgence has convinced team management to avoid going through a full-blown rebuild. Stein maintained that LaVine remains on the market, but the Bulls won’t package multiple veterans to get away from his max deal, which still has $178 million left.
That said, Stein added that the Bulls could include Lonzo Ball in a trade. Ball will miss his second consecutive season due to knee problems. He has not appeared in a game since Jan. 14, 2022.
Ball has a $21.3 million player option that he surely will exercise. So, it should be no surprise that the Bulls would be willing to trade the oft-injured 26-year-old point guard.
Why would any team take on such a risk? Ball is still pretty young and a solid distributor. More importantly, as Stein pointed out, the league’s insurance policy covers 80% of his salary since he has been on the shelf for so long. Therefore, Stein added that anyone acquiring Ball could lower their payroll and inherit the Bulls’ insurance payments.
Cade Cunningham Avoids Serious Injury
The Detroit Pistons received good news regarding Cade Cunningham’s knee injury on Monday night, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and James L. Edwards. Still, the duo reported that Cunningham may miss at least a few games.
Pistons believe star guard Cade Cunningham has avoided any serious injury to his left knee, sources tell me and @JLEdwardsIII. Sigh of relief for Detroit. Cunningham could miss at least a few games. pic.twitter.com/Cs8Xcs0yYl
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 8, 2024
Cunningham has already been ruled out for tomorrow’s game home contest versus Sacramento.
Cunningham left Detroit’s Sunday game against Denver midway through the second quarter with a strained left knee. However, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press, there wasn’t an obvious play in which he was injured. There’s been speculation he might have tweaked the knee in the team’s previous game against Golden State.
“Our franchise player. A guy like that can’t play, it has a trickle-down effect across the board,” Pistons coach Monty Williams said during Sunday’spostgame press conference. “We have different guys stepping up in the pecking order, having to handle the ball and make plays and that kind of thing. Pretty clear how important Cade is to our program.”
Cunningham has scored 20-plus points in nine of his last 11 games, which includes six games of 30-plus points. He averages 22.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 7.3 assists while compiling a shooting slash line of .449/.339/.870.
With Cunningham out, Killian Hayes, who has started 21 games this season, will likely be again inserted in the starting lineup. Hayes opened the third quarter against the Nuggets with the starting unit.
Edwards said that rookie Marcus Sasser will likely have an expanded role while Cunningham is sidelined. Meanwhile, Edwards believes that Cunningham’s injury will provide Jaden Ivey more opportunity to run the offense.