Bulls' Zach LaVine (knee) misses team's season-opening win

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine missed the team's 116-108 regular-season opening win against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night because of left knee injury management, according to the team.

LaVine told reporters after shootaround on Wednesday morning in Miami that his absence was not tied to a setback but rather load management for his knee.

He was not sure of his status for Friday's game against the Washington Wizards, the front end of a back-to-back before the team's home opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.

"We're just going to have to get our hands around this," coach Billy Donovan said. "But like the medical guys said, he has to ramp up. There's no way of getting around it. You just can't tiptoe around it and let him kind of ease his way into the season."

LaVine, who signed a five-year, $215 million max contract this past offseason, played through lingering soreness in his knee during the second half of the 2021-22 season before undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in May. However, he and the Bulls have continually expressed confidence in his health from the start of training camp, and LaVine played in the team's first three preseason games, averaging 21.8 minutes per game before sitting out the finale.

As recently as after practice Friday, LaVine once again reiterated confidence in his health exiting the preseason.

"I just feel good," he said then. "I think that's been the main thing is not having any aches and pains and being able to go out there and really play without limitations in my own mind. ... I'm just happy I feel better."

LaVine has made the All-Star team the past two seasons and averaged 24.4 points on 47.6% shooting in 67 games last season. The Bulls are already without point guard Lonzo Ball to begin the season while he recovers from knee surgery near the start of training camp.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.