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Former Wolves teammates excited for Zach Lavine’s return in Chicago

January 13, 2018

Saturday night, for the first time in nearly a year, Zach LaVine will suit up and play in an NBA game.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins couldnt be happier for their friend and former teammate. LaVine was part of a trio of young talent, along with Towns and Wiggins, with the Timberwolves.

But LaVine, the athletic guard, tore the ACL in his left knee in Detroit on Feb. 3. That injury, and the ensuing surgery, ended his 2016-17 season.

Then, in a draft-day deal that brought Jimmy Butler to the Wolves, Minnesota sent LaVine and Kris Dunn to the Chicago Bulls in a deal that also included the swapping of first-round draft picks.

Now, 11-plus months later, LaVine is set to return Saturday when the Bulls host Detroit at United Center. In an interesting twist, it is also Zach LaVine bobblehead night.

Wiggins and Towns will be rooting him on. Wiggins went to far as to predict a 30-point night for LaVine, difficult considering hell be on about a 20-minute limit in his first game back.

Im happy for him, Towns said after the Wolves morning shootaround preparing for Friday nights home game with the New York Knicks. Hes been working tremendously hard to get back on the court, and anyone who knows Zach knows hes a hard worker. He itches to play the game of basketball every day.

Said Wiggins: I know hes going to kill it. We still talk all the time. Hes excited. He worked so hard to get to this point. I think hell go out and kill it.

The Bulls took Lauri Markkanen with the No. 7 pick acquired from the Wolves, with Minnesota drafting Justin Patton at No. 16. Markkanen (15.4 points, 7.6 rebounds) has had a strong rookie season and Dunn (13.7 points, 6.3 assists) has played well. If LaVines return proves a success this could be a trade that worked wonders for both teams.

Draft-class stars

The two top players from the 2015 class met each other again Friday in Towns (the first overall pick) and 7-3 stretch forward Kristaps Porzingis (No. 4 overall).

Towns is averaging 20.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, Porzingis 23.7, 6.7 and 2.3.

Both could make their first All-Star Game appearance this season. The two have kept in touch since that draft day.

Hes done a good job of becoming the player I dont think a lot of people thought he could be coming out, said Towns, who recalled Knicks fans booing the pick of Porzingis at the time. Its hard to earn the love of the fans around there, their respect. For him to do what hes done? Its a huge accomplishment.

The write stuff

The Wolves and Lynx are sponsoring a Black History Month essay contest. Open to those in the sixth through 12th grades, students are asked to submit an essay on a leader in African-American history that inspires them to be a leader today.

Winners will be chosen by Wolves guard Jamal Crawford and Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson.

I just think its important, Crawford said. It really is. Especially in the times were in now, to be honest with you.

Etc.

Former Wolves forward Michael Beasley, whose NBA career seemed to be coming to an end not long ago when he went to play in China, has played well with the Knicks. Getting extended playing time with Tim Hardaway Jr. hurt, Beasley came to town having averaged 19.1 points while shooting 53.5 percent shooting in his past 12 games.