Bulls send Zach LaVine to G League contact practice.

The Chicago Bulls assigned Zach LaVine to the Windy City Bulls on Monday's Advocate Center practice, his first non-controlled contact session since Nov. 29's right foot inflammation. So long as LaVine doesn't suffer a relapse, he may return as soon as Friday's home game against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Bulls practiced at the Advocate Center on Monday before leaving for Philadelphia, where they play the 76ers on Tuesday. They play the Knicks in NYC on Wednesday. The Windy City Bulls don't play again until Friday, allowing LaVine ample practice opportunities to test his response.

Coach Billy Donovan discussed the advantages of keeping LaVine, Nikola Vučević, and Torrey Craig in Chicago when the team heads East for two consecutive games after Monday's practice. Vučević, suffering from a groin injury, took shots by himself after practice on Monday, while Craig is still rehabilitating from a plantar fascia sprain in his right foot.

I appreciate those guys' voices on the bench. I like it everytime. Donovan said their health and return to play are most crucial. "They'll have more options in Chicago because they can do something on the floor. They find it simpler in Chicago."

Since LaVine's absence, the Bulls are 10-5. Donovan and LaVine's teammates insist that the improved record is coincidental and that improvements at both ends may continue when LaVine returns. LaVine addressed reporters on December 7, the day he underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right foot, addressing his injury and off-court speculation about his future.

The lateral side of my right foot is quite inflamed, and it bothers you. It's bony and conspicuous, so don't tamper with the fifth metatarsal. LaVine stated it irritates. "Now is the time to settle down so I can come back to 100% and finish this season strong and help everyone.

I find it humorous (off-court speculation). For everyone who knows me, I play through anything. Everything off the court is guesswork and has nothing to do with this. I find all the storylines people run with humorous. I handle it internally. The way it is. I give my all for Chicago when I wear that jersey. I'll keep doing that when I return.”

LaVine's counsel and Bulls management have a good, professional relationship as they seek to fulfill his openness to playing elsewhere, which he took after the Bulls engaged exploratory trade discussions last summer. After a rough start to the season and the Bulls' 5-14 record, LaVine has seen little market.

LaVine averages 21 points on 44.3 percent shooting, including 33.6 percent from 3-point range. Both percentages are much below his prior All-Star performances.

Watch this space for further developments.