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Bulls guard Zach LaVine controls the ball against Grizzlies guard Avery Bradley in a game last month in Memphis, Tenn. LaVine is listed as day-to-day with a right patellar tendon strain. The question is, with little on the line for the team, will the star guard see any action again the rest of the season?

CHICAGO — Last March 16, the Bulls listed Zach LaVine as day-to-day with left knee tendinitis.

LaVine didn't play again over the season's final 14 games.

Nobody said the same scenario will unfold when LaVine likely misses his second straight game on Tuesday against the Lakers with a right patellar tendon strain. But nobody would be surprised if it does.

LaVine officially is listed as doubtful after not practicing again Monday, and coach Jim Boylen said the team has yet to discuss shutting down its leading scorer for the season. But in perhaps the most telltale sign about how conservatively the Bulls will handle LaVine, Boylen even muted his recent stance of trying to make meaningless games feel like playoff contests.

"I think what we're hoping for is every day he responds and gets a little better," he said. "But it's not the situation or the time of the year to push a guy to try and get a certain seed or homecourt. That's as simply as I can put it. I think you know my personality. I want to win every game. But we've got to be smart too."

After scoring 24 points in Friday's home loss to the Pistons, LaVine sat out Sunday's road matinee rematch in Detroit. The Bulls lost that game too and are 4-4 in games LaVine has missed. Sunday marked his first absence since Jan. 30.

LaVine enjoyed a dominant February, averaging 24.5 points, 5.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 53.2 percent. That included 49 percent 3-point shooting.

Overall, LaVine is averaging career highs in scoring at 23.8 points, rebounds at 4.6 and assists at 4.4 as well as 46.8 percent shooting. But as much as LaVine hates missing games, he's taking the long view as well.

"I want to be out there regardless," he said. "But there's no reason to go out there and try to risk anything right now. It's not smart."

LaVine called himself "day-to-day" and said he'll undergo treatment often. He downplayed his general wear-and-tear, which has featured him playing through troublesome ankles and a thigh bruise.

"I'm used to playing heavy minutes," LaVine said. "So I think (the knee) is just a little irritated."

When the Bulls shut down LaVine last season, they were focused on draft lottery positioning. Plus, his soreness originated in his surgically repaired knee, and last season was viewed mostly as the final step of his rehabilitation from his torn left ACL.

This is different. It's the other knee. And the Bulls are four games clear of the Hawks for the league's fourth-worst record.

If LaVine sat the remainder of the season, it could aid the Bulls' chances to crack the bottom three and garner a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, although the Knicks, Suns and Cavaliers have held those spots firmly. The Bulls play at the Suns, who recently knocked off the Bucks and Warriors, in Phoenix on Monday.

Boylen cited the need to generate offense without LaVine, calling LaVine's "ability in a broken-play situation to get you a bucket" a "gift" and that better ball movement and offensive discipline will be needed in his absence.

"We look at it in a short-term and we look at it in a long-term," Boylen said. "We're not going to jeopardize anyone's future, our future, for one win. That being said, we have to manage being competitive and fighting and caring.

"It breaks my heart when Zach has worked at it. He's been very coachable, teachable. He has grown. He's done everything I've asked him to do. It's been well-documented, we've had some pretty good film sessions on what I expect. So it's painful, man. It's like your family when somebody's doing really well and then something happens where they can't do that anymore. Hopefully, he can come back and help us."

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