The bounce was back in Zach LaVine’s step as he easily put home a windmill dunk after Bulls shootaround Tuesday before their game against the Phoenix Suns.

So clearly, it must mean LaVine is getting ready to return to action sooner rather than later, right?

Not so fast.

A timeline that seemed closer to mid-December looked to be a bit liberal as it’s more likely he returns sometime before January, as he experienced some expected soreness following his initial contact practices.

LaVine, along with workout buddy Nikola Mirotic, will be practicing with the Bulls’ G-League team in Hoffman Estates when the NBA team is away in Denver Thursday, which could become custom with the 16-game December schedule.

“The plan was put into place,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He didn’t do a lot [Tuesday]. He was really sore, especially in his hamstrings and in his quads, so we just have to be really careful about not overloading him too early in this process as he returns to the floor. But he’s itching to get back.”

LaVine tore his ACL in early February and the nine-month date is approaching but the Bulls have no incentive to rush him back to action aside from temporary cosmetic relief following an ugly stretch of basketball over the last couple weeks.