CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine is going to have season-ending surgery on his right foot, creating several major questions for the franchise ahead of the NBA's trade deadline and into next year.
Following consultations with outside medical personnel, LaVine and his agency, Klutch Sports Group, made the decision in consultation with the team's training and medical staff, the Bulls announced on Saturday. The two-time All-Star is expected to have the surgery next week, and he will be out for four to six months.
“He made a decision that I think he thought was best for his health,” coach Billy Donovan said. “I really feel like he did everything he could to try to get himself back to playing. I think the discomfort in his foot was at a place where I think he just didn't feel like he had any chance of being himself and really contributing, and I think that was really frustrating and hard for him.”
LaVine, who turns 29 in March, missed 17 games from Nov. 30 to Jan. 3 with inflammation in his right foot. Following a slow start to the season, Chicago went 10-7 while LaVine was out.
The high-scoring guard returned Jan. 5 against Charlotte, and the Bulls responded with a stretch of five wins in seven games. But he rolled his right ankle during a 116-110 victory at Toronto on Jan. 18.
Donovan said LaVine's ankle isn't an issue anymore, but his foot wasn't responding well to treatment.
“Personally, I feel bad for him,” Donovan said, “because, like I've told you guys, I know how bad he wants to play and how badly he wants to be out there, and when he can't be out there, it just bothers him.”
LaVine was acquired in a June 2017 trade with Minnesota. He re-signed with the team in July 2022 for a five-year contract worth about $215 million.
He averaged 19.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 25 games this season. He averaged at least 24.4 points and played in at least 58 games in each of the previous four years.
“It sucks for him, just because he just dealt with something not too long ago,” teammate Alex Caruso said. “You feel for him. Four to six months is real surgery.”
It's another tough blow for a Chicago team that has been hit hard by injuries in recent seasons. Lonzo Ball hasn't appeared in an NBA game since Jan. 14, 2022, because of a left knee injury. Patrick Williams, who was selected by the Bulls with the No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft, is out with a left foot injury.
Donovan said he didn't know the specific details surrounding LaVine's surgery. LaVine did not speak with the media on Saturday.
The timeline for his recovery means he could be limited at the beginning of next season as he ramps back up after he regains his health following the operation.
“No one's going to come save us. We still got to go out there and play games and work,” Caruso said before Saturday night's 123-115 loss to Sacramento.
LaVine's injury also puts Chicago in a bad spot ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline. The Bulls are 23-27 after splitting their last four games.
Caruso and DeMar DeRozan likely would attract some interest if Chicago decides to tear down its roster. If it holds onto Caruso and DeRozan, it could bring in some help to ease the heavy load on its guards that increased with the injuries to LaVine and others.
“Whatever they decide to do is kind of their decision,” Caruso said. “My job as an employee of this team is to show up and do my duty, and that's to go out and play basketball every night.”
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