The team announced Saturday that LaVine will require surgery on his right foot to treat ongoing swelling and discomfort that previously sidelined the guard for 17 games. LaVine will undergo surgery in the coming week, but the team did not specify the date or other details.
Coach Billy Donovan said he has not been informed what specific procedure LaVine will undergo, when that surgery will take place or whether LaVine will undergo both the operation and his ensuing recovery in Chicago or Los Angeles.
LaVine opted to undergo season-ending surgery after seeking outside opinions from a specialist in Los Angeles during last week’s West Coast trip and from several other doctors over the phone. Donovan said the decision was not made by the Bulls medical team, although the organization supports his choice.
“It’s definitely Zach’s decision,” Donovan said. “A lot of this was the consultation part for him to basically be able to get other opinions. A lot of it was predicated on Zach trying to gather as much information as he could from different foot specialists. Everybody here in the organization has been very, very supportive in terms of trying to put our heads together to figure out what’s the best course of action. But it wasn’t necessarily an organizational decision.”
LaVine initially sat out because of the right foot injury from Nov. 30-Jan. 3, during which the Bulls bounced back from a dismal 5-14 start to improve to 15-21. After a muted seven-game return, LaVine suffered a sprained ankle against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 18, causing him to miss an additional six games.
When he first suffered the injury, LaVine described the issue as swelling and aggravation in the bony area surrounding his metatarsal on the outside of his right foot. The location of this discomfort severely limited his lateral mobility and explosiveness.
Coach Billy Donovan said Friday that LaVine’s ankle sprain was healed, but the guard would require additional treatment and recovery to address the foot injury.
“Obviously he made a decision that he thought was the best for his health,” 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 he just didn’t feel like he had any chance of being himself and contributing.”
The Bulls front office has been focused on a trade for LaVine since November but has been unsuccessful in securing a trade partner. With the guard sidelined for the rest of the season, the team now faces a precarious position with five days left before the trade deadline — and their highest-paid star out of the picture.
“As far as the group that’s still able bodied and playing, no one’s going to come save us,” Caruso said. “We got to go out there and play games and work. This is game 50 tonight and we’ve still got 32 to go after this.”
LaVine averaged 19.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 25 games this season.