CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls will be without Zach LaVine for the remainder of the season after the team announced that the All-Star guard will undergo surgery on his right foot that will sideline him for 4-6 months. It’s a significant blow to the Bulls, who have dealt with a litany of injuries over the course of the season, and have also been without starting point guard Lonzo Ball for what will be two and a half seasons now.
Per the Bulls statement:
After seeking additional medical opinions, in consultation with the Chicago Bulls training and medical staff, guard Zach LaVine and Klutch Sports Group have elected surgery on LaVine’s right foot as the next step in his recovery process. Surgery is anticipated the week of February 5.
Prior to Chicago’s game against the Sacramento Kings Saturday night, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan spoke about LaVine’s status.
“He did everything he could to try to get himself back to playing,” Donovan said. “I think the discomfort in his foot was at a place where I think he just didn’t feel like he had any chance ofing be himself and contributing. And I think that was really frustrating and hard for him. So, personally, I feel bad for him. Because I know how badly 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’s missed 22 games already this season with the same foot issue, and while it appeared as though the issue subsided when he returned for a seven-game stretch at the beginning of January, he went back on the shelf and has remained sidelined since. In total, LaVine appeared in 25 games this campaign before having his season end. Not only does LaVine’s absence impact the Bulls as they continue to hunt for a postseason spot, it also puts them in a tricky situation as they’ve been trying to trade LaVine dating back to November when it was reported that both the team and the sharpshooting guard were.
No real trade market materialized for LaVine, in part because of his injuries this season, but also because of the hefty amount of money he’s owed on his current contract. LaVine’s in Year 1 of a five-year, $215.16 million contract that Chicago gave him in the summer of 2022.
It’s going to be difficult to find a team willing to take on the remaining four years of his deal, and now that he’s out for the rest of the season, trying to trade him before the Feb. 8 deadline seems all but certain to not happen. The Lakers were the one team most attached to acquire LaVine, and the Pistons popped up recently as a team that were interested in the guard, but that’s all likely to change now that he’ll be out for the rest of the season.
Unless a team wants to trade for LaVine with the idea of integrating him next season, it appears as though the Bulls will be waiting to revisit that topic in the offseason.
But for now, with the team sitting 23-26 and still very much in position to at least secure a Play-In Tournament spot, the Bulls will have to turn back to a formula that they’ve relied upon heavily already this season: Coby White and DeMar DeRozan. White has had a breakout season for the Bulls, averaging a career-high 19 points, 5.1 assists and 4.7 rebounds and putting up the best shooting splits of his career.
White, along with DeRozan, have kept the Bulls afloat for most of the season, but that’s also come with heavy minutes for both players. White and DeRozan rank in the top 10 in the league in minutes per game this season, as both are averaging over 35 minutes a night. Those heavy minutes can take a toll as Chicago gets even deeper into the season. With LaVine getting traded likely off the table, perhaps the Bulls will now shift focus on trying to bolster their backcourt to give White and DeRozan a break, but Chicago is far from the only team in the league looking for upgrades in that area.