Zach LaVine

Bulls' Zach LaVine ‘ahead of schedule' following foot surgery

Guard turns 29 on Sunday, hopes to be doing basketball activities within 3 months

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

LOS ANGELES --- Zach LaVine turns 29 on Sunday and said his wife is about to give birth to their second child. So even a walking boot couldn’t dampen his spirits as he attended Saturday’s game between the Chicago Bulls and Clippers.

“I feel really good. I get the boot off soon. I’ve been able to be out here (in Los Angeles) rehabbing, getting everything right,” LaVine said in his first public comments since his February 8 right foot surgery. “There’s not a lot. I just have to wait obviously for the tendon to heal. And then it’s a straightaway rehab. My legs feel strong, body feels good.”

LaVine said he had hoped to avoid surgery on a foot he first injured as a youth basketball player but had never bothered him since. But once he got an outside opinion that said the situation wouldn’t improve merely by rest, he made the difficult choice to end his 10th season.

LaVine said he basically had been playing with a floating bone in his foot for months.

“It sucked man. I was pretty much trying to figure out every way not to. You never want to have surgery. But I got to a conclusion, especially with what the doctor was telling me, that the pain level and this thing isn’t going to heal on its own,” LaVine said. “It’s a bone that was floating around. It’s known as a non-union Jones fracture, which I was dealing with for awhile. And once the doctor---I’m glad I was able to find him---told me you need to get this done sooner than later, it was good to know.”

The Bulls said LaVine would be sidelined for four to six months. But LaVine, who is expected to ditch the walking boot in about three weeks, said he is “a little bit ahead of schedule.” He essentially needs to let the soft tissue around a tendon heal.

“I’m just feeling a lot better. I was able to take the cast off. I’ve been walking around in the boot. That’s the main thing I have to stay in. I don’t have a lot of pain,” he said. “They said everything looks good. So hopefully the next update is as good as the last one.”

LaVine, who, along with Lonzo Ball, sat on the Bulls’ bench, said he has been in near daily communication with his teammates.

“It’s been great,” LaVine said. “We’ve been winning a lot of games and a lot of games have come down to the wire. Every game I’ve been watching, calling the guys. I’m glad to be here to be able to watch.”

LaVine also advocated for Coby White to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. LaVine and White are the only players left from the previous managerial regime and long have been close.

“I know he’s worked extremely hard. But it’s hard to say you knew he had it in him,” LaVine said. “To see him really put it together, the player he’s really becoming into, it’s just special.

“I don’t think there is really anybody else that can have that (Most Improved Player award) say. Coby probably has the most points per game that’s jumped, field-goal percentage, total 3-pointers, assists, rebounds. You can name it; everything is up. He’s leading the league in minutes. He’s been tremendous.”

The Bulls engaged in multiple trade conversations centered on LaVine dating to last offseason. When this season began poorly, both the Bulls and LaVine’s representation agreed to be open to trying to find LaVine a new home. But NBC Sports Chicago reported last month that LaVine never specifically asked to be traded.

Nevertheless, the Bulls engaged with the Detroit Pistons leading up to the Feb. 8 trade deadline but gained little traction on moving LaVine. A source said the Bulls will look to trade LaVine again this offseason.

“There’s a lot of things that don’t bug me. My name has been circulating around more than once from the beginning of my career to now. If I let people’s opinions bug me or influence me, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. So I go out there and keep doing me,” LaVine said. “Haven’t really talked to anybody, but we’ll continue to push forward.

“My main objective is to help the guys play and be myself out there. When I’m on the court, I know I make an impact most of the time offensively, but defensively as well.”

LaVine has three years and $138 million remaining on the five-year maximum contract he signed before the 2022-23 season. He finished his 10th season by playing in just 25 games with averages of 19.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

If he isn’t dealt this offseason, he envisions no issues fitting back in with the Bulls.

“It’s not hard to fit back in, especially with the way I play the game and want to go out there and help,” he said. “You never want to be hurt, but it’s not hard to see yourself back out there.”

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