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Zach LaVine learned that the Chicago Bulls medical team advised him to rest his inflamed right foot for an additional and estimated three to four weeks before Wednesday’s third straight victory.
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Given the opportunity to address reporters following the game, LaVine chose to push his media availability to Thursday so as not to take the spotlight away from his teammates.
LaVine also wanted to travel to Friday’s game in San Antonio---and plans to be around the team moving forward---but couldn’t because he just received a PRP injection as part of his new treatment plan.
LaVine also expressed his excitement for the Bulls’ three-game win streak, said he appreciated being able to tell his teammates on Wednesday of his latest development before addressing reporters and generally sounded like an extremely committed teammate eager to implement his talents into the newfound offensive success.
Obviously, this all flies in the face of the off-the-court speculation surrounding LaVine, who previously didn’t---for the first time---shoot down the theory that he’d be open to playing elsewhere.
“First off, the storylines that are out there right now about me is on both. It’s something that wasn’t said completely verbally to the media. It’s something that is behind closed doors that a bunch of narratives can get spun around and said about me and stories will be portrayed,” LaVine said at the Advocate Center. “And that’s part of the business. I think that comes with it.
“Am I still a part of this team and very committed? Yeah. I got a Bulls jersey on. I committed here. And for as long as I’ll be here, I’ll still support and love Chicago and go out there and play my heart out for those guys. That’s never going to change.
“There’s going to be different stories and narratives. And there’s going to be off-the-court stuff that’s going to be dealt with. For me, as long as I’m here with a Bulls jersey on, I’m going to play as hard as I can for my teammates and continue to be the best player and teammate I can be. Simple as that.”
The first sentence of the above quote is the most important. That LaVine raised that the off-the-court speculation “is on both (sides)” hammers home the root of LaVine’s frustration. He’s well aware that the Bulls tried to trade him last summer, and he’s also grown tired of the internal debate within the organization on whether he can be a lead player on a championship-contending team.
But LaVine’s commitment to his teammates? And his genuine appreciation that the Bulls signed him to a maximum contract even as the internal debate about his on-court decision-making and winning pedigree played out? Those are both as genuine as the diamond earrings that flashed in LaVine’s earlobes.
“It’s a team sport, a team game. We go through a lot of stuff together in that locker room,” LaVine said. “It’s a group of guys that fight together. We travel all the way around the world together.”
The off-court speculation surrounding LaVine intensified greatly in the wake of Wednesday’s late update. Given that he’ll be sidelined past the Dec. 15 date on which more players are eligible to be traded and close to the Jan. 15 date when some Los Angeles Lakers assets are first eligible to be dealt, there even is thought that LaVine has played his last game as a Bull.
“I don’t think about anything like that,” LaVine said. “The main thing I’m thinking about is getting my foot right, help these guys continue winning and playing like this.”
And about that right foot. LaVine said he actually was trying to ramp up to play Wednesday night, or maybe on Friday in San Antonio, when the inflammation worsened.
“I’ve been trying to train and do active rehab to get back out there. That didn’t work,” LaVine said. “It had a little bit of a---I don’t want to say setback---but it got more sore to where it didn’t make sense to try to play on it continuously. Rest for a little bit. Get some PRP. Hopefully that will do some good things for it. Continue to promote that healing and check back in a week or two and see where you’re at.
“It’s something I’ve been trying to deal with and get back to 100 percent. We’ve done different things to try to get it back to where it is. It’s playing with it and then sitting out a game. It felt like it was going to be a couple days getting back on the foot. And then it went to, ‘Alright, let’s give it some rest. Give it two games or a week and them ramp back up.’
“I was trying to play actually (Wednesday) or Friday. But ramping up, it didn’t respond well. And now they’re looking at more of a set date of letting it rest or calm down because we don’t want to play to a point or a threshold where it’s unbearable.”
LaVine has played through injuries in the past. The most celebrated example came when he played in a contract season through knee pain that required a surgical procedure in the 2022 offseason.
“You guys all know: I don’t pull punches. I try to play through everything. I was playing through this earlier. It’s tough. It’s the lateral side of my right foot that’s a little inflamed---not even a little bit, it’s pretty inflamed---and it bugs you. It’s a bony, prominent area where you really don’t want to start messing around with that fifth metatarsal area. It gets more irritated. It’s just smart to calm it down now to where I can get back to 100 percent and hopefully finish this season strong and help everybody out there.
“I think it’s funny (this is tied to off-court speculation). For everybody that knows me, I try to play through everything. This has nothing to do with anything off the court and everything off the court is still very much speculation. It’s funny to me to see all the narratives that people run with. I deal with it internally. It is what it is. I go out there and put my heart on for Chicago whenever I put that jersey on. When I get back out there, I’ll continue to do that.”
LaVine has been one of the most prominent cheerleaders in street clothes from the bench.
“I’m happy for the team. If I’m not happy for the team, that would be saying something about me. I’m the first guy out there. However you gotta get a win, get a win. We’re in a spot where early we weren’t looking very good. And whatever may have sparked it, if it was me off the court and that’s a narrative that people want to run with it, we’ve won three games. I’m happy for it,” LaVine said. “Me off the court, on the court, hopefully I can get this foot right to get back out there and help my guys. I’ve been in the locker room every day and out here training trying to get back out there to help everybody out because it’s fun when you’re winning.”