The Chicago Bulls won’t have Zach LaVine for the rest of the season.
While the outside world has debated how much better the Bulls are without him, his teammates have spoken about how much they need him. Even as they proceeded to perform well without him.
In light of his season-ending foot surgery, however, there don’t appear any changes of heart, including from DeMar DeRozan who still isn’t looking to jump ship.
“I’m not one of those guys,” DeRozan said via the Chicago Tribune’s Julia Poe after the Bulls’ 123-115 loss to the Sacramento Kings on February 2. “I’m a terrible planner. That’s probably my big pet peeve in life. Some people like jotting down in they journal what they got to do for the week. To me, that would drive me nuts.
“I really live my life day by day. If I get caught up in having future thoughts on things, I’m gonna drive myself crazy. And I’d rather not be that way. I really try to take it day by day and be prepared for whatever happens. That’s just life. That’s my approach for life.”
That was more of reaffirming his stance that he wouldn’t ask for a trade rather than not welcoming one.
But DeRozan has said he would like to retire with the Bulls.
“That’s a place I want to be and end my career,” DeRozan said, per SportsKeeda’s Mark Medina in September. “I’ll let my agent and the organization deal with that side of things, to be honest man. From their standpoint, they want me to be there long-term and vice versa. We’ll see what happens from there.”
There was admitted interest from the Bulls’ side, with General Manager Marc Eversley saying they wanted DeRozan back next season.
Those intentions have sparked questions about what the ultimate goal is for this team.
They are 23-27 and sit just one half-game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings. And they now know they have to navigate the rest of the season without their second-best player.
Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan Reacts to Zach LaVine’s Season-Ending Surgery
The Bulls are 13-12 without LaVine this season, and they boast a better net efficiency differential without him as well.
But don’t expect DeRozan to downplay the two-time All-Star, LaVine’s absence.
“It’s just worried about his health,” DeRozan said. “Him getting back [to] 100%, getting himself together more so than anything. Situation like that, I always try to look past the basketball. It’s a lot we go through as athletes. You go through a situation like that, I’m pretty sure it’s frustrating and it’s tough on him. So a different type of mental hurdle he got to go through with that.
“I hope the best for him for that. As far as teammates, it’s gonna suck not having him. It’s Zach LaVine at the end of the day. One of the key players for this team. We’ve been battling for a while without him. I think it just sucks that he’s out for the rest of the year.”
LaVine has been mired in trade rumors since last season’s trade deadline. But Head Coach Billy Donovan has noted LaVine had been a positive presence despite that.
The biggest hit to this season’s Bulls in a potential trade.
Skepticism Over Zach LaVine Trade Proving Warranted
The Bulls have maintained a high asking price for LaVine in a trade. But potential suitors have also been wary of taking on the remaining three years and $138 million left on his five-year, $215 million contract.
Part of their skepticism in taking on that contract is tied to LaVine’s injury history, which now includes three surgeries, two of which have been on his knee.
This is his second procedure in the last three seasons.
LaVine had arthroscopic surgery ahead of the 2022-23 season, missing four of the Bulls’ first 11 games of the campaign. He also had surgery for a torn ACL, playing just 24 games in 2017-18, his first season in Chicago.
LaVine joins Lonzo Ball – who is in the third year of a four-year, $80 million contract – on the shelf, leaving the Bulls without its $295 million intended starting backcourt.
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