Bulls' Zach LaVine won't play until after NBA trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
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Coach Billy Donovan said following Friday's practice at the Advocate Center that LaVine's sprained right ankle has healed, but the right foot inflammation that cost LaVine 17 games earlier this season has returned.
"It's still causing him problems, so it's still going to be more time," Donovan said. "The foot is inflamed and it's going to be another week before he's re-evaluated again. They're hoping to quiet it down. We were all hoping it would happen a little sooner. But it hasn't."
LaVine returned from his 17-game absence on Jan. 5 and played seven games in which the Bulls went 5-2 before rolling and spraining his right ankle. That injury and the subsequent rehabilitation process caused the foot discomfort to flare anew.
Here's what LaVine said about his lingering foot issues on December 7.
“It bugs you, a boney, prominent area,” LaVine said then. “You really don’t want to start messing around with that, that fifth metatarsal area and it gets more and more irritated. It’s just smart to calm it down now to where I can get back to 100% and hopefully finish the season strong and help everybody out.”
While the optics of LaVine's injury could be tied by some conspiracy theorists to the trade deadline, the guard has talked publicly and privately about lingering discomfort. Asked if it will be a season-long issue, Donovan said he didn't want to speculate.
"It's just going to be how he responds," Donovan said.
The Bulls and LaVine agreed in early November to work to try to find him a new home. LaVine's trade market hasn't proved robust to this point.
And whereas his elite play over the previous three seasons had mostly eliminated any concerns over his medical history, which features a torn ACL and subsequent arthroscopic surgery on the same left knee, this season has led some rival executives to question whether trading for a max contract and player with now lingering foot issues is worth it.
There's a growing feeling among rival executives that the Bulls may have to attach another asset to move LaVine, something sources said the Bulls have been hesitant to do to this point. An alternative could be to merely move LaVine as a salary dump for expiring contracts, although NBC Sports Chicago has previously reported that the Bulls weren't at that stage yet. Plus, of course, it would take another team willing to do that.
The Pistons, who have been linked to LaVine, possess multiple expiring deals that could make the trade math work for LaVine, who makes $40 million this season and has $138 million due over the next three seasons. But multiple outlets, including NBC Sports Chicago, have reported that the Pistons have yet to definitively decide whether they want to move on LaVine.
For both LaVine's lingering foot discomfort and his trade market, the stance is the same: Stay tuned.