Zach LaVine is out for the Bulls’ must-win Game 5 against the Bucks on Wednesday.
That is due to a positive COVID test, but that may not be his biggest physical issue, according to a new report from Joe Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times — LaVine is headed for offseason knee surgery.
According to a source close to the situation, however, LaVine’s knee was “more like 50% and that’s on a good day.’’
The source also said the maintenance of the knee the past few months was an all-day ordeal, and that there would have been a good number of All-Star-type players that would have shut it down for the season with all LaVine had to deal with. And while LaVine wouldn’t come out and say for sure he was headed for off-season surgery — likely a scope — the source said he will in fact have surgery almost immediately this offseason. One scenario that had been ruled out, according to the source, was that the knee was degenerative and LaVine would be dealing with this long-term.
LaVine was not the same player on the court by the end of the season. In December, he averaged 27.3 points a game with a .650 true shooting percentage. By March, he still put up good numbers — 24.7 points a game on an above average .602 true shooting — but he wasn’t as explosive or using as much of the offense.
If this is a simple scope job cleaning things up, then LaVine should be back and be himself by the start of training camp. However, if it’s something more serious, he could miss some time next season.
That matters because LaVine is an unrestricted free agent this summer. LaVine is one of the best and biggest name free agents this summer — and maybe the one most likely to switch teams (Bradley Beal has flirted with other teams but always stayed true to Washington, and Kyrie Irving said he is going back to Brooklyn). LaVine has not discussed free agency during the season other than to say he is happy in Chicago, and Bulls management has made it clear it wants him back, but LaVine will have options.
LaVine was the second-leading scorer on the Bulls this season, averaging 24.4 points a game, plus he averaged 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game.