Bulls guard Zach LaVine says he's 'a little bit ahead' of schedule on ankle recovery

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine smiles after scoring against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 27, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Zach LaVine was all smiles in his first conversation with the media since being shut down on Feb. 5 and undergoing season-ending right ankle surgery.

The Chicago Bulls guard provided several updates when asked about the progress of his recovery, including when the boot will come off and the expected timeline for his return.

"I feel really good," LaVine said on Saturday afternoon. "I get the boot off soon. Been able to be out here, rehabbing and getting everything right. It's not a lot, but I just have to wait for the tendon to heal, but then other than that, it's a straightaway rehab. My legs feel strong, body feels good. Getting ready for another birth of my child; we're all happy.

"In about three weeks, I get the boot taken off, and then [the doctor] gets to assess what's my next regimen of what's going on. I think the recovery was three, four months, [and] I'm a little bit ahead of schedule right now, so let's just hope it stays that way."

LaVine, who turns 29 on Sunday, said being ahead of schedule meant that he was able to take the cast off, move to a boot and hasn't dealt with much pain in the aftermath.

The 10-year veteran anticipates no setbacks and was confident that he would be good to go to start next season.

"Oh, yeah, I'll be pretty much ready to go way before then," LaVine said. "Once the boot comes off, I'll be ready to go."

At the time LaVine was shutdown, he had already missed 24 games due to foot, shoulder and ankle injuries. He missed 17 of those games after suffering inflammation in his foot in December.

LaVine was able to return again in January and looked markedly different, averaging 15.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists during his seven-game return.

In the Bulls' 116-110 win over the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 18, LaVine sustained the injury to his ankle and Chicago announced days later that he would be out for a week.

The decision to undergo surgery wasn't made lightly and was eventually seen as his best option, LaVine told reporters.

"It sucked, man," LaVine said. "I was pretty much figuring out every way not to — you never want to have surgery. But I came to the conclusion, especially with what the doctor was telling me ... this thing isn't going to heal on its own. It was a bone that was floating around. It's known as a non-union joint fracture, which I was dealing with for awhile. ... The doctor told me I need to get this done sooner than later."

Chicago is 31-32 and ninth in the Eastern Conference.