The Bulls are dealing with a lot of injuries to their core players, including Denzel Valentine who will likely miss the season after he gets surgery on his ankle. On Tuesday, Valentine opened up about the surgery at practice.
1. Be Thankful for Health
As you Bulls fans carve up your Thanksgiving turkey, use that as a reminder to say an extra prayer for Denzel Valentine who goes under the knife again later this week. This will be Valentine’s third surgery in three seasons. He had work done on the same left ankle following his rookie season in which he sprained the ankle twice and then the knee procedure at the end of last year. But after listening to the third-year guard speak at the Advocate Center on Tuesday, you sensed relief and optimism beyond the disappointment.
“It’s going to take 4-6 months to get back right, but when I come back it’s going to be a brand new ankle," Valentine said. "I’ve been pretty much having ankle issues ever since my rookie year. I think I’m going to be fine. I think I’m going to feel better.
"I think I’m going to take my game to another level because now I’m going to be more stable in my ankle. I’ll have a whole year to recover and get my body right, which I haven’t gotten to do since college, really. I’ve just been on the go, on the go, on the go... Could be a blessing in disguise, that’s how I’ve got to look at it.”
2. Decision Made
Valentine admitted he could have come back and played this year, but evaluating how things were going he felt like he didn’t want to get on the court with nagging pain. Dr. Bob Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was the one to make the latest diagnosis “ongoing ankle instability” that requires surgery.
The Bulls said a full recovery is expected and believe Valentine will participate in normal offseason training, likely meaning the season is lost but Valentine is looking at the positives.
“I know it’s going to suck, but it is what it is. I’ve jut got to attack rehab and try to come back the best that I can," Valentine said. "I’m fully confident that I will come back and be 100 percent. Who knows if I’ve ever been 100 percent this whole time in my NBA career. I’m really excited about coming back and being 100 percent.
3. Moving Forward
Not that it makes the process any easier, but Valentine has been able to talk to people and players that have been through this surgery and come back full strength. For reference, Dr. Bob Anderson is the same surgeon who performed Steph Curry’s ankle surgery in May, 2011, another guard who had been battling ankle injuries his entire career. Maybe this is why Valentine remains confident about the road ahead.
“I talked to a couple players and they’ve told me that they’ve got the surgery and came back better. So, they were glad I was getting it,” Valentine said.
And once he’s able to return to the sidelines, that’s where the 14th pick of the 2016 draft said he’ll be.
“Definitely, as much as I can I plan to be around the team. Still trying to lead, talk to the guys and be a part of the team. I don’t want to alienate myself," Valentine said. "I still want to feel part of the team and try to be positive and encourage the guys.”