The Hawks received unfortunate news Saturday, learning that center Zaza Pachulia will miss the remainder of the season to have surgery to repair a partially torn right Achilles. Pachulia will have the surgery performed by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina at Mercy Hospital. Zaza said that after meeting with several doctors, he felt that Dr. Anderson was the best option due to his familiarity with the injury and his experience with Achilles surgeries. Pachulia said that the timetable for return is usually six-months, but at the end of his press conference he added, "I'll be back in six months, or maybe sooner."
Pachulia said that he had hoped to see progress with the Achilles over the past few weeks and that they had put off surgery in hopes that he would be able to return this year and play. However, he said there was no improvement and he saw no progress so they went ahead with the decision to have the surgery.
Like so many Hawks, Zaza's future is unsure as his contract expires at the end of this season, and Pachulia's surgery means that he will still be recovering and rehabbing the injury when he becomes a free agent on July 1st, which could mean he has played his final game as an Atlanta Hawk. However, Pachulia said he has not thought about that possibility or his pending free agency, instead focusing on the team and the upcoming playoffs. He consistently deflected the attention off of him to talk about the playoff streak and how much he loves the playoffs.
"This is not the way I wanted it to end, but it's a been a great year. Six times the Hawks made the playoffs. I just want to use this opportunity to congratulate all of the Hawks fans and Hawks family; the players, coaching staff, owners, everybody. It's a great moment and I'm glad I was part of this team for all of the six years."
Zaza spoke at length about his love for the team and how he is excited to be on the bench supporting the team throughout the playoffs. He said that he is dealing with the news well because he's been dealing with the injury for weeks and was prepared for this possibility. Afterwards, he stayed to shake hands with reporters as we wished him the best and for a speedy recovery.
I think I speak for everyone in, as he called it, the "Hawks family" when I say: thank you Zaza, we wish you the bestand hope to see you back, healthy, and in a Hawks uniform in six months.