Zaza Pachulia may have played his last game with the Hawks.
He has definitely played his last game this season.
Pachulia, plagued by a sore right Achilles for two months, will undergo a surgical procedure and miss the remainder of the year. The center and fan favorite, who spent the past eight seasons with the Hawks, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
Details of the surgery, a procedure to repair the sore Achilles, and the recovery period are to be determined.
“After thoroughly reviewing the possible options with Zaza, we all felt this was the best decision to ensure Zaza’s complete recovery so that he can be at 100 percent going forward,” Hawks President of Basketball Operations and General Manger Danny Ferry said. “Zaza is a professional with a strong work ethic. The Hawks will continue to be completely supportive as he tackles the return to play process.”
The injury suffered Jan. 21 has cost Pachulia 21 games, including the last 15. He sought several medical opinions from doctors in and out of the organization. A decision to have the season-ending procedure was finalized Saturday.
Pachulia told the AJC earlier this month that he would be out indefinitely while seeking the medical opinions. He continued to undergo treatment in hopes of a return. Pachulia, 29, said he was wary of possibly tearing the tendon which would be a lengthy recovery going into an offseason as a free agent.
“Obviously you don’t want to mess with an Achilles,” Pachulia told the AJC on March 15. “That is for sure. I know from Dominique (Wilkins) that he tore his Achilles and he was out for a whole year. It’s very, very dangerous. It’s a sensitive subject where I am in my career right now. You don’t want to mess with an Achilles that is for sure.”
Pachulia (6-foot-11, 275 pounds) appeared in 52 games this season, including 15 starts, and averaged 5.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 28.3 minutes. He set the franchise record for offensive rebounds in a quarter (seven) in a game against the Bucks on Feb. 23.
Pachulia became a fan favorite spurred on by the 2008 seven-game playoff series against the Celtics when he, literally, went head-to-head with Kevin Garnett.
The 10-year veteran was originally a second-round draft pick (No. 42 overall) of the Magic in 2003 out of his native country of Georgia. He also played a season for the Bucks after he was selected in the 2004 expansion draft by the Bobcats and traded. He signed as a free agent with the Hawks in 2005. He re-signed to remain in Atlanta in 2009 for four more seasons.
MORE TO COME