Feb 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia (27) steals the ball from Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Heat defeated the Hawks 103-90. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Future Career of Zaza Pachulia After Achilles Surgery

Another season, another late Zaza Pachulia injury.

Pachulia had been dealing with a nagging Achilles tendon for much of the season and decided to alleviate the pain electing to have surgery.

His surgery Tuesday was a success, but now he faces a tough road back to being the NBA player he was once.

It’s unclear if Pachulia will be healthy enough to play at the start of next season, as the normal recovery time is around six months.

This situation is reminiscent of last season, when Zaza had to miss the last segment of the regular season and the first round exit to the Boston Celtics with a bone chip in his foot. It leaves the Hawks with few capable replacements for the energy and hustle Pachulia brought every game.

His surgery comes at an unfortunate juncture in his career with unrestricted free agency looming in the coming months. Will he be healthy enough to draw interest from NBA teams, including the Atlanta Hawks? This off-season may prove to be a crossroad in Pachulia’s career.

He’s meant a lot to the city of Atlanta in his eight years in the state of Georgia. Originally from the Republic of Georgia, Pachulia has made his home here and has been willing to help the community and bring a little Georgian culture to America. He has opened up a Mediterranean restaurant, Eno by Zaza, and a bar, Buckhead Bottle Bar, in the Atlanta area. He even enrolled at a Goizueta Business School of Emory University to help him learn to manage those establishments.

For these reasons, I don’t anticipate him bolting to a new city. I think the front office will do whatever it takes to have #27 back in a Hawks uniform this upcoming season.

While Pachulia’s recovery won’t get as much publicity as a former MVP’s would (Derek Rose), and there won’t be a #thereturn hashtag trending on Twitter in anticipation of his arrival, know that Pachulia will translate his effort on the court into effort in his rehab assignment.

Pachulia was averaging 5.9 points and 6.5 rebounds in 21.8 minutes of play this season and provided his usual grit and dirty work below the basket. Pachulia is one of just two players that remain from the last Hawks team to miss the playoffs — Josh Smith being the other.

No matter what, only one solitary creed remains. It signifies the journey of the grueling road ahead:

Nothing easy.

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