Carlos Delfino hopes latest operation gets him back on court

Bucks forward Carlos Delfino has not played yet this season for Milwaukee because of a broken foot suffered last year.

Mary Langenfeld/Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — After consulting with countless doctors and traveling the world to find a fix for his broken foot, Milwaukee Bucks forward Carlos Delfino is hopeful the latest procedure is the one that gets him back onto the court.

Delfino underwent a second surgery Saturday, performed by Dr. Donato Villani in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"I’m really happy with what he did in the surgery room," Delfino said in a phone interview Thursday from his home in Santa Fe, Argentina. "He took off a plate and two screws that were creating a lot of pain. Now he put another screw in at a different angle that’s supposed to put together the two pieces of bone that were apart."

The veteran forward played with the injury for the final part of last year’s regular season but completely fractured his right foot while playing with Houston during Game 5 of the Rockets’ first-round playoff series loss to the Thunder.

Delfino underwent surgery in May and was expected to be out four to six weeks. He showed up to the Bucks’ media day in a walking boot and announced he’d had a setback and would miss all of training camp and the beginning of the regular season.

While the Bucks were preparing for the opener, Delfino was exploring options to fuse back together two pieces of the fractured bone. The first surgery didn’t work, so he traveled to Vienna for shock therapy, trying to activate the bone to rejoin. Delfino was told he would see results in a month to six weeks if the alternative method were to work.

"When we had the setback we tried something different in Vienna," Delfino said. "It was a high-level shock therapy, kind of aggressive. We didn’t have results. We decided to have another surgery and take the screws and plate out."

This time around, Delfino wanted to find a doctor with experience dealing with this injury. As it turns out, he found one in his backyard.

Villani, who has worked closely with soccer star Lionel Messi as the team physician for the Argentina national soccer team, performed a similar surgery on Argentinean soccer player Javier Mascherano in 2005. Bucks physicians Michael Gordon and Samuel Idarraga were present for the procedure.

"Those were good notes to take when I was trying to find a physician to take care of my body," Delfino said. "He showed confidence and was really sure about what he’s doing. He’s used to doing these things on professional guys. It’s not only about getting well but getting well to perform at a high level. I think that was why we chose him and we’re happy with the result and what we see.

"He has a lot of experience with tough situations with big names. I tried to find someone like who I can trust and speaks the same language and know what was going on. I was glad to find him."

Villani put the 31-year-old on non-weight-bearing restrictions for eight weeks and will proceed from there. Delfino said he was going to make the 290-mile trip by car from Santa Fe to Buenos Aires later Thursday for a checkup with Villani.

Delfino has no timetable for a return in his mind. Though he initially said he’s out for the rest of the season on his personal website, Delfino feels there’s an outside chance he could play this year.

"We’ll see," Delfino said. "Sometimes it’s different experiences. People who have had this surgery, some say six months, some say three months. I think it just depends on the different situations and how the body reacts. Hopefully this one will be soon and I can get back on the court."

If there is one benefit of Delfino’s injury it’s that he has an extended period of time to spend with his wife Martina and 17-month-old twins, Carlos Italo and Cecilia.

"There’s not much to do, so the good thing is I have people visiting all the time, friends I haven’t seen in a long time," Delfino said. "Just hanging and being next to the family is good for me.

"I know I need to take care of my body and everything will come, but I can’t wait to be back on the court. It’s not something I want to leave yet. I want to continue to play and play for a long time. I’m enjoying being at home, but I would love to be (in Milwaukee) freezing and playing basketball."

Signed to a two-year, $6.5 million contract in July, Delfino said he definitely wants to be a part of the Bucks rebuilding project. But he’s not going to rush back this time around, especially after having already suffered through a setback.

"I’m going to be 100 percent," Delfino said. "I’m not going to rush again because I want to be on the court and not be limping or aggravating this situation again.

"Once I get to the court I want to make sure I’m there and that I’m not going to have a setback again. I’m going to take my time. I don’t know how long it is going to take, but I’m sure I’m going to be back on the court."

Delfino wishes he could be on the court helping the Bucks, who currently have the worst record in the NBA at 5-20. Sitting and watching his team struggle has been tough, but Delfino is hopeful that better days are ahead.

"I feel bad because I can’t give my part. I can’t put my part on the cake," Delfino said. "I just have to watch from the side and suffer.

"The young guys are doing good and getting experience. Hopefully that’s good for what’s coming next. From my point of view, it’s good for Giannis and Nate. I’m suffering, I’m away. I just feel bad because of that. Hopefully soon I can be fighting, at least working out next to them and at least give a little bit by talking to the guys. At least being with them during these tough times."

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