The Chicago Bulls sent out a concrete update on starting point guard Lonzo Ball who has been sidelined since mid-January. He suffered a torn meniscus that required surgery in March but it has been soreness that preexisted the tear that has caused so much struggle.
To date, the most substantial update from the team had been that he was “progressing” but not at the rate that anyone hoped.
ESPN put out a series of reports stating Ball would miss training camp and the start of the season. A virtual back-and-forth ensued between the national media and local media who stressed not to count him out so soon. Well, the team officially announced a second procedure (third overall) and an updated timeline for their injured lead guard.
If nothing else, the Bulls have to hope that this brings them one step closer to a resolution.
A New Timeline for Lonzo Ball
Ball recently returned to Chicago around the same time as several teammates. But his mission was to get checked out by the team’s doctors – who had been working with his doctors in Los Angeles – to formulate a plan for a return to action.
But the national intel proved better than the local this time as the new report from the team states that Ball is set to undergo a second procedure on his knee on September 28. The procedure is called an “arthroscopic debridement” and “ removes the broken down bits of cartilage and tissues to help reduce pain and improve movement,” per Mercy Health.
Ball has been suffering from persistent pain in his surgically repaired knee every time he tries to ramp up his activity in his rehabilitation.
He said during his exit interview that he was at a standstill and will now undergo another surgery.
It is important to note that the “4-to-6” week window is just when he will be re-evaluated, not when he will return. That much is still unclear but, with training camp beginning on September 27 and the regular season on October 19, Ball missing the start of the season is a certainty.
Ball still has three years and over $61 million remaining on his contract after being acquired in a sign-and-trade that resulted in the Bulls being fined a second-round pick for tampering.
He was worth it.
The Bulls went 22-13 with Ball in the lineup and had the third-best record in the NBA when Ball was healthy. They sported a plus-2.9 net rating with Ball on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass, and a minus-1.7 without him.
Bulls Made Backup Plans
While everyone has lamented the looming status of Ball, often resulting in the Bulls being written off as a Play-In Tournament team or worse, the front office planned. They already have Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu.
They signed Goran Dragic in free agency and, although 36 years old, he looked spry in the
FIBA EuroCup 2022.
Chicago also didn’t trade Coby White just for the sake of moving him which could pay off.
None of their options can replace Ball 1-for-1 but they can give the Bulls what they might need on a given night. That was rarely the case last season when Caruso was also injured for half of the year, Dosunmu was a rookie, and White was adjusting to a new role. All of those situations should be better off thanks to the Bulls’ push for continuity.
How well that will work in terms of wins and losses is all that will matter. But the Bulls are not as woefully unprepared to be without their starting point guard.
And now they know how long they will be without him.
LaVar Ball Was Right
As much as he ruffled feathers, LaVar Ball has fairly accurate when it comes to his sons, most famously that they would all make it to the NBA. LiAngelo Ball may be in the G-League, but all three have proven their father correct.
While Ball can be boisterous, he always speaks his mind which was the case during an appearance with David Kaplan on “The ReKap”.
Ball’s note on his son’s meniscus is certainly poignant.
But his assertion that the Bulls pushed him too hard too fast is equally as significant and something to monitor leading up to and after this next procedure.