Ball questioned the credibility of the “First Take” host’s sources.
“Stephen A., who are your sources, bro,” Ball asked in a video on August 22. “Please tell me who your sources are. Come on, man. Come on. You gotta stop yapping. And I actually like you. I don’t even know you like that. But I like you. I’m coming back, man. Come on!”
Smith said he had “heard” Ball was still dealing with complications from three knee surgeries that have kept him sidelined since January of the 2021-22 season. Ball initially received a six-to-eight-week timeline for recovery but will see that extend beyond two years following the third procedure.
“Something went wrong in terms of these procedures he has had,” Smith said on “First Take” via Phillip Lewis of Huffington Post on August 22. “I don’t think he’ll ever be the same based on what we’re seeing and hearing, and reading about. I’ve heard that it’s even hard for him to get up from a sitting position.”
Ball confirmed his recovery will also keep him out through the 2023-24 campaign during an appearance on the “From The Point Podcast by Trae Young” on August 21.
He also suggested that things were going as planned in his recovery now.
Lonzo Ball: ‘I’m on Track’
“When I first got hurt, we didn’t really know what it was. I’ve seen all type of different doctors and stuff, and I was kind of just going up and down,” Ball said on Young’s podcast. “And that was really hard for me because I just didn’t know what the next day was going to be like. And, at least now, I got the surgery, we got a plan moving forward, we’ve been on plan, I’m on track.”
Ball spoke of having difficulty performing day-to-day activities during his media availability ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, noting that he was at a standstill and having trouble moving his balky left knee beyond a certain point.
He shared videos of himself running on a treadmill and even dunking a basketball, providing hope he was on track to return at some point.
Nothing ever came to fruition, though.
Perhaps that is what Smith is referring to, though that would still leave him several months behind on updates.
Bulls, NBA Ruled Out Lonzo Ball in June
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas put any possibility that Ball would play next season to bed officially.
“Going into the offseason, I think our expectation is that he’s not coming back next season, and he’s gonna continue on his recovery,” Karnisovas said via the Bulls’ YouTube channel on June 22. “If he comes back, it would be great. But we’re just going to treat this offseason and getting ready for the season that he’s not going to be back next season.”
The Bulls applied for and were granted a Disabled Player Exception worth $10.2 million, or half of Ball’s 2023-24 salary by the NBA further cementing Ball’s status for next season.
“I think it’s presented challenges on both sides,” Bulls general manager Marc Eversley said, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic on August 21. “He was a terrific complement to Zach (LaVine), DeMar (DeRozan) and [Nikola Vucevic] as we envisioned this roster.”
Ball said he felt “bad” for the front office which he noted involved him more in their process for building the roster than either of his previous teams, the Los Angeles Lakers or New Orleans Pelicans, ever did. He has also been consistent that he will return to the court in due time, though when that will be and how it may look remain unclear for now.