After moving to within a single game of a .500 record with their February 6 win over the San Antonio Spurs, the bottom has fallen out in a big, bad way for the Chicago Bulls. With the NBA‘s All-Star break upon us, the team is riding low with a six-game losing streak and an offense that has all but vanished.
During the recent downturn, Chicago has managed to score just 99.5 points per 100 possessions while posting an effective field-goal percentage of 47.3 — numbers that rank dead-last league-wide.
The Bulls’ next-level offensive dysfunction and resulting freefall have put a spotlight on just how badly Lonzo Ball’s leadership and court vision have been missed. As time has gone on, it has looked more and more like Ball was the secret sauce that made the Bulls roster work. Without him, the team has been a hot mess more often than not.
Alas, those precious few who have clung to the hope that Ball can return from his knee injury and save the day should probably find a new savior to place their faith in. The latest intel from NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson essentially confirms that a comeback isn’t in the cards this season.
KC Johnson: The Expectation Is That Lonzo Ball Will Be Out for the Entirety of the Bulls’ Season
During his appearance on the latest episode of the Bulls Talk podcast, Johnson dropped a bombshell on Ball’s situation.
“At this point, I think we should clarify that we’re fully expecting, either over the All-Star break somebody sources it out… or the team officially coming out… saying that Lonzo Ball is going to be out for the season,” Johnson said. “I think we should acknowledge that because he’s not even running or cutting yet [and] it’s February 17th. So, to me, it’s a foregone conclusion at this point. It’s just whenever the team makes it official.”
Johnson did leave the door slightly ajar for something to potentially happen at the tail end of the campaign. Still, the writing is probably on the wall for Ball (and the Bulls’ season).
“I suppose there’s a surprise where he salvages a last week of the season or something — you gotta leave that slight caveat open — but I just want to acknowledge that, as we’re talking about bad news here, Lonzo Ball ain’t coming through that door.”
Ball’s Seemingly Unending Knee Issue
The last time that Ball actually suited up for the Bulls was way back in January of 2022 when he suffered what was deemed to be a left meniscus tear. Initially, he was only expected to miss six to eight weeks of action after undergoing surgery, a timetable that had many believing he’d return before the playoffs.
Instead, he was eventually shut down for the season. Despite that, there was optimism that Ball would be ready to play before opening night of the 2022-23 campaign, and hopes were high that the Bulls could get back into the thick of the playoff race with him steering the ship.
At that point, though, he was forced to undergo another knee procedure and he has been in a weird holding pattern ever since.
Given Ball’s continued inability to even perform basic basketball maneuvers, it’s anyone’s guess when he actually gets back onto the court for a real game (or whether he’ll still be a Bull when that happens). He’s slated to make $20.5 million next season and he has a player option for 2024-25 worth $21.4 million.
In 35 games with Chicago in 2021-22, Ball averaged 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per night while shooting 42.3% from three-point range.