It is important to try and find the silver linings in life.
For the Chicago Bulls, that may be tougher these days with the announcement that Lonzo Ball will undergo a ligament transplant surgery that is expected to keep him out of commission for “most, if not all” of the 2023-24 season, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Charania’s colleague, Darnell Mayberry, thinks that could have a very specific impact on the Bulls’ current roster going forward.
“Expect the Bulls to petition the league office and be granted the full extent of protection,” writes Mayberry offering further insight into the Bulls’ logic in the wake of Charania’s report. “But it only goes so far. The Bulls need a point guard to replace Ball. …Second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu filled in for Ball before Patrick Beverley signed as a free agent in February. Ball’s prognosis could increase the likelihood that Beverley re-signs.”
Beverley, 34, took over for Dosunmu who has had a rocky sophomore season thrust into the starting point guard role from the outset rather than gradually assuming the position as he did last year as a second-round pick.
The 22-year-old is set to hit restricted free agency this summer.
“This might be more than just a playoff push for veteran Patrick Beverley,” writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It could turn out to be a try-out for the point guard. Beverley has been thrilled to be back home playing for his hometown team, and like Ball, is a force on the defensive end. “The former John Marshall Metropolitan High School standout doesn’t have the all-around game of Ball, especially on the offensive side, but could prove to be the ultimate insurance policy.”
Beverley is averaging 5.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.0 rebounds, and nearly 1.0 steals per game starting every game since he signed in late February. He ranks behind only teammate Alex Caruso in net rating on the team, per Cleaning The Glass.
Chicago’s net rating is plus-12 and ranks in the 97th percentile with Beverley on the floor and Dosunmu off – Their net rating is minus-3.9 when the situation is reversed.
“Perhaps Beverley’s hometown return isn’t merely a feel-good story anymore,” pondered NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson detailing the Bulls’ looming decisions at point guard which invariable includes fourth-year former top-10 pick Coby White who will also hit restricted free agency. “Perhaps, in light of Ball’s injury, he has some staying power.”
Concerning Details Surrounding Lonzo Ball
As if the diagnosis itself were not enough, the Bulls were also dealt a series of gut-wrenching anecdotes about Ball’s outlook. Per Charania during an appearance on ‘The Rally’, Ball’s next procedure is said to have a “50-50 chance” of succeeding.
It gets worse.
Johnson offered the story of former Golden State Warriors big man Festus Ezeli who underwent a ligament transplant surgery in 2017 and has not played in the NBA since.
On top of that, there may be a disconnect between the front office and Ball’s camp several months after his father, LaVar Ball, said the team pushed his son too soon after the initial procedure last January.
“The organization was hoping for a six-month recovery, then a re-evaluation at that point,” Cowley notes in his report on Ball’s outlook. “However…the Bulls’ medical team has been mostly out of the loop for some time, only getting information from Ball’s medical team when there’s information to give.”
It’s an interesting development and one that bears monitoring as both sides seek a resolution to this troublesome injury.
Bulls’ ‘Most-Likely’ Course of Action is Complicated
“Without cap space or significant draft capital, the Bulls are in a bind,” explained Mayberry. “A trade for another lead guard is the most likely route.”
Those two ideas would seem to contradict one another. But the Bulls have not necessarily suffered from a lack of takers for some of their pieces as much as they have lacked a return they deem suitable.
Perhaps they would have come across and accepted an offer for a point guard if one existed.
With Nikola Vucevic entering unrestricted free agency this offseason and DeMar DeRozan heading into the final year of his deal, decisions were looming one way or another. Now, amid the recent surge by Zach LaVine, the Bulls’ mission for this offseason is becoming clearer by the day as the season winds down.