League Insider Drops Big Update on Lonzo Ball’s Bulls Return

Lonzo Ball Bulls

Getty Lonzo Ball embraces Zach LaVine following a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics.

Perhaps the biggest question facing the Chicago Bulls right now has little to do with what’s currently happening on the hardwood and a lot to do with when their erstwhile floor general will be back on it. Indeed, Lonzo Ball’s extended absence has hampered the Bulls in a significant way to start the campaign, leaving fans to pine for his big return.

On Wednesday, however, we finally got some new information on when Ball could potentially be back on the court (or, more accurately, when he won’t be).

Writing for The Athletic, NBA insider Shams Charania just served up a major update on Ball’s timeline after his latest knee surgery. Reported Charania: “Ball and the franchise have been hopeful of his return to action at some point after the calendar flips to 2023, sources said.”

In other words, any hopes of an early comeback for the former No. 2 overall pick were probably just dashed. That said, the continued optimism that he will play this season offers hope in and of itself that this won’t be a lost season for Chicago.

Ball’s Long Road Back

Bulls mount comeback vs. Jazz after Lauri Markkanen onslaught | NBC Sports ChicagoThe Chicago Bulls moved to 9-11 on the season with a 114-107 win over the Utah Jazz Monday night. It took weathering an early onslaught from old friend Lauri Markkanen and flipping a 10-point third-quarter deficit, but ultimately, the Bulls bounced back from Saturday's loss to the Thunder and moved to 2-1 in a critical…2022-11-29T05:10:25Z

The 25-year-old Ball hasn’t suited up for the Windy City crew since a January game against the Golden State Warriors (midway through the 2021-22 season). Shortly thereafter, it was revealed that he had suffered a small left meniscus tear.

It was expected that he would be back on the court in six to eight weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery. Alas, he was ultimately ruled out for the remainder of the season. And as the 2022-23 campaign crept up, it became clear that something was still amiss with Ball’s knee.

He eventually ended up having a second procedure on his knee in late September. Since then, updates on the baller’s progress/status have been few and far between.

Earlier this month, Bulls coach Billy Donovan indicated that, while his rehab was progressing, Ball still hadn’t reached a point where he could run or do many of the other basic physical tasks required for hooping.

“Until he’s running, jumping or cutting, I just don’t know how far away [he is],” Donovan stated at the time.

Bulls Could Use Lonzo on Both Sides of the Ball

During his abbreviated first year in Chicago in ’21-22, Ball averaged 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He also hit pay dirt on 42.3% of his three-point tries (which accounted for almost 68% of his total attempts).  So, he was definitely making his presence known.

Ball’s defense was particularly impactful, too, as evidenced by his D-rating of 107.0 (a mark second only to Alex Caruso among Bulls players with 600-plus minutes).

Needless to say, removing all that production from the lineup has been felt, even as Goran Dragic is exceeding every reasonable expectation as a backcourt depth piece. In particular, second-year man and Ball stand-in Ayo Dosunmu has failed to affect winning in the same way that Ball was before he got hurt.

As of this writing, Dosunmu is only taking 3.2 triples per night, and his conversion rate of 32.8% leaves a lot to be desired. He’s also Chicago’s most negative heavy-minutes player with a net rating of minus-7.7.

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