It has been nearly 300 days since the Chicago Bulls had Lonzo Ball on the basketball court in an official capacity. They have only just returned to the floor as a team with the new season just hitting nine games old with their tilt against the Boston Celtics on Friday.
Ahead of the meeting – a rematch of their 120-102 victory on October 24 – head coach Billy Donovan updated a few pieces of personnel business.
But he also gave an update on Ball – usually a standard procedure for the head coach who has spoken on the matter almost daily since before the season began. This time though, there was progress to be noted from the 25-year-old Ball as he recovers from his second knee surgery in nine months.
Ball in the Water
The Bulls don’t expect Ball to be back in action until sometime around or after the new year. His recent arthroscopic debridement procedure was meant to alleviate pain caused by loose cartilage.
His father, LaVar Ball, gave a detailed update on his son saying the procedure was “done right”
Donovan – who previously said that he knew little more about the situation other than that Ball was in good spirits – offered a little more insight on Friday.
“He feels a lot freer than he did prior to the surgery,” Donovan said. “Obviously, he’s a ways away from running and cutting and doing all those things. But there is optimism that this hopefully has helped him.” (h/t K.C. Johnson/NBC Sports Chicago)
Donovan added that Ball has started running in water but remains without a defined timeline.
He did say that he is remaining positive on the possibility that they will get a player Zach LaVine described as the Bulls’ “glue” back before the season ends.
“I just don’t know, just because he hasn’t gotten on the floor. Even if he does get cleared to play, there’s going to be a period of time he needs to get his legs back under him. That’s why it’s hard for me to put a timetable on it.”
Stopping and Starting
Ball’s knee soreness was initially reported to be intermittent, occurring when he increased the intensity of his rehab. But he revealed during training camp that his knee was hindering him during menial tasks following the earlier procedure.
He added that he wouldn’t rush back from what is the third overall surgery on the knee going back to 2018.
“I really can’t run. I can’t run or jump. There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have no force, and I can’t catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play,” Ball said. “It’s every day. Even going up stairs and stuff, it’s still painful.”
His impact when he’s on the floor has been well-documented.
The Bulls can only hope they have afforded themselves the luxury to await his return – however long it may take – after sliding in his absence last season.