The Chicago Bulls won’t have Lonzo Ball to start the 2022-23 campaign and they remain uncertain as to when they might get him back. His follow-up surgery on his knee means he won’t even be re-evaluated for another four to six weeks after it takes place which is scheduled for September 28.
Ball was not one of the slew of players to speak at media day on September 26 but he was not far from everyone’s minds.
He was the subject of the first question asked of Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturuas Karnisovas who refrained from putting a timeline on a return for the team’s starting point guard.
Two-time All-Star Zach LaVine was also asked about Ball and had a little more to say.
LaVine to Ball: ‘Make Sure You’re Ready’
LaVine was one of those in attendance and was immediately asked about the heightened expectations with his new $215 million max contract. He continued to brush off that notion but, when asked about Ball, it was a different story. Ball had previously cited a conversation with LaVine as part of his excitement about coming to Chicago.
This time, LaVine says, they shared a conversation about the road to recovery as Ball battles back.
“It’s tough, man, because he worked so hard,” LaVine said of Ball during his Media Day availability. “He’s in a good place right now. He’s getting better. And, I know guys have been talking about it all summer but let’s understand, he wants to be out here more than anybody else. And, you know, nobody wants to be injured. And it’s tough…having people talk about it each and every day – when you’re going to be back, when not.”
Ball has been out since a January 14 blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Initially given a 6-to-8-week timeline, a bone bruise threatens to push that even closer to a year before he takes the floor again.
This next surgery will be the third on the knee in Ball’s career. There is hope that the arthroscopic debridement to remove damaged cartilage will alleviate the persistent pain that comes whenever Ball tries to ramp up the intensity in his rehab.
LaVine, who had an arthroscopic procedure of his own this summer, had words for his teammate.
“I just told him, ‘Make sure you’re ready when you are. Because when you come back we need you. You’re our starting point guard. You’re the cog to our defense – our facilitator. And, overall we like him in the locker room. He’s a great guy. So, he’s in good spirits. I think he’s working as hard as he can and he’s going to keep doing that. He’ll be back when he’s ready.”
Per Karnisovas, they simply do not know when that will be.
LaVine Puts Rumor to Bed
In case there were any lingering doubts, LaVine also put to rest once and for all one of the more divisive rumors that popped up this summer – that he and DeMar DeRozan had some animosity after the latter’s ascension to the top of the Bulls’ pecking order. Asked what benefits come with being together for another year, LaVine proved the rumor to be nothing more than that.
“It’s good. We know each other. We’ve known each other. Obviously, we have a great relationship. And then continue to learn how to play off each other.”
LaVine noted they now know how teams adjusted to them and will look to use that to their advantage this time around. He also pointed out that he thinks they could be even better because of that and the fact that they are both healthy.
Before getting aggravating his knee in that same loss to the Warriors in which Ball went down, both DeRozan and LaVine ranked in the top-10 in points per game; a hint at what could be coming this season.