Bulls VP’s Discouraging Update on $80M Star Brings Clarity to Offseason

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls

Getty Lonzo Ball #2 of the Chicago Bulls is seen during warm-ups before a game

The feeling around injured Chicago Bulls starter Lonzo Ball continues to be somber as he tries to return from a torn meniscus and knee bruise. NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson describes the latest update as “sobering”.

That fits right in with a report from ESPN 1000’s David Kaplan that there was “growing concern” over the knee’s lack of response to treatment.

Ball has been quiet on the issue, saying that he didn’t want to take away from the on-court action when approached during Las Vegas Summer League. His head coach, Billy Donovan, made a grim acknowledgment during the Bulls’ loss to the New York Knicks on July 11.

Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas confirmed those sentiments.

Still Experiencing Pain

Donovan sounded optimistic in his assessment for the most part. Both in where Ball was and where he would be when the Bulls would need him on the court. But he admitted to being “hopeful” that Ball’s recovery would move along quicker.

Ball last played on January 14 and has since undergone a second procedure on his right knee.

The injury resulted in just 35 games played in his first season with the Bulls after they traded for and signed him to a four-year, $80 million contract.

Karnisovas sounded a lot less enthusiastic – but still hopeful – that Ball’s recovery would be complete sooner rather than later.

“He’s progressing. That’s as much as I can say. But he’s getting better. Probably not at the speed that we would like. But he’s getting better. So hopefully, he’s going to be ready for training camp. That’s just our hopes.”

Karnisovas’ tone was much more in line with Bulls general manager Marc Eversley’s words on draft night.

Johnson added that his sources say Ball is still experiencing soreness leading to similar starts and stops that he was experiencing more than two months ago. His initial timeline was 6-to-8 weeks, per NBC Sport’s Chicago’s Rob Schaefer.

Again, there has not been any clarity from Ball’s camp, either.

The closest we have gotten to that was his father saying that he would get him healthy with more water-based training.

Ball said during an announcement with Heir Company that he knows how important his health is to take the next step towards becoming the player that he wants to be.

”For me…moving forward, definitely it’s about my body. I know that I have just the skills that it takes to perform at a high level every night. Now, it’s more about just being available to do those things…I just got to get healthy and everything else falls in line from there”

The former second-overall pick has played in at least 60 games just once in his five-year career.

It All Makes Sense

Not only did the Bulls sign Goran Dragic to help fill the potential void Ball would leave in his absence, but they also turned away “significant interest in guard Coby White. They also drafted a defensive, play-making wing in Dalen Terry with the 18th-overall pick.

Those moves in light of their needs threw their offseason into question.

It is becoming increasingly clear that their primary focus was to protect themselves from experiencing the same type of drop-off as last season when Ball went down.