Bulls’ Lonzo Ball Opens Up About ‘Wasted Year’ in Detailed Recovery Update

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls

Getty Lonzo Ball #2 of the Chicago Bulls.

The last time the Chicago Bulls saw Lonzo Ball on the basketball court in a meaningful situation was on January 14, 2022, against the Golden State Warriors.

He aggravated a knee issue that caused soreness leading to a surgical procedure that was supposed to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks. More than two years later, Ball has made tremendous progress and is eyeing a return at some points during the 2024-25 season.

He said his recovery has really only been the last “14-15 months” in enlightening remarks.

The former No. 2 overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers also detailed the true origins of his devastating injury.

“It started with the meniscus tear. Basically started on the Lakers when I tore it the first time (2018). Tore it a couple more times to a point to where there was no more – basically not much meniscus left, and bone on bone was rubbing so the cartilage was gone and the bone was messed up,” Ball said on the “What An Experience!” podcast on May 24.

“I had to get, actually, a new meniscus from a donor, I had to get a bone allograft, and I had to get some new cartilage put in as well. All that finally healed up, and now I’m back on the court now.

“I would say we’re like, what, 14,15 months in now? So the stuff before that, we were trying to figure out what the problem was. So that was a wasted year, so. But now we’re here.”

Ball’s timeline is consistent with the early reports about his recovery.

Lonzo Ball’s Arduous Journey

Ball went through a series of starts and stops trying to rejoin the Bulls on the floor, experiencing pain whenever he ramped up his exertion level. The discovery of loose cartilage which caused nerve damage, per his father LaVar Ball, is when the issue was addressed and recovery began.

The Bulls guard detailed his harrowing day-to-day experience after the 2021-22 season.

However, he was far more optimistic by the time he appeared on the “From The Point” podcast with Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young in August, just after his final procedure.

Ball’s game was never predicated on explosive athleticism, but rather on his high basketball IQ and diverse skill set. Still, Ball’s procedures, specifically the meniscus transplant have had little success in helping athletes regain their pre-injury form.

The elder Ball projected his son’s timeline to be sometime in August or September.

Lonzo Ball ‘Good Enough to Play’

The bigger picture item for the Bulls is that Ball has declared himself healthy enough to return to the floor, albeit in a limited capacity.

“It’s coming along, man. Week by week it’s improving. So that’s all I can ask for,” Ball said on the podcast on May 14. “It’s still not where I want it to be. Out of 100[%], I’d probably say I’m about 70. Good enough to play, but it could still get better I feel like. So [I’ve] still got a long summer ahead of me. But definitely looking forward to the future.”

Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovan have remained optimistic throughout the ordeal.

Their patience could pay off next season.