Bulls’ Billy Donovan Gives Grim Update on Lonzo Ball’s Recovery

Lonzo Ball

Getty Chicago Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball during pregame warmups on January 12.

Point guard Lonzo Ball is no closer to a return for the Chicago Bulls than he was seven weeks ago when he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Head coach Billy Donovan told reporters (via 670 The Score) on Friday that he’s simply “not responded” to what’s considered the next step for his rehabilitation:

He has not responded. There’s no setbacks. It’s still the same thing. He has not been able to do anything full speed. Any time we get him close to that, there’s discomfort. So I think they’re going to probably have to at least look at do you back off and let him rest for a little bit and see if that helps?

Ball, who Chicago signed to a four-year, $85-million deal last summer, hasn’t played since January 15th.

Previously, he’d averaged 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and a career-high 1.8 steals over 35 games played.

As far as where Ball is at in his recovery, Donovan didn’t have much to offer there, either:

…He has not necessarily maybe progressed where he’s been able to get to that place where he’s able to really, really fully sprint, cut and move. He hasn’t gone backward. He just has not been able to go forward far enough to do the things that he’s going to need to be able to do to play.

Ball and the Bulls medical staff will have to address his status for the remainder of this season, as well as the postseason, sooner rather than later.

The point guard’s availability could make or break what they hope will be a deep postseason, if not championship run.

But he’s not the only player on the mend the Chicago Bulls are eager to see make a return to the floor.

Donovan on Williams: ‘No Setbacks’

It’s safe to say that no contending team has been hindered more by injuries this year than the Chicago Bulls, who’ve also been without Patrick Williams.

After a stellar rookie season, the 20-year old forward suffered a dislocated left wrist just five games into the season, and was ruled out indefinitely.

But in a rare strike of good fortune, the Bulls are preparing for him to make a premature return, as early as next week.

Head coach Billy Donovan countered (via NBC Sports) his grim report on Lonzo Ball’s lack of progress with a positive update on Williams on Friday:

He’s full go, no setbacks. Everything came back really really well in terms of him physically…The few days that he’s had back in Chicago I think have been really, really good. His conditioning is fine…I think, just in talking to some people back there (in Chicago), as you can expect, the timing is off a little bit. It’s gonna take a little bit of time for him to get back. But everything else, what he’s been able to do in terms of keeping up his conditioning has been really good.

Chicago’s head coach and the medical staff are targeting Monday’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors or Tuesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks for Williams’ return:

A lot I think will depend on, when we get back (to Chicago), having two days (Saturday and Sunday) before we go into that back-to-back. What he elects to do, and then how does he feel in terms of making himself and having himself available — for either both of those games or one of those games.

For the Chicago Bulls to get Patrick Williams back ahead of the postseason is a positive development, albeit not one that should be invested in too heavily.

Because as they’re seeing first hand, players don’t always come back 100% in game shape.

Caruso Slumping Upon Return

After a strong initial return to the Chicago Bulls, guard Alex Caruso has been in a slump the last three games.

In what is now a three-game losing streak, following their Friday-night loss to the Phoenix Suns, he’s scored just 16 points on six-of-19 shooting from the field and three-for-10 shooting from deep.

That equates to 31 and 30% shooting averages respectively for Caruso, who’s also tallied eight turnovers to only six assists in that span.

Following the team’s March 16 loss to the Utah Jazz, he admitted (via NBC Sports) to not being 100 percent recovered from his wrist fracture:

I’m not 100 percent. I’m not going to lie to you. But it’s more so just the rhythm of the game. Try not to make excuses, but that seven weeks is tough. I didn’t get any practices or anything. Just right back in the game. I got high standards for how I want to play, how I want the team to play. And I don’t think I’m doing my part as well I can right now, which is frustrating.

To introduce another player under similar circumstances, wouldn’t only be a disruptor for the Chicago Bulls.

But it’d also be a disservice to the player, and a disservice to the fans.

Arturas Karnisovas and company have some decisions to make.

READ NEXT: Insider Downplays Bulls Chances at Luring Reigning MVP