Insider Reveals Bulls’ Outlook on Latest Lonzo Ball Surgery

Lonzo Ball Bulls-Pelicans

Getty Chicago Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball looks on from the bench during a bout with the New Orleans Pelicans.

After days weeks months of uncertainty, Chicago Bulls fans finally got the update that many have been fearing. Per an announcement from the team on Thursday, starting point guard Lonzo Ball will have his third knee surgery in just over a year.

This time, the 25-year-old will undergo a cartilage transplant in his left knee, after which he’ll be out indefinitely amid the healing and rehab process. In the club’s statement, Ball expressed optimism that said process will eventually allow him to continue playing.

“My main focus has been on returning to the court and getting to a place where I can rejoin my teammates. This has been a frustrating process, but I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward…” he said. “I can’t wait to get back to what I love doing most – playing basketball.”

While some have wondered whether Ball’s hoops career may be in jeopardy, one league insider reports that others are sharing in the former No. 2 overall pick’s optimism.

Shams: Optimism Abounds That Lonzo Ball Can Return Following Latest Knee Procedure

The Athletic’s Shams Charania updated the Ball situation on Friday, noting that this latest surgery will likely cost Chicago’s floor general “most, if not all, of the upcoming season.” That said, the insider did relay that the parties involved are hopeful things are finally moving on the right path.

Wrote Charania:

I’m told there is optimism within the Bulls organization and Ball’s camp that this procedure is exactly what he needs to revive his career. There is still no set date for the surgery…

Ball hasn’t appeared in a game for the Bulls since January 14 of 2022. When he was playing, though, the team bore the look of a legitimate force in the East, cruising to the top of the conference standings. Along the way, Ball averaged 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per contest while hitting 42.3% of his three-point attempts.

Also: Chicago’s defense conceded just 107.0 points per 100 possessions when Ball was on the floor.

The five-year veteran is slated to earn $20.5 million next season, after which he has a player option for 2024-25 worth $21.4 million. If Ball is unable to come back from his knee injuries, NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson has reported that the Bulls have insurance on his contract.

Bulls Drop in Power Rankings

Bleacher Report just dropped its NBA power rankings for March 17 and, after losing a tight one to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, the outlet saw fit to drop the team two spots (from No. 20 to No. 22).

Nevertheless, B/R’s Andy Bailey opined that the team could sneak back into the playoff picture next season. Ball would have to make his unlikely return, however:

If the Bulls could add Lonzo Ball (no guarantee, given the health issues he’s dealt with over the last two years) and a couple of competent bench players to that mix, they could quickly get back into the playoff hunt.

Of course, the other side of the argument is that we may have already seen this group’s peak. And if the front office settles on that, letting [Nikola] Vucevic walk and seeing what it can get on the trade market for [DeMar] DeRozan and [Zach] LaVine would be the play.

In short, just about anything could be on the table this summer.

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