Bulls Share Key Developments in Lonzo Ball’s Recovery

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls

Getty Lonzo Ball #2 of the Chicago Bulls hugs Zach LaVine #8.

It could all be for naught. The Chicago Bulls’ entire experiment could all be a colossal waste of time for everyone involved resulting in yet another rebuild for a franchise that hasn’t been to the NBA Finals since Michael Jordan took them there over 20 years ago.

They have been reluctant to go down that path now, however, bolstered by a winning record against some of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.

Their struggles against teams sitting low in the standings can be chalked up to a lack of focus.

But it seems that the singular answer to many of the things that plague this group lies with injured point guard Lonzo Ball. He has not touched the floor in a game since January 14 against the Golden State Warriors and is not expected to do so until some time after January 1. He is, however, making notable progress.

Lonzo Ball Advancing in Recovery

“(Since) we last talked, it is progressing, it’s just really slow,” Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said, per NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaeffer. “But there has definitely been some improvements and he’s actually doing more physically than the last time we spoke.”

The last time Donovan addressed Ball’s recovery from an offseason arthroscopic procedure was before the Bulls’ 150-126 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He noted then that Ball “feels like he’s progressing”.

“I think the biggest thing is, when is he going to get to a place where the pain is such that he can start to run? He’s not at that right now,” Donvan admitted, “but I think he’s progressing toward that.”

Ball initially had surgery in late January to repair a torn meniscus. That procedure resulted in loose cartilage in his knee that required a second procedure in September to clean up.

The recovery has been slow and was halted several times before the latest procedure. Ball remains without a clear-cut timeline for his return to the floor. But Donovan, who has said he has to operate under the assumption that Ball will not play this season, was able to offer some specific advancements he has seen from his starting point guard.

“(He is) regularly on the court shooting, which has been good,” Donovan said. “Actually jumping a little bit while shooting. He’s been doing some light jogging and I think working through some of that stuff.

Ball shooting is not new – Donovan has noted this several times and we have seen footage of Ball shooting free throws after practice.

But the “light jogging” is right in the wheelhouse of progress Donovan noted before.

“I’m finally seeing some improvement, which is nice to see,” Ball told Schaefer at a recent charity event. “It’s still not obviously where I want to be. But it’s definitely positive light at the end of the tunnel.”

This would certainly qualify as an improvement from where things stood to begin the year. But it still leaves the Bulls’ future murky at best, especially since Ball says he is still not completely out of the woods.

“The pain is there,” he admitted while detailing his rehab process, “pretty sure it’s gonna be there. Just figuring out how we can get through it to a point I can produce on the court.”

Figuring that out could have a bigger impact than even Ball realized at that moment.

Bulls Stuck in Neutral

“While outsiders are quick to yell, ‘Blow it up!’ it’s easier said than done,” writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “There’s the Lonzo Ball factor to consider, with the Bulls waiting to see whether the rehab on his surgically repaired left knee will start moving in a positive direction”

The Bulls have a losing record overall despite strong performances against some top teams.

“Maybe the biggest obstacle in ‘‘blowing it up’’ is that Karnisovas would have to admit he was wrong in how he constructed this roster,” Cowley continues. Maybe he’s the type of executive who can put his ego aside and admit that, but the fact that he has refused media requests to discuss the season so far doesn’t exactly indicate accountability.”

The Bulls’ record against tougher competition compared to last season has surely bolstered Karnisovas’ choice to remain silent during the ups and downs. But the issues with lesser competition have to be concerning.

Still, with Ball showing the exact signs everyone is looking for, additions to the roster seem more likely than substractions.