Tone Surrounding Bulls’ Lonzo Ball Takes Significant Turn: Report

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls

Getty Lonzo Ball #2 of the Chicago Bulls participates in warmups.

The Chicago Bulls are already planning on being without starting point guard Lonzo Ball for the foreseeable future. But just how long that is going to be has been subject to speculation following a second surgery in eight months and third overall on his balky knee.

With Ball in the lineup, the Bulls were one of the most formidable teams in the Eastern Conference.

Without him, they mirrored their 2021 selves when they had the seventh-worst record.

This procedure was set to give Ball a four-to-six-week timeline before he is to be re-evaluated and (the Bulls hope) put on a plan to return to action. A recovery process that was initially supposed to last six-to-eight weeks threatens to last a year. But, following his surgery on September 28, there might be renewed hopes.

Confidence in Ball’s Recovery

“There is confidence in Bulls guard Lonzo Ball’s ability to return this season following left knee surgery on Wednesday that doctors believe addressed the issue,” reported Shams Charania of The Athletic. “Ball is expected to miss at least a few months.”

That represents a dramatic shift in the tones surrounding Ball even as recently as September 27 when he spoke to the media.

At that time, Ball shared the harrowing details of his recovery.

“I can’t run or jump,” Ball told reporters via Zoom. “There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have no force, and I can’t catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play,” Ball said before later noting the frequency, “It’s every day. Even going up stairs and stuff, it’s still painful.”

Ball was visibly dejected discussing this long and arduous process.

Teammate Zach LaVine also sent a strong message of encouragement to Ball. LaVine underwent an arthroscopic procedure of his own this summer and has dealt with the scrutiny that comes with it himself, though perhaps not to this extent.

Charania added that both the Bulls and Ball’s team will continue to monitor the situation over the next two weeks – even shorter than the previous estimate.

They will also attempt to come up with a return-to-play plan based on his progress.

Ball, 24 still has three years and roughly $60 million remaining on his contract. Obtaining him in a sign-and-trade last offseason ultimately cost the Bulls a second-round draft pick following a tampering investigation. In other words, the Bulls’ long-view approach to Ball’s health is understandable given all that they have invested in him.

Bulls Can Manage Without Ball

This positive spin on this news is two-fold. Not only could the Bulls get Ball back this season which seemed like a longshot when the news of his third surgery was announced. But they might not have to rely as heavily on the platoon situation we are likely to see at the point guard position.

Head coach Billy Donovan said that he essentially has to operate as if Ball wouldn’t be available for the entire season.

He also reminded everyone of just how much time Ball will have to make up when he is cleared.

The Bulls’ offseason moves have all but been directly lined up for that exact possibility.

Donovan’s sentiments won’t likely change until Ball’s status does. But it should be some relief that there is a positive tone coming out of a procedure in which even the doctors were unsure of the cause of the pain or what they might find going in.