Former $33 Million Lakers Star Expected to Surprisingly Retire: Report

Magic Johnson Rob Pelinka

Getty Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka selected Lonzo Ball for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA draft.

Chicago Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball, who was selected by Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, may be forced to abruptly end his NBA career. According to 670 The Score Chicago’s Dan Bernstein, the Bulls “don’t think it’s likely that [Ball] ever plays again.”

“The other thing I heard is even though publicly there has been an expression of guarded optimism regarding a future for Lonzo Ball, and there’s a reason why pursuant to all kinds of union issues why they haven’t asked for the salary exemption yet,” Bernstein detailed on a May 27, 2023 episode of “Organizations Win Championships” podcast. “Because they don’t want to send the message publicly that they’re done with him. They don’t think it’s likely that he ever plays again.

“That was [also] our speculation when we heard about an experimental cartilage-replacement surgery that is incredibly rare and is much more likely being done just for his quality of life off the basketball court.”

Ball missed the entire 2022-23 season and only played in 35 games during the previous year. The Bulls guard last played in January of 2022, and it remains to be seen if the guard will be able to resume his NBA career.

The Lakers Traded Lonzo Ball to the Pelicans in 2019 as Part of the Blockbuster Deal for Anthony Davis

Ball spent his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers after being selected as the No. 2 pick following a standout season at UCLA. The point guard was traded to the Pelicans in June of 2019 as part of the blockbuster deal for Anthony Davis.

Ball averaged 10 points, 6.4 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 31.5% from long range during his two seasons in Los Angeles. After two seasons with the Pelicans, Ball agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Bulls during the 2021 offseason.

While with the Lakers, Ball played on a four-year, $33.4 million rookie deal. The Bulls face an important decision on Ball’s future given the star still has two seasons remaining on a four-year, $80 million contract. Ball is slated to have a $20.4 million salary during the 2023-24 season, but the early indications are that the guard will once again be sidelined.

Lonzo Ball Has Had 3 Knee Surgeries Putting His NBA Career in ‘Serious Jeopardy’

If Ball is forced to retire for medical reasons, it would be an unfortunate ending for a player once believed to be a potential franchise player. Neither Ball or former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz have had the careers that many expected from the top prospects heading into the 2017 draft. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on March 17 that Ball’s career is in “serious jeopardy” with the guard requiring a third knee surgery.

“…Sources told The Athletic that Lonzo Ball would undergo a surgery to transplant cartilage in the left knee that has kept him out of action since January 2022,” Charania detailed. “It is the third surgery he will undergo on the knee, and it is expected to cost him most, if not all, of the upcoming season after missing all of 2022-23.”