Lonzo Ball has missed over 75% of Bulls games since his signing with the team before last year, and that percentage looks like it will only climb in the next 12 months. ESPN Sources told Senior Insider Adrian Wojnarowski that Lonzo Ball has decided to undergo his third left knee surgery in just over a year and that this one could keep him out yet another entire season. What does this mean for the 25-year-old point guard and the Bulls’ future at the position?
“Pathway To Play Again”
Many insiders, medical professionals, and members of the NBA have called Ball’s left knee injury saga an anomaly, a never-before-seen injury, a mystery, and many believed it would cost him his playing career. After tearing his left meniscus in a game versus the Golden State Warriors in early 2022, he was operated on soon after with a return timetable of 9-12 months. Six months later, he underwent a procedure on the same knee for discomfort to alleviate his pain, which clearly took a turn for the worse. His return date was continually postponed from December to the All-Star break, to finally being announced sidelined for the entirety of the 2022-23′ season.
Next up for Ball is a third surgery, one that his camp hopes will allow him to play again one day, a future that many deemed unrealistic given the lack of improvement over now 14 months of time with little to no progression in his physical limitations around his left knee. There were a few videos surfaced where his gait, or stride, had altered from before his injury, and his running and jumping were visibly concerning.
Who’s The Bulls Point Guard Of The Future?
Shifting to the Chicago Bulls’ outlook, his injury sends flashing signs that this team needs a point guard before the start of the 2023-24′ season. Whether it’s a splash move for a disgruntled star looking to move like Trae Young or a temporary replacement like veteran Derrick Rose, Mike Conley, or keeping Patrick Beverley, this just became priority number one. Their solution last year was to sign Goran Dragic, who was highly disappointing and did not finish the season with the team.
Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White, and Alex Caruso were given ample opportunities to earn the role this season, each failing in different areas to supply the Bulls with the facilitating, three-point shooting, and defensive abilities of Lonzo Ball. Although there are several other factors, the difference between a healthy Ball on the floor versus a team without a true point guard is glaring. The Bulls owned the number one seed in the Eastern Conference before Ball’s injury, had an MVP candidate and a Coach of the Year frontrunner, and were firing on all cylinders. Zach LaVine also enjoyed a career year that earned him a max contract extension. Missing Ball for this entire year, Chicago finds itself outside the playoff picture, near league-worst in three-point shooting, and discomfort among its stars forced into a more ball-dominant role. As evidenced by this season, LaVine and DeRozan are both built to be wing scorers and are some of the league’s best in that arena.
The best-case scenario for Chicago is they can obtain a veteran with a few good seasons left in him who can step in, knock down open jump shots, and facilitate the basketball to the surrounding firepower. The good news is that with as much scoring talent as there is in the Windy City, they don’t need to strain to find an elite scorer at the position. If things go well with Ball’s procedure, he would be slated to return late next season or in 2024-25′ where the Bulls can return to their former glory with him at the helm.
What would you want the Bulls to do at the position, and is it time to move on from Lonzo Ball?