It’s hard not to feel bad for the 25-year-old Lonzo Ball, having battled as many injuries as he has at this stage of his career, and with no end in sight, things just got a little bleaker. ESPN’s Senior Insider Adrian Wojnarowski announced today that there are growing concerns about what’s next for Ball. Having already missed 113 of the possible 148 games in a Bulls uniform, next season and possibly even his career may be in jeopardy following the newest update in his left knee injury saga.
According to ESPN sources, Lonzo Ball may be nearing his third left knee surgery in the past year. Although Woj’s tweet says “right knee,” he also references it as being the same knee operated on all three times, and he tore his left meniscus in early 2022, which triggered these subsequent procedures. Having missed the final 48 games of the 2021-22′ season and the entire postseason, albeit it wasn’t very long for Chicago, he was initially expected to return in early 2023, putting him out about 12 months in total.
Following his second surgery on the same knee in September, the Bulls decided not to pursue any point guards in free agency, eluding to the same expectation that Ball would be back within a few months of the season’s tip-off in October. Throughout this season, several updates from the team and NBA sources continued to delay his starting date until he was officially shut down for the season during the All-Star break in February.
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Third Surgery Coming For Ball
Woj’s latest bomb knocks Lonzo Ball’s return date even further down the line and forces the question if he’ll ever lace them up for the Chicago Bulls again. Three surgeries on the same knee within the year has everyone wondering if this is a tragic Derrick Rose or Brandon Roy type of spur of events, where he’s never able to return to his previous self on the court due to the injury attrition.
If Ball were to undergo surgery within the next few months, his return would likely be slated for late 2023 into early 2024. His absence was painfully obvious this season for the Bulls, who will almost certainly learn their lesson on this year’s point guard experiment failure and pursue one this off-season. This roster could likely have several new faces, considering how many expired contracts and discombobulated players there have been throughout the season. That’s to be expected after an incredibly underwhelming season that started with deep postseason aspirations and likely will end without a playoff appearance and zero first-round draft capital.
High Ceiling When He Plays
Ball is under contract with Chicago for two more years, and if he can return to play, it might just catapult them back into the race in the 2023-24′ season. Before his first long-term injury occurred against the Golden State Warriors in January of 2022, the Bulls were 27-12, were the best transition team in basketball, had one of the best assist and three-point rates in the league, and were defensively stifling, sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Since being sidelined, Chicago holds a 49-60 record, is dead last in the NBA in three-point shots attempted, has yet to find a solution at the point guard position, and looks like a franchise that’s frankly lost. Ball’s impact on the floor for the Bulls was made blatantly clear this season. Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White, Alex Caruso, Goran Dragic, and Patrick Beverley have all unsuccessfully tried to supplement what he brings to the floor, and it’s the largest reason why the Bulls find themselves in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and out of the playoff picture entirely.
Will Lonzo Ball ever see the court for the Chicago Bulls again?