Lonzo Ball set for third knee procedure – and could cost Chicago Bulls point guard another full season – The Mercury News


Lonzo Ball will undergo a third surgical procedure in an attempt to address the pain and discomfort in his left knee that kept him off the court for most of his first two seasons with the Chicago Bulls.

Ball will undergo a cartilage transplant this month and begin a long recovery process. Ultimately, Ball could spend a full two years — or more — away from the basketball court with a recovery schedule likely to sideline him for most of the 2023-24 season.

Ball has not played basketball since January 14, 2022, when he suffered a meniscus injury that required surgery. Despite initial Bulls predictions that he would be available in that year’s playoffs, Ball continued to experience pain and discomfort that eventually required an arthroscopic debridement procedure on September 28.

“My main focus has been returning to the court and getting to a place where I can rejoin my teammates,” Ball said in a statement on Thursday. “This has been a frustrating process, but I am confident that the next steps are the best way forward. The support of my family, friends, fans and medical staff during my recovery is what keeps me going. I can’t wait to get back to what I love to do most – play basketball.”

As Ball’s recovery continued to drag on — mired in uncertainty as his pain and discomfort did not subside — conversations by Bulls players and coaches shifted from anxiety to seeing his return to outright concern.

In rare appearances with reporters over the past year, Ball has emphasized that he is working to remain optimistic and balanced as he pursues a full recovery. His father, LaVar Ball, reiterated that hope in a February interview with Bulls broadcaster Stacey King. But the mystery surrounding the source of the pain casts a heavier pall over Ball’s injury, especially for an athlete who was just 24 when the injury occurred.

“I continue to admire Lonzo’s perseverance throughout this journey,” Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Artūras Karnišovas said in a statement. “This has been a long and challenging road for him, and this decision has been a difficult one to make. The organization is behind him, and he has our full support. Our coaching and medical staff remain committed to Lonzo’s rehabilitation and working with him through this next phase to ensure his healthy return to basketball.”

As Ball prepares to potentially miss a third straight season, the Bulls face a difficult dilemma as they try to balance their roster. Ball signed a four-year, $80 million contract in August 2021. If he misses next season, he will have played just 35 games in the first three years of that contract.

Last summer, the Bulls held their own in the offseason with hopes that Ball would return to the starting point guard position, with backup players like Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu to fill the role in the interim.

The addition of Patrick Beverley helped the Bulls improve their distribution down the stretch this season. But with another long recovery schedule for Ball, they’ll need to prepare for next season without him – which means securing a more permanent solution at point guard.


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