“Despite making significant increases in strength and function over the past several months, Bulls guard Lonzo Ball continues to experience performance limiting discomfort during participation in high level basketball-related activities,” the Bulls said in a statement issued Tuesday.”Considering the required time period to achieve the necessary level of fitness to return-to-play and the current stage of the NBA season, Ball will not return this season. The focus for Ball will continue to be on the resolution of his discomfort and a full return for the 2023-24 season.”
Ball underwent surgery on his left knee twice last year and last played Jan. 14, 2022, logging 24 minutes against the Golden State Warriors.There was a spark of optimism in January when Ball said he’d begun running on a treadmill and was able to dunk again.
But that was immediately tempered by Bulls coach Billy Donovan, who said last month Ball was “nowhere near” a potential return to the court because of ongoing knee problems.
Stadium reported Ball hasn’t been able to run at full speed or conduct basketball-specific training in successive days.
“He’s just not,” Donovan said.”Because he’s not running on a consistent basis. When he can get to that place where he can do that consistently and be able to come back the next day and do it again, do it again and do it again — I think you’ll feel a little bit more optimistic.”
The 25-year-old Ball was the No.2 overall pick in 2017 and has played 252 career games, including 35 with the Bulls. Chicago acquired Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans in a sign-and-trade deal before the 2021-22 season.
Ball signed a four-year, $80 million deal that runs through the 2024-25 season.
Donovan cautioned in January that the Bulls don’t expect any player to be able to jump back on the court after being out for more than a year without a significant adjustment period.
“There’s certainly going to be a period of time before they ever allow him back to play that they feel comfortable that he can endure what an NBA schedule looks like,” Donovan said.
–Field Level Media