When the Chicago Bulls signed Lonzo Ball in free agency in 2021, the excitement was palpable. Ball brought tons of potential to a team that already had All-Stars in Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. The thought was adding Ball and another new acquisition in DeMar DeRozan to Chicago would make the Bulls relevant again.
That thought proved to be correct. Ball didn’t put up prolific scoring or assist numbers, but he quickly captured the hearts of Bulls fans and started showing signs of becoming a star.
Then, things changed as injuries started to plague Lonzo, and he ended up tearing his meniscus.
Ball ended up getting surgery on his torn meniscus. The hope was he could come back by the playoffs, but that just didn’t work out. Ball was shut down for the season, and the Bulls limped through a first-round playoff exit after spending a large portion of the season as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Lonzo played in just 35 games for Chicago last season before he was officially shut down. The results when Lonzo was on the court were promising. Ball averaged 13.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, and 2.7 B/SPG. He shot 42.3% from the field and 42.3% from deep on 7.4 attempts per game. In the short sample size, Ball set career-highs in FG%, 3PFG%, TS%, SPG, BPG, and BPM among other areas. This was more than enough to keep Bulls fans hopeful for the 22-23 season with Ball back running the point.
2022 Offseason Concerns
As the Bulls and fans alike waited for promising news regarding Ball’s recovery, it just wasn’t coming. For a while, there would be no update. Then, there was news that his recovery was stagnant. In early June, The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry gave us a concerning quote on Lonzo’s timeline.
It’s been four-and-a-half months since Ball was sidelined with a left knee injury that eventually turned into meniscus surgery. He’s still not right. Whether he will be in time for the season opener becomes more of a concern by the week. If Ball must undergo a second surgery, the time crunch intensifies. There’s been no indication from Ball’s camp that a second procedure is in the plan, but it can’t be ruled out if Ball’s knee remains unresponsive.Darnell Mayberry/The Athletic
Still, the Bulls’ brass has been coy with their updates regarding their star point guard’s recovery process. Marc Eversley was asked about Ball’s progress after the draft, and he provided very vague answers. When asked if Ball would be ready for training camp in October, Eversley responded, “I certainly hope so.” That is not the type of answer the inspires a lot of confidence. Moreover, Arturas Karsinovas, though keeping it nonchalant, did say that Ball’s injury does affect the Bulls’ process as they build their roster.
The “a little bit” aspect of Karnisovas’s answer was initially met with some doubt. That doubt intensified when the Bulls made a surprise move by adding point guard Goran Dragic to the team on a one-year deal. As Bulls fans know, Chicago has a plethora of guards already who are fighting for minutes on the floor. The fact that Eversley and Karnisovas had one move left in free agency and a desperate need for interior defense, but they signed another guard to a roster that has Ball, LaVine, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, and Coby White comes off as concerning regarding Lonzo’s status. It is hard to make sense of the signing without Ball’s health nagging your thought process.
The Bright Side
Of course, Eversley and Karnisovas have already developed a reputation in Chicago for keeping their plans under wraps. At this point in his career, Dragic is—at best—a rotational piece and makes sense as depth on the Bulls’ bench. This is especially true if a potential Coby White trade is still on the table. While Dragic does not shoot threes at the volume White does, he is a career 36.2% shooter (compared to White’s 36.5%) from deep on 3.4 attempts per game.
Furthermore, trainer Chris Johnson posted a video of Ball getting shots up in the paint Sunday on Twitter.
While it is nothing explosive, Ball seems to be moving okay in the video. However, it is just another small snippet of information to go off of. It still bears wondering: are the Bulls even more worried about Ball’s recovery than they’ve let on? The case can certainly be made that they are making preparations for starting the season without him ready to go. The question remains: when will Lonzo be healthy enough to take the court? It’s possible that it’s even later than we’re all hoping.
Follow On Tap Sports Net on social media!