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Bulls Shut Down Lonzo Ball: What It Means Short- and Long-Term

Lonzo Ball is done for the season and playoffs due to his knee injury. Here's what it means moving forward.
Lonzo Ball Chicago Bulls Injury Status Playoffs

Photo: David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls finally have an end to the Lonzo Ball injury saga -- for now. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Bulls have shut down Ball for the season, including the playoffs.

The Bulls confirmed the report this morning, stating Ball will not return to the court this season or postseason.

Lonzo Ball only appeared in 35 games this year due to lingering knee issues. His path to recovery has been far from smooth sailing. Right when the Bulls thought he would be coming back, team doctors shut him down for 10 days. Ball attempted to work through it following the delay but just couldn't get to 100%.

Bulls Playoff Prospects

The Chicago Bulls' playoff outlook now becomes much bleaker without Lonzo Ball. With all other players mostly available, the Bulls have gone 4-6 in their last 10 games. It's no secret the team is missing Ball's skill set and court presence.

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“Man, the excitement that he brings...He brings a different type of swagger to us when he plays. I’m pretty sure you can pinpoint that when he’s out there,” DeMar DeRozan said of Ball.

Chicago's defense has been the biggest concern in Ball's absence. The Bulls defensive rating dropped seven points whenever the UCLA product was off the floor. On the offensive end, Ball was shooting a career high from three at 42.3%. The Bulls' best lineup by net rating contains Ball.

Now that Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso's health issues have further depleted the backcourt, droves of fans have turned pessimistic. The Bulls have struggled against the top four teams in the East this season. Still, clinching a playoff spot Tuesday night typically would have been a cause for excitement. Instead, many Bulls supporters are now predicting a first-round exit before the regular season is even finished.

Next Steps For Lonzo Ball

In their confirmation statement, the Chicago Bulls indicated Lonzo Ball has a training regiment in place to prepare for the 2022-23 season. The results when Ball isn't on the court make it evidently clear that the Bulls need him healthy. With two years and a player option for a third remaining on his contract, the focus is on maximizing those seasons.

With most of Chicago's core players returning in 2022-23, fans should be excited about the prospects of Ball rejoining the group. Adding defenders and rebounders to that mix would help the Bulls elevate from a mid-seeded playoff team to a true force in the East going forward.