Central Notes: Ball, LaVine, Nwora, Pistons

Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is scheduled to undergo another procedure on his troublesome left knee on Wednesday after spending the entire offseason trying to recover from the injury without surgery. Speaking on Tuesday to reporters, Ball discussed the decision to go back under the knife, explaining that the knee continues to bother him even when he’s doing day-to-day activities like walking up the stairs.

“Literally, I really can’t run. I can’t run or jump. There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have no force and I can’t catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play,” Ball said, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “I did rehab, it was getting better, but it was not to a point where I could get out there and run full speed or jump. So surgery is the next step.”

The injury has bothered Ball for far longer than he or the Bulls expected, with the point guard suggesting on Tuesday that his condition and his symptoms have left his doctors “a little surprised.” Ball is hopeful that Wednesday’s procedure will shed more light on the issue.

“From my understanding they’re going in there to see what it is because it’s not necessarily showing up on the MRI,” Ball said. “But it’s clear that there’s something there that’s not right. So they’re going to go in, look at it, and whatever needs to be done is going to be done.”

As Schaefer writes in a separate NBC Sports Chicago story, Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said on Monday that a recovery timeline for Ball remains unknown, and that the four-to-six week timeline the team announced last week is just for a reevaluation — the 24-year-old is not expected to be ready to return at that point.

Ominously, when asked on Tuesday if he needs to view Ball’s absence as a potential season-long issue, head coach Billy Donovan replied, “I think you have to” (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). That could just be a matter of Donovan preparing for a worse-case scenario, but it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • While Ball’s knee injury continues to be a problem, fellow Bulls guard Zach LaVine said that his own knee – which he underwent arthroscopic surgery on in the spring – feels “really good.” Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times has the story and the quotes from LaVine.
  • Playing strong defense will be crucial for Jordan Nwora as he looks to earn a regular spot in the Bucks‘ rotation this season, head coach Mike Budenholzer said on Monday (link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). “He’s maturing and he understands it’s a big priority for us for him to get on the court, for him to help us,” Budenholzer said. “Everybody’s gotta be able to defend at a high level. He’s gotta prove it now, every day in camp, and he’s off to a good start.”
  • Nwora, who just re-signed with the Bucks on a two-year deal, will have guaranteed base salaries of $2.8MM and $3MM on his new deal, with additional bonuses of $200K per year if the team gets to the second round of the playoffs, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter links). As Nehm relays, Nwora referred to restricted free agency as “kind of a blessing and curse” and praised the job his agent and the front office did to make a deal.
  • The Pistons made a series of intriguing roster additions this summer, drafting Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren and trading for Bojan Bogdanovic. But in their comments to the media on Monday, general manager Troy Weaver and head coach Dwane Casey both stressed the importance of “internal growth,” writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “We’re hoping that our players in-house can continue to grow and develop at a pace that allows us to push and grow and compete, and then contend the way we want to,” Weaver said.
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