Lonzo Ball Still “Nowhere Close” To Playing

Bulls coach Billy Donovan offered a pessimistic update on Lonzo Ball in Saturday’s pregame meeting with reporters and speculated that a decision on the injured guard could be coming fairly soon, tweets Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune.

Ball hasn’t played since January of 2022 due to a torn meniscus and complications from two knee surgeries. The team hasn’t talked about a cut-off date to declare Ball out for the entire season, but Donovan said that topic will be addressed if he doesn’t show significant improvement in the next few weeks.

“Once you get out of the All-Star break, I think that, with the amount of time that’s left — you’re at the end of February, you basically have all of March and a couple of weeks, if not even two weeks in April,” Donovan said. “So if you start to get to that point, I think there will probably end up being some conversations: ‘OK, what if he’s still not close to playing? What’s the plan going forward?'”

Ball acknowledged recently that sitting out the rest of the season is a possibility. He has two years remaining on the four-year contract he inked in 2021 as part of a sign-and-trade with New Orleans and will make $20.5MM next season and $21.4MM in 2024/25.

He got off to a strong start in his first season with the Bulls, averaging 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 35 games and helping the team contend for the best record in the East. Chicago collapsed without him, falling to the sixth seed and suffering a first-round playoff elimination, and is just 22-26 so far this season.

Ball created some excitement among Bulls fans earlier this month when he posted videos on Instagram that showed him dunking and running on a treadmill. Although that was encouraging, he still experiences pain in his knee and hasn’t received medical clearance for full-speed running or cutting.

“He’s made some progress, but I’d be the first one to tell you that he’s nowhere near playing. He’s just not,” Donovan added. “Because he’s not running on a consistent basis right now. So I think, 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.”

View Comments (21)