5:22pm: In a press release, the Bulls have added further details on what Ball’s procedure will entail, revealing that the guard will receive a cartilage transplant in his left knee.
“My main focus has been on returning to the court getting to a place where I can rejoin my teammates,” Ball was quoted as saying in the team statement. “This has been a frustrating process, but I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward.”
3:29pm: Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will undergo left knee surgery, his third in the past 14 months. The surgery is expected to cause him to miss “most, if not all,” of next season, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link).
There have been concerns about Ball’s ability to resume playing, but there is optimism that another surgery could help him revive his career, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Charania reported a similar sentiment.
The Bulls’ PR department confirmed the news that Ball will have a third left knee surgery, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Johnson hears from a source that a return timeline won’t be known until the surgery has been performed, and it could be “nebulous.”
Wojnarowski reported last week that a third left knee surgery was being considered. Ball’s initial injury was a torn meniscus on January 14, 2022. He was originally projected to miss just a few weeks following his first knee surgery that month, but he experienced multiple complications which caused him to miss the remainder of last season.
Ball underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure last September to clear up lingering issues with his knee. He has made incremental progress since then, but he still can’t run, cut or jump without feeling pain in the knee.
The 25-year-old did not play at all in 2022/23 and was officially ruled out for the remainder of the season last month.
It has been a brutal process for both Ball and the Bulls, who were playing terrific basketball before their starting point guard went down last season. At the time of Ball’s injury last January, Chicago had a 27-13 record. They finished last season 19-23 without Ball and have gone 31-37 this season, currently holding the No. 11 seed in the East.
Ball came to Chicago in a sign-and-trade deal with New Orleans in the summer of 2021. He played strong defense and was a dynamic open-court play-maker during his 35 games (34.6 MPG) with the Bulls last season, averaging 13.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.8 SPG and 0.9 BPG on .423/.423/.750 shooting.
Ball still has two years left on his contract with the Bulls beyond this season. He’s owed a guaranteed $20.5MM salary next season, with a $21.4MM player option for 2024/25.