Central Notes: Ball, Mitchell, Pacers, Haliburton, Turner

Lonzo Ball continues to make positive forward progress in his rehab from the latest procedure on his knee, the Bulls guard said in the first episode of his What An Experience podcast (hat tip to Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago). Asked at the start of the show to provide an update on his status, Ball said it’s “coming along week by week.”

“It’s improving, so that’s all I can ask for,” Ball said. “It’s still not where I want it to be. Out of 100 (percent), I’d probably say I’m about 70 (percent). Good enough to play, but can still get better. I still got a long summer ahead of me. But definitely looking forward to the future.”

Ball has undergone three separate surgeries on his knee since last playing in an NBA game in 2022. He experienced setbacks during his first two rehab processes, but there was optimism following his cartilage transplant in 2023 that the third surgery would be the one that allowed him to make a full recovery and eventually get back on the court. While there’s still a ways to go to make that a reality, this appears to be the closest Ball has come to getting healthy in the past two-and-a-half years, Taylor notes.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • With the Cavaliers on the brink of elimination, Brian Windhorst appeared on ESPN’s Get Up (Twitter video link) to discuss what this offseason might look like for the team and star guard Donovan Mitchell. As Windhorst notes, the front office will have a difficult decision to make if Mitchell claims publicly that he’s happy in Cleveland and doesn’t ask to be dealt, but also doesn’t sign an extension entering a potential contract year. “I’m trying to walk the line because I don’t want anybody to freak out in my home town of Cleveland, but there are a number of teams that have their (trade) offers ready,” Windhorst said, identifying the Lakers and Nets as a couple of the clubs expected to pursue Mitchell if the Cavs consider moving him.
  • Rick Carlisle was disappointed with the Pacers‘ complete level in Tuesday’s Game 5 blowout loss to the Knicks, referring to their effort as “very poor,” according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “Lost every quarter. Got annihilated on loose balls and rebounds,” Indiana’s head coach said in his postgame media session. “… We all own it, but very embarrassing.” Carlisle added that it was a “hard lesson” to learn for an Indiana team that doesn’t have much experience playing together on this sort of stage. “There’s no excuses, but all the guys on our roster, I believe it’s the first time they’ve been in a Game 5 tied 2-2 and going on the road,” he told reporters. “So you learn a lot in those situations very quickly. … This is a different circumstance. As a playoff series progresses, it’s going to be harder and harder.”
  • Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and center Myles Turner took their share of responsibility for the team’s poor showing on Tuesday, as Dopirak details in a pair of Indy Star stories. Haliburton, who attempted just nine shots and scored 13 points, said he has to “do a better job of being aggressive,” while Turner told the media he has to be more assertive on the boards after grabbing just five rebounds. “I know I didn’t do my job and I need to personalize that going into the next game,” Turner said after Indiana was out-rebounded 53-29. “I take full ownership, and it starts with me down there on a lot of that stuff.”
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