Lonzo Ball: I Expect To Play First Game Of 2024/25 Season

Asked during the latest episode of his What An Experience podcast whether he expects to be on the court for the Bulls on opening night next season, Lonzo Ball expressed confidence that he’ll be ready to go (YouTube link).

“Yes, I firmly believe that,” said Ball, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since January 14, 2022. “That’s the plan that I’m on and I haven’t had any setbacks, so I expect to play the first game.”

Ball has undergone a series of surgeries on his left knee in recent years and was unavailable for the second half of the 2021/22 campaign, as well as each of the two subsequent seasons. His most recent procedure, in 2023, was described as a cartilage transplant. The former No. 2 overall pick went into more detail on his podcast about what exactly that surgery entailed and how he got to that point.

“To make a long story short, ultimately, it started with the meniscus tear,” Ball said. “It started on the Lakers when I tore it the first time (in 2018). Tore it a couple more times to a point to where there was, basically, not much meniscus left and bone on bone was rubbing. The cartilage was gone and the bone was messed up, so I had to get a new meniscus from a donor. I had to get a bone allograft and I had to get some new cartilage put in as well. All that finally healed up and now I’m back on the court.”

Ball initially went under the knife to address a meniscus tear in early 2022 before undergoing an arthroscopic debridement in September of that year. He suffered setbacks during those recovery processes, but he’s confident that the third surgery better addressed the root of the issue in his knee.

“I would say we’re, what, 14, 15 months in now?” Ball said, referring to his recovery from the March 2023 procedure. “The stuff before that, we were trying to figure out what the problem was, so that was a wasted year.”

Ball exercised his $21.4MM player option for the 2024/25 season last month, so he’ll be on Chicago’s roster in the fall as long as he’s not traded or waived during the offseason. Young guards like Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu have enjoyed breakout seasons and have taken on larger roles since Ball last suited up for the Bulls, but the team would presumably be eager to find minutes for the 26-year-old if he can perform at anywhere near the level he did during his first half-season with the franchise.

Ball averaged 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.8 steals in 34.6 minutes per game across 35 appearances in 2021/22 before being sidelined. The Bulls went 22-13 in those games.

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