Bulls’ Lonzo Ball has 3rd surgery for ‘best chance’ to return

Tim BontempsESPN4 minutes read

Wilbon, Kornheiser saddened by Lonzo Ball’s injury concerns

Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser reflect on Lonzo Ball’s season-ending injury and what his NBA future holds.

PHILADELPHIA — Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball underwent a cartilage transplant on his left knee Monday, a procedure coach Billy Donovan said gives Ball the best chance of resuming his NBA career at some point in the future.

“I know he’s going to work really hard [on his rehab]’ Donovan said ahead of Monday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.[The doctors] felt the surgery went well.

“I know that Lonzo, just based on the information he was able to gather from various doctors, [was] Making the decision that he felt this way was the best chance of getting him back on the pitch. We all understand it’s going to be a tough fight for him, but I know he’ll do whatever it takes in his rehab to get back on the pitch.”

That was a similar message to the one Ball himself put out in a Bulls publication last week, in which he announced he would have a third operation on his left knee in just over a year.

“My main focus has been getting back on the pitch and getting to a place where I can rejoin my teammates,” Ball said. “It’s been a frustrating process, but I’m confident that these next steps are the best path forward.” are forward. The support of my family, friends, fans and medical staff throughout my recovery is what drives me forward. I can’t wait to get back to what I love to do – play basketball.”

Ball has not played a game since January 14, 2022. Shortly after, he first had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, and Chicago said he would be back in 6 to 8 weeks. After Ball missed the rest of the season and continued to experience knee pain and discomfort throughout the summer, Ball underwent a second surgery in September.

“There was a point where we were warming up and stuff, and I would go through certain days and it would be fine,” Ball told reporters at the time. “Then when I got to actual basketball activities, I just couldn’t do it. Unfortunately, this is what is at hand and needs to be dealt with. Again, we believe surgery is the best option.”

But after continuing to fail to make enough progress to warrant a return for this season, Ball was ruled out for the remainder of the season last month.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that Ball’s latest surgery could cost him most – if not all – of the 2023/24 season. All Donovan would say is that he was told Ball was out “indefinitely” and had no timetable for his return beyond that.

“He certainly has a long road to recovery ahead of him, a long way to get himself to a place where he can get back on the court and play again,” Donovan said, “but I’m confident with his work ethic and his dedication and drive and how eager he is to play that he will seize every opportunity to do so.”

The 25-year-old ball fitted seamlessly alongside Chicago star wings Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan in the first half of last season with his combination of height and length at the time, and was one of the league’s best passers, a strong defender and an improved 3-point shooter.

Chicago went 27-13 last season before Ball left the lineup in mid-January and then went down the stretch 19-23 before losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the first round of the playoffs.

The Bulls took on the streaking 76ers on Monday, winners of eight straight games in the league. At 33-37, the Bulls sit 10th in Eastern Conference standings — the last play-in spot and 1.5 games ahead of the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers, who go into the night in 11th place.

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