Lonzo Ball Training Camp Injury Update Is Bad News For Chicago Bulls

Lonzo Ball Training Camp Injury Update Is Bad News For Chicago Bulls

The vague nature of all the Lonzo Ball knee injury updates this summer proved to be ominous. ESPN’s Jamal Collier and Ramona Shelburne reported Friday that the point guard “is expected to miss training camp and is doubtful for the start of the regular season because of lingering pain and discomfort.”

Ball underwent surgery for a torn left meniscus at the end of January and was initially given a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks. However, he didn’t return and was ultimately ruled out for the rest of the season in April. While the knee is reportedly “structurally sound,” he’s still experiencing pain as he tries to ramp up basketball activities. That’s because of a nagging bone bruise that’s complicating this whole recovery.

It’s unclear if Ball will need another procedure to fix this injury. The fact that he’s still feeling pain when he increases his activity and has seen multiple knee specialists to no avail far is nothing short of disastrous for Chicago.

KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago is trying to paint a sunnier picture, noting “two slightly more upbeat updates” recently and an insistence that the Bulls are simply “playing the long game” while remaining “confident that Ball will continue to progress” perhaps this is true and he doesn’t miss too much time, but it’s hard to have much optimism about this situation right now given how things have played out.

Another extended Ball absence to start the 2022-23 season is the last thing the Bulls need. They missed him badly during the end of last season because he’s one of the only two-way players on the roster and is the glue that brings this team together. He’s the best passer on the team (5.1 assists per game) and is key to Chicago’s transition game. He’s one of the best 3-point shooters on the roster (42.3% on 7.4 attempts per game). His perimeter defense is ferocious (1.8 steals per game) and helps cover up weaker defenders. He’s a solid rebounder for his position (5.4 blocks per game).

This all is why the Bulls targeted Ball two trade deadlines ahead of time and were at the front of the line to acquire him last offseason despite prior injury concerns, even getting docked a second-round pick after an NBA investigation into his four-year, $80 million sign-and-trade. The 24-year-old underwent surgery on this same meniscus in 2018 and has never played more than 63 games in a season. He played just 35 last season.

Chicago does have a lot of depth in the backcourt. Ayo Dosunmu got a ton of experience as a rookie because of Ball’s injury, and he’ll be hoping to make a leap after putting in a lot of work this offseason. Alex Caruso should be fully healthy after an injury-plagued 2021-22. Coby White wasn’t traded and will be in a contract year. The Goran Dragic signing makes a little bit more sense now, and perhaps rookie Dalen Terry can help in spot minutes.

Even so, none of these players can replicate Ball’s versatile skill set. In an Eastern Conference that only continues to get better with Donovan Mitchell heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls could find themselves falling behind and getting mired in mediocrity.

Chicago still just has to hope Ball is back as soon as possible and that everything else goes right. There will be a lot of crossed fingers at the Advocate Center and among the fan base.

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