Regardless of a team’s current standing, NBA Media Day always provides a dose of hope. Although Lonzo Ball will be undergoing knee surgery again, the Chicago Bulls Media Day on Monday was full of optimism as the team prepares to take on the challenge of the Eastern Conference.
This past Tuesday, Ball addressed the press. After a summer of rehab and doctor visits, Ball’s Zoom session with reporters offered a grim image, with the guard saying he still can’t sprint or jump. He had surgery in January to fix a torn meniscus, but a persistent bone bruise forced him to miss the rest of the season and the next one.
According to 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund, Ball stated, “I truly can’t run.” You are unable to run or make any kind of leaps. I can’t stop myself from falling between the angles of 30 and 60 degrees while my knee is bent. Not until I master those skills will I be able to play. Basically, I went through a rehabilitation program. It was getting better, but not enough that I felt confident enough to run at full speed or jump. Surgery is the next logical step.
“It’s every day. Even going up stairs and stuff, it’s still painful.”
Lonzo Ball speaks on the pain he still suffers from his knee injury https://t.co/10h3upJYt0
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 27, 2022
Ball has said that even simple activities, like climbing a flight of stairs, still cause him pain. Since they haven’t been able to diagnose his condition, he claims, physicians are “surprised” by it.
It has been decided that Ball will have debridement surgery on Wednesday after all other options have been considered and dismissed. MRIs show that the knee’s structure is fine, but since something is definitely wrong, surgery will be performed to investigate.
The fact that this injury has stumped medical professionals and is causing disruptions to daily life is cause for concern. Immediately, one’s thoughts move to how this will affect Ball in the long run, both in terms of his basketball career and his life beyond the game. It’s being hoped that this surgery will identify the problem’s origin and solve it and that it won’t be as terrible as it seems.
Ball maintains optimism of making a comeback in the 2022–23 season, however, the exact timing of that comeback is unknown. Four to six weeks after the operation on Wednesday, he will be evaluated, but it will likely be much longer before he is able to play again. When asked about the likelihood of Lonzo Ball missing the rest of the season, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said it’s something the club has to prepare for.
What a terrible turn of events for a player who was instrumental to the Bulls last year. He was instrumental in the Bulls’ early success, as seen by their top-10 NBA record, and his absence was felt most keenly in the season’s final weeks. He’s a vital cog in this roster’s machinery as a passer, 3-point shooter, and defender.
With Ball out for all or part of the 2022–23 season, the Bulls’ potential has been diminished. The big question is whether or not they have what it takes to compete in an Eastern Conference that is about to get a lot stronger than it was. At Media Day, it was made clear that the team is prepared for a challenging season in the Eastern Conference.
All-Star Demar DeRozan was quoted by the Bulls as saying, “I enjoy the competitive island that the East is on.” When you surround yourself with the finest of the best, you naturally perform at a higher level. When I’m surrounded by the finest, I perform at my best.
DraftKings presently has the Bulls ranked seventh in the East with 42.5 wins. For Chicago to earn the No. 8 seed, they would have to win two play-in games. Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ executive vice president of basketball operations, has stated the team’s goals for the upcoming season include at least one playoff round victory and an improvement over last year’s performance. From the ninth position, that seems like an impossible feat.
The Bulls still have options to come out stronger than expected despite the Lonzo Ball controversy. With DeRozan and a healthy Zach LaVine, they still have two All-Star point guards. Recently, Nikola Vucevic was a member of the NBA’s All-Star team. Alex Caruso is a top-tier NBA perimeter defender.
Potentially game-changing strides could be taken by Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu. Perhaps even Coby White will prove to be a pleasant surprise, and the additions of Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic will prove to be a welcome addition to the roster’s depth.
However, there is a lot that needs to go right, and the East’s stern nature won’t help matters. Even though the Bulls’ season is not over following this new Ball development, optimism is understandably low.