Lonzo Ball will undergo surgery on his left knee next week and will miss the start of the season as the Chicago Bulls continue to search for answers to their point guard’s lingering injury.
The Bulls announced Wednesday that Ball will undergo arthroscopic debridement on his left knee on Sept. 28, a procedure that removes cartilage, tissue and other debris. The procedure will take place in Los Angeles, where Ball spent the offseason trying to rehabilitate the injury originally suffered in January.
Ball will be reevaluated four to six weeks after the procedure, keeping him out for at least the first five games of the season. His absence is likely to be extended.
By the time he was reevaluated, Ball had gone more than 10 months without being able to run at full speed or scrimmage with contact, and that number of missed games will require a long return to a weekly regular season workload.
Meanwhile, Ball’s absence leaves a gaping hole in the Bulls lineup, which will rely on second-year pro Ayo Dosunma and veteran Alex Caruso to shoulder the point guard load.
Ball’s road to recovery seemed straightforward after surgery on Jan. 28 to repair a meniscus injury in his left knee. At the time, the Bulls predicted Ball would return by the end of the regular season to lead the offense in the playoffs.
Complicated by a deep bruise in the same knee, Ball continued to suffer pain and discomfort that prevented him from running at full speed. He was eventually shut down midway through the first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bulls’ front office remained vague about Ball’s recovery path throughout the summer, but executive vice president of basketball operations Arturos Kornishavas and general manager Mark Eversley alluded to concerns about Ball’s return in the offseason.
“He is progressing. That’s all I can say.” – said Kornishovas July 12 during NBA telecast. “He’s getting better—probably not as fast as we’d like, but he’s getting better. Hopefully he’ll be ready for training camp, (but) that’s just our hopes.”
Injuries have dogged Ball throughout his career. He has yet to shoot over 65% in a single season, suffering a sprained MCL, torn ankle ligaments and adductor, knee, hip flexor, shoulder and thumb injuries during previous stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans.
As the Bulls prepare to open training camp on Tuesday, they face a major crisis at the Ball position. They didn’t target another key player in the offseason, meaning they’ll be forced to rely on Dosunma and Caruso to open the season.
Aside from his ability to push the Bulls in transition with accurate passes, Ball’s defensive instincts are almost second to none. The Bulls have struggled to maintain defensive pressure in the final months of the season without Ball.