Seven weeks after undergoing meniscus surgery on his left knee, Lonzo Ball is still stuck in limbo.
The Chicago Bulls were hopeful the guard would be back on the court by the end of March, returning the team to nearly full strength for a final push to the playoffs. Instead, Ball is stuck on the sidelines repeating the same mobility exercises he has been working through for weeks.
Coach Billy Donovan said Ball’s situation is complicated. The guard hasn’t experienced any technical setbacks in his recovery. But a combination of the surgery and a preexisting bone bruise in the knee have kept Ball from progressing to full-speed drills such as sprints.
“He has not responded,” Donovan said. “There’s no setbacks. It’s still the same thing. He has not been able to do anything full speed, and anytime we get him close to that, there’s discomfort.”
Ball originally was slated for a recovery window of six to eight weeks. Guard Alex Caruso received the same prognosis one week later after fracturing his right wrist on Jan. 21, then returned to action last week following an “aggressive” recovery plan.
Friday marked seven weeks since Ball’s surgery, but the Bulls still don’t have a target date for his return to contact — or the court. He hasn’t played since Jan. 14, missing the team’s last 29 games entering their Friday night matchup against the Suns in Phoenix.
Donovan said there haven’t been conversations with the medical staff about shutting Ball down for the regular season. But with only 13 games left, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely Ball will be able to start sprinting, get cleared for contact and return to game fitness before the end of the regular season in less than three weeks.
“Everybody was optimistic that he could get back and play,” Donovan said. “But there’s no question … with him not being able to do things physically that he needs to do on the court. … I don’t know in talking to medical, how long does that take to go from where he is today? They’re in a process of (finding) what’s the next best thing to do to help him.”
Donovan said Ball is no longer experiencing pain while attempting everyday motions — such as walking up the stairs — which were uncomfortable before the surgery. But that is a small relief for Ball, who has experienced discomfort every time he attempts to elevate up to 100% speed in a variety of drills.
Despite the extended recovery timeline, Donovan said he has been impressed by Ball’s attitude approaching daily workouts.
“These guys are all frustrated when they can’t play,” Donovan said. “He understands. But I don’t get the sense he’s frustrated with anything. Actually if anything, he’s done a really good job going in there and working.”
Source: Berkshire mont