Lonzo Ball delivered an emphatic message Tuesday as reports continue to fill doubt surrounding the Chicago Bulls guard’s ability to return from a left knee injury: “I’m coming back.”
Ball posted a video on social media in response to a report by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who claimed on Tuesday’s edition of “First Take” that Ball is still struggling to stand up five months after his third operation to address the knee injury.
“I’m incredibly, incredibly sad for Lonzo,” Smith said. “It’s really sad what happened to him. Something went wrong in terms of these procedures that he has had. I don’t think he’ll ever be the same based off of what we’re seeing and hearing. I’ve heard that it’s even hard for him to get up from the sitting position.”
Ball’s response was delivered poolside from his home in Los Angeles while standing and sitting repeatedly from a chair on his injured left leg.
“Who are your sources bro?” Ball said in the video. “You gotta stop yapping. I actually like you man. I don’t even know you like that, but I like you. I’m coming back, man.”
The post was the most confidence Ball has shown in his health. But the future remains murky for the Bulls’ preferred starting point guard, who is unlikely to see the court for a second consecutive season.
Ball has not played basketball since Jan. 14, 2022. In the 19 months since, he has undergone three surgeries — most recently a cartilage transplant, a rare procedure that has never resulted in a player’s return to the NBA.
Although he is not fully ruled out for the 2023-24 season, vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas confirmed in June the Bulls have no expectation for Ball to return this season.
“Going into the offseason, our expectation is that he’s not coming back next season and he’s going to continue on his recovery,” Karnišovas said. “If he comes back, it would be great, but we’re just going to treat this offseason and getting ready for the season that he’s not going to be back.”
Ball’s lengthy recovery has been a source of confusion and frustration throughout the Bulls organization since the onset of his injury.
In an appearance on Trae Young’s podcast “From the Point” on Monday, Ball shared his own disappointment in the uncertainty created for the rest of the Bulls roster by his delayed return.
“It’s going to be a big what-if,” Ball said. “I feel bad, just for the (front office) because I feel like they made the perfect team around me. I felt like that was the most I’ve ever been involved in an organization and I finally got the perfect team that I felt like could fit my game and play my way and really just do what I wanted to do. … I felt like we had a chance and never got to see what it was.”
Source: Berkshire mont