The Chicago Bulls hosted their annual media day Monday afternoon. As expected, Lonzo Ball was a frequent topic of conversation.
Ball is due to undergo an arthroscopic debridement (i.e. surgery) on his left knee in Los Angeles this Wednesday, Sept. 28 — the second operation on that knee in the last eight months and third of his NBA career. Ball missed the Bulls’ final 47 games last season after undergoing surgery to address a meniscus tear in late January, and has been plagued by discomfort in the area ever since.
Leading off a press conference with local reporters, Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said that Ball’s surgery is occurring so late in the offseason because both the team and Ball’s camp wanted to do everything they could to avoid it.
“We gave every opportunity (for Ball) to rehab and get back on the court without doing a surgery. That was our thought process, and we (did that) obviously with the thought in mind what’s best for the player,” Karnišovas told reporters. “We’re at a crossroads now that we need to do something else and that’s why we opted in to do the procedure.”
The Bulls, Ball and Ball’s representation worked together to ultimately reach that decision. The team has assigned a four- to six-week re-evaluation timeline following the surgery, but that says nothing firm about when Ball will return to the court.
“In terms of timeline, we don’t know what’s gonna be,” Karnišovas told reporters. “As we reported (in) four to six weeks, we’re gonna re-evaluate him and see where he’s at.”
Ball was given a six- to eight-week return timeline after his surgery on Jan. 28. His absence now stands to extend into at least November.
Karnišovas was not able to comment on the specific issue Ball is dealing with or what the surgery seeks to accomplish. Only that he hopes this is the step that resolves Ball’s knee saga.
“I’m not a doctor,” Karnišovas told reporters. “So I’m just gonna wait and see what doctors will tell me.”
In the meantime, the Bulls will have to forge on without their starting point guard. Ball averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals and shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range in his first season in Chicago, proving a linchpin to the team’s preferred style of play at both ends of the court.
That style propelled the Bulls to the top of the Eastern Conference standings as late as February before a late-season swoon. Building on their early-season success will require Ball’s participation. But as of now his outlook is as murky as ever.
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Bulls' Artūras Karnišovas on Lonzo Ball's surgery timing, timeline – NBC Sports