Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will be sidelined for the rest of the 2022-23 season, the team confirmed. Ball has experienced setbacks in his recovery process from a meniscus tear in his left knee.
Ball has not been healthy enough to suit up for any games this season and was last on the court in January 2022. Since then, the former No. 2 overall draft pick has undergone two surgeries in his left knee.
He had seen some improvements in the more recent months, but still cannot perform common basketball actives such as running and jumping without pain.
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“Despite making significant increases in strength and function over the past several months, Ball continues to experience performance limiting discomfort during participation in high level basketball-related activities,” Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement.
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Karnisovas added that Ball’s focus will shift to be ready for next season.
“Considering the required time period to achieve the necessary level of fitness to return-to-play and the current stage of the NBA season, Ball will not return this season. The focus for Ball will continue to be on the resolution of his discomfort and a full return for the 2023-24 season.”
The 25-year-old in the middle of a four-year, $80 million contract with the Bulls. He played an important part in ending the Bulls playoff drought last season. Ball averaged 13.0 points, 5.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds over 35 games in the 2021-22 season.
Chicago entered the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, but lost to Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the first round.
The Bulls have a sub .500 record since Ball’s last regular season game, going 45-56 since January 2022. The Bulls continued to slide going into the All-Star break on a six game losing streak.
Chicago is in the 11th spot in the East, which has the team currently outside of playoff contention.
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The Bulls did sign point guard and Chicago native Patrick Beverley, who is motivated to help the team make a playoff push. “We got to get in the playoffs,” Beverley said on a recent episode of his podcast. “So, excuse us.”
The team certainly hopes Beverley can bring a spark in the locker room, while also ramping up the production at the point guard position in Ball’s absence.
“The Bulls have been after me the last couple years,” Beverley said on the Pat Bev Podcast with Rone. “I figured I can make a playoff push with the Bulls right now and kind of pump them up a little bit. The East kind of weak, you feel me? Not to disrespect anybody from the East, but a lot of people went to the West. So I’m excited, I’m excited.”
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The Bulls host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.