Lonzo Ball's status for the start of the 2022-23 regular season remains up in the air, but some people close to the Chicago Bulls guard believe he'll be ready for opening night.
"I talked to somebody in Lonzo's camp that expressed confidence he'll be ready to go for the start of the season, but—just me speculating—I could see them slow-playing Lonzo a little bit to make sure he's 100 percent and really ready to go," ESPN's Jamal Collier said Monday on NBA Today.
Ball suffered a meniscus tear in January, and his recovery has been mired in setbacks. After initially being expected to miss six-to-eight weeks, Ball missed the remainder of the 2021-22 season and remains at less than 100 percent nearly six months later.
KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported in July that Ball still has "discomfort" in his knee when he ramps up his activity. Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas spoke about the point guard's recovery in the same month, offering cautious optimism.
“He’s progressing," Karnišovas said. "That’s as much as I can say. He’s getting better. Probably not at the speed that we would like. But he’s getting better." “Hopefully, he’s going to be ready for training camp. That’s just our hopes.”
Ball averaged 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 35 games with the Bulls last season. He was the team's best perimeter defender and shooting a career-high 42.3 percent from three-point range at the time of his injury. The Bulls defense crumbled with Ball out of the lineup, and the team never recovered as they were swiftly eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
Getting Ball back at full strength will be paramount for a Bulls team still lacking in strong perimeter defenders aside from Ball and Alex Caruso.