Chicago Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball is reportedly showing signs of progress in his recovery from January knee surgery following an offseason filled with uncertainty.
"I've heard way more positive than negative," Johnson said. "I'm not saying that means he's out there opening night. I'm not saying that he's playing all 82. What I'm saying is the skepticism that was earlier in the offseason has moved a little bit towards the optimism side."
When the Bulls announced Ball's impending surgery on Jan. 20, they provided an initial six-to-eight-week timetable for his recovery. It's now been over seven months and there's still no guarantee he'll be ready to roll in October.
So an update leaning more toward the positive side is a welcome sign given the 24-year-old UCLA product's importance heading into the 2022-23 season.
In July, Chicago head coach Billy Donovan discussed Ball's recovery during an appearance at the NBA Summer League.
"Every day he seems to be improving. I think that the progress he has made has been steady. He keeps showing that progress. And that's really what we all hope to continue to see," Donovan said. "We're obviously all hopeful that it will happen faster. But he is making progress."
Ball averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 3.1 threes and 1.8 steals across 35 appearances last season before the knee injury. The Bulls led the Eastern Conference with a 27-14 record after his final game. They went 19-22 over the remainder of the regular season.
Chicago added some additional depth at the point in Goran Dragic, which should help provide a little more consistency if Ball isn't ready for the start of the new campaign.
That said, the 2017 second overall pick is a key element if the Bulls are going to build off the promise they showed early last season and emerge as a contender in the Eastern Conference.