Bulls Rumors: Lonzo Ball Return from Knee Injury Targeted for New Calendar Year

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 30, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 11: Lonzo Ball #2 of the Chicago Bulls looks on against the Miami Heat during the first half at FTX Arena on December 11, 2021 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls are optimistic point guard Lonzo Ball will be cleared to play "at some point after the calendar flips to 2023," according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Sam Smith of the team's official website provided a similar timeline when he reported on Ball's status last Friday.

"The general word around the Bulls is he might be able to play in January, maybe by the All-Star break," Smith wrote.

Ball has yet to suit up for the Bulls this year after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

The procedure was intended to resolve lingering knee trouble dating back to this past January. Ball's last game was on Jan. 14.

Charania reported on Sept. 29 the 25-year-old was "expected to miss at least a few months" but not ruled out for the entire season.

The report came after Ball made concerning comments regarding his recovery. He said he had "never felt pain like this" and that simple acts such as walking up stairs remained uncomfortable.

By November, head coach Billy Donovan said the veteran playmaker was at least running underwater as part of his rehab.

Bulls fans who watched Derrick Rose know how damaging a major knee injury can be for an NBA player. In the case of Ball, the nebulous nature of his injury might be more alarming.

A torn ACL can be devastating and require a lengthy recovery period, but that recovery period is pretty well defined for the most part. With Ball, we're 10 months removed from the original problem and yet he's still out indefinitely.

Smith wrote he's "not counting on him this season," arguing it might be better to shut Ball down together rather than asking him—likely after a year or more out of action—to get up to speed in the most critical juncture of the regular season.

The Bulls could certainly use Ball. They're 12th in the Eastern Conference at 9-11 and rank 10th in defensive rating (110.5), per NBA.com. They're also 18th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.67).

At this point, though, it's fair to wonder whether Chicago will be getting the version of Ball who averaged 13.0 points, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals in his first 35 games with the team if he gets the green light this winter.