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Bulls' Lonzo Ball Says He's 'Finally Seeing Some Improvement' in Knee Injury Rehab

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 21, 2022

Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Denver. The Bulls won 114-108. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Chicago Bulls star Lonzo Ball might be inching toward his 2022-23 NBA season debut.

Ball told NBC Sports Chicago's Rob Schaefer he's "finally seeing some improvement" over the last few weeks and that "it's definitely positive light at the end of the tunnel."

Rob Schaefer @rob_schaef

Just spoke with Lonzo Ball, who participated in gift drive with 'Fathers Families &amp; Healthy Communities'<br><br>Updates: Knee has improved in D2D life. Has done some stationary shooting, which is new. Staying positive, but not where he wants to be yet and rehab timeline still uncertain <a href="https://t.co/VnrGEsK5vD">pic.twitter.com/VnrGEsK5vD</a>

"Finally got to touch the ball," he said. "Feel like I hadn't played in so long. The shot's not going anywhere, so now it's just about getting the legs right."

Ball has yet to suit up after undergoing offseason knee surgery. He raised alarm bells in September when he acknowledged he still wasn't jumping or running at full speed. Even simple acts such as walking up stairs were causing him pain.

In November, Sam Smith of the team's official site reported the Bulls were hopeful he could get back by January or at least by the All-Star Game in mid-February. Smith was more pessimistic and speculated the dynamic guard might not return at all this season.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski offered a similar timeline when he provided an update on Dec. 14, though he also conceded there aren't any guarantees about Ball's status for the current campaign.

Even if he's making some incremental progress, the 25-year-old seems to be in a race against the clock.

It has been nearly a full year since Ball was last on the court in a game. He was sidelined with a small meniscus tear in his left knee this past January and out of action until getting shut down for good in April.

Assuming he hits the earlier target for his recovery timeline, Ball will have missed so much time it's unreasonable to expect him to be back to his best right away. He'd need at least a few weeks to get himself back in full game shape.

By that point, the regular season could be in the home stretch, and things already aren't trending well for the 12-18 Bulls, who are 11th in the Eastern Conference and out of a play-in tournament position.