Lonzo Ball's first season with the Chicago Bulls was going well. Through 35 games, he was averaging 13 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per contest. He was shooting a career-best 42.3 percent from the field. And, most importantly, he was helping the team win.
The Bulls were 27-13 after a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 14. That was the final game that Ball played during the 2021-22 campaign, as he went on to miss the rest of the season because of a left knee injury that eventually required him to undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Then, Ball had a setback in his recovery.
It seems that Ball still may not be completely healed. David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 (h/t Daniel Greenberg) reported that the Bulls' front office have "serious concerns" regarding Ball's knee ailment and why he's still enduring pain when he tries to ramp up his activity. So that isn't an encouraging sign for Chicago.
When healthy, Ball is a great fit in the Bulls' backcourt. But they may need to start thinking about contingency plans this offseason in case the 24-year-old isn't ready for the beginning of the 2022-23 season (or even if he misses more time).
Chicago already has a lot of decisions to make in the near future. Zach LaVine is set to be an unrestricted free agent, so it's possible he won't return to the Bulls. Derrick Jones Jr. is also going to be a UFA.
If Ball remains hurt and LaVine doesn't re-sign, Chicago's backcourt mix will consist of Ayo Dosunmu, Coby White and Alex Caruso. Are the Bulls confident in that trio to be their core players, or could they try to bring another guard or two into the fold?
Jalen Brunson will likely be the top point guard on the free-agent market, but he's likely to land a sizable deal after his breakout season with the Dallas Mavericks. So it may be unlikely that Chicago makes a move that big, especially if it can bring back LaVine.
Maybe a point guard such as Ricky Rubio or Tyus Jones could be somebody the Bulls look to sign, especially if Ball's health doesn't improve much over the summer. However, that all depends on what other moves Chicago makes to construct its roster for the upcoming season.
Another possibility is the Bulls will look to the 2022 NBA draft to add depth in the backcourt. They own the No. 18 overall selection, so there could be some intriguing prospects for them to consider at that point.
It's hard to know what Chicago will do until there's more clarity regarding Ball's recovery. Because if he can get fully healthy and return to the level of play he showcased early last season, then the Bulls likely won't need to address the point guard position this offseason, as they'll already be set.
So for now, Chicago may just have to wait to see how this situation develops. But if Ball doesn't soon show some progress, that could impact the team's decision-making for the near future.