There was a time early last season with the Chicago Bulls were near the top of the East standings and it appeared as though their roster overhaul was getting set to pay big dividends.
After trading for Nikola Vucevic at the deadline in 2021, they went out and added DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso over the summer, and that group jelled quickly, jumping out to a 26-10 record in early January of 2022. Then, injuries started to mount, with Zach LaVine dealing with knee issues, Alex Caruso missing some time, and Lonzo Ball suffering a torn meniscus. The hope was to get all of them back by the stretch run, but 14 months later and Ball is still nowhere close to returning to a basketball court.
Ball has had two surgeries already, but discomfort still exists in his day-to-day life and he will now undergo a third surgery that, per Shams Charania, will likely cost him most, if not all, of the 2023-24 season as well.
Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will undergo a third surgery on his left knee that is expected to cost him most, if not all, of the 2023-24 season, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
The sides are optimistic of the procedure reviving Ball's career. 🙏🏽
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 16, 2023
ESPN Sources: Bulls G Lonzo Ball will undergo a third surgical procedure on his left
knee in past 14 months. He hasn’t played since January of 2022 and had already been ruled out this season.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 16, 2023
It is a devastating reminder that while we are used to seeing athletes come back from serious injuries and have a general timetable for what most recoveries take, sometimes injuries that have become fairly common can be career-altering. Ball was thriving in Chicago, but is now set to miss more than two full seasons, with no guarantees that this third surgery will be the one that gets him back to being able to play. The main hope at this point is that he can be pain-free in his day-to-day life, and then basketball can come back into focus for him. The Bulls, meanwhile, will have to make some decisions this offseason about the direction of their franchise, knowing they’re likely not getting Ball back until 2024 at the earliest.