Is it possible Lonzo Ball isn’t ready to play on the Bulls’ opening night?

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Lonzo Ball played 35 games for the Bulls last season before a knee problem led to meniscus surgery on January 28 of this year. The hope was that he would return before the playoffs, but Ball never returned to the field. Every time Ball tried to speed up practices to get back into play, knee pain slowed him down. This raised serious concerns in Chicago about his knee going into the offseason.

Now The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry says Ball missing the start of the season isn’t out of the question.

It’s been four and a half months since Ball was sidelined with a left knee injury that eventually turned into meniscus surgery. He still isn’t right. Whether he’s in time for the season opener becomes more of a concern every week. If Ball is due for a second surgery, the time crunch escalates. There has been no indication from Ball’s camp that a second procedure is planned, but it cannot be ruled out if Ball’s knee is unresponsive.

Ball said he plans to see a specialist outside of the organization, and it’s possible the doctor will recommend another surgery or procedure. Ball said he was working on straightening his knee before diving into his off-season training plans.

The Bulls have plenty of other things to worry about this summer — starting with Zach LaVine’s free agency — but they’re not stepping forward without a ball back to help solidify the team’s defense. Chicago had 7.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively this season with Ball on the court, and he, along with Alex Caruso, made Chicago’s defense respectable.

Lonzo Ball’s health and return could be a topic until training camp begins. And maybe beyond.


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