Should Bulls shut down Lonzo Ball for rest of season?

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls (Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls (Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Chicago Bulls have desperately missed starting point guard Lonzo Ball in their recent slip in the standings. When healthy, Ball was a catalyst in Chicago’s hot start to the season, helping the team get out to a 23-12 record. Since his injury, the Bulls are 18-20.

Ball suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee on Jan. 14 against the Golden State Warriors. Chicago’s team doctors initially thought the injury was a knee bruise until further evaluation revealed the tear. He underwent surgery to address the injury on Jan. 28 and was expected back after roughly two months.

But he’s still out. He suffered a setback at the eight-week mark and his rehab was paused for 10 days. It was announced at the end of March that Ball was restarting his rehab process after shutting down activity, but a timeline was not specified.

On Monday, that hadn’t changed. Head coach Billy Donovan addressed the media following the team’s practice and said that as of now he has no updates on Ball’s status, but will possibly know something later in the week.

Should the Bulls shut down Lonzo Ball for rest of season?

The Bulls only have four games remaining in the regular season. They are slated to play two top eastern conference teams — games that Chicago have not fared well in — as well as two subpar teams. Their schedule is as follows:

  • Apr. 5 vs Bucks
  • Apr. 6 vs Celtics
  • Apr. 8 vs Hornets
  • Apr. 10 at Timberwolves

These games will decide if the Bulls finish as the fourth, fifth or sixth seed — with a small possibility they fall into the play-in tournament. After that, they will have a week off before the first round, where they are currently set to play the Philadelphia 76ers — though that can change as well.

With Ball just getting back to running, it’s highly unlikely that he will be cleared to play before the end of the regular season, let alone be ready for full contact. By the time he’s cleared, Chicago will probably be in the middle of the playoffs.

For the team’s sake, throwing in a player who hasn’t had extensive conditioning and contact work should be avoided. If they play Philly, they will have James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris to worry about on both ends. They can’t afford anyone being a step slow or not up to game speed.

For Ball’s sake, it would be dangerous to throw him out there without consistent contact work. Cutting, handling the ball with pressure, and absorbing contact will be difficult after missing so much time. Not mention, he would be doing so with playoff intensity and in an environment he’s never been a part of in his career.

As the clock winds down on the Bulls season, the time to bring Ball back seems to have passed. If this week doesn’t feature Ball being cleared for contact work, it may be best for Chicago to put him on the shelf until next year.

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