Bulls must now prepare to move forward without Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

I know this probably isn’t the Lonzo Ball update fans were hoping to see on their feeds today, but I unfortunately don’t come bearing good news to share regarding his rehabilitation. Despite sporadic updates involving underwater exercise, treadmill work, and even stationary dunking, there’s been no significant change on that front. It still appears Lonzo is quite far from nearing a return to the Chicago Bulls.

Following a second knee operation done in September 2022, Ball is rumored to be in need of a third surgical procedure on his injured knee. This would be his third operation in the last 14 months, and would have him sidelined for at least another half a year.

After missing 52 games last season (including 5 in the playoffs) and this year’s entire 82-game slate, Ball is now set to have sat out nearly four times as many games as those he’s actually participated in. If he isn’t ready to go by next season, the Bulls stare down the possibility of paying Ball $80 million for less than half a season’s worth of play.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to share news of this terrible setback earlier today.

It’s beginning to look increasingly unlikely Lonzo Ball will be ready to return in time for the start of the Chicago Bulls 2023-24 season.

If this report comes to fruition, which I believe it will, now is the time for the Chicago Bulls to begin evaluating their options to replace Ball. Standing pat and waiting for some miraculous stroke of luck in his rehabilitation is not a mistake this franchise can afford to make two offseasons in a row.

It would be wise to take both internal talent and outside help into consideration when looking for Lonzo’s heir at point guard. Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu have both shown to have plenty of merit over the last two seasons, but neither has been imperfect when given starter’s minutes. On the other hand, the Bulls could bring in a player via free agency or trade to fill the gap. It’s too early to pinpoint any particular player, but I do believe the Bulls could have a good option already lined up this summer.

Now more than ever, it looks unclear if Lonzo Ball will ever even be capable of playing in the NBA again. This isn’t the injury update any of us wanted to hear, but perhaps it’s the one we needed to hear. If Lonzo is truly a financial dead weight to this franchise, at least now Chicago can be afforded a headstart in looking for a potential replacement and applying for a career-ending injury exemption this summer.

Next. Early predictions for Bulls' starting lineup in '23-24. dark