The Chicago Bulls signed a few new faces to join the organization back in the summer of 2021, as they transitioned from the front office of Gar Forman and Jim Paxson to Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley. The Bulls ushered in a new era by acquiring All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan and coveted free agent Alex Caruso, as well as Lonzo Ball via a sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
At the time, the Bulls received plenty of backlash from fans saying that they overpaid for these players, especially DeRozan and Caruso. Lonzo, on the other hand, was perceived as a great value signing, inking a 4-year, $80 million deal with the Bulls. Since then, he has only played 35 games in the red and white for the Bulls due to a knee injury. He is not expected to return this season, and the next year is the last year on his contract with the Bulls, and it is a player option.
It feels like just about forever ago we last saw the point guard step foot on the court for our Chicago Bulls. In just one week, it will have been exactly two years since Ball last played in an NBA game, and it is very unlikely he will return yet this season.
Lonzo went down with a knee injury on January 14th, 2021, in a home game against the Golden State Warriors, where the Chicago Bulls lost by 42 points. It took team doctors months, if not a year, to diagnose what exactly was wrong with Lonzo Ball's knee. He underwent multiple procedures to try and fix the issue, however, Ball still experienced pain and discomfort after the first and second surgeries that he underwent to repair his knee.
If Lonzo Ball is nearing an eventual return, what does his future look like with the Chicago Bulls?
In his short 35-game stint playing for the Bulls, he had a great impact on the success of this organization. While not being a leading scorer, Lonzo shot over 42% from beyond the arc and averaged 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists a game while adding a spark on the defensive end with his stellar perimeter defense.
Ball is a true point guard who really can facilitate the floor, shoot the 3, rebound, and defend opposing teams' primary ballhandlers. The Chicago Bulls were atop the Eastern Conference in Lonzo's short stint active for the franchise, but plummeted to a 6th place finish and a loss in the first round of the playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks in his absence.
Lonzo will have a lot to prove in the 2024-25 season for the Bulls. It's highly likely that Lonzo will pick up his player option for next season, as I do not see another team giving him nearly as much money in free agency as he would get from picking up his player option. If Lonzo Ball can pick up where he left of with the Bulls next season (hopefully), I definitely see Lonzo signing a long-term extension, as he is only just 26 years old.
If this is the case, 2 or 3 years down the road the Bulls could have a very solid backcourt of Lonzo Ball and Coby White, as well as Zach LaVine if he isn't traded, running the floor for Chicago. If Lonzo can come back from this injury and perform as he did prior, and the Chicago Bulls play their card right, this team could be one of the best teams in the East once again.