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Lonzo Ball expected to miss another season after third knee surgery, Bulls executive says

9 months ago 387



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Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is expected to miss the entire 2023-24 NBA season because of lingering issues with his left knee.

“Going into the offseason, I think our expectation is that he's not coming back next season and he's going to continue on his recovery," executive vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas said in a press conference Thursday following the 2023 NBA Draft. "If he comes back, it would be great.”

Ball hasn't played since Jan. 14, 2022, after suffering a meniscus tear in his left knee during a 42-point loss to the Golden State Warriors. He underwent a cartilage transplant in his left knee in March, marking the third procedure he's had on the same knee in 14 months. Karnišovas said although Ball is "recovering nicely" and stopped using crutches last month, he "does not think he will be back next season."

Ball underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in January 2022 following his meniscus tear and was expected to return in 6-8 weeks, but he didn't play the rest of the 2021-22 season after experiencing discomfort during rehab. He underwent an arthroscopic debridement in the same knee in September ahead of the 2022-23 season, but the Bulls shut his season down in February before he ever returned to the court because he couldn't play pain-free.

Ball had the same knee scoped in 2018 when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In March, Ball called his return from the knee injury a "frustrating process." He added, "My main focus has been on returning to the court and getting to a place where I can rejoin my teammates. ... I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward. The support of my family, friends, fans and medical staff throughout my recovery is what keeps me moving forward. I can’t wait to get back to what I love doing most – playing basketball."

Despite the latest setback, Karnišovas said he's confident that Ball will make a return at some point. "Eventually you are going to see him on the basketball court," Karnišovas said Thursday.

Ball was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft by the Lakers and was traded to New Orleans in the deal that sent Anthony Davis from the Pelicans to Los Angeles. Ball had his best season in 2020-21, averaging 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds with the Pelicans and showed continued improvement with his 3-point shot.

In August of 2021, the Pelicans sent Ball to Chicago in a sign-and-trade deal. He was shooting 42.3% on threes with the Bulls before he was injured.

Contributing: Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY

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