Billy Donovan says Lonzo Ball is still unable to sprint

Jesse Cinquini
4 Min Read
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan recently gave an unfortunate injury update on guard Lonzo Ball.

“After a source told the Sun-Times earlier in the day that the Bulls were having even more concerns about Ball’s progress in his left knee rehabilitation, coach Billy Donovan was asked about it and didn’t exactly paint a picture of positivity,” Joe Cowley wrote.

According to Donovan, Ball still can’t sprint, though he is practicing other activities like shooting.

“I don’t know if he’s stuck,” Donovan said. “He is doing some shooting, some running, some jumping. He hasn’t done any sprinting yet, that I know.”

Chicago’s head coach explained that he wants to see Ball build leg strength.

“They talked about that, and [sprinting] was kind of a goal, a set point,” Donovan said. “I do think the one thing that has been a priority right now so he does not get set back is he needs to develop more strength in his leg. Because of him having that surgery and being off his leg so long, before he’s really able to ramp up, I think they want him to get to a place physically that relates to his quad strength, hamstring strength, before he starts to really do that.

“I don’t want to say it’s a holdup, but that’s where they want to get him to. In terms of what he’s doing, he feels better.”

Ball hasn’t suited up for the Bulls since the 2021-22 season due to knee problems. During the regular season, he averaged 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from the free-throw line.

But Ball provided a positive injury update to ESPN back in October, as he said he hadn’t hit a “standstill” in his recovery from a procedure.

“After the other surgeries, this one has definitely gone the best as far as [the] recovery process,” Ball told ESPN. “The last two rehab processes I had, I was getting better and then it just hit a standstill and it started going down. And I haven’t hit that yet.”

The guard inked a four-year deal with the Bulls back in 2021 worth $80 million, but he has played in just 35 regular-season games with the team.

Ball has a player option on his contract for the 2024-25 season. If he declines that option, he will hit unrestricted free agency.

Before joining the Bulls organization, Ball spent time playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans. He spent two seasons with each team and was selected by the Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Markelle Fultz was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the No. 1 overall pick, and the Boston Celtics chose Jayson Tatum — who is one of the better players in the NBA today — at No. 3.

Without Ball in the lineup, the Bulls have had a mediocre 2023-24 regular season. Chicago owns a 27-31 record, which has the team as the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference at the moment.

The Bulls also have a lot of winning to do if they want a top-eight seed in the conference, as they are five-and-a-half games behind the Indiana Pacers in the standings, who hold the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

With any luck, Ball will eventually find his way back onto the court for the Bulls.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.