Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball’s slow recovery from a knee injury has the team reportedly pondering the idea of shutting him down for the season after the All-Star break.
Lonzo Ball is still not able to run or cut, per @KCJHoop
“The expectation is that the team will come out after the All-Star break saying that they are shutting Lonzo down for the season”
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) February 18, 2023
Ball hasn’t played at all this season and last played on Jan. 14 of last year after sustaining an apparent knee bruise. Even though the injury was diagnosed as a torn meniscus, Ball was still expected back before the end of last season.
That return never came, and the slow rehabilitation is making a return for this season seem more and more remote.
Less than six years ago, Ball was the second overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. After spending two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was sent to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the blockbuster Anthony Davis deal in 2019.
Ball was then sent to the Bulls in August 2021 as part of a sign-and-trade deal. He saw action in 35 games before his injury, averaging 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
Those numbers are largely similar to what Ball has put up over the course of his NBA career. That production is something that would come in handy for a Bulls team that lost six consecutive games before this season’s All-Star break.
Such struggles have been evident all season long and help explain why the Bulls have a 26-33 record, the 11th-best mark in the Eastern Conference. Those woes also help explain why the Bulls appear ready to shut Ball down for the season.
Even if the Bulls manage to reach this year’s postseason, the team appears destined to make a quick exit. Bringing back Ball in an effort to accomplish that runs the risk of the guard reinjuring himself.
Ball is making $19.5 million this season while rehabilitating his injury and set to make $20.5 million next season. The multiyear deal that he signed in 2021 also includes a player option for the 2024-25 campaign that is scheduled to pay him just under $21.4 million.
Currently just 25 years old, Ball is still capable of having a lengthy NBA career. However, if he is shut down for this season and then struggles to return to his old form, his next contract may force him to take a pay cut.
While the Bulls ponder their next move, the team’s players are getting some rest as they prepare for the resumption of league play. Next up for the Bulls is a home game against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.