Bulls’ Billy Donovan shows empathy for Lonzo Ball’s injury saga

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Donovan shows empathy for Lonzo Ball’s injury saga originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

HOUSTON — Billy Donovan confirmed that Lonzo Ball is seeking opinions on his next move for his troublesome left knee, which could require a third surgery since January 2022.

Ball hasn’t played in an NBA game since Jan. 14, 2022, a fact that saddens the Chicago Bulls’ coach for reasons that go beyond wins and losses.

“I just feel bad for him,” Donovan said following Friday’s practice at the University of Houston. “He’s 25 years old and here he is missing this entire year and next season is uncertain of whatever he elects to do if he does have the surgery. You just feel bad that he hasn’t been able to play.”

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Ball plays with a selfless and joyful style that helped energize the Bulls in his 35 games at the start of the 2021-22 season. The Bulls led the Eastern Conference when Ball first underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

At the time, the Bulls said they expected Ball to return in six to eight weeks. Instead, Ball missed the remainder of last season, what would’ve been his first playoffs experience as the Bulls lost to the Bucks in the first round and then underwent a debridement procedure in September 2022 to clean up loose debris in the knee.

Still unable to run and cut and jump without sometimes feeling discomfort, Ball, his representatives and doctors are expected to decide in the coming days with input from the Bulls on his next move.

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“He’s getting as many opinions and help as he can,” Donovan said. “He’s doing his due diligence. And I think once he gets the third, fourth, fifth opinions he’s trying to get, he’ll make the decision that he’s comfortable with.”

Ball had appeared to finally solve the point-guard plague that has impacted the Bulls since the day Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012. There has been a revolving door of starters since that time, and Ball looked to be the one who could finally stabilize the position.

With his future uncertain, could management be forced to address the position again this offseason?

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“I’m not involved in all the conversations, but I do think Artūras (Karnišovas) and Marc (Eversley), the front office, ownership, will sit down after (Ball’s) decision is made, look at a timetable of how long this rehab and recovery will be and then make decisions from there,” Donovan said. “What will the length of the rehab look like? How much more time will he miss? I think that will be a conversation we would all have at the end of the year.”

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