Lonzo Ball Is Officially A Bust | The Baller Magic Johnson Once Called The Future Of The Lakers To Miss Second Consecutive Season With Lingering Knee Issues 

The Chicago Bulls failed to qualify for the NBA playoffs this season despite boasting a lineup that possesses six-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan, and two-time All-Stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vučević. While they did manage to make the play-in, they fell short, losing to the eventual Eastern Conference champions Miami Heat.

A huge reason for the Bulls not being able to advance to the first-round of the playoffs or get one of the conference’s top six seeds was the health of point guard Lonzo Ball, who missed the entire 2022-23 season.

In fact, Ball hasn’t played since January 14, 2022, and when he went down the Bulls were 27-13, good enough for the No. 1 seed in the East. It was believed that Ball would return in six to eight weeks that season after surgery for a torn meniscus.

But that never came to fruition, and after experiencing discomfort in the knee over the summer, he had another operation in September, causing him to miss the entire 2022-23 season. And now it’s being reported that he’ll likely miss all of next season as well, following a third operation in March which happened to be cartilage transplant surgery. 

Bulls VP Gives Bleak Outlook For Ball Next Season

As free agency opens on this coming Friday, Bulls vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas mentioned that the team plans to extend qualifying offers to guards Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu. Ball’s status also means the team may be inclined to run it back with Chicago native and point guard Patrick Beverley, who finished the 2022-23 season with the Bulls. 

Karnišovas spoke to reporters this week about Ball’s health.

“Our expectation is that he’s not coming back next season,” Karnišovas said following Thursday’s NBA draft. “He’s going to continue his recovery. If he comes back, it would be great. But we’re just going to treat this offseason and get ready for the season that he’s not going to be back.”

The team recently announced that Ball’s most recent surgical procedure was one that’s supposed to enhance the chances of his resuming his NBA career. But Ball’s body and knee haven’t responded as quickly as they believed it would. While he reportedly is walking without crutches, the former UCLA star still has a long way to go before he’s back to the two-way floor leader he was prior to the injuries and surgical procedures. 

“I hope eventually we’re gonna see him on a basketball court,” Karnišovas said. “But I do not think he’s going to be back next year.”

Former NBA Star Brandon Roy Lends Advice To Ball

As someone who dealt with similar knee injuries, former Portland Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy saw his playing career cut short because of chronic knee issues. It sapped Roy of his explosion and ability to play above the rim, and while Roy did adjust his game and was still very solid, he was never the same player. As a bit of advice, Roy told Ball that he may have to change how he plays when he returns, and even pattern his game after longtime NBA veteran Andre Miller, who used everything but athleticism his entire career to play 17 solid NBA seasons. 

“Miller played for years, and he picked very few spots to jump or really be aggressive on defense, but he was a coach on the floor,” Roy said. 

“Dre would coach the defense and tell you where to be on offense. He should start putting his attention and efforts into things that are going to maximize him mind and not his body,” Roy added. 

But the biggest thing Roy mentioned was for Ball not to rush back and have a setback. 

Did Ball’s Shoes Play A Role?

During an appearance on the Josh Hart podcast, Ball mentioned that his signature shoe (ZO2s) weren’t ready for the rigors of a high-intensity NBA game, which is why his manager reportedly kept extra pairs on standby when Ball played a game. Ball missed 63 games over his first two seasons with the Lakers due to various injuries. The Lakers reportedly even asked if Big Baller Brand ZO2s could’ve been playing a role in his health issues. 

But Zo continued to wear the shoes because they were his signature brand, and now we’re here. And Zo’s career is in jeopardy. 

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