Lonzo Ball's health has been one of the bigger questions of the 2022-23 season. Last season, he suffered a torn meniscus in April that kept him out for the end of the regular season and the playoffs. His rehab didn't go quite as planned in the offseason, so he underwent a second knee surgery in September. Very few specifics have been offered about his possible return date, and things remain vague even as the NBA's first full month is set to come to an end.
On Tuesday, The Athletic's Shams Charania and Darnell Mayberry reported that the Bulls are hopeful that Ball can return at some point after the calendar flips to 2023. Ball is believed to be making progress in his rehabilitation, but given his lengthy injury history and the severity of the one he is currently rehabbing, it does not appear as though the Bulls have a clear timeline for when he can come back. They are reportedly optimistic that it will happen during the season, but Chicago might not be able to wait much longer.
The Bulls spent much of last season as the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed. They are 9-11 this season, and they are seeded 11th in the Eastern Conference. Head coach Billy Donovan recently signed a contract extension, but star guard Zach LaVine questioned him for benching him late in a recent game. DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic are both aging, and the young players aren't developing as the team had hoped.
If this season is going to be salvaged, the Bulls are going to need Ball back in the fold sooner rather than later. That might not be possible, and if this continues, they are going to have to answer some serious questions about their future. Vucevic is a free agent after the season. DeRozan is a free agent in 2024. LaVine is on a new five-year deal, but given his injury history, it comes with plenty of risks, and the Bulls are seeing those risks play out with Ball.
In other words, the Bulls are facing uncertainty in just about every direction. Ball's injury personifies it. We don't know when he'll be back, and we don't know how much longer this team can manage without him.