Lonzo Ball will likely miss all of next season.
The Chicago Bulls guard is set to undergo a third surgery on his left knee, which has already kept him out for more than a year. He’s expected to miss most, if not all, of the 2023-24 season recovering, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball will undergo a third surgery on his left knee that is expected to cost him most, if not all, of the 2023-24 season, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
The sides are optimistic of the procedure reviving Ball's career. 🙏🏽
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 16, 2023
The Bulls confirmed that Ball will undergo a cartilage transplant in his knee, but did not provide a timeline for his return.
“My main focus has been on returning to the court and getting to a place where I can rejoin my teammates," Ball said in a statement. "This has been a frustrating process, but I’m confident these next steps are the best path forward. The support of my family, friends, fans and medical staff throughout my recovery is what keeps me moving forward. I can’t wait to get back to what I love doing most – playing basketball.”
While that’s an incredibly long time away from the game — he will be pushing three full years between games — Ball and the Bulls are reportedly optimistic that the third surgery will be what it takes to finally fix his knee.
Ball was already ruled out for the rest of this season due to his meniscus injury. He hasn’t played since Jan. 14, 2022, and has already undergone a pair of surgeries. He reportedly couldn’t run or jump after his most recent one in September, however, and his rehab hasn’t gone as expected.
Ball has been contemplating the third surgery in recent weeks. The team initially expected the surgery would keep Ball out about only six months, which could have had him back on the court in time for the start of next season. Based on Charania’s timeline, he may not take the court again until the start of the 2024-25 season.
If that’s the case, Ball will have missed about 33 months.
Ball averaged 13 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 35 games with the Bulls before he tore his meniscus. The Bulls were sitting near the top of the Eastern Conference when he went down. They finished in sixth and lost in the playoff's first round to the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I continue to admire Lonzo’s perseverance throughout this journey," Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. "This has been a long and challenging road for him, and this decision has been a difficult one to make. The organization is behind him, and he has our full support. Our training and medical staff continue their commitment to Lonzo’s rehabilitation and to working with him throughout this next phase to ensure his healthy return to basketball.”