Lonzo Ball spoke with Chicago Bulls media on Tuesday and explained the mystery that is the delayed rehab for his January 28, 2022 meniscus surgery.
“This is something I’ve never dealt with,” Ball told reporters via Zoom, one day ahead of his arthroscopic debridement surgery. “Even the doctors are surprised a little bit”
Ball said he wasn’t rushing back for a return, but clearly both he and the Bulls believed the 2022 NBA Playoffs were in the cards.
When that timeline was delayed and the Bulls shut him down for the season, the belief was that he would at least be back for training camp.
Except that didn’t happen.
“We did everything we could to stay out of surgery and get back on the court,” Ball said. “Unfortunately, we’re at the point where we used the whole summer to work and get as far as I can. The pain has gone down. But I still can’t play basketball. I’ve got to take the next step and that’s surgery.”
One of the initial criticisms of the news that Ball was set to undergo surgery was the timing of it. To me, that decision is completely up to Ball. If he felt he could be back by the start of training camp, he should avoid another surgery if at all possible.
“Literally, I really can’t run,” Ball said on Tuesday. “I can’t run or jump. There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have, like, no force and I can’t, like, catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play.”
So when that healing process didn’t happen, it made sense to take the plunge, but not before exhausting all options. To be fair, there’s an alternate reality where Ball waits even longer to have the procedure given the fact that there was hope his knee might heal with rest, strengthening and time.
But when Ball admitted his knee pain was affecting more than just his basketball ramp up activities, I began to wonder why it wasn’t done sooner.
“It’s every day,” Ball said. “Even going up stairs and stuff, it’s still painful.”
I don’t feel entirely comfortable advocating for a major medical procedure, but being in pain walking up stairs eight months after his original surgery feels off to me.
We’ll know more after the procedure tomorrow, but the 4-6 week timeline feels awfully generous, even for a re-evaluation. I’m at the point now where I’m hoping for a post-All-Star Break return but not ruling out the possibility he misses the entire season.
“That’s not in my mind right now,” Ball said when asked if he fears missing the entire season. “That would be the worst-case scenario.”
Well, it’s on my mind. And nothing he said today is making me feel any more optimistic about his prognosis.